Monday, May 6, 2013

Bangladesh: Dhaka becomes a war zone

Background

Bangladesh: dangerous chaos looms
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 204, Wed 3 Apr 2013

Bangladesh: Islam Rising
By E Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring, 7 April 2013

On Sunday 5 May, Islamists fulfilled their threat to lay siege to Dhaka. By the end of the day, 28 were dead, hundreds were wounded and Dhaka's business district - the Motijheel Commercial Area - resembled a war zone.

At at least 100,000 Islamists enforced a blockade, cutting off Dhaka’s road links with the rest of the country.  Activists from Hefajat-e-Islam -- which translates as "protectorate of Islam" -- marched through six highways, paralysing road transport between Dhaka and other cities and towns.

The Islamists are demanding the government agree to their 13-point list of demands (see list here) - demands that would essentially turn Bangldesh into a Islamic State, Taliban-style.

Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina had urged the group to call off their demonstration, contending that existing law were sufficient to punish blasphemy. She even promised to introduce tougher penalties for those who defame Islam. The Islamists, however, are demanding that those found guilty of defaming Islam be sentenced to death. With their confidence and power and rage growing, the Islamists will not be easily appeased.

This battle is far from over.

Best reports:

Radical Islamists lay siege to Dhaka
By Anisur Rahman, Gulf News, 5 May 2013

Dhaka turns into battlefield
By Jubair Hasan and Yasir Wardad
Financial Express Bangladesh, Monday 6 May 2013

Dhaka: 28 dead as Islamists seek blasphemy law
AFP, Dhaka, 6 May 2013

Those keen to really comprehend the seriousness of the situation in Bangladesh should scroll through the follow photo collections from demotix.

Dhaka seized by Islamists
May 5th, 2013 by Abu Ala
The "Islamists" have seized the capital Dhaka demanding introduction of blasphemy laws and capital punishment of bloggers accused by them as blasphemous. They also demanded shariah law for the country.

Capital Dhaka virtually cut off from rest of the country
May 5th, 2013 by firoz ahmed
The capital city has been virtually cut off from the rest of the country as the leaders and activists of Hefajat-e Islam took position in all the entry points of Dhaka to press home its 13-point demand including the arrest of “atheist bloggers”.

Dhaka turns into a warzone as Hefajat clash with police
May 5th, 2013 by Rehman Asad.

Over 100 shops and 30 buses torched in Dhaka
May 5th, 2013 by Rehman Asad
Jamaat-Shibir activists joined by Hefajat-e Islam men set fire to at least 100 shops and business establishments, looted shops at Baitul Mukarram mosque complex and torched over 30 government buses in the capital.

Ongoing clash in Dhaka leaves many injured and death toll rising
May 5th, 2013 by zakir hossain chowdhury

3 killed as Paltan turns into battlefield in Dhaka
May 5th, 2013 by Rehman Asad

Dhaka paralyzed Hefazat post-siege rally at downtown Motijheel
May 5th, 2013 by Rehman Asad

------------------------------------
Elizabeth Kendal is author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today
(Deror Books, Dec 2012)