Tag Archives: Shahbagh

Letter from Shahbagh: Kalyani Menon-Sen

POWER_OF_LIGHT_orgGuest post by KALYANI MENON-SEN: Ever since I came back from Dhaka on 12th April this year, I have been opening my mailbox every morning with a feeling of excitement and anticipation, confident that there will be a mail from  Bangladesh with the latest news from Shahbagh. Just brief snippets – a slogan, a comment, a moment captured in a cellphone photo – but they are enough to bring back the   feeling of being there, feeling the excitement and the energy, sensing the emergence of a new kind of political space – chaotic and confused, yet alive with radical possibilities.

But last Sunday, 12th May, came a brief one-liner from Habib: “The police have dismantled Projonmo Chottor. Will keep you informed of further developments.”  Continue reading Letter from Shahbagh: Kalyani Menon-Sen

Hefazat-e-Jamaat, Nothing Else : On the Recent Developments in Bangladesh

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Talibaner aar ek naam – hefazat-e-Islam!” (Another name for Taliban, Hefazat-e-Islam)               

– Slogan raised at Shahbagh square

 

To such a degree has Religion fuelled conflict, complicated politics, retarded social development and impaired human relations across the world, that one is often tempted to propose that Religion is innately an enemy of Humanity, if not indeed of itself a crime against Humanity. Certainly it cannot be denied that Religion has proved again and again a spur, a motivator and a justification for the commission of some of the most horrifying crimes against Humanity, despite its fervent affirmations of peace. Let us, however, steer away from hyperbolic propositions and simply settle for this moderating moral imperative: that it is time that the world adopted a position that refuses to countenance Religion as an acceptable justification for, excuse or extenuation of – crimes against Humanity.

(Wole Soyinka, Source: http://www.granta.com/New-Writing/Religion-Against-Humanity)

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The above quote was part of a long intervention made by Wole Soyinka, Nigerian writer, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, and the first one from Africa, as part of UNESCO International High Panel, in a Conference on the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.(21 September 2012) . The immediate context for Soyinka’s speech – was the desecration and destruction of centuries old tombs of Muslim saints in Timbuktu, Mali by radical Islamist group Ansar-al Dime which had ‘discovered’ them to be unIslamic. There were rumours  that the ‘invaluable library-treasures of Timbuktu may be next.’ on their agenda. Cautioning people about the fact that “[t]he science-fiction archetype of the mad scientist who craves to dominate the world has been replaced by the mad cleric who can only conceive of the world in his own image, proudly flaunting Bond’s 007 credentials – License to Kill.” he urged leaders to “..[u]nderstand this, and admit that no nation has any lack of its own dangerous loonies, be they known as Ansar-Dine of Mali, or Terry Jones of Florida, the earlier they will turn their attention to real issues truly deserving human priority. “

One was reminded of Soyinka’s words when one was witness to the march organised by the newly emergent group Hefazat-e-Islam ( can be loosely translated as ‘Defenders of Islam’) on the streets of Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh and the consequent mayhem that followed.  Continue reading Hefazat-e-Jamaat, Nothing Else : On the Recent Developments in Bangladesh

Shahbag no imperialist conspiracy, Mr Umari

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Photograph : Martyr Ahmed Rajib Haider

GUWAHATI: The echo of the Shahbag protest in Bangladesh was heard about 200 miles away here on Sunday with citizens, under the banner of Janamat, expressing solidarity with protesters in that country. Janamat, a Guwahati-based socio-cultural body which organised the solidarity meet here, said that the issue raised by the Shahbag protesters is relevant to India in general and Assam in particular because both the countries’ secular and democratic fabrics are threatened by communal forces.

Solidarity meet in city for Shahbag protest

TNN Apr 29, 2013, 09.35AM IST

Representatives of different Gonojagoron Mancha across the country on Friday suggested spreading its activities to grassroots level to aware people about its demands. They urged all to be united to fight against Jamaat-Shibir and move forward with a view to realising their demands …Around 300 representatives from 167 gonojagoron manchas from seven divisions attended the daylong representative conference at Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University to express their views and suggestions to strengthen the movement.

Imran H Sarkar, spokesperson for the Gonojagoron Mancha, announced a mass rally at Mymensingh on May 18 and a grand rally at Projonmo Chattar in Dhaka on May 31 at the end of the conference.

(The Daily Star, May 3, 2013)

Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari, President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, (Born in 1935), seems to be a learned man, at least that’s what his biographical details tell us. Elected for the second time as Ameer (President) of the Jamaat he is known to have ‘authored more than thirty books’ and is ‘considered an ‘authority on human rights in general, and women and Islamic family system in particular’. Interestingly, despite his long innings in social-political life and exposure to the outside world his understanding of some crucial developments in this part of the subcontinent seems to be at variance from what can be said as a general consensus around the issue.

The manner in which he and the organisation he leads reacted to the recent developments in B’desh, the emergence of what is known as Shahbagh movement – the spontaneous movement initiated by youth seeking ‘exemplary punishment to the war criminals’ and banning of ‘politics based on religion’ – is an indicative of this disconnect between what Maulana Umari and the organisation he leads thinks and what actually happened.

Continue reading Shahbag no imperialist conspiracy, Mr Umari

Muslim Right: Baring Its True Fangs!

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Any death is regrettable and those who died due to police fire may also come under this category. What is interesting is Jamaat’s modus operandi. The lone survivor of 14 December mass murder of intellectuals described in a recent TV documentary how Al Badr killed Prof Munier Chowdhury and others. Some were bitten with iron bars to death and at the final point; they would insert such bars into the head of their victims to ensure death. Jamaat-Shibir reportedly did exactly the same couple of weeks ago when they killed some police constables and others. It shows Jamaat-Shibir’s Standard Operating Procedure has remained unchanged for the last four decades…

(Rabiul H. Zaki, 1952, 1971, the genocide and Shahbagh)

“The Pakistani soldiers unleashed a reign of terror on the soil of Bangladesh in 1971. They brutally killed innocent people, molested Bengali women and ruined the economy. The Jamaat leaders, Ghulam Azam and Matiur Rahman Nizami, issued the fatwa that those activities were permissible to save Islam” (Dr Mohammed Hannan, Page 252, Bangladeshe Fatwar Itihas, 1999).

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What is common between Syed Md Nurur Rahman Barkati, Shahi Imam of Tipu Sultan Masjid, Kolkatta and Maulana Syed Athar Abbas Rizvi, imam, Cossipore Masjid or Md Qamruzzaman, general secretary, All Bengal Minorities Youth Federation ? Well, if media reports are to be believed then they would be the leading lights of a demonstration to be held on March 30 th in Kolkata demanding stepping down of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Haseena’s resignation. Continue reading Muslim Right: Baring Its True Fangs!

India Slept Through a Revolution in Bangladesh: Richa Jha

Guest post by RICHA JHA

Dhaka, Bangladesh. 18th February 2013 -- A woman shouts on a microphone. -- A demonstration for the death penalty to be given to war criminals, is continuing at Shahbag crossroads, and has reached its fourteenth day,.
Dhaka, Bangladesh. 18th February 2013 — A woman shouts on a microphone. — A demonstration for the death penalty to be given to war criminals, is continuing at Shahbag crossroads, and has reached its fourteenth day,.

This morning, I changed the ‘sleep’ in the heading of this article to ‘slept’. I woke up to the news that Bangladesh’s nearly twenty days long mass uprising was now getting a structured exit. The most moving and visually spectacular part of the Shahbag movement was coming to an end. India, of course, slept through most of it. The past tense, suddenly, paints our selective insularity in even starker shades. Continue reading India Slept Through a Revolution in Bangladesh: Richa Jha

Shahbagh: The Forest of Symbols: Naeem Mohaiemen

This is a guest post by NAEEM MOHAIEMEN

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© Syed Latif Hossain

There is a particular way of lensing mass movements, when we are observing from within immediate tactics. In a fast moving situation, with opponents and allies squared off, the first thing to shrink is the space for internal critique. Professor Azfar Hussain uses the term “critical solidarity” for his approach to Shahbagh. A critique that seeks to help the movement, but also a critique some are not ready to hear yet.

For the last sixteen days, Bangladesh has been in an intense new political phase. The ground has shifted and been recast by the scale of the Shahbagh movement. The flash point was the sentencing of the “Butcher of Mirpur” (a war criminal who collaborated with the Pakistan army in 1971). But, by now, the demands have expanded to a call for a ban on the main Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, or even Islamist politics altogether. Older leftist thinkers like Badruddin Umar are daring to ask questions of the hallowed place of “state religion” in the constitution. Younger bloggers are urging all to make it clear that the movement is about war criminals, not religion. But of course, with war criminals conflated with the Jamaat-e-Islami, and that party eager to present themselves as standing for “Islam,” category errors will happen. Continue reading Shahbagh: The Forest of Symbols: Naeem Mohaiemen