Holding the Economy to Ransom

by Firoz Ahmed, translated from Bengali

Bangladesh has not seen this type of ferocious attack and killing of innocent people before. We express our deepest sympathy to the families of the victims, although no amount of consolation can soothe them. Our thoughts are also for the injured and terrified. Everyone in the country is feeling the anxiety and uncertainty. Continue reading “Holding the Economy to Ransom”

On the Richard Eaton thesis

Awrup Sanyal

[Please note that the review might reveal more than you want to know before reading the book. I would say skip it and read the book.]
Anyone interested in Bengal’s premodern to modern history – through the Delhi and Bengal Sultanates, and the Mughal rule in India, and consequently in Bengal – and more importantly the rise and spread of Islam in Bengal will have to go through this thoroughly illuminating seminal work from Eaton.

Continue reading “On the Richard Eaton thesis”

The Journey from Shyamapuja to Diwali

For India, it took the shape of Hindu right-wing and their counter-imposition of a false construct of Hindu and Indian identity. The irrelevant political force of Hindutva took the centre-stage, asserting its claim on the identity of ‘Indian-ness’ and ‘Hindu-ness’. And like any two compatible hegemony, down the lane, there were a political pact between the two. Once it was realised that the gullible globalised middle-class can be bought and bribed and made to want almost anything with enough packaging and with enough lucre, the only question remained how long it would take.

Continue reading “The Journey from Shyamapuja to Diwali”

image: Telegraph India

Open Letter to Narendra Modi

By Nadine Murshid for AlalODulal.org


Dear Mr. Modi,

It has come to our attention that you are about to head the next government in India. Many congratulations. It has also come to our attention that you have been saying un-neighborly things about us, Bangladesh and Bangladeshis. We are deeply hurt by your comments, but we are open to forgiveness. We are not the forgiving type, really, but we do make exceptions. And we will for you if you carefully consider the following: Continue reading “Open Letter to Narendra Modi”

Is this the Bangladesh we wanted? Analyzing the Hindu Population Gap (2001-2011)

Is this the Bangladesh we wanted?
Analyzing the Hindu Population Gap (2001-2011)

In October 2012, Prothom Alo published a frightening report that stated, in plain words, that over the last decade (which spans BNP,  AL, and Military “CTG” government), the Hindu population of Bangladesh has dropped dramatically and continuously. Continue reading “Is this the Bangladesh we wanted? Analyzing the Hindu Population Gap (2001-2011)”

Partha Sarker: Communalism – Perceptions, Experiences, and Lessons Learned

সাম্প্রদায়িকতা সমাচার: আমার জানা, বোঝা আর শেখার গল্প

by Partha Sarker for Alalodulal

আলোচনার জটিলতা

সাম্প্রদায়িকতা’র বিষয়গুলো নিয়ে আলোচনা একটু জটিল। দুটো কারণে:

এক: এই বিষয় নিয়ে একটা নির্মোহ আলোচনা করার জন্য যে দূরত্বের দরকার হয়, সেটা আমার মতো একজন মানুষের পক্ষে অর্জন করা সব-সময় খুব সহজ হয় না।   Continue reading “Partha Sarker: Communalism – Perceptions, Experiences, and Lessons Learned”

The Statistical Future of Bangladeshi Hindus

The Statistical Future of Bangladeshi Hindus

by Dipen Bhattacharya for AlalODulal.org

In 2051, the Hindu population could fall to the level of 1974.

One thing that every Bangladeshi possibly knows is that the Hindu population as a percentage of the total is shrinking monotonically. This is the legacy of the partition of India in 1947 and then the failure of the state apparatus to safeguard the rights of the religious minorities. Continue reading “The Statistical Future of Bangladeshi Hindus”

Timothy Khyang: What about my right to celebrate Christmas?

Timothy Khyang: What about my right to celebrate Christmas?

Translated by Trimita Chakma for AlalODual.org

Three years ago from today in 2010, the 47th batch of MBA was sitting for the final exams at UITS’s (University of Information Technology and Sciences) campus in Chittagong. Out of the 45 students two of us were Christians, Alex Leo Kraolie and I. The exam schedule was published one week before the exams and I noticed that there was an exam on 25th December, on Christmas Day. Continue reading “Timothy Khyang: What about my right to celebrate Christmas?”

Ahmed Shamim & Faruk Wasif: Debating “The Hindu Question” through Marx and Bauer

Debating “The Hindu Question” through Karl Marx’s “On The Jewish Question”
Ahmed Shamim debates Faruk Wasif, translated by Irfan Chowdhury for Alal O Dulal
Nipu Sheel wails sitting on the debris of her house that was set ablaze by Jamaat-Shibir men at Banshkhali in Chittagong. The religious fanatics looted and torched houses and temples of the Hindus in the district on Thursday, following the death sentence to Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das
Nipu Sheel at Banshkhali. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

PART 1: Ahmed Shamim “On the Hindu Question” (after Karl Marx)
Islam is encircled in peace. Its three core phonemes are: seen, laam, meem which mean peace. Aslam means to surrender (oneself) to peace – Continue reading “Ahmed Shamim & Faruk Wasif: Debating “The Hindu Question” through Marx and Bauer”

Where is the Antidote to Communalism?

Where is the Antidote to Communalism?

by Faruk Wasif, translated by Prof Farida Khan for AlalODulal

As a Muslim nation, the state of Bangladesh can never grant freedom to Hindus. Neither can it give full citizenship rights to Muslims. The latter can marry four times in the country but they cannot receive what we could call autonomy of citizenship. In this nation, Hindus will be subject to Hindu Inheritance laws but they will be shunned from the benefits of Secular Law. This type of nation does not recognize a citizen of Bangladesh; it only recognizes Hindus and Muslims. Continue reading “Where is the Antidote to Communalism?”

Running barefoot through the city of Barbie liberty and sexy grenades

Running barefoot through the city of Barbie liberty and sexy grenades
by Faruk Wasif, translated from Bengali by Nayma Qayum for AlalODulal.org

In the morning I saw four teenagers on the pavement across the street from Mohammadpur Central College. They wore the usual jobba-tupi, but no footwear. Those, they had lost in Motijheel, and could not buy another pair. Continue reading “Running barefoot through the city of Barbie liberty and sexy grenades”

Seuty Sabur: It is the state who needs the holy trinity of nation-nationality-nationalism and a common enemy

It is the state who needs the holy trinity of nation-nationality-nationalism and a common enemy
by Seuty Sabur

It has been nine years since I have stopped watching TV daily. I always find it unsettling, especially the talk shows. For me it seems more logical to follow the news online, check people’s reaction on social media. I can’t handle the TV for more than 10 minutes, even in the time of national/international ‘crises’. Continue reading “Seuty Sabur: It is the state who needs the holy trinity of nation-nationality-nationalism and a common enemy”

Samia Huq: Who have we “defeated” and with what?

Of the Hefazat men killed yesterday, one was from the a factory in Dhaka. While not speaking with numbers, I think this highlights an important issue that many have been saying for some time. While we, with our elitist or middle class sensitivities, continue to look upon the Hefazatis as outlawed, faceless “fanatics” on the fringes (read: in the madrasas) in our society, they also live and work amongst us– our factory workers, our drivers and nightguards. Continue reading “Samia Huq: Who have we “defeated” and with what?”

If you come to kill, I will say, I too am Hindu

If you come to kill, I will say, I too am Hindu, I too am Minority, the land that is burning is my country
by Faruk Wasif, translated from Bengali by AlalODulal.org

When the Tamil massacres were happening, we came to shahbag with slogans “we are all Tamil.” When the Rohingya massacres happened, we protested that too. We protested killings in Iraq, we said we were Kashmiri when youth were being killed in Kashmir. Bu what about today?
Continue reading “If you come to kill, I will say, I too am Hindu”

“Goodbye Bangladesh”

With all its flaws, Taslima Nasreen’s Lajja (1993) diagnosed the crisis at the heart of Bangladeshi identity. On the last page, after a week of violent communal riots, the Bengali Hindu family is finally defeated…“Shudhamoy was walking while leaning on Kiranmayee’s shoulder. Gradually the strength was coming back to his body. Kiranmayee held on to Shudhamoy with both hands.

Continue reading ““Goodbye Bangladesh””

Shahbagh: Islam vs. Liberation War fyasad: Where do we stand, where do we want to go.

We must keep the Shahbag movement outside of the fyasad of belief-vs.-atheism. We have to keep it free of political parties. We have to convert the war cry of revenge into the awakening cry of resistance. We have to keep the door open for all people to join us. In front is a long and difficult path. Shaking the country for ten days is possible, but to change the country takes years. Our voices are now liberated with the promise of trying war criminals and a relief from a religiously fascist society. This cannot be ignored. The resounding “no” to traditional political parties and their practitioners cannot become “yes” ever again. It’s time to change the rules of the game.

Continue reading “Shahbagh: Islam vs. Liberation War fyasad: Where do we stand, where do we want to go.”

Re-thinking communalism

Re-thinking communalism
by Swadhin Sen

I dedicate this writing to my sister Sujata Sen, whose anguished memories of not having seen our father during the five years before his death, haunts her to this day, I know that this is a trivial  offering compared to her suffering.

Sincere discussions on the communal oppression and violence that exist in  Bangladesh, are very rare; much of the discussion is conducted from within established conventions, if I may add, overwhelmingly so. Hardly any  serious social scientific analysis of communalism exists. Short stories, novels or poetry depicting communal violence and oppression in post-independent Bangladesh are few and far between, they are rare enough to be counted off on one’s fingers. There are not many essays either. The silence about communalism in plays and cinemas is almost deafening.

Continue reading “Re-thinking communalism”

Ramu violence: A fanoosh is not a balloon

Translator’s noteYoung Bangladeshi Buddhist monk Pragyananda Bhikkhu, of Ramu Shima Bihar, wrote “Ramu Shohingshota: Fanoosh kono balloon noy”, which was published in Dainik Cox’s Bazar, November 4, 2012 in light of the controversy created over setting afloatfanooshes as part of the celebration of Prabarana Purnima, the second largest Buddhist religious festival; to be noted, this year’s date coincided with the monthly anniversary of the communal attacks  of September 29, 2012, which destroyed innumerable Buddhist monasteries, temples and homes, allegedly caused by an offensive photograph discovered in the facebook account of Uttam Kumar Barua, a Bengali Buddhist youth, several hours before the attacks occurred. According to press reports, the attacks were visibly incited by local leaders and members of the ruling Awami League (AL), the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami; the attackers included those belonging to these political parties, and also, other Muslims, both local inhabitants and outsiders. News reports have highlighted the “inaction” of police officials and the local-level administration. Both ruling AL and the opposition BNP agree that these attacks were “planned” and pre-meditated.

The fanoosh controversy, as Pragyananda clearly explains, was the result of administrative interference in religious ceremonies and rituals; the Buddhists of Ramu had decided not to  observe their rites of virtue this year as they were “heartbroken” and grieving over their losses. Continue reading “Ramu violence: A fanoosh is not a balloon”

One Nafis, Many Problems

Source: bdnews24

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?

Continue reading “One Nafis, Many Problems”

I am a Buddhist today

I am a Buddhist today
by Kazi Khaleed Ashraf

Cowards come in two forms, those who move under the cover of the night, and those who take refuge in the brute might of the mob. And when the two combine, cowards can become hyenas. Since that dreadful night, when for six shameful hours, the state remained invisible, protectors stood by quietly, neighbors became fiends, and only few were brave to face the hyenas, I can no longer be myself.
Continue reading “I am a Buddhist today”

Bangladesh’s Hindu Women Fight for Divorce Rights

Right wing politics from male-chauvinist, patriarchal “guardians” of Bangladesh’s Hindu community.

‘Don’t make Hindu marriage registration a must’
Fri, Aug 24th, 2012/Bdnews24.com

Dhaka, Aug 24 (bdnews24.com)—A platform of Hindu minority on Friday threatened to foil the government move to make Hindu marriage registration mandatory. Advocate Ashok Kumar Ghosh, General Secretary of Bangladesh Minority Sangram Parishad that opposes the reformation in the Hindu Family Law, issued the threat from a human-chain protest in front of the National Press Club. The Supreme Court lawyer termed the initiative ‘an insult to Hindu rules and family tradition’ and asked the government not to make the new law. “We strongly oppose the reformation in the name of women empowerment by violating the sacred religious precept and manner. We’ll wage a mass movement if the government does not refrain from formulating such law,” he added.
Parishad President Ashok Taru, Organising Secretary S K Badal and Dhaka metropolitan unit President Pintu Mitra also spoke at the programme, among others.

Continue reading “Bangladesh’s Hindu Women Fight for Divorce Rights”