by Zahur Ahmed for AlalODulal
Feedback’s quintessential song for Pohela Boishak, the first day of a Bengali New Year, “Melay Jaire” has a line on the third stranza, “বখাটে ছেলের ভিড়ে ললনাদের রেহাই নাই — the crowd of ruffians won’t spare the girls”. The lyricist Maqsoodul Haque had a deep insight into our tradition, culture and attitude. What might have been overlooked as a humorous innuendo has become a sad reality during this year’s Bengali New Year celebrations, as a number of women fell victims to horrid gang assaults on broad day light amid the thousands enjoying the festivities.
“আলী রিয়াজসহ অনেকে বলে থাকেন ভয় হলো একটা সংস্কৃতি। কার্যত, ভয় হলো সংস্কৃতির অবশ–নিস্তেজ অবস্থা। ভয়ের আবহে স্বাভাবিক সংস্কৃতির সক্রিয় থাকা আর সম্ভব হয় না। সাধারণত মানুষ তখন হয়ে পড়ে নিষ্ক্রিয় ও প্রতিরোধহীন। সংস্কৃতির মধ্যেই মানুষ সহাবস্থান ও সহযোগিতার অবকাশ পায়।” Continue reading
Let me start by asking you all a question. You may have a very strong religious affiliation; your faith may be impeccable. Or you may be deeply indoctrinated with a political ideology. Passion runs deep in your vain in favor of your faith or ideology. But does this passion permit you to break the basic law of humanity, i.e. kill innocent people? And if you do any such act out of this strong political of religious conviction, can you get away saying that it’s not my fault, some religious or political leader used my passion to make me commit such crime?
Fourth, we condemn the racial scapegoating of the entire Bangladeshi community. When a violent incident targeting a public institution is carried out by a white male, such as James Eagan Holmes, Anders Behring Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, Jared Loughner, Andrew Joseph Stack, John Patrick Bedell, David Adkisson, Eric Robert Rudolph, or James Von Brunn, the media calls him a “lone gunman,” explaining the incident as individual pathology and “aberration,” not the product of any particular culture. But when the alleged perpetrator is of non-white origin, especially Arab or Muslim, then the analysis is framed solely in terms of cultural or religious backwardness and lack of tolerance, and used as a rationale for stereotyping, scapegoating, surveillance, racial profiling, and discrimination against entire communities. Such scapegoating neither helps to solve the problem of violence, nor do they move us toward a peaceful society. Instead, they create a scenario of collective, racialized punishment for individual crimes.
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Shoe protest at Press Club against sending Bangladesh team to Pakistan.
Update 3: We have decided to remove a potentially offensive image posted from facebook. That criticism of all things Pakistani inevitably takes on racist undertones is something that might be the subject of a future post.