Bangladesh’s main Islamic party barred from politics

Six leaders have been convicted of crimes in connection with the war of independence

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The Independent Online

A court has declared Bangladesh’s main Islamic party illegal, in effect banning it from a general election due early next year.

The ruling that the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party conflicted with the country’s secular constitution immediately triggered violent protests.

Party activists took to the streets in the capital, Dhaka, and other districts including Bogra, Jessore and Gaibandha.

Jamaat immediately appealed to the Supreme Court against the High Court verdict. The party will be barred from contesting elections if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling.

The party has been embroiled in the proceedings at a tribunal set up to investigate abuses during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Six party leaders have been convicted of crimes in connection with the war. Four were sentenced to death and two to life in prison.

Jamaat opposed Bangladeshi independence from Pakistan in the war but denies accusations that some of its leaders committed murder, rape and torture during the conflict.

Syed Rezaul Hoque Chandpuri,  an Islamic scholar who backed the legal action that resulted in Thursday’s ruling, said Jamaat did not have the right to engage in politics. “Jamaat did not believe in the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh and the party committed serious crimes during the war of independence,” he said.