Saturday, January 11, 2014

The European Union and the Jamaat

The Daily Star had a story today that caught my eye, titled, 'Cut ties with Jamaat: European, Asian diplomats call upon Khaleda, express reservations about Tarique's speeches, ask govt not to harass BNP leaders'

It was these paragraphs that I noted:
Observing the recent violent state of politics in Bangladesh, the European and Asian diplomats have drawn the conclusion that the BNP's key ally Jamaat-e-Islami is a terrorist organisation and, therefore, the BNP as a democratic party should not associate with a party like the Jamaat. 
“It appears to us that for the last few months, whatever the Jamaat did in the name of demonstration, they have resorted to terrorism,” said a European diplomat who has met Khaleda Zia after the January 5 election. He requested anonymity.
“Whatever the Jamaat did, they did it to protect the war criminals. Their acts were not political but terrorism,” he said, adding that this sentiment was conveyed to Khaleda.
But they do not think that banning the Jamaat at this moment is a good idea. 
“Banning Jamaat right now can put them under some other fold. It's better to isolate the party so that it dare not resort to extremism or terrorism with help from other political forces,” said the European diplomat.
First of all although the Daily Star gave anonymity to the diplomats, he then refers to the European diplomat as a person who had 'met Khaleda Zia' after the January 5 election. I am not quite sure why the Star would do this since it effectively identifies the diplomat as one from the UK or Germany.

Secondly, I have never heard the Jamaat referred to as a 'terrorist' organisation by any European diplomat, which is what is being suggested by this article. The diplomats that I have spoken to appreciate that the BNP, AL and the Jamaat parties have all on occasion been involved in terrorism - and that Jamaat is not in a separate category. The assumption is that if the AL had been in the same position as the Jamaat/BNP, they would have done much the same - and of course have done so in the past.

Either the EU is changing its position, the diplomat was misquoted, or s/he was giving a very personal opinion.  It will be interesting to see the accuracy of this report.

The questions regarding BNP's relationship with the Jamaat, and whether Jamaat will survive as a political party at all in Bangladesh, are amongst the most interesting issues in the country's politics right not, and I will be picking up on this issue in later posts

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