Motiur Rahman Nizami of the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami was hanged to death on Wednesday morning. Nizami is the fourth Jamaat leader to be executed since 2013.
Nizami had been convicted of rape, torture and genocide during the Bangladesh war of liberation in 1971. He is reported to have killed 480 people during the war. We look at the Jamaat-e-Islami and its chequered history in Bangladesh.
What is the Jamaat-e-Islami?
The Jamaat-e-Islami has its origins in India. It was an Islamic organisation founded in 1941 by philosopher Abul Ala Maududi. At the time of its foundation, the Jamaat was less of a political organisation seeking for participation in the government and more a social instrument attempting to alter society along Islamic lines.The Jamaat was against Partition as well as the Muslim League. They wanted to build a unified Indian state under Islamic lines and considered principles of secularism and democracy to be haram. Further, Maududi believed that Islamisation of society needs to be brought about from above, through education and government reforms.
After Partition, Maududi along with a large number of leaders of the Jamaat moved to Pakistan and the party headquarters was established in Lahore. A separate wing of the Jamaat was established in India with its headquarters in Delhi. In Pakistan, the Jamaat modified its ideology significantly and started taking active part in politics. It also embarked on bringing about an Islamic revolution in the newly formed state.
What was the role of the Jamaat in the Bangladesh Liberation War (1971)?
Since the inception of Pakistan, Bengali nationalists in East Pakistan were demanding a separate state because of geographical separation as well as the linguistic and cultural differences that existed between the two sides. This culminated in a nine-month war of liberation between west and east Pakistan in 1971. Following the war, Bangladesh split from Pakistan and established itself as a separate state.
The Jamaat was vehemently opposed to the separation of West and East Pakistan, since it meant a split in the Islamic community. So, allying with the Pakistan Army, which was mostly manned by soldiers from West Pakistan, the Jamaat carried out large scale atrocities against Bengali nationalists and those demanding liberation. Bangladeshi authorities estimate that approximately three million people died in the war of liberation, 200,000 women were raped and about 10 million were forced to flee the country.