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Experts: Clear definition of jihadi books needed before arrest

  • Published at 10:04 am October 14th, 2018
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Members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrest three suspected members along with jihadi books. Photo: UNB

They said a book with content of distorted interpretations of the Holy Quran and Hadith to inspire people to engage in extremism should be called a book on militancy

Law enforcement should be cautious in arresting people with books having Islamic content as in many cases innocent persons fall prey to such arrests and are subjected to harassment.

Experts think ‘jihadi books’ is an 'inappropriate and misleading' naming as law enforcement often arrests 'suspected militants' with books they call 'jihadi', irrespective of the contents of the books, reports UNB.

They said a book with content of distorted interpretations of the Holy Quran and Hadith to inspire people to engage in extremism should be called a book on militancy instead of a “jihadi” one.

What do university teachers, lawyers say?

Prof Abul Barkat at the Economics Department of Dhaka University said if a book misinterprets the Quran and Hadith to motivate people to carry out a fight against the social system and indulge in violent activities to grab state power, it should be branded as a book on militancy.

Barkat, also the writer of a book titled “Bangladesh-e Moulobad” (Fundamentalism in Bangladesh), said reading books on militancy is not an offence, unless any person engages in such acts. “Law enforcement should be very careful about arresting people with Islamic books.”

He said a social movement involving the young generation needs to be launched to tackle fundamentalism.

Supreme Court senior lawyer Subrata Chowdhury said: “The arrest of people with 'jihadi' books is a 'suspicious and mysterious' matter, since there is no clear definition of such books.”

“Law enforcement is over enthusiastic in arresting people with such books. In many cases, they exaggerate the matter which creates confusion in the public mind,” Subrata said.

He said the police cannot arrest anyone with any book which is not banned. “If police raid people’s houses, and find such books, they can't arrest them unless they engage in anti-state or terrorist acts.”

Subrata said police should maintain transparency regarding their drives against militants and extremism.

Shahidul Islam, an associate professor at Dhaka University in the Arabic department, said the concept of militants about jihad is contradictory to Islam.

“Jihad is a vast concept that includes various ranges of activity for the betterment of self and society. Frightening people or killing them in the name of religion can never be called jihad. If any book is written to encourage people to indulge in such acts, it should be called a book on extremism or terrorism, not a jihadi one.”

Some books on militancy include Kitabul Eman, Kitabut Tawheed, Kitabul Aqaid, Kitabus Saom, Kitabuz Zakat, Kitabul Haj, Tawhider Mul Shikhha, Bayat O Sirate Mustaqim, Moroner Age O Pore, Kitabut Dua, Deen Qayemer Path, Siam & Eid, Kitabud Dawah, Unmukta Torbari, and Tazkiyatun Nufus.

Law enforcement on jihadi books

Additional DIG of Police Headquarters (Intelligence and Special Affairs) Md Moniruzzaman said the books written with an intention of inspiring people to terrorism, militancy, and extremism are known as jihadi ones. “Publication and distribution of such books are prohibited by law.”

“No such book has officially been banned. Despite our strong monitoring, some jihadi books are still available in the country. If we find any book which can inspire people to engage in militancy and terrorism, we seize those.”

Mufti Mahmud Khan, Director (Legal Wing and Media) at RAB headquarters said, though the real context of jihad is different,  books that have distorted content in the name of Islam, to inspire people to join in so-called jihad, are called jihadi books.

Additional Commissioner and Chief of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), Monirul Islam, said “Jihadi' is a religious term. We shouldn’t describe the books that have content instigating people to carry out terror acts as jihadi books. They should be called books on extremism.”

A top official of the Intelligence Branch, requesting anonymity, said books on extremism are usually printed secretly, faking the addresses of publication houses. There are a number of books, written by arrested or executed top leaders of different militant outfits, that have extremist content. “We usually arrest people with those books.”