The logo of Hefajat-e-Islam Bangladesh
|Headquarters||Hathazari, Chittagong, Bangladesh|
|Part of a series on|
|Ideology and influences|
|Founders and key figures|
|Centres (markaz) of Tablighi Jamaat|
Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh (Bengali: হেফাজতে ইসলাম বাংলাদেশ) or Hifazat-e-Islam Bangladesh is an Islamist Advocacy group of madrassah teachers and students. In 2013, it submitted to the government of Bangladesh a 13-point charter, which included the demand for the enactment of a blasphemy law.
Hefazat-e-Islam was formed in 2010, as a pressure group comprising the teachers of several madrasas at Chittagong, Bangladesh. The formation was allegedly triggered by the 2009 "Women Development Policy" draft. On 24 February 2010, Hefazat wanted to hold a rally at Laldighi Maidan, Chittagong to protest the government's move to slap a ban on religion-based politics, cancellation of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, and a proposed education policy that would have ended madrasah education. The police refused their request to hold a rally and injured 19 protesters. A few of these madrasa students were arrested by police and later released. In 2011, Hefajat-e-Islam protested some aspects of the proposed Women Development Policy.
Ahmad Shafi, the director of Hathazari Madrasa and Mufti Izharul Islam, the chairman of the Islamist party Islami Oikya Jote, Abdul Malek Halim, founder and principle of the first women Qawmi madrasah (Haildhar Madrasah) in Bangladesh are regarded as the founders of Hefazat-e-Islam. Allama Junaid Babunagari is the secretary general of the organization.
In 2013 Hefajat-e-Islam was reformed after the allegation that some of the protesters in the Shahbag protests, were involved in publishing of content offensive to Muslims on blogs, including the depiction of Muhammad as a pornographic character. They arranged a rally towards capital city Dhaka, demanding enaction of capital punishment of the "atheist bloggers" involved in the Shahbag movement and a blasphemy law.
The 13 points of the Islamist group includes:
- Restore the phrase "Complete faith and trust in the Almighty Allah" in the constitution.
- Pass a law in parliament keeping a provision of the capital punishment of death sentence to prevent defaming Islam.
- Taking measures for stringent punishment of self-declared atheists and bloggers, who led the Shahbagh movement, and anti-Islamists who made derogatory remarks against Muhammad. Also taking steps to stop the spread of "propaganda".
- Stopping infiltration of all "alien-culture", including "shamelessness" in the name of individual's freedom of expression, anti-social activities, adultery, free mixing of males and females and candle-lighting. Stopping harassment of women, open fornication and adultery, sexual harassment, all forms of violence against women and an end to the tradition of dowry.
- Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels canceling the women policy and anti-religion education policy.
- Officially declare Ahmadiyyas as non-Muslim.
- Stopping erection of sculptures at intersections, schools, colleges and universities across the country.
- Lifting restrictions on prayers for ulema in all mosques across the country, including Baitul Mokarram National Mosque.
- Stopping Anti-Islamic content in media.
- Halt to anti-Islam activities by NGOs across the country, including in the Chittagong Hill Tracts; Hefazat fears a "foreign conspiracy" to separate Chittagong Hill Tracts from Bangladesh and make it a Christian state.
- Stop attacks and extrajudicial killing of ulema.
- Stopping harassment of teachers and students of Qawmi madrassas and ulema.
- Freedom for all arrested ulema and madrassa students and withdrawal of all cases filed against them, compensation for the victims, and bringing the assailants to justice.
On 6 April 2013, Hefazat-e-Islam organized a long march towards the Motijheel area in Dhaka from Chittagong, Sylhet and Rajshahi to push for their 13-point demand. This was dubbed by some in the media as the "Siege of Dhaka". Awami League leader Nowsher Khan died of head injuries during a clash between his party activists and those of Hifazat-e Islam at Bhanga in Faridpur district. Hefazat supporters also attacked at a rally of Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee in Dhaka from their procession, injuring several people including a policeman. Hefazat supporters also attacked and injured Afsar Ahmed, the pro vice chancellor of Jahangirnagar University, and reportedly threatened journalists.
On 5 May 2013, Hefajat arranged a rally at the capital city, Dhaka, in the demand of their 13 points. On 4 May 2013, Hefazat activists gathered at all six entrance routes to Dhaka; creating a blockade, from dawn on 5 May 2013. At noon, with the permission of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), activists entered Dhaka and started moving towards Baitul Mukarram National Mosque in order to attend a prayer service. However activists of Hefazat-e- Islam were attacked by the ruling Awami League activists at various places using lethal arms such as pistols and guns who were using the Gulistan Road to reach Shapla Square. In return, in order to protect themselves, Hefazat activists threw bricks at them. During the clashes, two television journalists were injured, apparently by Hefazat protesters. At about 3:00 pm while Hefazat leaders were delivering speeches, the Secretary General of Awami League, Sayed Ashraful Islam, at a press conference, threatened them to leave Dhaka. On the other hand, the opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) asserted that Hefazat members had a democratic right to assemble and articulate their cause. Hefazat reportedly supporters set fire to book stores located beside the south gate of the Baitul Mukarram during their program, inadvertently burning copies of Qurans, and assaulting two reporters. However, reports of this event are disputed, and Hefazat denies burning any books. According to BNP leader MK Anwar, the Qurans were burned by Debashih, leader of the ruling party Awami League's wing, the Swechchhasebak League. Hefazat also denies the violent incidents of vandalism and arson attributed to it.
In the early hours of 6 May security forces, drawn from police, the elite Rapid Action Battalion and paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh jointly launched an operation named "Operation Secure Shapla" to prevent Hefazat's violence by driving them out from Dhaka. At the beginning of operation, police cut the power supply in the city's commercial area, but the total operation was live telecasted over few TV channel. During the course of the operations, two television channels, Diganta Television and Islamic TV, were shut down.
According to government estimates, the number of casualties in this operation was 11, including a few law enforcement members, while the Daily Star gave as little as 5 deaths. This figure was dismissed by Human Rights Watch and other news agencies. Hefazat and the BNP initially claimed that 2000-3000 had been killed in the operations. British journalist confirmed that at least 36 people had died. which is also rejected by government. According to The Economist, European diplomats, as many as 50 people were killed in Dhaka, which didn't provide any diplomat's name. Because of the differing views, Human Rights Watch called for an independent body to investigate the protest deaths. the poet and activist Farhad Mazhar said the government and media were making a cover-up and disinformation campaign. Human Rights Watch disputes opposition claims of 200 deaths, but agrees that a massacre occurred. Amnesty International demanded that Bangladesh government set up an independent and impartial investigation immediately to look into police excesses. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon voiced concern over the killing of unarmed protesters in Bangladesh and requested the government to sit with religious and political leaders.
On 6 May, the protests spread across the country. In Narayanganj, students and teachers of a local madrasa held protests and blockaded the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. In return, police fired several hundred gunshots, killing 27 people. In Hathazari Upazila, Chittagong, six people were shot dead by police. In Bagerhat, one Hefazat member died in a clash between protesters and police.
The government has filed 12 cases against top leaders of the Hefazat-e Islam for murder, vandalism, arson and destruction of properties and other charges, after a demand for impartial investigations from supporting organizations. In 2014, a case was filed with the International Criminal Court against 25 Bangladeshi ministers and security officials, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for alleged torture, forced disappearance, extrajudicial executions and mass killings.
In 2016 secular activists led by Anisuzzaman submitted a petition to remove Islam from Constitution of Bangladesh. They argued that since secularism was one of the four fundamental principles of the first 1972 constitution, it should be reinstated. Secularism was removed from the constitution in 1975, and Islam as the state religion in 1988, during the term of Hussain Mohammad Ershad as president. In 1988 few secular minded citizens of Bangladesh had filed a petition to restore the secularism in the constitution. On 27 March 2016, a Bangladeshi court accepted a petition to remove Islam as the state religion. Hefazat-e-Islam reportedly had threatened armed resistance if Islam was dropped as the state religion. The court rejected the petition, stating that those who brought it forward did not have the right to do so. A lawyer and Hefazat spokesperson argued that having Islam as the state religion would not affect minority religions. "Minorities will not be discriminated against as there is a guarantee in the constitution for the minorities." They also noted that the petition was unnecessary as Bangladeshi Muslims were respectful of minority religions and “set a tremendous example of communal harmony even after having Islam as state religion.”
In 2017 supporters of Hefazat-e Islam protested against the display of a figure of the Greek goddess of justice at the supreme court, calling it a measure and conspiracy to undermine Islam in Bangladesh. Hefazat-e-Islam later petitioned the Supreme Court of Bangladesh to remove the statue which was supported by the Awami League backed Bangladesh Awami Olama League and a news editor.
The Awami League government alleges that Hefazat is front for Jamaat e Islami and seeks to derail the International tribunals for the war crimes committed in 1971, by Hefazat denies any role with Jamaat e Islami, and alleges that this is a libel to subjugate Islamists in public life. Analysts also say that any relationship claim is baffling as Ahmad Shafi belongs to a band of Islamists that unlike Jamaat, did not oppose the independence of Bangladesh, and supported a united India and rejected the creation of Pakistan in 1947. The German ambassador in Bangladesh Albrecht Conze opined that Hifazat demands fundamentalism in Bangladesh. However, in 2014, diplomats from the US Embassy in Bangladesh met with the leaders of Hefazat and discussed their demands.
Maulana Habibur Rahman, a madrasa principal of Sylhet and one of the organizers of Hefazat-e Islam's 5 May protest, claimed that he met Osama Bin Laden, with members of the banned militant organization Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami, in 1998. However, Hefazat leaders have condemned Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami and Al Qaeda and its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. In 2014 spokesman Azizul Haque Islamabadi said:
"There is prevailing a congenial and peaceful environment in Bangladesh. People are living in peace and in such a situation the announcement by Al Qaeda chief Zawahiri has made the people fearful and worried. Bangladesh had experienced earlier militant activities and terrorism by Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Harkat-ul Jihad. But they could not emerge successful and Al Qaeda would not come out successful in Bangladesh despite their announcement."
On 7 October 2013, an explosion occurred at a madrasah run by Hefazat-e-Islam's leader Mufti Izharul Islam Chowdhury driven Al Jamiatul Ulum Al Islamia Madrasa at Lal Khan Bazar, Chittagong. Police reportedly seized explosives after the raid. The madrasa authorities had claimed that computers' UPS of the school and laptops had exploded.
- "Hifazat demands fundamentalism: German Ambassador". bdnews24.com. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "Unknown Islamist group flexes its muscles in Ctg". The Daily Star. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- ৩০ জন আহত, গ্রেপ্তার ৩৯, আট ঘণ্টা সড়ক অবরোধ চট্টগ্রামে হেফাজতে ইসলামের কর্মীদের সঙ্গে পুলিশের সংঘর্ষ [Hefajat-e-Islam clash with police at Chittagong, 30 injured and 39 arrested, road blocked for 8 hours]. Prothom Alo (in Bengali). 25 February 2010. Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "Civil & Political Rights In Bangladesh" (PDF). Asian Center for Human Rights. 1: 37. 16 March 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- "Bangladesh: 1 dead in clash over women's rights". Associated Press. 3 April 2013. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013 – via HighBeam Research.
- "Hifazat chief implementing Jamaat agenda". bdnews24.com. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
- Habib, Haroon (7 April 2013). "The 13-point demands". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Govt must accede to our demands: Hifazat". bdnews24.com. 6 April 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- Khalidi, Toufique Imrose (6 May 2013). "Behind the rise of Bangladesh's Hefazaat". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- "All detainees set free in Ctg". The Daily Star. 26 February 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Madrasa students block Ctg roads". bdnews24.com. 4 April 2011. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "10 policemen among 20 hurt in Ctg clash". New Age. 1 April 2011. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Banyan: The battle between Bangladesh's two begums is over". The Economist. 7 December 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
- "19 hurt as new Islamist group holds protest in Chittagong". Hindustan Times. 25 February 2010. Archived from the original on 10 June 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "Hefazat denies burning Quran allegations". Ittefaq. Ittefaq. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- "Hefazat-e-Islam explains the 13 points demands". Bangladesh Independent News Network. Bangladesh Independent News Network. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
- "Assembly of Hefazate Islam Bangladesh and Human Rights Violations". Odhikar. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
- "Bangladesh Islamists rally against atheist bloggers". Agence France-Presse. 6 April 2013. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Bangladesh Islamists rally for blasphemy law". CNN. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Islamist agitation fuels unrest in Bangladesh". Yahoo News. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Govt must accept 13 points if wants to stay in office: Hefajat chief". Priyo News. 6 April 2013. Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- Hefajat-E-Islam Bangladesh. "Allama Shafi hopes to end all confusion Hefazat-e-Islam explains the 13 points demands". Hefajat e Islam Bangladesh. Hefajat-E-Islam Bangladesh. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
- "Hefajat men headed for Dhaka". New Age. 6 April 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- "Amnesty wants neutral probe into Motijheel crackdown". Weekly Holiday (1). 10 May 2013. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Awami leader killed by Hifazat". bdnews24.com. 6 April 2013.
- "Hifazat attacks strikers in Dhaka". bdnews24.com. 6 April 2013.
- হেফাজতের সহিংসতায় জাবি প্রো-ভিসি আহত. bangla.bdnews24.com (in Bengali). 6 April 2013. Archived from the original on 28 August 2013.
- ‘নাস্তিকদের শায়েস্তা করি, এরপর মিডিয়া’. bangla.bdnews24.com (in Bengali). 6 April 2013. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013.
- নারী সাংবাদিককে বেধড়ক পেটালো হেফাজতের লোকজন. bangla.bdnews24.com (in Bengali). 6 April 2013. Archived from the original on 12 May 2013.
- "4 die in Hifazat havoc". bdnews24.com. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Blood on the Streets: The Use of Excessive Force During Bangladesh Protests". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- "2 scribes beaten up by Hifazat". bdnews24.com. 5 May 2013.
- Bashar, Reazul (6 May 2013). "Hifazat burns Quran, Hadith in blind rage". bdnews24.com.
- "'Who said this would be investigated?' Bangladesh and the May 2013 Massacre". Ceasefire Magazine. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- Ashraf, Shamim (6 May 2013). "Hefajat men flee Motijheel". The Daily Star. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "Govt trashes loss of thousands of lives rumour". The Daily Star. UNB. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "Bangladesh clashes rage over blasphemy law". Al Jazeera. 6 May 2013.
- "18 cases after Hefazat's rally in Motijheel". The Daily Ittafaq. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- Salam, Maria; Karim, Mohosinul; Islam, Muhammad Zahidul (6 May 2013). "Govt closes 2 TV networks". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "Political violence in Bangladesh: In hot blood". The Economist. 11 May 2013.
- "HRW rebuts genocide claim". bdnews24.com. 11 May 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Motijheel massacre spawns unintended consequences". Weekly Holiday (1). 10 May 2013. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Video suggests higher Bangladesh protest toll". Al Jazeera. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- "Clashes over Bangladesh protest leave 27 dead". BBC News. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Bergman, David; Nelson, Dean (6 May 2013). "36 killed in Dhaka as Islamic militants clash with police". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "Bangladesh: Independent Body Should Investigate Protest Deaths". New York: Human Rights Watch. 11 May 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
- "Media manipulation and Motijheel mayhem". New Age. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "HRW bins genocide claim by BNP, Hefazat". The Daily Sun. Archived from the original on 26 October 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- "Amnesty wants neutral probe into Motijheel crackdown". Weekly Holiday (1). 10 May 2013. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "27 more killed". The Daily Star. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Paul, Ruma. "At least 20 dead in Islamist protests in Bangladesh". Yahoo News. Archived from the original on 6 May 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- BNS bears Hefajat brunt
- "12 cases against Hifazat leaders". bdnews24.com. 6 May 2013.
- "ASK Concern of Ongoing Political clashes and Violence Observed on 5 May 2013". Ain O Shalish Kendro. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- Haq, Quazi Shahreen (15 February 2014). "Cadman moves ICC to investigate Hasina govt". Bdnews24.com. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
- Bergman, David (28 March 2017). "Bangladesh court upholds Islam as religion of the state". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- "Bangladesh: restoring secular Constitution". The Hindu. 25 June 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
- "Bangladesh: restoring secular Constitution". Reuters. 7 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
- "A Revived Challenge to Islam as Bangladesh's State Religion Goes to Court". The New York Times. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
- "Radical group Hefazat warns of armed resistance". Dhaka Tribune. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
- Vulliamy, Elsa (28 March 2016). "Bangladesh rejects petition to remove Islam as state religion". The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- "Bangladesh Islamists protest court's Greek goddess statue". The Straits Times. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Hefajat, Olama league demand removal of SC sculpture". The Daily Star. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- "Hifazat chief implementing Jamaat agenda". bdnews24.com. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- Hayat, Tushar (20 February 2014). "US diplomat meets Hefazat leaders in Chittagong". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
- "Target Taliban rule". The Daily Star. 7 April 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- Azam, Kawsar (4 September 2014). "Al Qaeda won't gain ground in Bangladesh: Politicians". English24.com. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- Mirsab, A (7 September 2014). "Condemnation continues to pour from all corners against Al-Qaeda establishment in South Asia". Indian Muslim Relief and Charities. Indian Muslim Relief and Charities. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Hifazat madrasa raided, bombs, explosives seized". bdnews24.com. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- "Explosion at Ctg madrasa". The Daily Star. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- "Explosion rocks Hefazat madrasa". Dhaka Tribune. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.