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Thread: Bangladesh: Secular - v- Islamist?

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Bangladesh: Secular - v- Islamist?

    Good in-depth Boston Review article on Islamism vs secularism in Bangladesh. Secularist trends driven by Bengali nationalism are strong, but as the two main political parties are increasingly discredited by corruption and now a semi-coup by the Army, the comparatively clean Islamists are slowly rising.

    Moderator's Note

    Thread title changed (march 2013) from 'Revolution: The Islamist Challenge to Secular Bangladesh to Bangladesh' to 'Bangladesh: Secular - v- Islamist?'
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-02-2013 at 05:34 PM. Reason: Add Note

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    Strategic Insights, Jun 07:

    Democracy in Bangladesh: From Fragility to Collapse?
    The events that have been unfolding since Prime Minister Khaleda Zia completed her five-year term in October 2006 have farther-reaching implications for democracy in Bangladesh than normally recognized. The rapidly changing political atmosphere during the past few months has considerably damaged various democratic institutions in the country, especially the offices of the President, Prime Minister, Election Commission, as well as Caretaker Government.

    By all accounts, the second Caretaker Government formed in January 2007 enjoys popular support for its actions against political corruption. At the same time, the Caretaker Government has exceeded the limited mandate and tenure set by the Constitution, and has usurped powers that only an elected government could carry forward. It has emerged as a benign dictatorship and is trying to consolidate democracy through actions that do not conform with democratic norms.

    As the following analysis will highlight, every major institution in Bangladesh has proved to be inadequate to keep the country on the democratic path....

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    Default Bangladesh: Secular - v- Islamist?

    A series of "Of Interest" papers published by SSI:
    ....This paper is about the history, rise and current state of Islamic fundamentalism in South Asia, the most populated region in the world and home to the largest concentration of Muslims on earth. There are over 1.5 billion people in South Asia, which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

    If one includes China, directly north, there are 2.7 billion people in this region, nearly one-half of the world’s population. South Asia is home to nearly one half of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims. Nearly 30 percent of this region is Muslim.

    From October 2006–March 2007, I traveled in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, countries I have worked in before as a journalist. I briefly visited Indian-administered Kashmir, where I had not been before. I had visited Pakistani-administered Kashmir in December 2005. Drawing on my own experiences in the past, I wanted to study the history and rise of Islamic fundamentalism and see where it is today.

    This is a report on my trip and on my conversations with academics, activists, politicians, writers, and religious leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Kashmir, and Bangladesh....
    Part I: The History, Rise, and Future of Islamic Fundamentalism in South Asia

    Part II: Afghanistan and Pakistan

    Part III: Bangladesh
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-06-2018 at 06:59 PM. Reason: Copied from a regional thread

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    CSIS, 27 Oct 08: Islamic Radical Ideologies and South Asian Security: The Case of Bangladesh
    Sunni Muslim radicals, a violent and vocal minority, are responsible for the largest number of violent terrorist incidents in the world today. This trend is expected to continue for at least the next decade. South Asia, which is home to 28% of the world’s Muslim population, has been particularly badly hit by the activities of these radicals with the number of violent incidents and deaths in this region ranking second only to Iraq and the Middle East. These radicals are also substantially responsible for the destablilisation of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are now making a concerted effort to increase their influence Bangladesh, which along with the state of West Bengal in India, is home to 10% of the global Muslim population.....
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-06-2018 at 06:59 PM. Reason: Copied from a regional thread

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    Default Extremism and Governance in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia

    A forthcoming event from the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at CSIS & The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University:

    Public Attitudes and Discontent: Extremism and Governance in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia

    This Thursday, January 29, 2009 from 4:00 – 5:30 pm at CSIS
    4th Floor Conference Room

    Presentation and discussion by:
    Craig Charney, Ph.D., President, Charney Research
    Lincoln Mitchell, Ph.D., Arnold A. Saltzman Assistant Professor in the Practice of International Affairs, Columbia University

    Please join us for the release of a major new study detailing survey findings on public attitudes towards extremism and governance in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. The research is based on comprehensive, comparative nationwide surveys in three key Muslim states. The research explores public opinions on terrorism and extremism, the United States and its allies, and satisfaction with government performance, public services, and security forces

    Discussion Followed by Reception

    To RSVP, please contact Justine Fleischner at JFleischner@csis.org

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Justice for war crimes leads to protests

    The mass protests by young people in Dhaka have not been well reported here:
    With a huge green and red flag of Bangladesh flying over their heads, they shouted slogans from the liberation war of 1971: “Joy Bangla” (Victory to Bengal); “Tumi ke? Aami ke? Bangalee Bangalee” (Who are you? Who am I? Bengali). They even added some of their own: “Amader ek hi dabi Razakar er fashi” (Our one demand, hang the Razakars); “Jamaat-e-Islami made in Pakistan”.

    Shahbag Square is what you make of it. The world is calling it Bangladesh’s own Tahrir Square, some are claiming it is part of the Arab or Muslim Spring, Indians want to know if the Anna Hazare movement is an inspiration. In part, it is an assertion of secular values and an assault on religious fanatics; in part, it is the resurgence of nationalism among the youth.
    Link:http://tehelka.com/in-concert-for-ba....OhWLBZnt.dpuf and a very general report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21626843

    Today the BBC reports disorder linked to the Islamac party:
    Three people have been killed in Bangladesh after demonstrators protesting against the death sentence on an Islamist party leader clashed with police for a third day running.
    Link, which includes a very partial witness account:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21639831
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Reuters says the death toll is up to 30 now.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...91R0AN20130228

    Over at Brown Pundits they say the flight to India has accelerated.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    An OD article on the context for current events:http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensec...limate-of-fear

    Incidentally illegally crossing the border with India can result in death; there is a border fence and para-military border guards.
    davidbfpo

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    The interesting thing about the way things appear to be setting up over there is you have Islamists, who believe Allah is on their side no matter what they do, vs. the relatives of people who were killed in 1971 who blame the Islamists for the deaths of their kin. They want some back. There doesn't seem to be room for compromise.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Putting this in perspective. There is a long history of violent clashes between the Awami League and BNP (to include BNP's ally and to some extent surrogate force JI). Most assessments indicate the Islamists (JI) represent a minority that is losing steam, but a minority in one of the most densely populated nations in the world is still millions of people and a serious security issue if mobilized to fight.

    The BNP/JI appear to be losing steam politically, so it is only natural for them based on their philosophy to resort to extremism to stop the gradual (or not so gradual) liberalization of Bangladesh.

    The current level of violence isn't bad relatively based on Bangladesh history. This type of violence is usually short lived, but often repeated (cycles). We won't be able to assess the seriousness of the current crisis until more time passes.

    There are two parallel movements that are clashing. One is the anti-Islamist movement that the government and majority represent, and the other is the anti-liberalization Spring movement that the BNP and JI represent. The anti-liberalism movement has nothing to do with freeing oppressed peoples, instead those commiting the violence want to oppress the people of Bangladesh with their brand of Sharia law. One can hope PM Hasina successfully enforces the law in a way that contains the violence while still allowing peaceful protests and the democratic process to work.

    Places like Bangladesh are a good bellweather to see whether Islamist extremism is gaining or waning.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 03-03-2013 at 11:59 PM. Reason: remove the anti-Muslim movement, wrong word choice

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    This is an anti-Muslim Spring movement, it has nothing to do with freeing oppressed peoples, instead those commiting the violence want to oppress the people of Bangladesh....

    Places like Bangladesh are a good bellweather to see whether Islamist extremism is gaining or waning.
    I have only read a very few articles on this so access what I have to say with that in mind.

    It seems it is an anti-Islamist rather than anti-Muslim movement. The really interesting thing is that the trump card the Islamists normally play, the holier than thou card is being vitiated. The two things that are doing that are personal vengeance and sort of an anti-collaborator sentiment. Those two things are a pretty powerful counter to the Islamists' normal arguments. When they say 'Allah is with me.' and are met with 'You collaborated with the Pak Army and killed my uncle.', they aren't so persuasive.

    The demonstrators in Shahbag square don't want the Islamist leaders to lighten up, they want them dead, specific Islamist leaders to be killed. That seems a bit unusual.
    Last edited by carl; 03-03-2013 at 08:19 PM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    I have only read a very few articles on this so access what I have to say with that in mind.

    It seems it is an anti-Islamist rather than anti-Muslim movement. The really interesting thing is that the trump card the Islamists normally play, the holier than thou card is being vitiated. The two things that are doing that are personal vengeance and sort of an anti-collaborator sentiment. Those two things are a pretty powerful counter to the Islamists' normal arguments. When they say 'Allah is with me.' and are met with 'You collaborated with the Pak Army and killed my uncle.', they aren't so persuasive.

    The demonstrators in Shahbag square don't want the Islamist leaders to lighten up, they want them dead, specific Islamist leaders to be killed. That seems a bit unusual.
    Carl, good catch, that is not what I meant to write. Actually I was trying to capture the Islamist Movement as a non-liberal movement, but based on your comment I'll add the anti-Islamist movement because there are in fact two movements (neither of which are Springs, they have endured for decades). There is no anti-Muslim movement. I'll correct the post.

    To your other point, I think a lot of people are realizing if these Islamist leaders aren't permanently removed they'll continue to be a threat to the safety who want to live their own lives without the extremists dictating what is right or wrong. The extremists feel completely justified pursuing their ends through acts of terror, shooting young girls for going to school, giving a woman who has been raped a 100 lashes because she had sex outside of marriage, and number of other obviously insanely stupid rules. I see nothing wrong with wanting them dead, I hope that movement gains steam.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 03-04-2013 at 02:44 AM. Reason: clarity

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    To your other point, I think a lot of people are realizing if these Islamist leaders aren't permanently removed they'll continue to be a threat to the safety who want to live their own lives without the extremists dictating what is right or wrong. The extremists feel completely justified pursuing their ends through acts of terror, shooting young girls for going to school, giving a woman who has been raped a 100 lashes because she had sex outside of marriage, and number of other obviously insanely stupid rules. I see nothing wrong with wanting them dead, I hope that movement gains steam.
    I wonder if large numbers of people publicly wanting these guys dead in Bangladesh is because of historical and political factors unique to Bangladesh. I don't see it in many other places. For example what is being seen in Bangladesh would be impossible to see in Pakistan.

    There is nothing much we can do about any of this now. The tragedy is we could have had a very real and positive effect if we had had any brains or backbone eight or ten years ago, or even five or six. All we had to do was be public about the what the Pak Army/ISI was doing and cut the money. But we were and are spineless dopes so we gave the devil the money to spawn and nurture a bloody fanged creature and now many will die because of that. One of the things that nourishes that bloody fanged creature is perception of weakness and when we complete our bug-out from Afghanistan it will grow like we haven't seen before. Maybe, maybe, it can be stopped in Bangladesh but it isn't being stopped in many other places.

    Oh well, we were great once.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Bangladesh is on the roll.

    It is becoming an economic powerhouse in its own way and the people are more keen for improvement of their lives than being held back with inconsequential issues, even though Islam is important in their private lives.

    Bengalis are not the archetypal Muslims. While Islam continues to be important, the culture, language and tradition is equally important. That is why the Language Agitation of the 1950s (when Pakistan wanted to impose Urdu as the language) laid the seeds for the Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

    Jamaait has only 4% support and they have only 2 members in the Parliament. Yet, their clout in creating issues cannot be ruled out given that Saudi money sustain them and their Wahaabi fundamentalism.

    Yet, it appears that the atrocities of the collaborators with the Pakistan Army in
    East Pakistan still continues to haunt even the new generations, who were not born when the atrocities happened.

    The Jamaait is an ally of the Opposition BNP, but the BNP apparently is caught in a bind.

    One has to watch the scene in Bangladesh as it develops!

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    Ray:

    The Islamists are not ones to yield or compromise. They have outside support.

    The game can be played with great savagery in that part of the world and the situation in Bangladesh reminds me a little of the situation in Indonesia in the mid-60s. Do you think things will go that far?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Ray:

    The Islamists are not ones to yield or compromise. They have outside support.

    The game can be played with great savagery in that part of the world and the situation in Bangladesh reminds me a little of the situation in Indonesia in the mid-60s. Do you think things will go that far?
    The fundamentalists are not the one to give up easily and that is true.

    That is why they have been able to worm back into the BD society.

    Saudi money is playing a great role in BD with their backing these elements.

    BNP (the Opposition) is led by the wife of an ex Pak Army officer and there will be some empathy for Pakistan.

    What one is watching for, is how the BD army reacts.

    The Army in BD, though is not that involved in governance as they are in Pakistan, yet they are but legatee of the Pak Army ethos in so far as organising coups is concerned.

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    Ray:

    I know I am asking you to go out on a limb in replying to this, but I am interested in the view of an Indian military man.

    Can the Islamists in Bangladesh be stopped without a lot of killing being done? That is why I asked about similarities to Indonesia. Do you think the Babgladesh army can or would do that?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Ray:

    I know I am asking you to go out on a limb in replying to this, but I am interested in the view of an Indian military man.

    Can the Islamists in Bangladesh be stopped without a lot of killing being done? That is why I asked about similarities to Indonesia. Do you think the Babgladesh army can or would do that?
    I am a Bengali and my family roots emanate from East Bengal (then it became East Pakistan and now Bangladesh).

    The Bengali Muslims are a different kettle of fish than the archetypal Muslim. While they are very strident about the religion, the majority are quite laid back. And unlike in other Muslim countries, the woman are empowered and do claim equal status as men in their families.

    That is why it is not surprising to see two Women deciding the fate of Bangladesh ie. the present PM and the earlier one.

    It may surprise many, but the Shahbag movement has been spearheaded by girls in the range of 20 and 22 years,namely Srabanti Akhtar Barsha (20), Lucky, Shaon and Pretilata. These girls are known as "Agni Kanya" (Girls on Fire).

    As I see it, Bengalis are an emotional lot and get 'fired' up rather easily on emotive issues. It is interesting that most of those in the Shahbagh Movement were born many years after the Liberation of Bangladesh and so would not know of the atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army and their collaborators, namely the razakaars (or Jamaait). And yet, they are supporting the Bangladesh Supreme Court verdict giving death sentence to one and demanding that all the accused should be put to death.

    It appears that, while on the surface, there was no such outcry so far, but then with the verdict, old memories (that were possibly handed down by those who suffered during the Liberation) have been stoked and hence the demand.

    What has to be seen is the influence of the BNP (it is no pushover) to counter this movement since it is not to its interest in a political sense. BNP's ally, as one would recall is the Jamaait and which in turn is flush with Saudi Wahaabi money.

    Can money win over and defeat the movement?

    The Bangladesh Govt is considering banning the Jamaait.

    Obviously, the sum total is very emotive on both sides of the spectrum.

    And Bangladesh is no stranger to violent protests.

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    Agni Kanyas fire youth revolution in Bangladesh

    Meet Srabanti Akhtar Barsha, a 20-year-old Islamia College student who, along with other young women like Lucky, Shaon and Pritilata, has emerged as a symbol of youth revolution that has taken the country by storm. The venue is Dhaka's Shahbag Square. Rechistened Projonmo Chottor, it has spontaneously evolved into ground zero for youths demanding capital punishment for Razakars accused of genocide, rape and crimes during the 1971 Liberation War. They are also calling for a ban on fundamentalist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladeshi politics. Jamaat chief Delwar Hossain Sayedee is one of those convicted by the tribunal probing into the crimes four decades ago.

    Initially sparked by blogs, it is the relentless sloganeering by the likes of Barsha and Lucky, christened 'Agni Kanya' or firebrand daughters by the country's media, that has kept the protest's tempo going for over a month now. The girls have been spending 18 hours a day — from 8am till 2 at night — at the square since February 5. But for these feisty women, all aged 20-22, the protests would have fizzled out like so many civil society movements have in the past. The Agni Kanyas have not only mobilized masses, they have ensured the media spotlight remains on Shahbag.

    "Wrapping the Bangladeshi national flag as a bandana, the Agni Kanyas make for compelling images on TV. In them, viewers see a reflection of their own angst and aspirations. The future of Bangladesh — as a tolerant secular nation or an Islamist country — hinges on this movement," explained Munni Saha, a TV journalist based in Dhaka.
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/c...w/18823838.cms

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