Maulana Bhashani's death anniversary today

 Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani. Born 1880, Died 1976. aka The Red Maulana

He returned to his Maker on 17th November 1976, a few months after leading the Long March in protest at the Indian Government's dastardly construction of the Farrakha Barrage on the Ganges River. He was doing this kind of thing in his 90s!!!

This was an immense display of political mojo from a gentleman who demonstrated it quite a lot and didn't get stuck in personality cults and petty bickering.

Those of us who share Sylheti ancestry tend to admire his leadership during the Assam Referendum on 1947 and against the Line System which tyrannised cultivators of the Surma Valley, as it was known then.

He embodied a Left Islamic political practise and hailed from a joint Jatra Movement-Deoband training. Interesting huh?!? Mister Jinnah didn't quite like him as he wasn't British educated and suited enough.

He stood against the Pro-US turn of the Pakistani State, and was feted by Late Chairman Mao.

His involvement in the Bangladesh War is hard to figure. He boycotted the 1970 election. The Indian government basically trapped him for its complete duration, as they couldn't trust him.

All of these facts mentioned above mark him out as someone every deshi could easily relate to, limitations and all. Alas, we the bangali musalmans and musalwomans have become seminarised, selfish, secularised and docile.

Allahummah grant him protection, mercy and high station, since you are the Knower of Subtleties, the Reckoner and the Majestic.

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Developmentshire bites back at the Tehrik e Insaf and Imran Khan

Some time ago, Imran Khan a Pakistani political leader made a pronouncement along the lines that Pakistan didn't need foreign 'aid', and that it caused more trouble in any account.

Though not my country of focus, the liberal discomfort with his political existence seems to have amplified.

I think its worth exploring the connection between their development-shire being threatened by creative and disruptive political momentum.

Of course this is coming from the Sylhatian who saw possibilities with the 1/11 coup in Bangladesh which ended up made things worse, but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained.

So to those young people with developmentia. Stop thinking so linearly and with such constipated political horizons. Now is a time when new people are getting turned on into politics, at least be educative with your borrowed white privilege.


Remembering the victims of British imperialism over all space and all time

Poppies perpetuate propagandist claims
On freedom, suffering and political frame
Territorialising time.
Sweet brother mine.

For Britain's bloody legacy of war crime,
Not to forget Industrial grime,
Makes sub prime
Look frankly small time.

Millions of skeletal remains, or less
Bear witness to its savage prowess
At establishing slaughter and starvation,
On occupation and parasitic taxation.

You pose at your temples of doom
With crocodile poppies
As you annihilate Afghanis
Having drugged China with opium for decades

Free trade
The pasts clings onto your present
Don't forget it, we haven't.

From today we remember the victims of imperialisms past and present
We do not celebrate nor collect pity pounds for your storm troopers
Each of those souls had a choice.
They were wrong. Rejoice.

Oh starved of Bengal, eradicated Tasmanians
Heroic Mau Mau and Tipu Sultanians
We greet you.
We offer fatiha at your graves.


Review: Fauzia Khan film | Bangla Season of Drama

Last night [9/11/11] in the nowhere lab, an art studio and venue on Bethnal Green Road, we were treated to the Bangla Season of Drama’s film night. Managed by the good people of The Brady Centre and supported by farsighted community organisation the season is something worthwhile supporting, for all sorts of reasons.

The film night was centred on an autobiographical account of theatrical director and veteran Fauzia Khan I do deform to be deformed, and followed by shorter feature from curator Hamja Ahsan and Drik Gallery’s Chobi Mela. The evening provided a window into a cultural conversations that we see or hear little of on these shores. We have to squint and listen hard for the little that we can witness here, something which should change.

The main feature followed Begum Fauzia over her career of participation in the Bangladesh theatre scene since national formation. Glancing themes of rebellion, roots, collective creative labour and artistic method, the piece depicts the artist’s eye view of her creative processes and self-image. Being this viewer’s first contact with her work, it was difficult to fully grasp at times. I guess a great deal is lost in translational steps. For example, I found the subtitler’s conflation of the Catholic concept of confession and the Islamic concept of tawba a bit silly. Fauzia Khan sure has an awesome singing voice and is someone I will be paying attention to. It was the clear vocal training and lyricism that appealed to me, if not the roles and scenarios played out on stage.

Next, as a here-and-now interlude, a collection of short films from OtherAsias  Hamja Ahsan were shown. The first places a Brick Lane restaurant tout in St Martin’s Art College, much to that institution’s bemusement. The second and third ran two Bangladeshi narratives on Morrisey’s warped worldview down Brick Lane.

In both directions, from the deeply insulted post colonial man in a lunghi and futwa brandishing a sugar cane travelling from banglatown to dickhead town, a Bengali on a platform, to the third generation Asian uberfans heading the other way with no coherent narrative other than badly expressed adulation.

To round up, a video presentation of Drik Gallery’s fifth Chobi Mela in 2010 rammed the point home that there is very good news from Bangladesh, even if it is a little too donor sponsored. Shahidul Alam, the founder of Drik is an activist and photographer of international reknown. The Chobi Mela is a unique expressive event that moves both the socially-engaged international photography community and the national community. The feature again took the position of fly-on-the-rather-interesting-wall and explored the personalities, intentions and social interactions of the festival as it unfolded in the streets, galleries and community centres of Dhaka.

Bangladesh has a great deal of creativity circulating around, and the theatre season is a good initiative to connect those of us formed in the UK to cultural production in our ancestral lands. Yes there are different ideologies and often problematic donor and national politics running through it, but I am sure we can all appreciate the confidence, beauty and inspiration value of it and learn.

This was the second in a string of theatre-based events that will take place over the next month. It is important if we are to collectively move beyond chicken shop and hip hop, with both local and Bangladeshi playwrights and actors featured.

For a the programme of events see the Tower Hamlets Arts page 


Two Ummahtic launches: Shariah Bill of Rights and The Meccan Openings

These are significant points in political-legal practice and poetical expression.

The Shariah Bill of Rights was written by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, a scholar from Pakistan who I find compelling and socially engaged. It is a statement of Islamic political principles arguing for the poor's inalienable Allah given right to,
  • A share in Mineral wealth
  • Produce of the Land
  • Pasturing animals and Commercial assets, amongst other things.
Please do read this piece, think about it critique/whatever and circulate in order that it become part of our space. It was released at the beginning of the year.

The Meccan Openings is a spoken work album released this Eid (mubarak) from Amir Sulaiman, an African American educator from the US, whose 'Danger' on def jam and Rebel Musik electrified us some years ago. It is free to download. There's clearly some kind of Ibn Arabic linkage occuring here.

I wonder what it is.


Post Awami League Bangladesh and reclaiming the Red Maulana

Maulana Bhashani is a figure I am full of admiration for. If I was a political idolator I would go all father of the nation on him. But I'm not so I won't.

He has been backgrounded in the eyes of the current generation. Or coopted. Not sure which is worse.  Reclaiming him with sobriety is part of the struggle of our times and recentring a deenic mojo within our own sweet borders.

Maulana Bhashani does a lot of work when recruited for Bangladesh, providing;

Political creativity
An-Indian posture
Alternate narrative of decolonisation.
Ecological Transformability
Strength and mobilisation
A counter point to a thoroughly corrupt urban intelligensia that reproduces trash.