Saturday, August 15, 2009

Teacher turned AK-47 enthusiast

Occasionally, even the most coincidental events may inadvertently trigger an investigation into something completely unrelated to the incident itself. Usually this is referred to as a "lucky break," thankfully luck doesn't have as much to do with it as reasoned observation and awareness of the context.

As Bangla Nation understands it: Islamism, the political ideology that seeks to establish a system of government (a state) run by shariah law. As it is normally presented in Western (meaning U.S., European, et cetera) media the Islamism movement is primarily being backed by illiterate rural villagers (CNN Transcript, 28 April 2009). To be sure, Islamism gains a substantial amount of its backing from the rural masses, who may be illiterate. But it would be a mistake to believe that this political system appeals purely to that demographic.

Bangla Nation has devoted some time to pointing out exceptions to this notion (see... and here...), recently Daily Star reported that a teacher at Jaldhaka Pilot Girls' High School in Jaldhaka sub-district, Nilphamari was receiving his full paycheck despite having been arrested in February 2009. At the time, he was an ehsar (full-time member) of Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

While the salary payments are probably a system of failed bureaucracy, the teacher is far more interesting from an intellectual perspective. For he was not just any teacher, he was a senior teacher at a government-run (secular) girl's high school. Something that one would not expect if the term of reference was only the notion that JMB cadre were poor, illiterate villagers from the countryside.

The Government of Bangladesh is serious about eliminating Islamist militancy, the recent spate of arrests of high-profile figures in organizations like JMB, Lashkar-e-Taieba, and Harakat-ul Jihad Bangladesh are evidence of that. What is not entirely known is the method in which the Bangladeshi government is seeking to prevent new "converts" to the political cause of Islamism, whether militant or gradualist (like the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, political party).

Such a method would have to entail at least two different approaches, addressing the grievances of the individuals that are being recruited and developing a political program to point out the deficiencies in the Islamist political agenda.

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