[Demonstrations in the cities of Bangladesh protesting against the proposed National Women Development Policy and demanding its immediate withdrawal. Banglar Chokh Photo.]
Several thousand activists of different Islamist outfits on Friday staged demonstrations in front of the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque protesting against the proposed National Women Development Policy and demanding its immediate withdrawal.
Demanding rights of women as ordained by the Qur’an, the protesters gave the interim government one week to do away with the policy or face tougher action programmes, including rallies across the country after juma prayers next Friday.
They also called upon ‘Muslims all over the country’ to prepare themselves for thwarting, at any cost, the bid to implement the National Women Development Policy-2008, announced by the government on the eve of International Women’s Day on March 7.
Activists of different Islamic parties, including those from outside the city, started gathering in front of the north gate of Baitul Mukarram since morning to join the pre-scheduled rally.
Security was tightened in the surroundings and the roads leading to the national mosque were blocked at different points, including Dainik Bangla, National Press Club, Bijoy Nagar, GPO and Paltan crossings.
Soon after juma prayers, the activists converged on the road in front of the north gate of the mosque and staged noisy demonstrations shouting slogans against the proposed women development policy.
The outfits which organised protest included Islami Shashantantra Andolan, Hizbut Tahrir Bangladesh, Islami Chhatra Majlish and Islami Ain Bastobayon Committee.
The activists, escorted by police and other security forces, marched down the street towards Paltan and Dainik Bangla crossings.
Later, they held a rally in front of Baitul Mukarram and announced their next course of action.
The Islamist leaders accused the interim government of trying to implement anti-Shariah policy in the name of national women development policy although, they said, the Qur’an had clearly mentioned women’s right to inheritance.
Among others, Maulana ATM Hemayet Uddin, Maulana Ahmed Ullah Ashraf, Maulana Touhiduzzaman, Maulana Mujibur Rahman Juktibadi, Mohiuddin Ahmed, Hafez Hafizur Rahman and Abdur Rab Yousufi addressed the rally.
Chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, at a function in the capital marking the International Women’s Day on March 8, announced the National Women Development Policy that suggested setting aside one-third of parliamentary seats for women and arranging direct election to the reserved seats.
E-Bangladesh correspondent in Chittagong reports: Several thousand Islamist activists brought out a procession in the port city on the day demanding withdrawal of ‘anti-Islamic provisions’ from the proposed National Women Development Policy.
The activists gathered in front of Andarkilla Mosque under the banner of Greater Chittagong Quranic Law Protection Council, after juma prayers and marched down the street after holding a brief rally.
The speakers demanded that the chief adviser to the caretaker government should make a formal announcement withdrawing what they called ‘the provisions against Qur’an and the Hadith’ from the National Women Development Policy. They branded adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury an ‘anti-Islamic element’ and demanded her ‘expulsion’ from the cabinet.