No al-Qaeda connection: Our fight is for democracy18 February 2014 Editorial Desk
Recently some local media reported that the al-Qaeda chief has called for a "Jihad" in Bangladesh to shake Bangladesh in awe. The alleged audio tape narrates the atrocities committed against Islamist groups by the government security forces and is full of anti-democracy rhetoric. In response the Bangladesh government has denied the existence of any al-Qaeda operation inside Bangladesh. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam ruled out any such possibility. However, he suspects BNP-Jamaat's hands in it as he finds similarities between of the contents of the message with the BNP-Jamaat paraphrasing of the political development in Bangladesh. BNP acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said that the government is trying to gain support from USA by playing the al-Qaeda card, as the world has rejected the Jan 5 elections. Meanwhile, the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir have also denied of any relation with al-Qaeda as a news report in The New Nation said quoting a statement of party Secretary General Shafiqur Rahman on Sunday. He has expressed concern over news reports published in different media 'associating Jamaat with the audio message'. Hefazat-e-Islam has also denied any involvement with al-Qaeda in a press release saying "We do not know who is circulating this message and what their intention is. We suspect it's a new conspiracy against the country's sovereignty and the Muslims of the country".A US State Department spokesperson told a Bangladeshi news agency that the US rejects al-Qaeda's characterization of Bangladesh, which is a moderate, tolerant Muslim society that rejects the kind of extremism espoused by al-Qaeda.So what is going on? Apparently, none in Bangladesh is a big fan of al-Qaeda when it is also suffering from a credibility and identity crisis. Additionally, contradictory narratives regarding this issue are coming from different stakeholders. The news was first published by a local news agency on February 15 without naming any actual website or link. Two other Bangla newspapers reported that this alleged al-Qaeda audio tape was available online since January 14. That also to TV Channel 71.Even in the Western countries the image of Bangladesh is: It is a moderate, liberal Muslim country. But in Bangladesh some forces are active to change the nature and identity of Bangladesh. They have been too eager to establish Bangladesh as an al-Qaeda infiltrated country. The Awami League itself also used in the past this kind of propaganda. So question remains who has a hand behind it. The government leaders said they are looking for the source of the audio which is in still frame, not in live telecast to raise the suspicion whether it was hand made to serve certain purposes of certain vested quarters. Bangladeshis are not extremists and the government has to be careful not to fall in the trap of conspirators who are keen to damage Bangladesh's image as a moderate Muslim country. In Bangladesh we see no al-Qaeda connection, our fight is for democracy.