BEN condemns assassination attempt on Prof. Zafar Iqbal

BEN condemns assassination attempt on Prof. Zafar Iqbal

Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN) — the global network for protection of environment — condemns strongly the assassination attempt on Prof. Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, carried out at a ceremony at Shah Jalal University in Sylhet yesterday. It is of great relief that he is in stable condition and is expected to recover fully. However, this does not reduce the gravity of the attack a bit, because there was every chance that the attack could have led to his loss of life.

Prof. Muhammad Jafar Iqbal lived and worked in the United States for a long time. He and his wife, Prof. Yasmin returned to Bangladesh to contribute more directly to Bangladesh’s life and development. Upon returning, both of them played an important role in developing the newly established Hazrat Shah Jalal University of Science and Technology in Sylhet. In addition to teaching and writing science fiction, Prof. Iqbal participated actively in the struggle against forces that are trying to undermine the spirit and achievements of the Liberation War. As a result, he received many threats against his life, and the government granted him police protection. It is surprising that the would-be assassin was able to carry out his attack despite the protection.

Prof. Zafar Iqbal was actively involved in founding the environment movement in Bangladesh. In the early days of this movement, back in late 1990s, he played an important role in facilitating BEN’s reaching out to resident Bangladeshi (RB), and thus in forging RB-NRB cooperation that underpin the Bangladesh environment movement.

BEN demands exemplary punishment of those involved in the attack on Prof. Iqbal. After a spate of attacks on secular intellectuals in the past, there was a lull for several years. The attack on Prof. Iqbal shows that the forces of reaction are still very much active. Instead of treating this attack as an isolated event, the government needs to wage a comprehensive campaign at uprooting the economic and social base of fundamentalism and destroy its infrastructure, so that such attacks cannot recur.

At this hour, BEN stands solidly with Prof. Zafar Iqbal, his family, and all who are with him and his struggle. We wish him early recovery and resumption of his active life as soon as possible.

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