Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sheikh Hasina... not so secular.

The Awami League needs new leadership.

Today, Daily Star reported on a proposal by the Awami League on amending Bangladesh's Constitution.

From a religio-political standpoint, the proposal is a disaster. There is no roll back of religion in politics, there is no roll back of Islamization. What there is - a tacit acceptance of the status quo, an acquiescence to the eventual destiny of Bangladesh. That of Iran.

The Awami League, a supposedly secularist political party, continues to pander to the Islamist bloc with the eventual outcome that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party will go one step further, farther to turn Bangladesh into a theocracy.

The Awami League's proposal includes: keeping Bismillah-Ar-Rahman-Ar-Rahim, in the Preamble of the Constitution. This was inserted by a dictator, if I'm not mistaken, General Ziaur Rahman (whose wife, incidentally, leads the BNP) and is a statement of a religion on a political social contract. In the name of God... and so on.

The Awami League would keep Islam as the state religion. An attempt by yet another dictator to legitimize his illegal rule, this time General HM Ershad. Although Hasina seems to find the amendment dubious (since no one popularly elected voted for it), she says that people are attached to religion and its been a long time since enactment (since 1988). This similar to saying that Apartheid may have well continued in South Africa because people are attached to race and its just been a fact of life. Ridiculous.

Hasina does say that other religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity will "enjoy equal rights." But just won't be a state religion. I may need to reexamine the word "equality."

In terms of religion-based parties, originally illegal but then made legal by a dictator (Zia), the Awami League wants to amend the law so that these parties wouldn't face a ban.

So Bangladesh continues to stumble down the road of Islamization. I suppose the next stop will be the Supreme Court declaring that the issuance of fatwa is exactly the same as a popularly promulgated law.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The simplest comment betrays great wisdom.

Remember the terrorist Siddiqul Islam? You know the - JMB/JMJB guy. He was often called "Bangla Bhai" (brother of Bengal, Bengali brother, friend of Bengal, and so on). In a letter to the Daily Star's editor, somewhat asked that he not be referred to as such: "How can we call a terrorist by our country name?"

Very good point. Sure, we all knew him as such, but to have continually referred to in the media and official discourse as "Bangla Bhai"... almost as if he was a friend with a bad streak. In a way, calling him a friend or brother of the country legitimizes his heinous activities which included murder. Would anyone dream of calling a Razakar "Bangla Bhai"? Of course not.

The Daily Star, 27 January 2006

Just unfortunate

When affiliates of the ruling party, a supposedly "secularist" ruling political party at that, burn down a religious site (and a home besides) of minority religious community members. Perhaps one day, Bangladeshis will decide that Muslim, Hindu, Christian, or whatever people are Bangladeshis. And that the vested property law is utterly hateful and deplorable. More likely, vested property will go away when all of the religious and ethnic minorities have as well.

That this happened just kilometers away from the capital, in Manikganj, is just shameful and unfortunate.

League men burn down temple, vandalise houses - The Daily Star, 5 April 2011