Stealing Shahbag: A Re-Legitimization of Islamism in the Aftermath of a Secularist Social Movement

26 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018

Date Written: February 1, 2018

Abstract

The Shahbag movement emerged in early February of 2013 as a sit-in protest in the Shahbag square of Dhaka city on the demands of capital punishment of war criminals of the 1971 liberation war of Bangladesh. This paper evaluates the movement as case study for the framing tasks theory of social movements and explores how faulty framing of the movement grievances led to counterproductive consequences for the movement constituents. The theoretical analysis is supported by the empirical findings of an original public opinion survey of up to 300 movement participants. Key movement leaders and movement critics were also interviewed through open-ended questions to further inform the survey data. The paper provides a genealogy of the secularist civil society framing tasks and shows how Shahbag, after originating from that frame, eventually shifted away from it under the a politically coopted leadership. As a consequence, the Islamist civil society mobilized a countermovement under the banner of Hefazat-e-Islam, which lead to the re-legitimation of Islamism as a political ideology and reestablished Islamists as an influential interest group.

Keywords: Shahbag, Social Movement, Bangladesh, Islamism

JEL Classification: Z12, Z13, Z10

Suggested Citation

Roy, Anupam, Stealing Shahbag: A Re-Legitimization of Islamism in the Aftermath of a Secularist Social Movement (February 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3116349 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3116349

Anupam Roy (Contact Author)

Howard University ( email )

2400 Sixth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20059
United States

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