Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Critique

Ah and at last a critique of my New Age article.

Mr. Bilayet Hossain, Oklahoma, USA writes:

Martyred intellectuals and Islamic militancy

Expressing the feelings of the family members of the martyred intellectuals of 1971, your correspondent Shahiduzzaman wrote on December 14:
‘They are unequivocal in their views that the killers of 1971 were behind the emergence of militancy that already has the nation in its grip, in a different names and forms.’
Zahid Reza Noor, a son of martyr journalist Sirajuddin Hossain said—’ —the pain becomes unbearable when we see the killers hold high offices of power’—referring to the Jamaat ministers in the present Alliance government.
Contrast this with the comments of Nazim Farhan Choudhury that appeared the same day (Op-Ed, December 14):
‘So is the popular belief that Jamaat is behind the rise of Islamic extremism true? I think not.’ Mr Choudhury then argued how Jamaat has become democratic and how it stands to loose everything by promoting militancy. So according to him Jamaat should be treated just like a regular good-guy democratic party and considered as an ally in fight against the Islamic militants.
What people like Mr Choudhury need to find out is —
(1) Were the paramilitary outfits of the occupying Pakistani army —‘Al-Badr and Al-Shams’— some kind of Islamic militants?
(2) Were the present Jamaat leadership — including the two ministers — members of Al-Badr and Al-Shams?
(3) Did the members of Al-Badr and Al-Shams abduct the intellectuals from their residences and torture and kill them days before the Pakistani army surrendered on 16 December, 1971?
(4) Has the present Jamaat leadership denied its (both personal or collective) involvement in opposing the war of liberation and in particular the killings of the intellectuals or repented for its acts of political violence and its support for a genocidal Pakistani army?
(5) Have they denounced the present day bombings and killings by the so-called militants as ‘un-Islamic’ or not within the realm of political Islam?
If I recall correctly, the Jamaat leader Moulana Nizami has stated on the issue of Islamic militants that the bombings were the act of misguided youths patronized by the conspirators and directed against the alliance government, implying thereby the involvement of India and possibly the Awami League. Have the Jamaatis changed their position?
Before giving an ‘innocence certificate’ to a party whose declared objectives (establishment of laws of Allah—and removal of man-made laws) are quite similar to those of the militants, Mr Choudhury and others need to understand that the path of ‘political Islam’ is a slippery slope. In Bangladesh it started with the removal of secularism from the Constitution and inclusion of ‘ Allah’s law’ in its preamble. Since then ‘Islam’ has been gradually infused in national politics with the consent of a large section of the elite society, particularly in the garb of deterring Indian hegemony.
As we remember the martyred intellectuals (some of them were so close and near personally), we must recall the ideals for which they sacrificed their lives—‘a secular democratic Bangladesh (with ethos of Bengali culture) and with an egalitarian economic development’, as Shahiduzzaman wrote.
Bangladesh was not meant to be ‘a moderate Muslim state’ as some would like to portray—but was meant to be ’a moderate secular state’ where people of all religions can freely practise their religions. But none would be allowed to use religion for political purposes.
That is what the civil society in Bangladesh should strive for and not engage in pandering to or accommodating a criminal political outfit masquerading as a democratic organisation.

New Age. 17th November 2005. FeedBack


Supriyo said...

I respect Mr. Hossain's feelings and know that he is right about Jamaat's past. But I do feel that the only way Bangladesh can recover from its past is by looking ahead - and that can happen only through maintaining a democratic process as Farhan is suggesting.

A sense of revenge can not take precedence over the rule of law in a civil society. And, hence, however painful, one has to live with Ministers with such a past if they have followed the due process in becoming Ministers.

I believe, and I can be wrong, Bangladesh needs a national reconciliation movement - away from the past and into the future. I am not sure it can happen within the current political spectrum, or it needs to come from outside, top-down or bottom-up. But I know it is time as I see Bangladesh edging up on the failed state list in the Foreign Affairs magazine [in Top 10 now].

Also, I am not sure whether one would need to wait for a Kamal Ataturk for deliverance, or it should start in one's own little way. Though unglamourous, this micro-level nation building is what western countries have gone through, and it proved a more sustainable model [as against the superman-driven nation building in many second/ third world countries].

May be, time, Farhan, to start talking about your vision about Bangladesh in concrete terms. I am sure you dont have to be politically correct in your blog:-) or is that necessary? Only when people engage in thinking what their future should look like, they realize that they may not want to live in the past afterall.

Supriyo said...

Err.. wanted to correct a mistake in my previous comment.

The Failed State Index is published by Foreign Policy magazine, not Foreign Affairs as I mentioned. And, Bangladesh, while it tops the Asian list, comes at No. 17, not within first 10 as I mentioned.

This was last year's data, and one would not be surprised if things have worsened in this year's report.

I am pasting a link which should take you to the full index [in case you are interested]: