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"God Willing": The Politics and Ideology of Islamism in Bangladesh

Title:"God Willing": The Politics and Ideology of Islamism in Bangladesh
Author:Ali Riaz
Publication:Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East / Duke University Press
Enumeration:Volume 23, Number 1&2, 2003, pp. 301-320
Abstract:"God willing, we shall form the next government," declared Khaleda Zia, former prime minister and then leader of the opposition at a rally in the port city of Chittagong on April 4, 2000 almost eighteen months ahead of the general elections in Bangladesh. Pointing her finger to the leaders of her four-party alliance sitting on the dais, Khaleda Zia declared firmly that "we have united to protect the nation, our hard earned independence and Islam." Present on the dais were Golam Azam, the Ameer (chief) of the largest Islamist party, Jaamat-i-Islami; Azizul Haq, who claims himself a Shaikhul Hadit (meaning an interpreter of Prophet Muhammad's words) and a leader of a militant Islamist organization called Islami Oikya Jote; and former military dictator General H. M Ershad, who was previously convicted on graft charges and indicted on a number of other corruption related matters. "Representatives of 66 percent of the people are here," Zia told the meeting. About a year and half later, on 21 September 2001, during a three-day northern region campaign tour, Zia told her applauding supporters in Naogaon, "Insha Allah, the alliance will be voted into power riding on popular support." A few kilometers away, in another rally in Joypurhat, she confidently declared that the alliance would bag a two-thirds majority in the parliament. The last campaign meeting held in Dhaka on September 28, three days ahead of the elections, was a replay of the Chittagong meeting of April 2000; flanked by the leaders of the Jaamat and the Oikya Jote, Khaleda proclaimed, "God willing, the alliance will get two-thirds majority and will form the Government.

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