Nothing’s Sacred Anymore – Ghulam Azam’s Funeral

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Copyright: Awrup Sanyal

“Barring people’s sincere, spontaneous participation –their right to which is unquestionable – the overblown Janaza event serves no real purpose other than being a spectacle. It serves itself. It does not reflect upon the Dead’s soul or their lives – but upon a desperate clutch at straws by an organized political force that is drowning; it sheds light upon a scheming, listless, heartless, mindless rush to maximize – even during mourning periods and at the cost of anyone around – brand equity and relevance in National Politics.”

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The Jamaat Factor

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A train set on fire by activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, an Islamic preacher and a senior leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, the country’s largest Islam-pasand party, was sentenced to death on 28 February for war crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War. Within hours, Jamaat cadres and activists clashed violently with police and law enforcement agencies. Scores have been killed in some of the worst political violence the country has experienced in recent years.

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A Deadly Divide, But Not A Civil War

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In December I was discussing with friends whether the War Crime Trials would have an effect on voters. In spite of its being a central election promise, we doubted that they would. Issues such as corruption, nepotism, the energy crisis, the price of essentials, law and order or employment/education opportunities would be more likely to be important factors for voters in the next election. It’s evident now that the issue has emerged as ‘The Factor’ – who instigated, backed and helped develop it to its bloom is being debated fiercely. Continue reading

Making a stand, taking a side

Propaganda image on various groups, including “Basher Kella”

In the current political theatre, the central character is Jamaat-e-Islami. The Shahbag Awakening started as a reaction against a possible Jamaat-Awami backdoor deal. A month on, I think such a deal looks very remote right now.

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New York: Those Protests outside Marriott


It started as a carefree walk through New York’s Times Square to unwind after a long day. Then, far off in the background, I thought I heard sounds I hadn’t heard for years and not on this side of the planet. The pulsing of slogans, and high-pitched oratory that once seemed so impressive even if one disagreed, but which now represents sclerosis, fatigue and frustration. But, that is back “home”, not here in New York, surrounded by skyscrapers and tourists.


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Jamaat: myths vs facts

Matiur Rahman Nizami, chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, arrested last year along with four other senior members of his party. Photograph: Rafiqur Rahman/Reuters

Last year, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh caused a stir by claiming a quarter of Bangladesh is hardcore follower of Jamaat.  Well, Manmohan Singh is a senile idiot has been a rather ineffective politician who has seen his best days years ago.  He was flat out wrong on Jamaat, which has never won more that 12% of votes or 6% of seats in any election.  And those highs were in 1991.  In 2008, it won less than 4% vote and less than 1% seat.

The thing is, it’s not just Singh who has constantly over-estimated Jamaat’s power over the past couple of decades.  Awami Leaguers and so-called pro-1971 people see Jamaat behind everything.  Apparently Golam Azam’s son was running the army, even though he was just a brigadier, and there were 25 or so generals above him.  Apparently the andolon by Viqarunnisa girls last year was instigated by the Jamaatis, even though the girls’ choice for the principal was someone who initiated a petition for war crimes trial back in the 1990s.  You get the picture.
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