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  #1  
Old January 24, 2005, 06:04 PM
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saadlu saadlu is offline
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Default here was a title of a \"preposterous idea\" (edited)

Seems like NYT has some interested in Bangladesh...

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/23/ma...tml?oref=login




Edited on, January 25, 2005, 2:44 AM GMT, by saadlu.

Edited on, January 25, 2005, 2:45 AM GMT, by saadlu.
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  #2  
Old January 24, 2005, 06:15 PM
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We can't read the article. Can you please paste it?
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  #3  
Old January 24, 2005, 06:18 PM
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Fazal Fazal is offline
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The Next Islamist Revolution?
By ELIZA GRISWOLD


Before dawn one morning this past November in Bagmara, a village in northwestern Bangladesh, six puffy-eyed men gathered beneath a cracked-mud stairwell to describe a man they consider their leader, a former schoolteacher called Bangla Bhai. The quiet was broken now and then by donkey carts clattering past, as village women, seated on the backs of the carts, were taken to the market. The women wore makeshift burkas -- black, white, canary yellow -- and kept their heads down, and this, the men explained, was Bangla Bhai's doing.

Last spring, Bangla Bhai, whose followers probably number around 10,000, decided to try an Islamist revolution in several provinces of Bangladesh that border on India. His name means ''Bangladeshi brother.'' (At one point he said his real name was Azizur Rahman and more recently claimed it was Siddiqul Islam.) He has said that he acquired this nom de guerre while waging jihad in Afghanistan and that he was now going to bring about the Talibanization of his part of Bangladesh. Men were to grow beards, women to wear burkas. This was all rather new to the area, which was religiously diverse. But Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, as Bangla Bhai's group is called (the name means Awakened Muslim Masses of Bangladesh), was determined and violent and seemed to have enough lightly armed adherents to make its rule stick.

Because he swore his main enemy was a somewhat derelict but still dangerous group of leftist marauders known as the Purbo Banglar Communist Party, Bangla Bhai gained the support of the local police -- until the central government, worried that Bangla Bhai's band might be getting out of control, ordered his arrest in late May.

''There used to be chaos and confusion here,'' Siddiq-ul-Rahman, one of Bangla Bhai's senior lieutenants, said through an interpreter that morning in Bagmara. The sun was coming up and a crowd was gathering. Siddiq-ul-Rahman boasted that police officers attend Bangla Bhai's meetings armed and in uniform. The Bangladeshi government's arrest warrant doesn't seem to have made much difference, although for now Bangla Bhai refrains from public appearances. The government is far away in Dhaka, and is in any case divided on precisely this question of how much Islam and politics should mix. Meanwhile, Bangla Bhai and the type of religious violence he practices are filling the power vacuum.

Bangladeshi politics have never strayed far from violence. During the war for independence from Pakistan, in 1971, three million people died in nine months. Thuggery has been a consistent feature of political life since then and is increasingly so today. This has made it difficult to get an accurate picture of phenomena like Bangla Bhai. Under the current government, which has been in power since 2001 and includes two avowedly Islamist parties, journalists are frequently imprisoned. Last year, three were killed while reporting on corruption and the rise of militant Islam. Moreover, 80 percent of Bangladeshis live in villages that can be hard to reach and are under the tight control of local politicians. Foreign journalists in Bangladesh are followed by intelligence agents; people that reporters interview are questioned afterward.

Nonetheless, it is possible to travel through Bangladesh and observe the increased political and religious repression in everyday life, and to verify the simple remark by one journalist there: ''We are losing our freedom.'' The global war on terror is aimed at making the rise of regimes like that of the Taliban impossible, but in Bangladesh, the trend could be going the other way.

n Bangladesh, ''Islam is becoming the legitimizing political discourse,'' according to C. Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist at the United States Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan, federally financed policy group in Washington. ''Once you don that religious mantle, who can criticize you? We see this in Pakistan as well, where very few people are brave enough to take the Islamists on. Now this is happening in Bangladesh.'' The region, Fair added, has become a haven where jihadis can move easily and have access to a friendly infrastructure that allows them to regroup and train.

---- End of Page 1 out of 6 --------
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  #4  
Old January 24, 2005, 06:51 PM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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Default NYT article on Bangla Bhai, et al

"It's possible, now more than ever...."
I.O.J. chairman, Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini

______________________________________
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/23/magazine/23BANG.html
NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE
January 23, 2005

The Next Islamist Revolution?
By ELIZA GRISWOLD


Before dawn one morning this past November in Bagmara, a village in northwestern Bangladesh, six puffy-eyed men gathered beneath a cracked-mud stairwell to describe a man they consider their leader, a former schoolteacher called Bangla Bhai. The quiet was broken now and then by donkey carts clattering past, as village women, seated on the backs of the carts, were taken to the market. The women wore makeshift burkas -- black, white, canary yellow -- and kept their heads down, and this, the men explained, was Bangla Bhai's doing.

Last spring, Bangla Bhai, whose followers probably number around 10,000, decided to try an Islamist revolution in several provinces of Bangladesh that border on India. His name means ''Bangladeshi brother.'' (At one point he said his real name was Azizur Rahman and more recently claimed it was Siddiqul Islam.) He has said that he acquired this nom de guerre while waging jihad in Afghanistan and that he was now going to bring about the Talibanization of his part of Bangladesh. Men were to grow beards, women to wear burkas.
This was all rather new to the area, which was religiously diverse. But Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh, as Bangla Bhai's group is called (the name means Awakened Muslim Masses of Bangladesh), was determined and violent and seemed to have enough lightly armed adherents to make its rule stick.

Because he swore his main enemy was a somewhat derelict but still dangerous group of leftist marauders known as the Purbo Banglar Communist Party, Bangla Bhai gained the support of the local police -- until the central government, worried that Bangla Bhai's band might be getting out of control, ordered his arrest in late May.

''There used to be chaos and confusion here,'' Siddiq-ul-Rahman, one of Bangla Bhai's senior lieutenants, said through an interpreter that morning in Bagmara. The sun was coming up and a crowd was gathering. Siddiq-ul-Rahman boasted that police officers attend Bangla Bhai's meetings armed and in uniform. The Bangladeshi government's arrest warrant doesn't seem to have made much difference, although for now Bangla Bhai refrains from public appearances. The government is far away in Dhaka, and is in any case divided on precisely this question of how much Islam and politics should mix. Meanwhile, Bangla Bhai and the type of religious violence he practices are filling the power vacuum.

Bangladeshi politics have never strayed far from violence. During the war for independence from Pakistan, in 1971, three million people died in nine months. Thuggery has been a consistent feature of political life since then and is increasingly so today. This has made it difficult to get an accurate picture of phenomena like Bangla Bhai. Under the current government, which has been in power since 2001 and includes two avowedly Islamist parties, journalists are frequently imprisoned. Last year, three were killed while reporting on corruption and the rise of militant Islam. Moreover, 80 percent of Bangladeshis live in villages that can be hard to reach and are under the tight control of local politicians. Foreign journalists in Bangladesh are followed by intelligence agents; people that reporters interview are questioned afterward.

Nonetheless, it is possible to travel through Bangladesh and observe the increased political and religious repression in everyday life, and to verify the simple remark by one journalist there: ''We are losing our freedom.'' The global war on terror is aimed at making the rise of regimes like that of the Taliban impossible, but in Bangladesh, the trend could be going the other way.

n Bangladesh, ''Islam is becoming the legitimizing political discourse,'' according to C.
Christine Fair, a South Asia specialist at the United States Institute of Peace, a nonpartisan, federally financed policy group in Washington. ''Once you don that religious mantle, who can criticize you? We see this in Pakistan as well, where very few people are brave enough to take the Islamists on. Now this is happening in Bangladesh.'' The region, Fair added, has become a haven where jihadis can move easily and have access to a friendly infrastructure that allows them to regroup and train.

Another close observer of Bangladeshi politics, Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch, told me recently: ''The practical effect of politics along religious lines is that you start to accept a religious identity and reject every other. It's absolutely crucial to understand that this is happening in Bangladesh right now.''

This was not supposed to be the fate of Bangladesh, which fought its way to independence 34 years ago. While its population of 141 million is 83 percent Muslim, the nation was founded on the principle of secularism, which in Bangladesh essentially means religious tolerance. After the guiding figure of independence, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was assassinated in 1975, military leaders, seeking legitimacy, allowed a return of Islam to politics. With the return of fair elections in 1991, power became precariously divided among four parties: the right-leaning Bangladesh National Party (B.N.P.), the mildly leftist Awami League, the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami and the conservative Jatiya. The two leading parties are led by women: the B.N.P. by the current prime minister, Khaleda Zia, widow of the party's murdered founder; the Awami League by Zia's predecessor as prime minister, Sheikh Hasina Wazed, herself the daughter of the assassinated founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Zia and Sheikh Hasina, as she is known, have a legendary antipathy toward each other.
Each of their parties regularly accuses the other of illegal acts. When Sheikh Hasina very narrowly escaped assassination last August, B.N.P. activists all but accused her of staging the attack in order to acquire political advantage. Zia's government has been unable to identify the assassins -- who lobbed grenades into a party rally, killing at least 20 and wounding hundreds -- and Sheikh Hasina has refused even to discuss the investigation with the prime minister, saying: ''With whom should I meet? With the killers?''

The political breach between those two parties is being filled primarily by Jamaat-e- Islami, which agitated against independence in 1971 and remains close to Pakistan. The group was banned after independence for its role in the war but has slowly worked its way back to political legitimacy. The party itself has not changed much -- it was always socially conservative and unafraid of violence. The political context, however, has changed enough to give it greater power. Since 2001, Jamaat-e-Islami has been a crucial part of a governing coalition dominated by the B.N.P. The two parties have ties dating to the late 1970's, but it is only since 2001 that a politically aggressive form of Islam has found, for the first time since independence, a strong place at the top of Bangladeshi politics.

It has found a corresponding position at the bottom of Bangladeshi politics as well, in the social scrum that produces figures like Bangla Bhai. (Opposition politicians have linked Bangla Bhai to Jamaat-e-Islami, a tie that Jamaat and Bangla Bhai have both denied.) The border provinces have, since independence, harbored a proliferation of armed groups that either Bangladesh, India, Myanmar or Pakistan, or some region or faction in one of those countries, has been willing to support for its own political reasons. By the early 1990's Islamist groups began appearing, mainly at the periphery of the jihad centered on Afghanistan. The most important of these has been the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji), which has been associated with Fazlul Rahman, who signed Osama bin Laden's famous declaration in 1998 endorsing international, coordinated jihad -- the document that introduced Al Qaeda to the larger world. But Bangla Bhai's group and others have since emerged and are making their bids for power.

''Bangladesh is becoming increasingly important to groups like Al Qaeda because it's been off everyone's radar screen,'' says Zachary Abuza, the author of ''Militant Islam in Southeast Asia'' and a professor of political science at Simmons College in Boston. ''Al Qaeda is going to have to figure out where they can regroup, where they have the physical capability to assemble and train, and Bangladesh is one of these key places.''


Six years ago, Huji chose its first prominent target: Shamsur Rahman, who is Bangladesh's leading poet. Recently, at his home in Dhaka, Rahman began telling me the story of the attack as he pulled a sheaf of papers from a pigeonhole in his writing desk, on which sat a bottle of black-currant soda and a copy of Dante's ''Inferno.'' Above the desk hung an ink sketch of the Nobel Prize-winning Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, as well as a yellowing photograph of Rahman's father.

Rahman, who is 75, is birdlike and wears his hair in a fluffy white pageboy. Most of his poems are love poems, but some address the rise of militant Islam in his country. ''I am not against religion,'' he said, smiling wryly. ''I am against fanaticism.'' He reached for his mug of hot water. It was the holy month of Ramadan, and Rahman's family had just broken the day's fast.

Downstairs, four policemen were eating a meal prepared by Rahman's daughter-in-law Tia. Rahman has lived under police protection since Jan. 18, 1999, when three young men appeared at his house and asked for a poem. Tia refused to let them in. The poet was resting, she said. But the men begged for just a minute of his time, so Tia obliged.
Immediately one of the men ran upstairs and tried to chop Rahman's neck with an ax. ''He tried to cut my head off, but my wife took me in her arms and my daughter-in-law too,''
Rahman recounted. The two women fended off the blows until the neighbors, hearing their screams, rushed into the house and caught the attackers.

Rahman gestured toward the women standing in the doorway. Tia looked exhausted. The hair around her face was damp from cooking. Rahman's wife, Zahora, not more than four feet tall, held her diminutive hands in front of her and smiled. (She understands English but cannot speak it.) Rahman pointed out the shiny scar on her arm. Zahora patted her husband and took his empty mug to the kitchen. ''They wanted my head, not a poem,'' he said.

The attack led to the arrest of 44 members of Huji. Two men, a Pakistani and a South African, claimed they had been sent to Bangladesh by Osama bin Laden with more than $300,000, which they distributed among 421 madrassas, or private religious schools.
According to Gowher Rizvi, director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard and a lecturer in public policy, bin Laden's reputed donation is ''a pittance'' compared with the millions that Saudi charities have contributed to many of Bangladesh's estimated 64,000 madrassas, most of which serve only a single village or two. Money of this kind is especially important because Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world. Out of 177 countries on the United Nations' Human Development Index, Bangladesh is ranked 138, just above Sudan. The recent tsunami that devastated its neighbors hardly touched it -- a rare bit of good luck for the country, as most catastrophes seem somehow to claim their victims in Bangladesh.


In Bangla Bhai's patch of northwestern Bangladesh, poverty is so pervasive that, for many children in the region, privately subsidized madrassas are the only educational option. For the past several years especially, money from Persian Gulf states has strengthened them even more. Most follow a form of the Deobandi Islam taught in the 1950's by the intellectual and activist Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, who was born in India in 1903 and defined Muslim politics in opposition to Indian nationalism. While Maududi's original agenda was reformist, the Deobandi model is now better known from the madrassas of Pakistan, where it gave rise to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Whether Maududi intended it or not, his teachings have become synonymous with radical Islam.

In November, in a shop in the Bagmara bazaar not far from where Bangla Bhai used to hold his meetings, two young men sat waiting to tell their stories about the cruelty and repression of Bangla Bhai's movement. Everyone here wanted to talk about this, they said, but were afraid of the consequences. Several days earlier, Bangla Bhai's cadres had beaten a university student caught smoking cigarettes, another banned act.

''We weren't allowed to sell these,'' said one of the men, a 20-year-old shopkeeper, holding up a pack of Player's Gold Leaf he kept on a low shelf.

His friend, a thickset man in a white kurta -- a long-sleeved shirt extending below the waist -- sat on a carton next to the counter, with a blue mobile phone in his hand. He played with the phone distractedly as he described the announcements Bangla Bhai's men had made, beginning last summer, over the loudspeaker, demanding that people come watch public punishments. He told me that over the past months he himself had seen more than 50 men hanged upside down by their feet from bamboo scaffolding and beaten with hammers, iron rods and the field-hockey sticks that are commonly used in Bangladesh as weapons. He winced for a second recalling these tortures, and then his fleshy face lost all expression.

''In this place people live in fear,'' the shopkeeper said. ''They still punish people. If anyone is not keeping Ramadan, even if it's a sick man and he's eating in a restaurant, they treat them badly.''

The thickset man scanned the street over his shoulder and added, shaking his head, ''They wanted the regime of the Taliban here.''

Taskforce against Torture, a Bangladeshi human rights organization founded three years ago, has recorded more than 500 cases of people being intimidated and tortured by Bangla Bhai and his men. One of them is Abdul Quddus Rajon, a postmaster from Shafiqpur, a village near Bagmara. He is 42 and comes from a wealthy family of moderate Muslims. Rajon was abducted early last May when two men in green headbands showed up at the post office on a motorbike. They forced him onto the bike and demanded his brother's phone number. Abdul Kayyam Badshah, Rajon's brother and the leader of a banned Communist Party, was wanted by the government and being pursued by Bangla Bhai's men. Rajon refused to give them the number, so they took his mobile phone and drove him to one of Bangla Bhai's camps.

Rajon told me when I met him that he was held with 15 other men in two rooms. ''For four days they tortured me,'' he recounted. Every morning, his captors, who Rajon said were not more than teenagers, took him to a cell and beat him.

Bangla Bhai's men demanded 100,000 taka for his release, about $1,600. Rajon eventually agreed to pay. Before his release, he said, his captors tried to intimidate him into becoming more observant. ''They took me in front of a mosque and told me to promise I would keep my beard and pray five times a day, and to never tell anything about Bangla Bhai's camp,'' he said. ''They wore beards and long kurtas like religious men, but that was the only way in which they were religious.'' He pulled up the cuffs of his khakis to reveal deep black gashes in his shins.

''Eleven days later,'' he said, ''they caught my brother.'' At noon on May 19, Rajon was awakened by a loudspeaker. Bangla Bhai's men were announcing that his brother's trial would start the next day and he would be sentenced to death. ''I tried to contact the state minister and the superintendent of police by telephone,'' Rajon said. ''Because if Badshah was accused, he should be tried according to the laws of the land. But they wouldn't talk to me.'' (According to The Daily Star, Bangladesh's leading English-language newspaper, the local government has been accused of colluding with Bangla Bhai.)

The next morning, Badshah was found hanged by his feet from a tree near a police station. He had been beaten to death. Rajon first heard about it through whispering in the village. ''A policeman was wandering around asking people if they were glad my brother was dead,'' he said. In the village and the surrounding districts, Bangla Bhai's spate of killings and torture continued for another month. One man was dismembered. Another, according to local journalists and villagers who told me they heard him, had a microphone held to his mouth while he was tortured so that the entire village could listen to his screams.

ommunists are just one target of Islamic militants in Bangladesh. Most attacks have been carried out against either members of religious minorities -- Hindus, Christians and Buddhists -- or moderate Muslims considered out of step with the doctrines espoused at the militant madrassas. International groups like Human Rights Watch cannot gather information freely enough to be certain of the scope of the problem. Yet anecdotal evidence is abundant. In Bangladesh, as part of the militant Islamists' agenda, religious minorities are coming under a new wave of attacks. One of the most vulnerable communities is that of the Ahmadiyya, a sect of some 100,000 Muslims who believe that Muhammad was not the last prophet. (The Ahmadiyya are the subject of a Human Rights Watch report to be published next month.) In Pakistan, the Ahmadiyya have been declared infidels and many have been killed. In Bangladesh, religious hardliners have burned mosques and books and pressured the government to declare the sect non-Muslim. Last year, the government agreed to ban Ahmadiyya literature; earlier this month, however, Bangladesh's high court stayed the ban pending further consideration by the court.

But those who oppose the Ahmadiyya are not giving up. At a recent rally in Dhaka, 10,000 protesters gathered outside an Ahmadiyya mosque as one Islamic leader intoned from a parade float, ''Bangladesh's Muslims cast their vote to elect the current government, and the current government is not paying any heed.'' Police officers in riot gear tightened their formation protecting the mosque. ''Beware, we will throw you out of office if you do not meet our demands,'' he said. ''No one will be able to stop the forward march of the soldiers of Islam in Bangladesh.''

The Ahmadiyya are hardly the only group at risk. ''For the Hindus, the last couple of years have been disastrous,'' says Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch. ''There are substantial elements within the society and government itself that are advancing the idea that Hindus need to be expelled.'' On the ground, attacks against Hindus include beatings and rapes.

''Minority communities in the country are feeling less safe,'' said Govind Acharya, Amnesty International's country specialist for Bangladesh. ''The Hindus, the Ahmadiyya and the tribals in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are all leaving. This demographic shift is the most problematic for the identity and the future of the country.''


The permissiveness of at least some within the Bangladeshi government and the police in allowing violent groups like Bangla Bhai's to pursue their agendas has only increased the political legitimacy of such groups. Mohammad Selimullah, the leader of a militant Islamist group based across Bangladesh's eastern border in Myanmar, was arrested in Chittagong early in 2001, and he admitted in court that more than 500 jihadis had been training under him in Bangladesh. On his computer, intelligence sources found photographs to be sent to donors showing Islamic soldiers at rest and at attention, armed with AK-47's and wearing shiny new boots. Selimullah said that his group received weapons from supporters in Libya and Saudi Arabia, among others.

Last spring in Chittagong, 10 truckloads of weapons -- the largest arms seizure in Bangladesh's history -- were captured by the police as they were being unloaded from trawlers. The tip-off most likely came from Indian intelligence, which monitors the arms being sent to Islamist separatist groups in India's northeast. Haroon Habib, a leading journalist in the region, has written that a leader of the government's local Islamist coalition was helping to hide the weapons.

Several months later, under increased pressure from the European Union and the United States to crack down on terror, Bangladeshi security forces raided two camps in the Ukhia area belonging to Huji. Local journalists say that both camps, which were not far from Chittagong, have now been destroyed, but no one can get close enough to be sure. What is certain is that the attack didn't drive the militants out of the region. Four months ago, five more members of Huji were arrested in Chittagong.

In this environment, Bangladesh's radical leaders have ratcheted up their ambitions.
Responding to the American invasion of Afghanistan, supporters of the Islamic Oikya Jote (I.O.J.), the most radical party in the governing coalition and a junior partner to the Jamaat-e-Islami, chanted in the streets of Chittagong and Dhaka, ''Amra sobai hobo Taliban, Bangla hobe Afghanistan,'' which roughly translates to ''We will be the Taliban, and Bangladesh will be Afghanistan.''

The I.O.J. is considered a legitimate voice within Bangladeshi politics. The I.O.J.'s chairman, Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini, who has served as a member of Parliament for the past three years, says he believes that secular law has failed Bangladesh and that it's time to implement Sharia, the legal code of Islam. During our two hourlong meetings, the mufti
-- a welcoming and relatively open man with a salt-and-pepper beard and teeth dyed red from chewing betel -- asked if he could take photographs and pass them along to the local press to show his constituents that he is so powerful the Western press now comes to him.

The mufti presides over his father-in-law's mosque and madrassa, Jamiat-Qurania- Arabia, in Dhaka, where the traffic caused by 600,000 bicycle rickshaws, more than in any other city in the world, is so intense that it can take hours to travel fewer than 10 miles from Louis Kahn's ethereal Parliament -- a relic of a more hopeful period in Bangladesh's democracy -- to the warren of lanes in the old part of town where the mufti is based. At the mosque, he almost overfills the armchair in which he stations himself. He admits that as an Islamic state, Bangladesh still has far to go.

''As we are Muslim, naturally we want Bangladesh to be an Islamic state and under Islamic law,'' the mufti said. Amini is the author of books in Arabic, Bangla and Urdu. (He learned Urdu while completing graduate work in a madrassa in Karachi, Pakistan.) He recently completed a multivolume set of laws and edicts, or fatwas. The mufti is renowned for his fatwas, which, he said, he issues almost every day when people come to him with questions about the application of religious law. The mufti has also issued fatwas against the secular press when they investigate the rise of militant Islam in Bangladesh. When he advocates punishment for those who offend Islam, he said, he does not intend to preach violence. The young men of Huji who attacked the poet Shamsur Rahman were studying in one of his madrassas in Chittagong.

The mufti said that the only reason he is not a government minister is that the current regime snubbed him out of fear as to how his appointment would look. The West would see both him and Bangladesh as too extremist. The mufti has been named in Indian intelligence documents as a member of the central committee of Huji (itself linked to Al Qaeda), an association he would, of course, deny. He is also rumored to have close friends among the Afghan Taliban, which he denies, while adding that it's better not to discuss the Afghan Taliban, as they are so frequently misunderstood. Besides, he says as the corner of his mouth twitches into a smile, the Taliban are running all over his madrassa, as the word ''talib'' means only student.

Outside his office, the sound of boys' voices reciting the Koran rises and falls. Fifteen hundred students study at the madrassa, and the mufti's party, the I.O.J., sponsors madrassas all over the nation; how many, he claimed not to know. Financing, the mufti said, comes mostly from Bangladesh itself, but some money also arrives from friends throughout the Arab world.

Of all his political influence, the mufti is most proud of his fatwas, which, he said, give him a means to speak out against those who violate Islam. ''Whoever speaks against Islam, I issue a fatwa against them to the government,'' he said. ''But the government says nothing.'' He shook his head, frustrated. That's next on his agenda: to pressure the government to recognize his religious injunctions. ''It's possible,'' he said, ''now more than ever.''


Eliza Griswold is a writer based in New York.
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  #5  
Old January 24, 2005, 07:01 PM
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BushidoTiger BushidoTiger is offline
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Just read the whole thing..!! It is truly disheartning to see how a country which had been known for its inter-religious harmony and tolerance are slowly yielding to the 'fundies'.

Ever since I left the country, I never paid much attention to the politics. The BNP that has to form coalition w/ the extremists, is not the BNP Zia-the husband left behind.

I had always been very proud of our ability to get along with other fellow country men who happen to share diff. belief system. In Chittagong, with a large number of Buddist population, it was never a matter who belonged to what. There were, of course, those wannabe "Islamic Shibirs". Noone, I thought, paid any attention to those guys back in late eighties.

I guess its all changed now. I wonder why there is not protest/actions by population at large!
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Old January 24, 2005, 09:09 PM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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The full text is in the other thread I opened not knowing this was here.

The title of this thread suggests that the NYT article is trying to justify a future invasion of Bangladesh by the US. What a preposterous idea! The NYT is not exactly the journalistic frontmen for the current Republican Adminstration in the US.

Don't expect a lot of openness or objective dialog around this issue. We choose to look the other way, and will reap the harvest that we sow.
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Old January 24, 2005, 09:38 PM
Tintin Tintin is offline
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>> I wonder why there is not protest/actions by population at large!

We - the middle class moderates everywhere - are useless. Our favourite way of solving a social issue is by wishing that it will go away on its own, and pretend that it is not serious. We are afraid of raising our voice, we are afraid of risking something today for the sake of tomorrow.
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Old January 24, 2005, 09:54 PM
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saadlu saadlu is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by rafiq
The full text is in the other thread I opened not knowing this was here.

The title of this thread suggests that the NYT article is trying to justify a future invasion of Bangladesh by the US. What a preposterous idea! The NYT is not exactly the journalistic frontmen for the current Republican Adminstration in the US.

Don't expect a lot of openness or objective dialog around this issue. We choose to look the other way, and will reap the harvest that we sow.
AHHH...shouldn't have rushed it! Should have thought about it before judging it as a "yet another fear-mongering article against a muslim country"

>> Don't expect a lot of openness or objective dialog around this issue

Believe me, there will be one, but not now. Can't contribute much as it stands now. I gotta know more about this "Bangla Bhai" issue. Although I hope I was the *only* who pre-judged it!

Edited on, January 25, 2005, 3:02 AM GMT, by saadlu.
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Old January 25, 2005, 12:16 AM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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Trust me you aren't the only one who would have judged it that way or will have some visceral reaction to such an "anti-bangladesh" article, one usually reserved only for crickinfo on this board. Most bangladeshis will agree with you, which should make everyone happy all around. The only ones who complain are friggin' losers. All articles about Bangladesh are inevitably fear-mongering, divisive, hateful, racist, anti-Islamic and a prelude to war. We live in a $hitty world.

Not sure why the person who opened the thread felt the need to change the title and the original comments. No one will crucify you here for your opinion, at least not most of the time. If you think this article is really about "what does Bangaldesh have that the US may want", if that is the only lens through which we can see these things, then so be it - it's your opinion and you are free to express it here.

Edited on, January 25, 2005, 5:29 AM GMT, by rafiq.
Reason: noticed the thread title change
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Old January 25, 2005, 02:40 AM
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saadlu saadlu is offline
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Quote:
Trust me you aren't the only one who would have judged it that way or will have some visceral reaction to such an "anti-bangladesh" article
Nope, you are right. Judging from the other posts about RAB, Joy, Tarek and all kindof political events, I am quite sure about that.

Quote:
Most bangladeshis will agree with you, which should make everyone happy all around.
Yeap, that's why I posted it. I am pretty lonely!

Quote:
The only ones who complain are friggin' losers. All articles about Bangladesh are inevitably fear-mongering, divisive, hateful, racist, anti-Islamic and a prelude to war. We live in a $hitty world.
Tylenol, extra strength, need Tylenol, extra strength - can't take sarcasm that well...

Quote:
Not sure why the person who opened the thread felt the need to change the title and the original comments.
It was a bad "Napolean Dynamite" joke!

Quote:
No one will crucify you here for your opinion
How can they? "freedom is on the march"

Quote:
If you think this article is really about "what does Bangaldesh have that the US may want", if that is the only lens through which we can see these things, then so be it - it's your opinion and you are free to express it here.
wow...I thought the whole point was to get rid of all the lenses...


Brother rafique...don't take this the wrong way...I am just an idiot making stupid points (and this is no smarta$$ statement)...I admit, I really don't have the brain to play ping-pong. But I promise I will work on it...but for now let me forget about this whole thing..after your next post of course!
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Old January 25, 2005, 08:54 AM
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Yahoooooooo
now if US invate BD, do we have to face visa again or we will need no more visa?

Now when the communist people where killing people it was ok and somebody stand up to them(unfortunately it was people like afgan...) we r becoming another afgan... My point is as we didn't pay much attention when those cummunist people where doing why now?? oh i forgot us got a new agenda aginst muslim just like they had against cummisnismmm and where ever they see sight of that no matter how small it is they lable it as a communist county or in this case going to be an afgan country...

I wonder why wont they say another iraq instead of afgan?
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Old January 25, 2005, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by BushidoTiger
Just read the whole thing..!! It is truly disheartning to see how a country which had been known for its inter-religious harmony and tolerance are slowly yielding to the 'fundies'.

Ever since I left the country, I never paid much attention to the politics. The BNP that has to form coalition w/ the extremists, is not the BNP Zia-the husband left behind.....

....I guess its all changed now. I wonder why there is not protest/actions by population at large!
O.. dear .. O dear..!!

Pls dont take it personally... but u just broke my heart!

American-Media-Propaganda is already highly well-known thoughout the rest of the world now.. and that US media does eywash & brainwash almost each and every single American... there is nothing new in that... but I can understand how OVERPOWERING these media can be... as it has very successfully planted some high amount of confusion even into the minds of Bangladeshies living abroad!!... Totally Heartbreaking Really! :duh:

Bangladesh is a nation drowned in dirty politics.. no doubt.. but fanatism?!... well trust me that still exists more on the news media around the world (in manipulative articles) than inside the country itself!

We had discussions on this issue in a thread on this board.. when Indian cricket team was threatened by some 'Harkat-Ul-Jihad' FAX... (an Org. which never really existed as much that ppl would even bother to protest!)

Well.. can't blame you much either... coz these western media r so powerful that they can snatch a country like Iraq and 'rape' the whole country for over 2 years.. and then admit that It was all based on some 'Defective' Report.. and yet carry on their assult!!... There is no one strong enough to stand against them... specially the United States Of America!!

PS. BD foreign ministry has already filed an official complaint agains this manipulative & humliating Article.. (not that it matters much.. still..)
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Old January 25, 2005, 09:58 AM
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arey bhai bonera dont worry abt the US attacking Bangladesh...arey they want the oil in Cox's Bazar na? if they do we give it to them for free...arey man american president is wanting oil...our ministers will be more than happy to give it to him...so no worries of an attack
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Old January 25, 2005, 12:17 PM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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crickethorizon, your response is pretty standard issue. Do you seriously think the US media has been able to brainwash all of us? We don't have any independent brain cells left functioninig?

Now, on the other hand, has that Foreign Ministry of yours brainwashed all of your brain cells?

Anyway, aside from condascending comments, I'd just like to make one point - Bangladesh is not a country full of fanatics nor did this particular article make such a statement. It just has some less desirable elements who do harm to society at large. And that;s my opinion, I don't need the NYT to tell me that.
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Old January 25, 2005, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by rafiq
crickethorizon, your response is pretty standard issue. Do you seriously think the US media has been able to brainwash all of us? We don't have any independent brain cells left functioninig?

Now, on the other hand, has that Foreign Ministry of yours brainwashed all of your brain cells?

Anyway, aside from condascending comments, I'd just like to make one point - Bangladesh is not a country full of fanatics nor did this particular article make such a statement. It just has some less desirable elements who do harm to society at large. And that;s my opinion, I don't need the NYT to tell me that.
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Old January 25, 2005, 01:25 PM
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rafiq: pls read my post carefully once more before u jump to conclusions and take it all personally where I wrote US media "...eywashed & brainwashed almost each and every single American..." & "planted confusions into the mind of bangladeshis..."

And about your comment on BD foreign ministry... well.. no comments from my side.. coz everyone knows how much credibility(lack of) they themselves have!

Core of my post: It is unfortunate when reports like these get BD ppl living outside the country in a bit of worry.

And about your evaluation: "It just has some less desirable elements who do harm to society at large."
<<< these elements are far less significant and non-affecting to be able to draw the attension of meida like NYT.. so that they write articles on this. Reportings like these are only aimed towards further digging and dragging to create some sort of pressure on the government of the minor nations... I'm sure you r aware of that also.
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Old January 25, 2005, 06:20 PM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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CH: what do you think sells copies of the NYT? These days, the topic of the day is Islam, terrorists, Al-Quaeda, where Osama will go next and what not. So if you are surprised that Bangladesh's own little sordid bunch get so much "undue attention", then don't be - rather expect even more scrutiny, whether that's fair or not.

People both inside and outside bangladesh are in rather more than "a bit of worry", I'm afraid. Anyone who isn't fortunately can sleep better at night knowing everything is safe and sound back at the farm.

btw I never take any comment on this personally, so don't worry. Perhaps you too will inspect the issues a bit more closely (or differently) in time and come up with different conclusions that the ones you have drawn now.
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Old January 25, 2005, 06:54 PM
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I wish our journalists would be this curious and insightful about the bible-belt in the US...and the rising power of the neo-cons in Washington and of course the Grand Evangelist 10/40 plan! sigh! After all if some analysts are to believed the invasion of Iraq was strongly influenced by this fundamentalist force! If so, the World should be concerned as much if not more...look at the death and destruction...WANTON destruction of human life and dignity...and if unchecked this force can wreak further havoc! I certainly hope NYT will cast its objective and consciencious eye on this terrifying prospect as well.

As far as fundies in our homeland is concerned, why cant we have such articles about rising fundamentalism in Bangladesh written by our own journalists? Don't we have any insightful and vigilant journalists left? We need to wake up to the dangers that narrow-minded fundies pose to the fabric of our society.

Edited on, January 26, 2005, 12:00 AM GMT, by pompous.
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Old January 25, 2005, 09:55 PM
Zunaid Zunaid is offline
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Regardless of nefarious foreign designs and biased reporting and what not....

Can someone tell me the following is not a cause for concern?

http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/01/26/d5012601044.htm
http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/01/25/d5012501011.htm
http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/01/25/d5012501065.htm
http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/01/26/d5012601055.htm
http://www.newagebd.com/front.html#4
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  #20  
Old January 26, 2005, 01:31 AM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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pompous, give us a break. I find it hard to believe that a person of your intelligence (I say that as a compliment) had not read any bangladeshi papers or online magazines in the last several years.

I am not sure how to read your question on "why BD journalists don't cover this story". I am sure you are aware of what is happening to many journalists who cover stories that are sensitive to one vested group or other - journalists are routinely harrassed, prevented from doing their job and even killed. Just check the CPJ (Center for Protection of Journalists) for data on the security of Bangladeshi journalists.

Selective consciousness is a dangerous thing.
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Old January 26, 2005, 02:14 AM
fab fab is offline
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My post got deleted, but the main thing I would like to know is why the cartoons in the Foreign Ministry REFUTE the claims instead of making retarded 'complaints' to the media. Remember how we all screamed at Bertil Lintner(sp?)? Turned out that his article was pretty accurate!
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Old January 26, 2005, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by rafiq
People both inside and outside bangladesh are in rather more than "a bit of worry", I'm afraid. Anyone who isn't fortunately can sleep better at night knowing everything is safe and sound back at the farm...Perhaps you too will inspect the issues a bit more closely (or differently) in time and come up with different conclusions that the ones you have drawn now.
Now this is where I step off and prefer not to argue at all... for it's not a new finding on my side that on this particular issue of 'Fundamentalism' people living outside the country have always been more concerned/worried than people living in the country(yes I disagree with you that BD ppl r in sort of considerable worry about the issue: this is probably why ppl frm outside the country don't find many 'serious' type of articles on the issue in the BD newspapers.. ).. and there must be some very good reason for it.. which is not visible to me.

The result is even these types of 'judgements' to 'even' the equation:
Quote:
Originally posted by rafiq
I am sure you are aware of what is happening to many journalists who cover stories that are sensitive to one vested group or other - journalists are routinely harrassed, prevented from doing their job and even killed. Just check the CPJ (Center for Protection of Journalists) for data on the security of Bangladeshi journalists.
Coz.. so many(most of them) journalists have been killed by the underground leftist parties.. even though we still dont consider them to be a 'Rising Force' yet.. and never probably will..

For sure the reason is not that ppl frm BD itself r a bit of 'Careless' about the whole issue than the BD ppl living abroad... rather it could be something like the very much first hand information/experience of the ppl here about the 'other factors' involved in the 'highlighted incidents' or also the 'actual magnitude' of the things that is being highlighted outside the country. The reason could also be the 'manner' in which any news on this issue is presented to the outside world... which also includes any BD person who is for any reason having to stay outside the country.

Subjective Judgemental Error: The western world and the south asians r two very different types of society... many issues r taken to be of totally opposite outcome/magnitude betweeen these to 'opposite societies. This error of judgement surely comes when anyone makes the evaluation from a very much 'Subjective' point of view (i.e. judging another society with respect to the society he/she is surrounded by..).

So hei.. "Where is the next Islamic Revolution?".. pls don't look at Bangladesh.. when that question is asked by some NYT or whatever!!

And as for 'why?' the BD ppl r less concerned and worried thn ppl living outside the country.. well... it's something for them to figure out themselves... coz to me the reason is not so clear.. and I am less concerned about it as well! Maybe we are just having to deal with far more hardline problems that REALLY matters in the lives of our ppl and the affects the firm growth of the nation itself... most of which r barely ECONOMIC & SECURITY in reason... rather than some offspring fundies... Maybe there r far greater problems that the Countrymen r drowned into... that never leave them with any opportunity for the useless talk about fundies.. and then again.. when they do get the chance.. they beat the hell out off the 'self-declared-fundies' (just 1 day back.. public mob beat 3 members of the so called 'bangla-vai-gang' to death!)....

Best Wishes Everyone..
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  #23  
Old January 26, 2005, 12:48 PM
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An analogous situation to the post above is with the difference between Indians living abroad (USA part.) and Indians residing in India. The first group is more keen about their country oblitering the Pakistanis with their Russian acquired MIGs and nucleur (nukeelear..as someone says), despite having USA passports or GCs.

Apparently folks living in the USA tend to be more bellicose, despite having the highest quality of life (or among the highest).

Oh, maybe that is the reason why they have the highest quality of life ?
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  #24  
Old January 27, 2005, 02:19 AM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Zunaid
Regardless of nefarious foreign designs and biased reporting and what not....

Can someone tell me the following is not a cause for concern?

http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/01/26/d5012601044.htm
http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/01/25/d5012501011.htm
http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/01/25/d5012501065.htm
http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/01/26/d5012601055.htm
http://www.newagebd.com/front.html#4

Zunaid, how can you post these equally nefarious article links. Chi-chi, ki joghonno! manush ashob kagoj pore? These yellow journalists, led by the notorious Mashud Alam, are paid agents of the CIA and RAW. Everyone knows that.

These scumbags have now published a picture of Bangla Bhai in an article today. So soon after the NYT article, of course they are being paid by the CIA - I say hang them upside down from a ceiling fan and beat the living daylights out of them so they stop writing this crap!

click here to see alleged bangla bhai's happy face

Are, ami to obak! This ain't no Bangla bhai. This guy is Belayet Miah, amader graamer post office-er postmaster! bechara, khamakha akjon innocent loker chobi diye bole "bangla bhai". Alam should be shot. Where are those underground lefties from Khulna - akta grenade marte parena naki RAB ke dakte hobe?

Anyway, minister shaheb boleche, "how will we arrest him if he is unavailable?". Ahare, bechara. Bangla bhai's secretary should call him and and let them know his availability.

Anyway, here's the full text of this mother of all nefarious articles. Our police and ministers are not worried at all and in fact these journalists should allow our brave public servants to do their jobs instead of asking so many stupid questions. Those Daily Star reporters, shalara, must be green card holders - pagla babar majare pani poraleo labh nai - oderke bachano jabe na ebar.

_________________________________________

Mystery shrouds Bangla Bhai's power
Babar says he would be arrested, but denies JMJB's existence
Staff Correspondent

Infamous militant leader Bangla Bhai still eludes a police dragnet despite high-level government orders for his arrest, including one by the premiere half a year ago, giving rise to the conjecture that he enjoys mysterious and strong backing.

Whether the government is sincere in its efforts to arrest the self-styled leader of Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), which operates in the northeastern region, remains in question, as top-level government officials, ruling coalition leaders and police high-ups have made contradicting statements about his existence.


But talking to The Daily Star in May last year, JMJB leaders themselves admitted they had been active underground for the last six years to establish a Taliban-like rule.


Grossly nine months after JMJB operations in broad daylight that killed at least 15 people and maimed scores of others, literally taking the law in its own hands, State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar told reporters yesterday Bangla Bhai would be arrested as soon as he is found. But talking to BBC radio the same day, he denied the existence of the JMJB.


"We don't know any Bangla or English Bhai… no Bhai (brother) is important to us. We've a made a clear and clean order to arrest him," Babar said while briefing reporters after a meeting on law and order yesterday.


The government is committed to arresting him but has failed to trace him, the minister said, seeking information on his whereabouts from people of all walks.


But asked by BBC radio to comment on government inaction in arresting Bangla Bhai, the minister said: "I oppose very strongly that our ministry has failed to take action, because we are still trying. How would we arrest anyone if he is absent physically or not available?"

"We don't know officially about the existence of the JMJB. Only some so-called newspapers are publishing reports on it. We don't have their constitution in our record," he told the BBC.

In April of last year, the media started pouring out reports on JMJB actions in the name of fighting Sarbaharas (outlaws), but failed to move the government to arrest the Bangla Bhai outfit.


A good number of journalists have interviewed Bangla Bhai, who introduced himself to them as Azizur Rahman. Although it was later learned that his real name is Omar Ali Litu, he also introduced himself as Siddiqul Islam while talking to The Daily Star in May of last year.


JMJB Amir and spiritual leader Mawlana Abdur Rahman also openly gave interviews and attended meetings in Rajshahi in May of last year.

The militants operated openly and continue to do so, while police were often seen near their meeting venues.


After reports were published that Prime Minister (PM) Khaleda Zia ordered the arrest of Bangla Bhai and his operatives, Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman and PM's political secretary Haris Choudhury admitted to the PM's order.


But local lawmakers, administration and local government bodies who supported JMJB's cleansing of outlaws made it clear that the ruling parties had links with JMJB's unlawful venture. Local and divisional police not only stayed aloof from nabbing them, but literally stood in attention to the zealots' commands.


Despite strong concern in and outside the country against JMJB operations, Bangla Bhai remained untouched. Police first denied his existence and, after he faded into hiding, said they did not find him.


Although Rajshahi division BNP lawmakers and Jamaat-e-Islami leaders denied any link with the JMJB, Bangla Bhai carried out his extra-judicial acts without any challenge from the government's part.


Well-placed sources said Bangla Bhai enjoyed support and assistance from local administration, with certain influential politicians masterminding the vigilante action from backstage.

Sources said police even suggested to him to go into hiding after the PM's order for his arrest.


In May last year, Rajshahi Superintendent of Police (SP) Masud Mia denied outright Bangla Bhai's existence. "There is no one called Bangla Bhai, nor any party called the JMJB. It's the local people who have forged resistance. I have come to know about Bangla Bhai through newspapers," he told The Daily Star then.


But immediately after Bangla Bhai went into hiding in July, the SP said, "Bangla Bhai's regime has ended. We now have complete control over the situation. We have isolated the Sarbaharas."

Talking to local journalists on Tuesday, Masud said: "I've never denied Bangla Bhai's existence; he is in the wanted list of police."

The nearly-40-year-old militant leader told The Daily Star that he was born to Nazir Hossain Pramanik of Kannipara village in Gabtoli upazila in Bogra. He claimed to journalists he graduated from Rajshahi University in 1995 with a master's in Bangla. But a crosscheck with the university shows there was no student named Azizur Rahman at the Bangla Department in 1995. Asked again, he said: "I studied Bangla at Azizul Haq University College affiliated with Rajshahi University."

"I enrolled at Rajshahi University. But I registered with the college because of various complications," he said without explaining the complications.


As Bangla Bhai was guarded about his school and college education, his senior leader Amir Mowlana Abdur Rahman, who was also present during the interview, said Bangla Bhai studied at Tarafsartaj Senior Fazil Madrasa.

_____________________________________________
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Old January 27, 2005, 02:16 PM
rafiq rafiq is offline
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since so many need their brains defogged. I hate to append this good piece of clear writing to a thread whose title continues to make fun at a serious topic.


___________________________________________
Re: The Next Islamist Revolution?
Shabbir A. Bashar, PhD. San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA

I read with interest Eliza Griswold's disturbing yet detailed report published in the New York Times Magazine of January 23rd, 2005, about Bangladesh essentially turning into a breeding ground of religious extremists. I have also read the short responses to it by Iftekhar Chowdhury, the Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN, and Zahirul Haq, the Director General of the Foreign Ministry External Publicity Wing as quoted in your newspaper on January 26th, 2005.

As a Bangladeshi my natural inclination is to be loyal to my country and to defend it with if nothing else but all my heart especially at a time when there is so much blatant hypocrisy and deliberate misrepresentation of developing (particularly Islamic) nations by the western media. Yet, there are plenty of cases of corruption (Enron and Haliburton in the US), nepotism (speeding up immigration cases of nannies in US and UK by respective cabinet level officers/candidates), abuses of human rights (Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prisons) and pure stupidity (Britain's Prince Harry dressed up as a Nazi at a party) even in the West.

But, can we afford to take such a dismissive view of everything in life? Take for instance the dramatic picture of a bare human standing in a pool of bovine blood in Dhaka during Eid and published in the BBC news website taken by Roland Buerk, their resident correspondent in Bangladesh. It is part of series of 12 rather well composed photographs titled "Fighting Corruption at Eid Festival Cattle Slaughter" depicting lavishly dressed folks at the prayer, beggars on the street, RAB trying to keep bribery at the market at bay, a mullah's face dotted with animal blood, people haggling over cattle worth many times their monthly income etc. Are they designed to portray Bangladeshis as barbaric, unhygienic, poverty stricken, corrupt yet zealous Muslims trying to live beyond their means? I doubt it very much. Some viewers will see Bangladesh as a nation striving to play a rather delicate balancing act given all the realities yet others will be less enthused by our ways.


It is very easy for our man in the UN to announce Ms. Griswold's prolific report with specific allegations - most of which are also corroborated and were exposed initially by some of the most credible Bangladeshi media organisations - as "one sided, baseless and politically motivated". But as most expatriates who often find themselves on the front line of defending Bangladesh's "image"
abroad, I can say that such pithy remarks do little to consolidate the nation's credibility. On the contrary, it gives fodder to our enemies and embarrasses our well wishers. One sided and politically motivated the report may be, and it doesn't take a genius to name three obvious, benefactors: the Awami League, India and pro-Zionist lobbies in Washington and elsewhere.


Taking a logical view on this, who has the better perspective: the reporter who travelled to the remote village to investigate or Mr.
Haq, the civil servant in Dhaka? Given that only recently the local press has again reported on Bangla Bhai's attempted misdeeds, what makes the director general at the foreign ministry think the NY Times report is "humorous"? Alas, I am sadly reminded of the collusion and incorrigibility of the top civil servants as exemplified by the disappearance of thousands of government owned vehicles ear-marked for donor aided development projects in remote areas which turned up in the personal use of the friends and family of these very officials. Furthermore, when the anti-corruption commission made an issue out of these disappearances, it seemed the civil service did its very best to not only discredit, but also cripple the very commission. Do we not see a pattern of behaviour of shooting the messenger by the civil service? Indeed Mr. Haq insults the intelligence of the readers in his attempt to discredit Ms Griswold's report when he says, "Since there is a question mark in the headline, it suggests the author herself is not clear and confident about the subject matter."

What if the NYT Magazine report is right and Bangladesh really is on a slippery slope to becoming the next den of anarchists and parasites? Then aren't some of the very conditions for these irritants to prevail: (a) a weak, unstable and unwieldy centralised government without any political vision; (b) near collapse of law and order situation; (c) high unemployment and disenfranchised youth; (d) severe lack of infrastructure and development; (e) rampant corruption in the civil administration; (f) politicisation of educational and commercial institutions; (g) lack of industrialisation and excessive red tape for entrepreneurship, to name but a few already in place in Bangladesh?

Now, fixing any one of these is a gigantic task in itself that requires generations worth of investment in human and monetary capital. While the betel-leaf-chewing-fatwa- giving Muftis in parliament are proud to become easy baits for the likes of Ms Griswold to make sensational stories out of, it is far more important for the stake holders in Bangladesh to realise that it is a wake up call. It is time to change our national attitude and first accept that we have problems and then to face them head on. It is time to come clean and present our side of the story in all its troubling reality to the world instead of getting consumed by past glories and being touchy about every criticism.


Only by coming clean can we circumvent any embarrassment, intentional or otherwise, caused by these disturbing reports. Many of our Asian neighbours have transformed themselves over the past few decades through strong visionary leaderships. It is time for national soul searching.
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