Brussels [Belgium], Oct. 27 : Dr. Charles Tannock, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Conservative Party's spokesman for Foreign Affairs, has criticised Pakistan and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) for their role in the atrocities committed in 1971- during Bangladesh's struggle for freedom from Pakistan - and expressed full support to the country's International War Crime Tribunal.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a conference 'Threatening Implication of Rise of Terrorism in the Name of Islam in Bangladesh: The need for resistance' organised by the European-Bangladesh Forum (EBF) at the Brussels Press Club, Tannock was also highly critical of the linkages between Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and JEI-Bangladesh, and called upon the BNP to sever its links with Jamaat if it wanted to be accepted as a mainstream political party by the international community.
Ansar Ahmed Ullah, UK-based EBF president, who opened the conference, stated that the event was organised in the backdrop of the "Islamist attack" on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka on July 1, and similar attacks in the U.S., Europe, Turkey and the Middle East.
Tannock, who chaired the first session, termed the Holy Artisan Bakery incident "one of the most hideous and horrendous terrorist attacks", while stating a battle was currently on in Bangladesh as well as in Europe and other parts of the world, "between radicals and secular forces".
He added that Bangladesh epitomised the "struggle between modernity and those who wanted to turn the clock back to the 7th century".
At the first session, there were presentations by Shahriar Kabir, acting president, Forum for Secular Bangladesh; Dr.
Usma Hasan, head of Islamic Studies, Quilliam Foundation, the U.K.; and Martin Bright, professor of journalism, Anglia Ruskin University, the U.K., on the 'similarities between JEI-Bangladesh and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)'.
Bright highlighted the "dangers of the linkages between constitutional Islamists such as JEI and MB with the radical extremist elements", and cautioned against the tendency of foreign politicians and diplomats, often finding the sophistication of organisations such as JEI and MB "convincing and seductive" to take up their cause, thereby, portraying these groups as "people you can do business with".
He also drew attention to the fact that radicalisation was "often clothed in a language of liberation struggles".
Kabir in his paper 'Combating Islamic terrorism: Muslim Brotherhood and JEI" conveyed that though Western policymakers considered the JEI and the MB as moderate Islamic parties, there were hundreds of evidences that suggest "these parties were linked with the global Islamist terrorist network".
Almost all speakers strongly criticised JEI and called for a "secular and forward looking Bangladesh".
Besides, the message that Islamic radicalisation needed to be countered through a broad-based strategy also came across clearly at the conference.
The second session, chaired by Prof. Tazeen Murshid, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, was on the topic 'Impact of Terrorism, Civil Action and Policy Options to Resist it'.
Other speakers were Meghna Guhathakurta, director, Research Initiatives; Remi Kempers, director, Both Ends, a Netherlands-based platform for democracy and human rights; Dr.
Willem Van Der Geest, chief economist, Maulana Feroz Alam, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamat, the U.K.; Ilyas Sherally, chairman, Masqriq, the Netherlands; and Ted Jeory, investigating editor, The Independent.
Nearly 80 people from the U.K., Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Bangladesh attended the conference.