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Allama Delwar Hossain Sayeedi (1940-2023)

Anwarulhaq Baig

Bangladesh’s popular Islamic figure, former Member of Jatiya Sangsad and Vice President Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (BJI), Allama Delwar Hossain Sayeedi died on August 14, in a prison hospital in Dhaka following cardiac arrest. He was 83.

Allama Sayeedi was a popular Islamic preacher, writer and influential orator, having millions of fan followers.  Thousands of people came out on the streets to protest over his death, alleging negligence of prison authorities.

Allama Sayeedi was arrested on June 29, 2010, on charges of hurting religious sentiments. However, he was detained in a case of crimes against humanity on August 2, 2010. Later, a controversial war crimes tribunal sentenced him to death in 2013. His trial was criticised by international organisations, including HRW and AI while the defence lawyers boycotted the trial, dubbing the charges baseless and politically motivated. The Supreme Court commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment in September 2014, after facing global backlash. Several groups including the main opposition BNP and BJI raised serious questions over the legitimacy of the tribunal. Since his arrest, he spent 13 years of his life in prison. Bangladesh Jamaat accused the authorities of ‘slowly turning him into a martyr without treatment in prison.’

Born in Indurkani village of Pirojpur district on February 2, 1940, Allama Sayeedi completed his first religious education at his father’s Madrasa, attended the Sarsina Alia Madrasa in 1962, followed by Khulna Alia Madrasa. Later, he studied various languages, religions, sciences, politics, economics, foreign policy, psychology and various theories. He joined Bangladesh Jamaat in 1979 and became a Shura member in 1989. He served as BJI Vice President from 2009 till his demise.

BJI Acting President and former lawmaker Professor Mujibur Rahman led his funeral prayer at the Allama Sayeedi Foundation Ground in Pirojpur on August 15. Allama Sayeedi was laid to rest in the family cemetery in Machimpur, Pirojpur Municipality. Later, funeral prayers in absentia were held at various places across the country.

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