Jamaat in dilemma over reforms

Selim Zahid . Dhaka | Update:

Given its precarious position in the country’s political scenario, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is mulling over changes in the position of the party itself. There has been talk of its apologising for its role during the liberation war. Also, there have been speculations that it may rename itself and return to active politics.

About nine years ago, a similar proposition had been put forward by the party’s assistant secretary general at the time Kamaruzzaman. After being arrested in 2010, he had sent out a letter from jail, proposing that those in the party accused of war crimes be removed from the helm and new faces be given the party reins. He had even suggested a change in the party’s name. However, refusal from  Matiur Rahman Nizami’s  family and other senior leaders of the party prevented those plans from going any further. Now, with the eleventh national parliament elections over, a section of the younger leadership in the party is reviving those recommendations.

The party’s central executive council held a meeting recently to review the post-election situation. Under pressure from the younger leaders, a decision was taken on principle to tender an apology for the party’s political role in 1971 and also to change the party’s name and focus on welfare-oriented activities. However, this decision was not approved later at the majlis-e-sura, the party’s highest policy making body. It was decided almost unanimously then that the party would no longer remain in the 20party alliance and also would not contest in elections at any level.

Senior leaders of the party said that their leaders and activists were exhausted, having faced pressure for 10 years from the state. Many of the top leaders were hanged on charges of committing crimes against humanity in 1971. Many leaders and activists were attacked and injured. Thousands of the party men were arrested. That is why the senior leadership wants to suspend a section of the party constitution for the time being and devote themselves to social welfare. But they are not willing to give in to the ongoing pressure from the state and apologise for their role in 1971.

When Kamaruzzaman had sent the reforms proposal from prison, Shamsunnahar Nizami, wife of the party’s amir at the time Matiur Rahman Nizami, vehemently opposed it. She was determined to keep the party as it was.

And now Nizami’s younger son Nadimur Rahman Talha has termed the recent suggestions to change Jamaat’s name and other  proposals as a ‘betrayal’. In a Facebook post on 17 January this year, he wrote that no conscientious person could destroy his own home just to appease the enemy.

Jamaat central working council leader Ehsanul Mahbub Zubair told Prothom Alo that many proposals were being made within the party but no final decision had been taken.

*The report, originally appeared in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir

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