Lecture by Farid Esack on "Islam and Ethics"

As we live in dark and challenging times, its important to drink from better fountains, this is one of those.

Farid Esack on "Islam and Ethics" at George Mason University from Ali Vural Ak Center for Global I on Vimeo.
“Islamic Ethics and Decolonialization - From the Certainties of Ma’ruf and Munkar to the Uncertainties of Post-this and Post-that”

The Qur’an seemingly postulates the idea of a clearly defined good based on widely accepted and acceptable knowables or knowns (ma’ruf) pitted against evil (munkar). These ethical distinctions are also reflected in the Muslim historiographical framing of pre-Islamic Arabia as ‘jahilliyyah’ (arrogant ignorance) against the light of islam/Islam. Dr. Esack reflects on these binaries in the light of the heurism and uncertainties offered by contemporary approaches to ethics. In this talk, he offers a decolonialized perspective as a response to the challenges posed by the seeming certainty of Islamic ethics by considering the urgencies (and the certainties) of the Muslim peripheries (even as these - both Muslims and the peripheries - may themselves be ever-changing).

Farid Esack is a South African scholar of Islam who completed the Darsi Nizami, the traditional Islamic Studies program, in Madrasahs in Karachi, Pakistan. He did his PhD at the University of Birmingham (UK) and subsequently did some post-doctoral work on Biblical Hermeneutics at the Philosophisch Theologische Hochschule, Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt-am-Main.

He is the author of several publications including Qur’an, Liberation & Pluralism: An Islamic Perspective of Interreligious Solidarity Against Oppression, On Being a Muslim: Finding a Religious Path in the World Today and An Introduction to the Qur’an (all by Oxford: Oneworld). His current major field of interest and commitment is Islam and AIDS. He is the author of a series of publications dealing with this area including Islam, HIV & AIDS – Reflections Based on Compassion, Responsibility and Justice. He also co-edited “Islam and AIDS – Between Scorn, Pity and Justice", with Sarah Chiddy. He has also published widely on Islam, Gender, Liberation Theology, Inter-faith Relations, Religion & Identity and Qur'anic Hermeneutics.

Part of the Spring Lecture Series on Islamic Ethics

Recorded on April 25, 2013


Majid Nawaz, Cartoon Capitalism and the Challenge of Hampstead and Kilburn

Over the past few days, the weird politics of Maajid Nawaz, current Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn have thrust themselves onto us in the UK, again. This time he tweeted a cartoon of the Prophets Jesus and Muhammad, depicting an irreverent camaraderie between them. I don't think non religious white people really understand that we don't do Monty Python, but its a useful button to press to show liberal virtue, if only superficially.

Channel 4 Coverage
Channel 4 News had a feature on this car crash on 28/1. The politics of these cartoons apparently comes from some fresher's fair kerfuffle at the LSE, where tomorrows (b)leaders are groomed, a stupid daytime TV chat show and an atheist propagandist comic strip called Jesus and Mo with roughly 11 000 current subscribers.

The news feature did not foreground why Maajid is perceived as, and is, such a wanker nor did they even mention that Maajid is up against the niece of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, recipient of £275 million in British 'development' assistance this year, responsible for massacre of unarmed protesters on the 5th and 6th May 2013, and rigging an election on the 5th January 2014.

Back to the business of cartoon capitalism and a Muslim led petition to have Maajid deselected has gained 21 000 signatures, and a counter response from the LSE secular society's Chris Moos 7 000. The discourses framed against each other are of Behaviour Unfitting of a Parliamentary Candidate (he swore at his objectors) versus Freedom of Speech.

It's not exactly the politics of dreams, but people have the right to object, and that political party should  know what the consequences of elevating certain folks are. Bear in mind that Nick Clegg sought an audience with UK Muslims when he was first elected LibDem leader, but only a handful of people turned up to his CityCircle talk. We must ask ourselves who is being reactionary and who is being responsible here?

Taking a longer term view to the Muslim response(s), there are some new developments to it, as well as some dumbosity.  But first of all I would like to post a decent cartoon about freedom from the incarceration of the human media circus.

Looking at the text of the call to the Lib Dems to deselect Maajid, I suppose it it a bit more sophisticated than what would have gone out in the 90s. But to be honest, I am tiring of this kinda stuff. Community disgust with Maajid is a deeper matter, to do with his narcissistic and corrupting work in the counter-extremism industry that endangers the innocent, and practically contributes to suffocating Muslim being, whilst making a tidy income.

In this environment really nasty moods and speech acts are created. Allegations of death threats provide another few gigawatts to the wrecking ball politics of Maajid Nawaz and play right into the court of liberal Islamophobia which too many mIslamists seem happy to do as they get weak as the prospect of exposure. Some idiots allegedly gave those cards to Usama Hasan a few years ago, who ended up cashing them in unfortunately. There's nothing like a foolish friend to undermine a position.

Does the Almighty need defending?
One of Maajid's defences is that 'his God doesn't need protection', which is an interesting rhetorical device.  It will be difficult for a secular person, particularly a eurocentric and humancentric one, to understand the Rights of God, and why we understand that the Almighty requires that we work to protect the right for the Prophets to be known better. I remember sitting in a comparative scriptural reading group with a pious Jewish professor, and wondering how different their meaning making of the same Prophets was to ours.

In a certainly more hope-making intervention, George Galloway announced that his Respect party was to field a candidate to take the fight right to the rancid Maajid Nawaz and the New Labour apologist for the Awami League.

An interesting opportunity.


On Macaulay's Minute: It is Real, Present and Sucks

There has been a bit of discussion about the veracity of Macaulay's Minute on Education. It is becoming fashionable for some brown people to call it a hoax, if not chide their fellow bearers of colonial wounds as 'nativists'.

It would seen that people are trying to make a 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' out of it, perhaps as passage payment towards a right of audience, superficiality, or some genuine self hate, who knows. [The Protocols is a piece of literature alleged to demonstrate to the world, an open blue print and call to the establishment of a Zionist state. Apparently it was an anti-Semetic hoax.]

What I do know, and show below, is that the content and author of The Minute are genuine, but the snippet of it doing the rounds on social media is misattributed to remarks given in the UK Parliament. The Minute had a crucial impact on colonial educational resource allocation and policy in India.

I argue, and many others do, that this powerful transformation of Indian selves still underlies the intellectual character and politics of confused and confusing power elites in South Asia.

The Competition Wallah

Following direction from the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Hansard website, which documents proceedings in the UK Parliament, I am sitting in front of a book called " The Competition Wallah" by G O Trevelyan MP. Its the second (1866) edition of a collection of 11 letters.

There is a telling closing line to the first preface (1864) that is worth sharing.

"These letters will not have been written in vain if, by their means, the natives of India obtain some portion of English sympathy and English justice"

Its worth remembering that these letters are reproduced after the 1857 uprising and subsequent takeover of Indian affairs by the British Crown from the British East India Company. The titles of the eleven letters are fascinatingly titled.

  1. The Two Systems
  2. An Indian Railway
  3. A Government School and an Opium Factory
  4. A Story of the Great Indian Mutiny
  5. A Journey, A Grand Tumasha and the Truth about the Civil Service Career
  6. A Tiger-Party in Nepaul
  7. About Calcutta and ints Climate; with serious inferences
  8. About the Hindoo Character; with digression home
  9. British Temper towards India, before, during and since the Mutiny
  10. Christianity in India
  11. Education in India since 1835; with a minute of Lord Macaulay

Examining the 11th Letter, written from Mofussilpore on 20th July 1863, the content reproduced here seems pretty accurate, except for the line of agreement at the end from William Bentink, which in the book comes before the The Minute. What attracts my attention is the scramble for resources and policy within the Britisher camp that The Minute was part of, that 2nd February 1835.
At the commencement of the year 1835, the operations of the Committee of Public Instruction, of which Macaulay was President, were brought to a stad by a decided difference of opinion. Half of the members were in favour of Arabic, Persian and Sanscrit learning; the otherhalf in favour of English and the vernacular.  The battle was fought over a sum of ten thousand pounds, set apart by parliament for the promotion of literature and science.  When the matter came before the Council, drew up the following minute, which is endorsed thus:-  (p318)
Reflecting on the Minute in the post 1857 British Imperial Sphere

After reproducing the minute completely, the author of the 11th letter, one H Broughton, reflects on how the opinions expressed in the minute and the policy emanating from it have been vindicated.
The Natives of India have with marvellous eagerness and unanimity, abandoned the dead or effete learning of the East for the living and vigorous literature of England. (p330)
Hindus (often Bengalis by another name in parlance at the time) were observed to be clearly more into it than Muslims, though he probably misreads why. [Some say that Brahmins made barriers, something which needs to be looked into.]
The Mahommedan gentleman, whose pride does not allow them to study the language of their conquerers, have begun to be painfully aware that they are fast losing their moral and intellectual superiority over the Hindoos, who do not profess such scruples. (p331).
This bit is quite funny, reminds me of the development industry.
That instinct for imitation, which I mentioned above, is so dominant in the native, his desire to please so constant, that you never know whether his sentiments are real or artificial. In fact, it may be doubted whether he knows himself. When he speaks, you cannot be sure whether you are listening to the real man, or to the man whom he thinks you would like him to be. The feebleness and the servility which renders Hindoo testimony so singularly untrustworthy forbid us to put too much confidence in Hindu civilisation. The Bengali witness, who has no motive to lie, will distort the facts if he imagines that he can by doing so give one tittle of pleasure to the barrister who is examining him, or the judge who is taking notes of his evidence.  The Bengali journalist, with equal facility, will adopt the tone which he has reason to believe may suit the greatest number of Sahibs.

I reject Macaulay's Minute, and what it stands for, I shake my coffee beans at Macaulay Minutemen and Women wherever they might. Let us bring about decolonial futures.


The Massacre at Shapla Chottor, the Advancing Walls of Silencing and Peering Through Them

The 5th January 2014 elections in Bangladesh, are intimately tied to the violence that the state unleashed on protesters just 8 months earlier, the Massacre at Shapla Chottor. As a recently found comrade said to me 'democracy died that day'.

Such ultra violence could only be used because the state knew it would not be held to account.

Before censoring itself and descending into ultranationalist and fascistic wankersomeness, the AoD blog led with a post 'An end of an Era', which marked that the sad events made a peaceful change of government impossible.  Deshi censorship is an ongoing battle, but nondeshi and hybrid disinformation can tell us a lot about the lenses, prejudices and interests that have aligned to produce the Liararchy and MOronarchy of Bangladesh.

It is probably par for the coursehow 'reputable' but essentially White Power sources skirt around/ stay silent about/ obfuscate the Awami cadre and government violence on unarmed protesters on May 5th that culminated in massacre in Dhaka in the early hours of the 6th May, not to mention the many follow up killings as protesters tried to return to their homes all over the country.

Just Bricks in the Wall

Silencing in this digital age is easily done through lying, spreading fear and looking after your interests in the status quo. It has gone viral. Here is a short roll call.

Hasina Wajed said 'They wiped red dye on their chests'. The UK's token brownie Sayeeda Warsi mumbled something about 'freedom of belief' buying the lie that the protesters were calling out all atheists, not just those extremely insulting ones. Pola Uddin's mind was blank as always as Baroness "house swap" was friends with the PM and David Bergman offered a despicable 'I wouldn't call it a massacre'. Human Rights Wash took a strategically superficial view with 'Blood on the Streets', and generally regurgitated the Daily Star-think, who themselves pretended to have been there all the time but weren't. Sabir Mustafa at the BBC said 'we were there but found no evidence to suggest massacre' and ethnic mediocrity Shamim Choudhury at Al Jazeera preferred to cover the under resourcing of the fire services.

Meanwhile, too many people were busy worrying about there careers and fanning the flames of Bengali fascism to bear witness to this state crime. Odhikar's Adilur Rahman and Nasruddin Elan, part of the local inbred human rights industry themselves, have not expressed an interest in challenging the government loudly since their preliminary report landed them in hot water.

We can be restlessly assured that countless foreign diplomats are sitting on information, and that several will have been complicit in  the deed, and the clean up afterwards. The US State department's astonishing "special events" training provision for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, the prime executing agency, just days after they massacred their own people evidences this.

After all, who would want to upset their pet development industrialists doing all that 'good' work supporting upper-middle class 'human rights wallahs' turned Shahbagis turned Awami League propagandists like BRAC PR stuntman Asif Saleh (thanks Tacit), or call out Tahmima Anam for lying her pants off (actually RE: Anam somebody actually has). There is too much profit to be made in attacking hindu people and blaming the opposition, attacking Muslim people and blaming terrorism and then writing a proposal to donors to fix their 'backwardsness' afterwards.

As people of Bangladeshi relations, you have to admit that the only thing we market is our poverty of responsibility.
A prayer on a plaque at the graves of the victims
of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia

Many Serbs still live inside the communities they tormented during the Bosnian war, in full knowledge of mass grave sites and information, 20 years on. They locked away their knowledge along with their guilt.  We can expect similar attempts to withhold the truth from the perpetrators and allies of the massacre at Shapla Chottor and look for workarounds. It goes without saying that people with some social status, means and balls should work diligently to collect evidence for greater understanding and strong legal measures when the time is right.

The number who perished and are inshAllah granted Martyr status by The Almighty is likely to be in the hundreds. I wish the number were zero, and struggle with its unknowability. For many however it is a hoax, which I can understand but not accept. After all this is a nation that lies to itself in so many ways its doesnt know what the truth tastes like, it is led by scholars for dollars and BRACademics divorced from their own sacred sources.

This is also a nation whose brains and arms are anesthetised, unable to operate without donor interest of political patronage. The will and the skill to make sense of the multiple worms, meerkat and eagle eye views, BS detect and read the codes needs to be encouraged.


  1. How are the victims and family's of the victims faring? What material and non-material support do they require and how might we deliver it?
  2. Fear of recrimination is a key problem.   Remember ATN cameraman Shariful Islam? How can we reduce the costs and risks of qualitatively and quantitatively knowing more about this matter?
  3. Who was involved in the planning, and what were the roles of Hasina, Inu, Joy, Ret Gen Tareq Siddiq and Dhaka Metro Police Commissioner Benazir Ahmed in it?
  4. Evidence is mounting that the government has special killer squads and collaborates with elements of the Indian state to do its very dirty work. Who are these guys and what are their stories?
  5. One detailed report, presumably from Shibbir-JI people present at the protest, has the clean up operation at Shapla Chottor starting around 4 am, BGB and Police removing bodies and Dhaka City Corporation cleaners on blood stain duties. Where were the bodies taken? Were they buried, burned,  dissolved or thrown in the river?
  6. How have various parts of the Indian deep state penetrated Bangladeshi state apparatus, wittingly, unwittingly, officially and unofficially? What was the involvement of Britain, USA and Russia?
  7. How are what extent are editors Matiur Rahman, Zafar Sobhan, Mahfuz Anam and Sabir Mustafa complicit in this state crime, morally blinkered and incapable of handling desh's diversity?
  8. The atheist call out made a lot of people in the media, NGOworld and intelligentsia scared. Levels of atheism are high in these communities, which are quite influential and skillful at guiding the white gaze, but about whom we do not know an awful lot. 
  9. Human rights organisations, journalism and diplomacy have failed to protect people, or even tell their story. What's next?
  10. People who can't eat, and people who are stupid are probably excused from this one, which concerns the Culture of Crapademia that constitutes 'Bangladesh Studies'. How can the 'intellectual and cultural support' for the dehumanisation, killing and cover up be brought to understanding?
  11. Can we hope for a few helpful Wikileaks or Snowden snowballs to shed some light on whats obscured here?
  12. Although true colour satellite imagery in the dead of night is nearly impossible. what remote sensing data exists around and on the days of the incidents?
  13. Is what happened at Shapla Chottor just a raw image, and a reminder of what Bengali Nationalism is and has been from its origins?
  14. Spiritually, what are practical pathways for forgiveness and redemption here?


Shapla Chottor calling Bangladesh: The disgrace behind the Awami League's obstinacy

A telephone call from an eyewitness to government brutality in Dhaka on 6th May

This call furnishes us with a lot of information about what happened that terrible night in Dhaka, information that journalists, human rights industrialists and officials are hiding, dismissing and ridiculing. It is vivid because there is no visual to distract the listener to what the gentleman is saying.

It and much more was available from 6th May 2013 for all to see, the BBC team led by Sabir Mustafa, New Age's David Bergman and the Aljazeera people, Shamim Choudhury, Jonah Hull and now Maher Sattar. They are all careerists and we do not know how far their journalism interacts with intelligence services.

What we have seen is the failure of journalism and the rise of new forms of knowing not without their own problems. Now that the democracy party is in town, folks might peek here and there to try to understand why this illegitimate government is scared

The Banana Republic of Bangladesh and the shameful game it plays with Minority Attacks

A representation of the Bangladesh Flag on the day of the 10th General Election by a good pal
It is sad that members of different faith communities are being attacked in Bangladesh. Whoever is doing it should be brought to justice, and whoever is lying about who is doing it should be brought to account. At a time when attention should be on 1) the illegitimacy of the current government, and  2) the governing party's endgame plans with its opposition (annihilation), what looks like a well greased "human rights offensive" is being mounted to exploit and make suffering for religious minorities. It is an old game in which the more biased human rights agencies, media folk and allied academic supporters are well experienced.

Jamaat e Islami, are of course the designated accused, almost instinctively by the press in Bangladesh and the human rights industry, of being responsible. This accusation requires little or no evidence, but then when have you ever needed decent, or in fact any, evidence to confirm your view of this political party and the larger social body of Islamic expression? The party has denied responsibility, called for an international inquiry and stated it will take measures if any of their members are actually found to be involved.

These accusations are similar to those that Sultana Kamal, head of the now very disreputable human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra, has been making since the Shahbag was begun in February. Her repeated refrain was that Jamat were killing and attacking the Hindu community 'just like they did in 1971'.
Party activists responded with support sit ins outside Hindu temples, but because of our brothers and sisters of the Shahbag, this was easily dismissed.

I remember that Hefazot even  inserted a "protection of dignity and property of minority faiths" as the 13th point to challenge this smear. However nobody cared to point this out as they were too busy beating the drums of war to destroy them.

 There are tacit signals, loud if you can read the code, as well as pretty solid evidence that Bangladesh's self-styled secularists are no protectors of minorities. Its a despicable game and testimony to the magnitude of the Awami Liararchy and dustbin politics of "civil society".

With their media outlets banned and personnel denied the right of audience, internationally and nationally, newer kinds of voices have tried to fill the gap, scrutinize media representations and take the initiative back.

One dedicated blog, to add to your range of sources, tries to take an evidenced based approach. Please take a look, I pray that we can see the world for what it really is. Over the past few days, people have increasingly done so. For example, an insightful blogger (OO), pointed out something dubious in a Prothom Alo image of  voters below.
This image is from Prothom Alo, the most popular Bangla paper in desh.
This image depicts a queue of voters, but zooming in we can see that Hindu symbols
have been clumsily etched onto the images of several of the lady's foreheads
However, there is are important barriers here, the dinner table and the cocktail party tests in Bangladesh and beyond.

The Judaisation of Jamat e Islam
Any coverage of the mere possibility of non JI and non BNP involvement in these crimes is usually accompanied by The Standard Equipartition of Blame Statement. When I say Judaised, I do not mean in a good way ( long traditions of religious scholarship, family values) but in the way that a group can be portrayed as alien scheming bastards and the root of all of  society's problems. Whether you are a 1971 bereaved power elite is immaterial to this, it is wrong, foolish and harmful.

We only have to listen to the language of people to sense this Judaisation. I do not use the term denigration (from Negro) on purpose. This is because Bangladeshi secular liberal nationalists and their allies tend to run on a singular and exclusive national idea that have more in common with the hindutva BJP narrative, of Islam is an alien imposition to Bangali culture, and have a superiority complex regarding the civilisational contributions of Black people for some reason.

The fascistic drum of the Shahbag movement made this situation even worse lately. Now doubt JI's historical decisions have had a hand in the production of the hatred too, such as electing GA as leader, not giving a shit enough to explain themselves well, and making that alliance with Hasina in 1994 to shoo the issue away. However, the younger and non decision-making generation are not responsible for any of that and they are the ones being dehumanised, detained, brutalised and killed. (Another side to this are the common allegations of violence, which I'm sure aren't all concocted nor without provocation. I do not advocate angel theory)

If I had grown up in desh, there is a fair chance that I would have tried to join Shibir, at least for a while. If not that, I would have many of the softer bookish types as my close friends because, they care about Islam without politically castrating its political imaginary. I pray for their guidance and safety, and hope that they document their experiences well.

You will struggle to find a public voice outside the party that will defend the rights of Jamaat people in situations like these, though sometimes a random blogger, who is not interested in their career will write a corker like this.

A few days ago I heard that an elderly English literature professor-type leader of Jamaat Nazir Ahmed died a the shock of being picked up by police. Last month there was the terrible case of the Jamat amir, a medical doctor taken to the roof of his house shot and thrown to the ground, and the truth of the government's Israel style operation in Satkhira is yet to emerge.

The mass and arbitrary detentions of members of this party, not to mention what the BNP is going through, are important to protest intelligently and to humanise. So much has gone on to dehumanise and we need to hear more from their families, whistle blowers and support them, whoever they are.

Decolonial Duas to all people who fear unjust arrest, detention or worse at any time.


Elections in Bangladesh, Bergman's Peterloo and Our Epistemic Autism

A lady votes for the cameras in the 10th Bangladeshi General Election.
For video of more democratically empowered Bangladeshi women and youths
see ProgressBD's fine collection of English subtitled media clips.
I feel that the January 5th elections just past were probably the most foolish and malevolent elections to be held in the history of Bangladesh, East Pakistan and British Occupied India. The government led by the Awami League of Hasina Wajed, and the opposition led by Rawshan Ershad's breakaway faction of her detained husband's Jatiyo Party is illegitimate.

It is not going away any time soon, after all foreign donors need the admin support, and from the looks of it the oppositions are in very bad shape, not least because of political repression put upon them over this Awami Regime and of course the donor-backed military dictatorship that took power in 2008, enfooling us with anti corruption talk.

This government will be in power for a while, for several years government organisations have been purged and disciplined into the desired shape. Although some of the corporate media did try to cover this particular farce, I wouldn't expect too much from them, since they are generally complicit in the May 6th massacre. To find out more about the roots of their complicity, think how they created the mood music for it.

Bergman meets his Peterloo?

Bangladesh has its poor man's Robert Fisk in David Bergman.  Accused of being a Jamati agent over his coverage of war crimes tribunals, he has shown his stripes with subtlety in this election ridiculing those who call out the massacre as issuers of hyperbole, and generally functioning as an articulating echo of the secular liberal establishment.

I was annoyed at statements from BNP thug Sadeque Hossain Khokha the day after the killings, his party leader had ordered activists out on the streets to protect Hefazot at the last minute and he failed, bottled it. We are prevented from knowing by fascistic authority, the useful idiots of the Shahbag movement (epitomised electronically by @rezwan) and a media with ethical commitments only to money and comfort.

However, thanks to good people on the ground and some social media support we know from an elderly hospitalised survivor that the dead were carted away the dead in dust trucks.  (See video from 0:58). From the videos and witness accounts we have access to, we do know that there was a massacre and it has been alchemical on our collective political selfs.

Perhaps if the victims were members of his colour, political, professional community or family, then a preliminary figure of 61, and the context of unarmed sleeping protesters being set upon by the full force of the state would warrant the term 'massacre'. I remember how initial estimates of the dead from the World Trade Center attacks started basically with estimates of morning building capacity and changed as we learned more about people escaping. In that case, the people and the state were at one in recovery, at Motijheel, the state and emergency services were against the people, and there was a media blackout and cover up.

Proposed Peterloo Memorial
Bergman will know the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 well, when armed cavalry of Napoleonic 'war heroes' charged huge crowds in broad daylight killing 15 and injuring hundreds.  Revulsion at this brutality led to the establishment of the Guardian Newspaper with an epistemic momentum to value the life of people, not just the privileged.

I remember learning about Peterloo in one of the important political lessons of my life from an elderly communist grandpa-type from The North, early on the second morning of the Occupy encampment at St Paul's in London, before banker engagement. He was not too impressed with the youths who were still fast asleep having spent the whole night drinking and getting stoned. I remember listening to a very excited girl reporting witnessing a couple copulating in the churchyard in V for Vendetta masks.

The elderly activist remarked that the younger generation had a very poor political education, kinda reminded me of Boro Hujur come to think of it.

The issue of bringing Peterloo into it is to highlight the inequality of regard to human life that 15:61(min) represents. The ridicule of the event demonstrates that Bergman doesn't give a shit and nor do many others in his echo chamber of native informants. Remember that he is married into Kamal Hossein's family, Mujib's first foreign minister and a very established figure in civil and political society in Dhaka.

There is a terrible double standards of evidence here [click for poem] that extends to Muslims in the UK media too. However, when did pointing out double standards of an oppressor ever get us anywhere?

Waste(wo)man Warsi

For their part, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Affirmative Action Alibi Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has issued a predictable statement  relegitimising the election, blanket blaming all parties and renormalising British ties to the regime. This is the same Warsi who dismissed the Motijheel Massacre with some vague fluffy talk about 'freedom of religion'.

So while it is good to write to various institutions of the British government and establishment (not least to challenge lies and bias in a dignified way), and  please do talk with your MP and challenge the BBC's (Sabir Mustafa's) bias, what is more pressing is a longer term issue whose resolution lies in community transformation and the creativity possible because of it.

We must superscede the practices of a generation of thousands of AL/BNP/JI/JSD drones and the newer alliance of Bengali Nationalists, Zionists and Islamophobes in the UK.

Fortunately, we have already seen evidence of resistance counter culture and I for one look forward to seeing more as we renegotiate a transnational localism of Nur.

Epistemic Autism and the Now What? Question

At the root of our problem understanding, being and thriving  is Epistemic Autism.

I make up words and terms, you are probably used to is by now, but they are intended as portals, this one is important and defined as follows.
Def: The inability to comprehend that which one has not cultivated the mind for.
Epistemic Autism is a problem in multi-disciplinary research collaboration, complex organisational management as well as political life.
The seculibs of Bangladesh, who wear liberalism to secure white privilege, have so little knowledge of islamic dynamic culture, that their misframing of Hefazot-e-Islam has translated into the Motijheel Massacre.
Unable to distinguish students of Maulana Madani from Maulana Moududi, and dismissive of anybody able to, their inhumanity, arrogance and shamelessness continues to corrupt intellectual, organisational and justice-making for everybody else.
It seeks to explains the intellectual character, or lack of, amongst educated power holders captured by the term 'civil society' today in Bangladesh. It points to a need to democratise religious, social and physical sciences and uloominate our conditions and problems with a mighty orchestra and politics of decolonial love.

Taking ownership of the seculib problem in an important step, and raising our voices and support for a forensic investigations of the massacre at Shapla Chottor is part of that. It will be easier once the illegitimate government of India in Bangladesh has fallen.


Tahmima Anam, The New York Times and the Bangladesh Motanarrative

 Narratives that make your head bleed

Last week, the ultranationalist bloc in Bangladesh, The Shahbag, was burning effigies of Imran Khan. He had dared to comment on that crown jewel of Bangladesh's 'internal affairs', the dubious trials of those accused of crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh War.  Please note that I have been against these trials since before they existed, as they are based on a false history and a narrative which makes the head go fat (mota), and unable to handle other truths.  

It is what I call a motanarrative, a story that possesses you so much it gives you brain damage.

Imran Khan's speech in his parliament was rare (video), and took place in the context of the aftermath of the judicial murder of Abdul Quader Mollah in Dhaka on 12th December by a judicial system whose credibility is at an extreme low point.

It may be a little late in the day for it, but a growing body of commentators are coming to the consensus that the term fascism can be justly applied to the running situation in Bangladesh.

A letter to America?

Tahmima Anam's New York Times article was not the best intervention from a Bangladeshi on the subject of Bangladesh-Pakistan relations on 1971. That prize goes to this letter to Imran Khan, as well as people of balanced mind and silenced tongue, which addresses issues of Truth and Reconciliation. However it was a powerful contribution, from an author with a right to audience granted primarily by her inherited symbolic capital, and western academic credentials.

For those who do not know and who should, Tahmima Anam is the daughter of Mahfuz Anam, editor of the Dhaka based and Transcom associated Daily Star. She has a masters in Creative Writing and wrote an anthropology PhD at Harvard University on the intriguingly titles Fixing the Past: War, Violence, and Habitations of Memory in Post-Independence Bangladesh. She is also responsible for the Hay Festival Dhaka, critiqued this year as the end of the line eyewash for an elite covering up a massacre.

My comments on the piece are in [square brackets], although the title sounds agreeable, I have several problems with it.

As I would expect, it misreads Anthony Masceranas, the Christian Pakistani journalist who blew a whistle on the deeds of the Pakistan Army; and Hamoodur Rahman, the Bengali-Pakistani judge whose commission report on the matter was only declassified nearly 30 years after the War.


Pakistan's State of Denial

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DHAKA, Bangladesh — It was a Paksistani [sp] journalist, Anthony Mascarenhas, who gave the world the first detailed account of Bangladesh’s war of independence. In April 1971, soon after the army of Pakistan started suppressing the secessionist movement in what was then still the eastern part of the country, it invited Mr. Mascarenhas to report on the conflict, believing he would buttress the false propaganda of a just war. Mr. Mascarenhas promptly moved his family, and then himself, to Britain knowing that soon he would no longer be able to live in Pakistan.
Zahedul I Khan
Tahmima Anam
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“For six days as I traveled with the officers of the 9th Division headquarters at Comilla I witnessed at close quarters the extent of the killing,” Mr. Mascarenhas wrote in a lengthy, damning report published under the headline “Genocide” in the June 13, 1971, edition of The Sunday Times.
“I saw Hindus, hunted from village to village and door to door, shot off-hand after a cursory ‘short-arm inspection’ showed they were uncircumcised. I have heard the screams of men bludgeoned to death in the compound of the Circuit House (civil administrative headquarters) in Comilla. I have seen truckloads of other human targets and those who had the humanity to try to help them hauled off ‘for disposal’ under the cover of darkness and curfew.” [Note how Anam has been silent about the truck loads of human bodies removed from the scene of the Motijheel Massacre on 6th May 2013, attacked in the dead of night by cover of darkness Ref: Audio eyewitness Account, Hospitalised victim account 1, Hospitalised victim account 2, Hospitalised victim account 3, Hospitalised victim account 4 , secretly filmed policeman in a taxi stating 400 were killed]
Four decades later, Mr. Mascarenhas’s government still insists on denying the past: the mass killing of civilians (perhaps as many as three million [Anam knows this is patently untrue yet repeats this figure for emotional effect. Ref: The journalist who was present when the 3 million death toll was first stated by a fresh out of jail Mujib]), the targeting of Hindus, the systematic rape of thousands [Recent, detailed research by Sarmila Bose appreciates much of the Brave Masceranas account, but also finds limitations to his informant network] . On Dec. 16, Pakistan’s National Assembly adopted a resolution expressing concern over the recent execution of Abdul Quader Mollah, a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh’s leading Islamic party, who was convicted by a Bangladeshi court [a highly problematic trial] of committing murder and rape while collaborating with the Pakistani Army during the 1971 war. Calling Mr. Mollah a Pakistani sympathizer — and the independence of Bangladesh “the fall of Dhaka” — a multiparty majority of the assembly complained that Mr. Mollah was sentenced because of his “loyalty to Pakistan” [This was quite dumb on the part of the Pakistanis, and suggests a lack of homework]  and asked the Bangladeshi government to drop all other cases against the Jamaat leadership.
There is no doubt the Pakistani Army committed war crimes in 1971. Yet in history books and schoolrooms throughout Pakistan, the army’s atrocities are glossed over. [Just like we gloss over how Bengali Nationalists committed atrocities on their adversaries before during and after the war]
This denial prevails despite an official study by the Pakistani Army. Just after the war, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto set up an independent judicial commission to investigate atrocities committed in East Pakistan in order to understand why the army had failed there. When the Hamoodur Rahman [interesting fact, Hamoodur Rahman was Bengali] Commission report was published in 1974, it documented how, under the pretense of quashing a rebellion, the Pakistani Army had planned and carried out the execution of intellectuals, soldiers, officials, businessmen and industrialists, and had buried them in mass graves. [ I don't think Anam has read the report properly, which does include crimes of Pak army, but is heavily geared towards military failure analysis and documenting crimes of Mukti Bahini before and during the war. You can read it HERE]
The commission recommended that the Pakistani government set up a special court to further investigate misconduct by the army. This never happened, and the report remained classified for nearly three decades. Five Pakistani heads of state have visited Bangladesh since 1971 without extending a formal apology. The closest any of them came to recognizing Pakistan’s wrongs was Pervez Musharraf, who wrote in 2002 in a visitors’ book at a war memorial near Dhaka, “Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pains of the events of 1971. The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable.”
Bangladesh’s own efforts to deal with its messy birth were unsuccessful [with success being measured in what?] — until 2008, when the Awami League was voted into power partly on a mandate to hold a war crimes trial [ Hardly, it did not headline their manifesto but was enthusiastically backed by a strong special interest group] that would bring to justice the people who collaborated with the Pakistani Army in 1971. (By then Bangladeshis [Who she lobbies for] had grown weary of successive governments’ turning a blind eye to crimes many of their own families had endured.) The International Crimes Tribunal was created in 2009; 12 men have been charged so far; three of them have been convicted, including Mr. Mollah.
From the outset, the court was dogged with criticism [Moot mention used well here, to avoid: Skype scandal, judicial incompetance, inequality of witness rights, abduction of a defence witness, harrassment of defense team  ].  It has been accused of skirting international procedural standards and of being politically motivated: Most of the accused are members of Jamaat-e-Islami. In December 2012, President Abdullah Gul of Turkey requested “clemency” for the defendants, on the grounds that they were “too old” to stand trial. On the eve of Mr. Mollah’s appeal, Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly warned Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh that Mr. Mollah’s execution would create instability on the eve of the general election set for Jan. 5.
Whatever one thinks of these trials or the death penalty generally [ More liberal mooting from a writer who is anything but liberal] , the sentence against Mr. Mollah was handed down by an independent [No, influenced by both executive and activists] court  in a sovereign country [Hmm,  high dependance on aid, international labour not to mention India] on the basis of extensive eyewitness testimony [ Momena, the critical witness in his case was only 13 years old in 1971 and changed her story in  way that looks forced. It is not hard to buy or scare people in Bangladesh] . And Mr. Mollah’s execution on Dec. 12 had widespread public support. Never mind Prime Minister Hasina’s flaws: At least she has had the political courage to take a stand against whitewashing the past [ By Banglawashing the past with a false, self serving narrative which is slowing being peeled away], while the opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, has reinforced her ties with Jamaat by remaining silent on the matter [Key strategic objective for secular illiberals like Tahmia Anam is to disrupt the alliance between the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami Opposition parties]
But then, a few days after Mr. Mollah’s execution — precisely on the anniversary of Pakistani Army’s surrender to independent Bangladesh [Rather defeat at the hands of the Indian-led armed forces] — the Pakistani National Assembly adopted its denialist resolution. Instead of supporting Bangladesh’s efforts to come to terms with its brutal birth [You cannot be serious? nobody apart from the Indians support the sham trials], Pakistan is pouring salt into its wounds. Pakistan, it is high time you apologize. [Today's Pakistan is not yesterday's Pakistan, and although investigation, sorrow and tawba are crucial, so too is an investigation of and apology from the Awami League, Mukti Bahini and friends]
Tahmima Anam is a writer and anthropologist, and the author of the novel “A Golden Age.”