So now I’m reading up on Hefazat-e-Islam. The Guardian had a useful piece on April 16.
It starts with tensions, clashes, religious conservatives versus more moderate, progressive voices.
The most recent development is the emergence of a radical conservative Muslim party, Hefazat-e-Islam, as the standard bearer of the religious right. Earlier this month, at a huge rally in Dhaka attended by more than 100,000 according to police, the party issued 13 demands. They included the introduction of measures to stop “alien culture” making inroads in Bangladesh, the reinstatement of the line “absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah” in the nation’s constitution, which is largely secular, and a ban on new statues in public places.
They want it in the constitution that there should be absolute trust and faith in an imaginary being whom no one on earth has ever met. That’s inane. It’s the last thing anyone should demand absolute faith and trust in. “It’s not here, you can’t talk to it or hear it or touch it, no one can, and you must have absolute faith and trust in it, because we order you to.”
But I digress.
But it was Hefazat-e-Islam’s demand that men and women not mix in public – seen by many as a bid to stop women working outside the home – that most worried Akhter, one of tens of millions of female labourers in Bangladesh’s booming garment industry.
“If we are not allowed to work, how will we survive?” asked Akhter, who supports her elderly parents on her monthly wage of 6,500 takas (£55). “Many of our coworkers were abandoned by their husbands. Some families only have daughters, whose parents are old. What will a single mother do? We will not have any means for a living.”
Well, you starve. So do your children, and so do your parents. Sorreee.
They explain that it’s all a misunderstanding though.
“The idea that Hefazat-e-Islam is taking the country back to the medieval age through its demands is propaganda,” said Moinuddin Ruhi, joint secretary of the party. “We are not opposing women’s development … Hefazat demands women refrain from free mixing in society to avoid sexual harassment and incidents such as rape. This does not … mean we want them to refrain from going to work or study. They should go to work and study following the principles of Islam.”
Ohhhh – oh well that’s completely different. You don’t oppose women’s development, you just demand that they refrain from free mixing in society. No problem then! As long as women stay home they can “develop” as much as they want to.
More hell on earth for more people. Fabulous.