Shubinoy Mustofi and J Rahman both write about economics. Reading them on how the foreigners have covered the Shahbag Awakening, I thought it would be interesting to analyse how the Economist has covered the event. Mass dissatisfaction appeared on 16 February. It was written by Adam Roberts and Tom Felix Joehnk. They talked with a number of people in Dhaka. And it’s not hard to imagine who might have said what.
The first two paragraphs are pretty factual, except for this speculation at the end of the second para:
When, somewhat unexpectedly, Mr Mollah was spared a death sentence, he was seen flicking supporters a V-for-victory sign. That smug gesture may have helped to provoke the outrage.
This is something Tahmima Anam has written. And Shahbag activists with connections in the west — for example, Asif Saleh of BRAC — has expressed this view. It’s not hard to see where the Economist would have got this idea from.
The third paragraph is again pretty factual, until the last two sentences:
The sight of young, otherwise progressive Bangladeshis seeking capital punishment, through music, street theatre, chants and recitals, is both moving and unsettling. Almost no one pays heed to known flaws in the trial.
Well, part of it is their opinion, obviously. But who might they have talked to about the ‘known flaws in the trial’? My money is on David Bergman.
Then there are three paras of political speculation. Any Bangladeshi political commentator will come up with the anaysis here. No surprises at all.
Which brings us to the last para:
Yet, as with any big protests, further political demands may emerge. The protests could become a plea for broad change. Few like a political system dominated by a long, bitter fight between a pair of self-serving dynasties, those of Sheikh Hasina and the BNP’s Khaleda Zia, and their stave-wielding followers. If that duopoly were broken up, many at Shahbag would celebrate.
Shahbag protesters were secretly backing 2/11? Huh! News to the Shahbag revellers I know.
Now, who could possibly have given Messrs Roberts and Joehnk this idea?