Kleptocracy: Islamic Foundation of Bangladesh plagued by corruption

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Bangladesh, Islamic Foundation, Allegations of corruption, Corruption

Islamic Foundation of Bangladesh, a government institution dedicated to promoting and expanding Islamic values, is currently embroiled in allegations of corruption, mismanagement, and irregularities. Reports suggest that many high-ranking officials within the organization have been implicated in various forms of misconduct, including the misuse of government resources, financial fraud, and nepotism.

One of the primary issues plaguing the Islamic Foundation is the appointment of incompetent and corrupt officials to key positions. Qualified individuals are often overlooked in favor of those who are less competent but have connections within the organization. Notably, several deputy directors have been promoted to head various departments in violation of established rules and regulations. These appointments have raised concerns about the integrity and effectiveness of the Foundation’s leadership.

Allegations of misuse of government resources are rampant within the Foundation. Senior officials of the Ministry of Religion have reportedly been using the Foundation’s assets for personal purposes. Sources indicate that A. Hamid Jamaddar, the Secretary of the Ministry of Religion, is currently utilizing four vehicles belonging to the Islamic Foundation. These vehicles are being used for personal and family purposes, with all expenses, including fuel and driver salaries, being covered by government funds. This misuse of resources has resulted in a shortage of vehicles for various projects within the Foundation, hampering its operations.

Recruitment within the Islamic Foundation has also been marred by allegations of fraud. Deputy Director Mohammad Harunur Rashid has been accused of using his position to assist his younger brother in a recruitment examination. Rashid, who was supposed to oversee the examination at Sherebangla Nagar Government Boys’ School Center, instead helped his brother verbally and through mobile phone communication during the test. This incident led to a show cause notice being issued against him, and he was subsequently transferred to Dhobaura in Mymensingh. However, Rashid reportedly used various channels to lobby against this transfer and managed to stay in Dhaka.

Harunur Rashid is also implicated in financial misappropriation and academic misconduct. In 2013, while serving in the Tangail district office, he allegedly embezzled BDT 700,000 using fake signatures on checks. Despite an investigation committee finding evidence of this fraud, no action was taken against him. Additionally, Rashid pursued a PhD degree without obtaining the necessary permission from the ministry, raising further questions about his professional conduct. His research paper, which disrespected national leaders and periods of struggle, drew the attention of the Counter Terrorism Investigation Department (CTTC), which questioned him on suspicion of involvement with anti-independence fundamentalist groups.

Despite these serious allegations, Harunur Rashid continues to hold significant responsibilities within the Islamic Foundation. He currently serves as the Director of the Zakat Department and has additional duties as the Press Manager and Director of the Research, Translation, and Compilation Department.

Other departments within the Islamic Foundation are also affected by similar issues. Deputy Director Abdullah Al Masood, for instance, is serving as the Director of the ICT Department while also holding additional responsibilities in the Planning Department. Md. Abdur Razzak, another deputy director with a history of corruption allegations, has been assigned as the director of multiple projects, including those focused on improving life quality in the Haor area and preserving biodiversity. His extensive responsibilities, despite his tainted record, have raised eyebrows among colleagues and observers.

Similarly, Deputy Director Muhammad Rafiq ul Islam, who oversees the Masjid-based Children and Mass Education Program Project, has been given the current charge of the Law & Estate Department and additional duties as the sub-project director for establishing 564 model mosques and cultural centers.

Corruption within the Islamic Foundation extends to its district offices as well. In Narail, Deputy Director Mizanur Rahman faces multiple allegations of corruption and irregularities. Since taking office on March 1, 2023, Mizanur has been accused of demanding bribes from teachers under his jurisdiction. Those who fail to comply are reportedly dismissed, with 45 teachers having been fired in the past one year. The affected teachers have lodged complaints with the District Commissioner, highlighting the pervasive corruption and harassment they face.

Despite the numerous allegations and reports of corruption within the Islamic Foundation, there has been little to no accountability or action taken against the implicated officials. Previous media reports on the Foundation’s corruption have not prompted any significant response from the authorities. The Anti-Corruption Commission’s involvement, if any, remains unclear.

Experts and observers argue that the government must take immediate action to address the rampant corruption within the Islamic Foundation and other government organizations. There is an urgent need for a special task force to thoroughly investigate these allegations and enforce strict measures to uphold the zero-tolerance policy against corruption advocated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Without decisive action, the integrity and effectiveness of government institutions such as the Islamic Foundation will continue to erode, undermining public trust and impeding the nation’s development.

Islamic Foundation’s current state of affairs is a stark reminder of the consequences of unchecked corruption and mismanagement. It is imperative that the government takes swift and decisive action to restore accountability and integrity within the organization, ensuring that it can fulfill its mission of promoting and expanding Islamic values in an ethical and transparent manner.

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