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A Muslim has been executed in Bangladesh.
A few days ago, AbdulQadeer Molla, one of the leaders of the Jamaat-i Islami in Bangladesh, was sentenced to death on the grounds of having opposed the war of independence against Pakistan in 1971. That sentence was later carried out, before the eyes of the world.
Sheikh Hasena had announced on Twitter that revenge would be taken from the past.
President Sheikh Hasena announced on Twitter that the other members of the Jamaat-i Islami, declared to be guilty of war crimes in Bangladesh on allegations of having collaborated with Pakistan during the war of independence in 1971, would all meet the same fate:
“War criminals will have to face justice. There is nowhere for them to hide. We will put an end to Islamic terror and violence in Bangladesh. I promise you.”
“We will come after them one by one.”
“And I wish to remind you, Bangladesh is a secular country.”
Abdul Qadeer Molla is just the first. Several more people are expected to be given the death penalty in the days ahead.
These words by Sheikh Hasena clearly reveal that Bangladesh is determined to put many other people like Abdul Qadeer Molla to death in the days ahead. It is a known fact that the Sheikh Hasena government has adopted a repressive attitude toward Islamic communities in the country and does not protect these people’s human rights. And this harsh and repressive attitude that favors violence is further triggering tension in the country every passing day. Instead of conciliating with Muslims, Sheikh Hasena and her party, the Awami League, are following a policy aimed at intimidating them. Instead of adopting a calming policy in the face of public protests, they respond with violence, oppression and killing. They ignore the kind of darkness to which all this may soon lead the country.
A twisted conception of law in Bangladesh
It is no secret that feelings of revenge lie behind Sheikh Hasena’s harsh approach. Four years after the founding of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh under the leadership of Hasena’s father, Mujibur Rahman in1971, the whole family with the exception of Hasena and her sister were killed in a military coup. Hasena took part in the 2008 elections after a succession of coups. The most important promise in her election victory was that all those who committed war crimes in the events of 1971 would be punished. As promised, the government established under Hasena’s prime ministry has set about acting with a twisted legal concept to seek revenge for the past.
The people of the country want the government to provide a regular justice system that protects the rights of all. But at present the legal system in Bangladesh works against Muslim. They martyred and executed another Muslim a few days ago. This, however, is just the beginning of Hasena’s legal conception. In the days ahead at least 300 more Muslims are expected to be unfairly tried and sentenced to death, just like Abdul Qadeer Molla.
Sheikh Hasena says, “Bangladesh is a secular country.” But the fact is that capital punishment is a measure that can only be explained in terms of barbarity, not of secularism and democracy.
In her statements of Twitter, Sheikh Hasena says that she wishes to emphasize that Bangladesh is a secular country. Yet capital punishment is compatible with neither a secular conception of state nor democracy. Capital punishment is merely a hangover from the dark ages, an outdated and barbaric practice. It is a barbaric measure applied by societies devoid of religious and moral values, as the only way they can see of ensuring justice. It is an idea espoused only by states that wish to survive as empires of fear, not by administrations that wish to remain in power through secularism, the law and justice.
It is a grave mistake to imagine that peace, security and stability can be established in a country through the death penalty. Executions never bring happiness with them. On the contrary, they merely inflict corruption and even dissolution on a country by feeding all of society with feelings of vengeance, hatred and rage. The idea that justice can be established through violence is a major error into which Sheikh Hasena has fallen.
Islam is based on forgiveness, not killing.
Under Islamic moral values, killing one person is regarded as equivalent to killing all mankind. Some people reject that idea by citing verses from the Qur’an concerning retaliation. However, Allah also reveals in these verses that forgiving is more auspicious. (Surat al-Baqara, 178) If Allah says that something is more auspicious, we cannot then choose something that is less auspicious. We must do whatever is most pleasing to Allah. Allah reminds us that we must forgive those who do evil and behave in such a way as to improve them:
The repayment of a bad action is one equivalent to it. But if someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with Allah. Certainly He does not love wrongdoers.
(Surat ash-Shura, 40)
Therefore, of course if one has made a mistake and committed a crime the appropriate legal penalty must be enforced. But just methods must be used, and the path that is followed must rehabilitate such people and win them back to society. If Abdul Qadeer Molla and other people waiting to be hanged in Bangladesh committed a crime, then the legal penalty must be enforced. But to regard life imprisonment as insufficient and to insist on the death penalty is against the moral values set out in the Qur’an.
Extremism is a grave danger that leads to the persecution of Muslims in many countries.
Tensions felt in the face of extremism and radical groups in the country played a significant role in Abdul Qadeer Molla being executed instead of being given life imprisonment. The government fears that radical groups are growing increasingly powerful among its own people and is trying to put a stop to this. However, it is a grave error to think that this can be done through barbaric methods, by bringing the situation under control by force and violence. It is a grave error to think that such approach can resolve the situation.
It is only possible to eradicate the darkness of extremism by living by the moral values of the Qur’an, not by executing people.
Regarding the death penalty as legitimate and feeling no unease, tension or pangs of conscience over having someone killed is quite inconceivable. To regard the savagery with which people filled with hatred poured out onto the streets shouting “Hang him!” as normal and to be capable of shouting slogans of hatred is terribly wrong. Any rational person would avoid even stepping on an ant. One would feel terrible remorse and pangs of conscience if one were to injure or offend another person by accident, or unwillingly be responsible for another person’s death. Just watching the death of another person, let alone actually killing them, would inflict deep wounds on normal people. Since that is how normal people behave, it is terribly wrong for these people to kill someone, to be so filled with hatred and to deliberately and willingly plan and enforce another’s death. This shows that these people have become a community devoid of moral values.
Intimidating people or ideas through capital punishment is not a victory or a triumph, but a historic disgrace.
Following the execution of Abdul Qadeer Molla, Hasena supporters poured onto the streets in joyful celebration. Yet this state of affairs into which people have fallen in a Muslim country, in the 21st century, is neither a triumph nor a success for Bangladesh. Bangladesh has made a black mark on its history and Hasena must take the responsibility for leading the way to such a shameful picture.
This picture will bring neither peace, nor tranquility, nor development, nor stability, nor justice to the country. Governments and leaders who regard killing as legitimate teach the ignorant people in their countries that killing is the only answer to any problem and thus give rise to barbaric communities. Feelings of hatred, anger and vengeance will only strengthen these feelings in others, and communities built on hatred will become ever stronger. It is for these reasons that countries in which capital punishment is still seen as acceptable are those with the highest crime rates.
The countries that silently watched the death sentence and illegalities in Bangladesh also share in this disgrace.
From the moment reports of the death sentence appeared in the press we tried with all our might and with all our means to make Abdul Qadeer Molla’s voice heard by the world, and we called on the Sheikh Hasena government to abandon this measure. We called on the all the leaders in the world, officials, politicians, media organizations, writers and human rights organizations to support these efforts and to take action to make that death sentence halted. Turkey supported these efforts, but many countries remained silent.
Many people may perhaps have regarded the killing of a single Muslim as unimportant at a time when reports of hundreds of Muslims being martyred in many parts of the world are coming in almost every day.
Yet this is a crime against humanity, and every person of good conscience has a responsibility to prevent it. Supposedly humane people who produce headline reports, make TV programs and engage in rescue operations with enormous altruism so that not one panda, crocodile, fish or turtle species should become extinct, kept silence in the face of this execution. Muslim countries, societies and organizations made do with just watching developments.
A Muslims will espouse the right and those in the right, even if that works against him.
However, it must not be forgotten that a world in which people just sit back and watch may one day come back to haunt them. What happened to someone they failed to protect may one day happen to them. If you turn a blind eye to injustice, and do not speak out against oppression, violence and barbarity, if you say, “I don’t care so long as I am not affected,” Allah may one day put you in need of such help. Wicked people and unjust measures may one day afflict you.
Allah commands people to support what is right, to protect the innocent and to reject wickedness. Every person of good conscience has a responsibility to espouse justice and right, even if that works against his/her interests. The only people who can do that, oppose injustice in the world and wage an intellectual struggle in favor of the truth, are real Muslims.
Allah reveals the qualities of these people who bring goodness and truth to the world as follows in the Qur’an:
Among those We have created there is a community who guide by the Truth and act justly according to it. (Surat al-A’raf, 181)
You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong and have faith in Allah. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 110)