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Islami Chattra Shibir, the militant student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, a coalition partner in the Bangladesh government, has issued death threats to two eminent Bangladesh-based secular intellectuals: Philosophy Professor and litterateur Hasan Azizul Haque of the Rajshahi University and popular writer Professor Zafar Iqbal at the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology. They are accused of teaching the values of secularism, democracy and science to young people and turning them into ‘filthy atheists’. The death threats contain a detailed description of how they would be killed — first their tongues would be cut off, and then they would have their throats slit. The same group is suspected of the murder of another academic at Rajshahi University.

The government has not called the offenders to account, for they represent a party that shares power in the ruling coalition. In 2003, the Chief leader of the Jamaat (ameer) and then Minister for Industries said: “We did not join the government in power simply to enjoy the share of bread and butter and ownership of cars and houses. Our major aim is Islamic revolution. Should Jamaat ever come to power [on our own], we shall introduce Sharia-law [into the country].”

Having attacked the founder of an IHEU Member Organisation, the late Prof. Ahmed Sherrif and having hounded out of Bangladesh and then indirectly claimed the life of the famous Prof. Humayun Azad, the terrorist gangs are now targetting two more courageous academics. Mukto-Mona, Shabdaguchha Durdesh, Satrong and other secular groups have rallied to defend them, but disappointingly Mr Richard Boucher, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, certified Jamaat-e-Islami as a ‘democratic party’ during his recent visit to Dhaka. It is this encouragement from abroad that allows the criminals in power to perpetuate their regime of intimidation and murderous violence.

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