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Old 05-28-2007   #1
tequila
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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 04:34 PM. Reason: Add Note
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Old 06-17-2007   #2
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Strategic Insights, Jun 07:

Democracy in Bangladesh: From Fragility to Collapse?
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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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Old 11-24-2008   #3
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CSIS, 27 Oct 08: Islamic Radical Ideologies and South Asian Security: The Case of Bangladesh
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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.....
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Old 03-02-2013   #4
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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:
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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:
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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
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Old 03-03-2013   #5
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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.
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Old 03-03-2013   #6
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Reuters says up to 60 dead now.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/0...lobalCoverage2
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Old 03-03-2013   #7
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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.
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Old 03-03-2013   #8
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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.
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Old 03-03-2013   #9
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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 10:59 PM. Reason: remove the anti-Muslim movement, wrong word choice
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Old 03-03-2013   #10
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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.
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Last edited by carl; 03-03-2013 at 07:19 PM.
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Old 03-03-2013   #11
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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 01:44 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old 03-04-2013   #12
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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.
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Old 03-04-2013   #13
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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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Old 03-04-2013   #14
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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?
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Old 03-05-2013   #15
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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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Old 03-05-2013   #16
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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?
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Old 03-06-2013   #17
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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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Old 03-06-2013   #18
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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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Old 03-06-2013   #19
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After the 1971 Liberation war of Bangladesh, the governments of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh reached a tripartite agreement. One of the despicable results of this was the granting of clemency to some of the worst perpetrators of crimes against humanity in the last millennium. Some Bengali collaborators of the Pakistan forces indulged in mass-murders and rapes that have few parallels in recent memory. They have never faced the judicial process, until now.

The International War Crimes tribunal in Bangladesh has been pursuing some of the biggest leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Razakar, Al-Shams and Al-Badr militia — a process that has stupendous public support. One of the most hated of these characters, Kader Mollah, has been handed a life sentence and not a death sentence. This resulted in a protest assembly started by a bloggers and online activist network that was quickly joined by progressive and left-wing student organisations.
http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/col...namics_1803256
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Old 05-06-2013   #20
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22418379

Riot police battle Islamists in Dhaka Bangladesh

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Up to half a million protesters gathered in the city, where rioters set fire to shops and vehicles as police fought to contain them.

Thousands of activists from Hefajat-e-Islam blocked highways, isolating Dhaka from other parts of the country.

They are calling for those who insult Islam to face the death penalty.
Clearly our stale approach of man hunting individuals is not the way to fight this war. We focus on the trees while the forest consumes us. It is past time for the free world to rise up and stop apologizing to the Islamists.

http://www.sacw.net/article4445.html

Quote:
Bangladesh has seldom experienced brute violence of this scale. Several parts in downtown Dhaka now resemble a burned-out and looted zone.
Thousands of radical Hefajat-e Islam men, instigated and bolstered by Jamaat-Shibir activists, exploded into an awe-striking force and set fire to hundreds of shops and police outposts as the evening descended.
Dhaka’s night skyline turned orange, as flames leaped from burning establishments after power supply was cut off. The Hefajat men forced into a parking lot at Dilkusha area and torched at least 50 government buses.
The affected areas were rocked with loud explosion of bombs thrown by Hefajat and Jamaat men, while police rained thousands of teargas shells and rubber bullets on the marauding Islamists.
There are multiple issues that offend these clowns, but the major one is they don't have the intellect to challenge what they see as offenses to their perverted interpretation of Islam, so like spoiled children they call for the death of the alleged insulters. It is time to stop tolerating this, they need to be treated like the common criminals they are. Keep the truth coming, if they want to fight then fight them. Don't become another Taliban like state.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2...413485449.html

Quote:
Hefazat, a newly created radical religious group, is demanding the death penalty for all those who defame Islam.

It said it held the mass protest to push a 13-point list of demands which also include a ban on men and women mixing freely together and the restoration of pledges to Allah in the constitution
.

Quote:
Critics have branded Hefazat's demands as a charter for turning Bangladesh into a country like Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Women workers including female garment labourers have vented their anger at the group's call to segregate the sexes.
http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2...-jihad/100487/

These European women, who have more sack than most of their male politicians, are calling a spade a spade and taking action based on an incident in Tunisia. Hopefully women will unite globally and address the larger issues and force our politicians to stop apologizing to some of the world's worst oppressors. This should be the beginning of the end for Islamists.

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2...-jihad/100487/

Femen Stages a 'Topless Jihad'

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Earlier today, members of Ukrainian feminist group Femen staged protests across Europe as they called for a "topless jihad." The demonstrations were in support of a young Tunisian activist named Amina Tyler. Last month, Tyler posted naked images of herself online, with the words "I own my body; it's not the source of anyone's honor" written on her bare chest. The head of Tunisia's "Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice," reportedly called for Tyler to be stoned to death for her putatively obscene actions, lest they lead to an epidemic. Tyler has since gone quiet, leading some to fear for her safety. Below are images from Femen's protests today in Sweden, Italy, Ukraine, Belgium, and France. A warning, nearly every photo depicts nudity, and most contain offensive language. [31 photos]
Note the warning, the last link does have pictures of topless women protesting Islamists. God bless them.
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