A bill has been placed in the US Congress, calling on the Bangladesh government to stop radical organizations including Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir, who pose an ongoing threat to the country’s stability and secular democracy.
Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana State introduced the bill titled ‘Expressing concern about the threat posed to democracy and the democratic process by theocratic groups operating in Bangladesh’ in the House of Representatives on November 20 last, according to the US Congress official website.
The House Resolution 1156 has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee as per the website.
The bill called on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department to halt all partnerships and funding arrangements with groups affiliated radical organization including Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir.
The bill said religious minorities were targeted by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party(BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami, and Islami Chhatra Shibir, during previous elections, as a result of which 495 Hindu homes were damaged, 585 shops were attacked or looted, and 169 temples were vandalized between November 2013 and January 2014.
It also referred that Jamaat-e-Islami activists have been involved in recent attacks on religious minorities in Bangladesh.
Mentioning that national elections are expected to take place in Bangladesh on December 30, 2018, the bill called on the Bangladesh government to heed the Bangladesh Election Commission’s request to ensure security for minorities and maintain communal harmony for a peaceful election.
The bill acknowledged the victims of the 1971 War of Independence and the spirit of secular democracy on which Bangladesh was founded.
The nation of Bangladesh achieved independence in 1971 and established a secular democratic state, the bill mentioned and also noted “this freedom was won at the cost of approximately 3,000,000 deaths, more than 10,000,000 displaced, and 200,000 women raped, many at the hands of Islamist militants led by Jamaat-e-Islami.”
The bill said repeated attacks on religious minorities, expanding religious intolerance, and growing destabilization caused by radical groups, including Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir, undermine United States economic and strategic interests in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile in a statement, the Philadelphia-based think tank, the Middle East Forum (MEF), has welcomed the bill saying “Jamaat-e-Islami is an influential and dangerous Islamist group with a long history of violence.
In October last, Bangladesh Election Commission revoked the registration of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, a major ally of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, as a political party in compliance with a High Court order.
In August, 2013, the High Court declared Jamaat’s registration illegal following a writ petition filed in 2009 by Bangladesh Tariqat Federation’s Secretary General Rezaul Haque Chandpuri and 24 others.
In the petition, they said Jamaat was a religion-based political party and it did not believe in the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh.