Arrested for practicing Sufism

Posted on Alal o Dulal September 15, 2012 by

 Friday September 07, 2012
Rajibul Islam, UNO (Union Nirbahi Officer) of Mokarrampur union, accompanied by some local people, went to the house of farmer Shahidul Islam, village Islampur, Bharamara, Kushtia. They accused Shahidul of practising ?anti-Islamic? activity. Shahidul is a disciple of Tariqat-e Ahle Bait, a branch of Sufism. He, along with other followers, had established at darbar sharif of Islamia Chistia Nizamia lineage.
Challenged by these people, Shahidul brought out religious books written by Sadaruddin Chisty and tried to explain that they are not practising anything unislamic, that they follow the teachings of  Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Holy Quran according to the tariqat. At this point the UNO grabbed the books and threw them to the ground, tied Shahidul to a tree and beat him up with his shoes. They also destroyed the darbar sharif. They broke the asana, lights, fans, and windows of the two structures that housed the darbar. They took away books, documents, tin, utensils, and other belongings of the darbar.
That evening Shahidul went to lodge a case at Bharamara police station, but M. Riaz Ali, OC (Officer in Charge), did not accept any case.

Saturday September 08, 2012
The UNO returned to the darbar accompanied by the OC. They ordered that the debris be cleaned up immediately, and threatened of further beating if it was not cleaned up. They declared Shahidul and other followers as kafir (infidel). The OC verbally abused them using profanity. Shahidul and Aslam (khadim of the darbar) explained that they are farmers and day labourers who come to the darbar at free time after work, to read and practice the teachings of the Prophet and the Quran. At this point the OC arrested Shahidul and Aslam.
Sunday September 09, 2012
Shahidul Islam and Aslam Ali were sent to court and to jail under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Saturday September 15, 2012
Tarikate Ahle Bait Bangladesh called a press conference to condemn this sacrilegious act by the UNO, to demand the immediate release of Shahidul and Aslam, and to demand punishment of the attackers.

The truths and lies of 9/11. Do they concern us?

By Rahnuma Ahmed

In “The truths and lies of 9/11. Do they concern us?” (see attachment) — a nearly 13,000-word article written on the occasion of New Age‘s 9th anniversary — I respond first to allegations of being a “conspiracy theorist” advanced by a Facebook commenter nearly a year ago, and most recently, by a Dhaka-based British journalist. These allegations, I argue, reflect an appalling ignorance of critical analyses of the American system and the growing body of serious, academic scholarship on 9/11. They make me wonder what is it that makes the US government account of 9/11 “sacrosanct.” Of why, one can question the existence of God but not the truth of the official narrative. These allegations also beg the question, whose interests do those who, knowingly or unknowingly, parrot accusations of “conspiracy theory” serve?

The titles of the sections that follow give an indication of what I discuss: (ii) Conceptual flaws of the epithet “conspiracy theory” (iii) A studious ignorance of 9/11 scholarship (iv) Psychological explanations for ‘conspiracy phobia’ (v) Perspectives on 9/11 in Bangladesh (vi) Studiously ignoring the implications for Bangladesh.
Of how “conspiracy” — the collusion of two or more people pursuing illegal means to effect some illegal or immoral end — is a recognised concept in law; of how, the slur “conspiracy theorist”, appears to be the most powerful ideological tool operating to de-legitimise any questions that contest the official account of 9/11. Continue reading “The truths and lies of 9/11. Do they concern us?”

Looking at South Asia through art

Looking at South Asia through art


Eventful journey:Shahidul Alam, photographer, and human rights activist, delivering a talk at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore.? Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Eventful journey:Shahidul Alam, photographer, and human rights activist, delivering a talk at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Bangalore.? Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
A South Asian evening, as it was called, saw artists from Bangladesh and Pakistan share their views on a wide range of issues, providing insights into the culture and politics of our neighbouring nations.
Salima Hashmi, a Pakistani painter, and Shahidul Alam, a celebrated photographer from Bangladesh, shared their journey and experiences with the audience at the packed auditorium of National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), recently.
As she spoke on ?Sanctuary and defiance: contemporary art from Pakistan?, Ms. Hashmi, also a writer, artist and anti-nuclear activist, took the audience through a journey of Lahore as it finds expression in her students and colleagues at Beacon House National University.
Interspersed with anecdotes, Ms. Hashmi presented a series of paintings. Explaining an iconic work of art titled ?Rana?s red carpet?, she said it presented the complex culture of Lahore. While it looks like a lovely traditional carpet from a distance, a closer look would reveal that it is made up of fragments of pictures taken at a slaughter house in Lahore.
?Though artists cannot change the world, they can, through their work, give flight to imagination and they can give you the direction,? said Ms. Hashmi, daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, one of Pakistan?s most renowned poets. She ended her presentation with the rendering of the late Faiz?s famous Punjabi song,Rabba Sachiya?sung by Tina Sani.
The famed photographer from Dhaka, Shahidul Alam, spoke on ?My journey as a witness?, reflecting the socio-political happenings in Bangladesh through his photographs, some of which were taken during Bangladesh floods and military insurgency.
He presented some striking pictures of former women Maoists.
He described how his widely acclaimed recent exhibition, ?Crossfire?, curated by Peruvian curator Jorge Villacorta, was closed down by the police leading to nationwide protests. He described how they had used multi-media as a subversive tool and reach beyond the country?s borders.

An insider?s view of Wall Street criminality

By?Andre Damon and Barry Grey

15 March 2012

Greg Smith, an executive director at Goldman Sachs, announced his resignation Wednesday in an op-ed piece in the?New York Times, denouncing the bank’s ?toxic? culture of avarice and fraud.
Smith headed the firm?s United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In his column, entitled ?Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,? he describes a corporate environment that encourages and rewards big short-term returns gained through the bilking of clients and the general public. ?It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off,? he writes.
Speaking of one?s clients as ?muppets? and describing deal-making as ?ripping eyeballs out? are commonplace at Goldman, according to Smith. The way to advance at the Wall Street giant, he writes, is to persuade your clients ?to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of,? get your clients ?to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman,? and trade ?any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.? Continue reading “An insider?s view of Wall Street criminality”

Chris Barwick joins Majority World


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Magnum Photos Sales Director joins MAJORITY WORLD?
London: (June 2011) MAJORITY WORLD? today announced the appointment of Chris Barwick as Business Development Director. Chris previously held senior roles with industry heavyweights Getty Images and Corbis. Most recently with Magnum Photos, he headed up the London office as Director of Sales with responsibility for all products and services. Chris brings over 14 years of experience to this role and is now tasked with driving the growth of MAJORITY WORLD?. Chris? position is effective immediately.

Rahnuma asks: Who is foreign agent, Anu Muhammad or Tawfiq Elahi?


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Photo: Delwar Hossain Badal

DHAKA: Renowned writer, researcher and activist Rahnuma Ahmed asks who is a ?foreign agent?, Anu Muhammad, member-secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, or Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, advisor to the Prime Minister on energy affairs?
Rahnuma was talking to in an exclusive interview against the backdrop of the National Oil and Gas Committee`s siege of the energy ministry on June 14, 2011, police prevented the seige from taking place, Rahnuma was injured in clashes when police resorted to clubbing and lathi charge.
She raised this question when asked about the recent comments made by Dr. Hasan Mahmud, state minister for environment and forest, in the parliament about the oil and gas national committee, and about Anu Muhammad in particular.
Dr Hasan Mahmud told lawmakers, Anu Muhammad is a ?foreign agent,? and that the Oil and gas Committee was formed by `tokais` (street urchins) after the committee called a half-day hartal on July 3 in protest against the deal inked between the government and the US-based company ConocoPhillips for offshore oil and gas exploration. The contract includes the provision of gas export. Output Editor Mahmood Menon took the interview.
banglanews: Why do you think Bangladesh should not export its oil and gas?
rahnuma ahmed: I will mention only one reason because of space and time constraints, but before that I want to draw your attention to a basic issue. Natural energy resources are limited. They are non-renewable. They get depleted. And that`s why it`s essential that these should be made use of in a planned manner, that we need to seriously consider the issue of national reserves, our needs, how the national interest can best be secured, you know, these matters, that policies and plans of action should be well-thought out, well-planned.? Let`s talk of gas, national reserves are estimated to be 7.3 trillion cubic foot. According to the latest estimates, the daily shortfall of national energy needs is 450 million cubic foot. The demand for gas is increasing at an annual rate of 10%. According to government forecasts, gas reserves are likely to run out by 2014-2015. This is the picture. Continue reading “Rahnuma asks: Who is foreign agent, Anu Muhammad or Tawfiq Elahi?”


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Mubarak’s Ignominious Departure and the Fear Factor

by rahnuma ahmed

Mubarak is gone! Egypt is free!
Equally true is the fact that power has been assumed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. That the 30 year-old state of emergency has not yet been lifted, neither has any time frame been set, nothing beyond the invocation, “as soon as the current circumstances are over.” ?Equally true is the fact that Egypt’s new, transitional (military) rulers have been quick to affirm Egypt’s commitment to all regional and international obligations and treaties, an implicit signal that the treaty of all treaties, Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel?propagated as a bulwark for peace and stability in the region, but in reality, one which helps sustain Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and the seige of Gaza?is not under threat. An affirmation swiftly welcomed by the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the treaty as “having greatly contributed to both countries,” as “the cornerstone for peace and stability in the entire Middle East”; close at his heels was US president Barack Obama who welcomed the Egyptian pledge to “stand by” its international obligations.
But, it is also true that while Egyptian demonstrators, both young and old, rallied to scrub off slogans and graffiti from walls, to clean up the streets of Cairo of rocks, debris of violence, charred remains of Mubarak’s effigy (“Clearing the streets is just a start. It is our country now”), protestors still camped out in Tahrir square, refusing to leave until the military issued official statements on their next steps. It is also true that pro-democracy activists insist that their revolt was not against one man but against the whole regime, which Mubarak and his predecessors, had instituted. It is also true that their invincible strength prevented Omar Suleiman?the CIA’s man in Cairo who devised and implemented the programme for renditioning and torturing terrorist suspects,?in whom Mubarak transferred authorities while still clinging to power?from taking charge. Pro-democracy activists insist that the revolution will not be over until all responsible for the hundreds of deaths will be investigated, tried and punished. It will not be over until Egypt’s stolen funds are restored.
Swiss banks have frozen assets of the ousted president, who is currently hunkered down in his residence at the Red Sea tourist resort, Sharm al-Sheikh. Former interior minister Habib El Adly, former prime minister Ahmed Nazif have been banned from travelling, their assets have been frozen. Former information minister Anna El Feqy has been placed under house arrest while rumors fly of business tycoons fleeing. But it is also true that while figures are totted up of how much the former president, his Welsh wife and their son fleeced Egypt, that while the huge personal wealth amassed by other members of the corrupt coterie are calculated, one does not hear of corruption within the army. That these stories are silenced.
But it is undeniable that the mass uprising was organic. One that persisted after Mubarak’s ouster, attested to by scenes of youths in Alexandria, the mainstay of the uprising, stopping cars and telling their occupants, abide by traffic rules. Of telling pedestrians, do not give bribes, read up the constitution.
It is also true that the mass uprising did not occur overnight but was, as Marwan Bishara reminds us, “the culmination of countless sit-ins, strikes, pickets, and demonstrations.
That behind the 18 day popular revolt lies long years of grassroots mobilisation, the tireless efforts of scores of coalition builders who worked with labour unions and opposition parties, both old and new, including the Muslim Brotherhood. That we must not forget people such as, says Bishara, the late Mohammad El-Sayed Said who helped to found the Cairo Institute of Human Rights Studies and, the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights. Who underwent arrest and torture for writing the “much-acclaimed report about the punishment of dissidents by torture” (Al-Ahram). Who died last year after a long period of ill-treatment at the hands of the Mubarak regime, and a 2-year struggle with cancer. Who was “much missed in Tahrir Square.” There were many others.

CAIRO, EGYPT - FEBRUARY 01: Anti-government protestors wave their shoes, in a gesture of anger, after President Hosni Mubarak announces that he will not seek re-election on February 1, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Protests in Egypt continued with the largest gathering yet, with many tens of thousands assembling in central Cairo, demanding the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek. The Egyptian army has said it will not fire on protestors as they gather in large numbers in central Cairo. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

It is also true that Mubarak was suffering from severe delusions when he confided in a 20 minute telephone conversation to former Israeli defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a close friend and ally, that he was looking for “an honorable way out” (Press TV, February 12, 2011). ?This was on Thursday, February 10, the day he refused to step down as anticipated, offering his “children” constitutional changes instead, and transfer of authorities to Suleiman. It was the speech greeted with raised shoes, the ultimate sign of dishonor for leaders and politicians in our parts of the world. One that was globally iconised by Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoe at George Bush in 2008. A farewell parting.

Power from the barrel of a lens

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By Satish Sharma

Forget about the power that, according to Mao, flows from the Barrels of Guns!
A lot more power actually flows through the matte black barrels of lenses. Camera lenses! And this is a power that flows a lot more silently and, most of the time, it works it magic very subtly.
Very rarely do pictures explode on the media scene like the now infamous cover picture on the August 9th issue of Time magazine. Very rarely do pictures present us with such a questionable and ?teachable? moment about photography and its political uses. Rarely do photographs become such a powerful peg for discussions that go on and on. Discussions that need to go on because we have to understand, dissect and discuss the spaces that photography occupies in contemporary society. Spaces that are hardly any different from the times when photography was a medium controlled by the political and secret department of a British colonial government. Photography, we have to remember, was invented at a time when colonialism was at its height and became a major player in the colonial game. Something that British army cadets, who were to be posted in the colonies, were specially taught and equipped for.

Images of Afghanistan by Mohammad Qayoumi (prior to CIA intervention and Russian invasion).

The physical campus of Kabul University, pictured here, does not look very different today. But the people do. In the 1950s and '60s, students wore Western-style clothing; young men and women interacted relatively freely. Today, women cover their heads and much of their bodies, even in Kabul. A half-century later, men and women inhabit much more separate worlds. ??Mohammad Qayoumi

In the 1950s and '60s, women were able to pursue professional careers in fields such as medicine. Today, schools that educate women are a target for violence, even more so than five or six years ago. ? Mohammad Qayoumi

The central government of Afghanistan once oversaw various rural development programs, including one, pictured here, that sent nurses in jeeps to remote villages to inoculate residents from such diseases as cholera. Now, security concerns alone make such an effort nearly impossible. Government nurses, as well as U.N. and NGO medical workers, are regular targets for insurgent groups that merely want to create disorder and terror in society. ??Mohammad Qayoumi

Photography is a powerful language, a valuable voice of authority for authorities. One has to understand how it is used. A ?Writing with Light?- Photo Graphy is becoming more powerful than any other human language. It is more than just the world?s first universally understood language, one that needs no translators and appears to have no word language limitations because it is a technology driven by newer and newer technologies which give it a reach and power that no language ever had.
The endless flow of camera constructed pictures is, today, increasingly constructing our social and political landscape. Constructing us, actually, by manipulating the mental spaces that we live in. Defining our Drishti – our perception and very sense of self ! There are, after all, more photographs shot every year than there are bricks in the world. And photography, in its different, camera lens based, avatars (film and television, for example) is what makes us what we are -who we are manufactured to be.
Cameras construct our worlds in ways that word oriented languages did not because the visual language they present us with is perceived to have credibility, a veracity and a connection to objective truth that words did not. Pictures are becoming the bricks that construct our contemporary, increasingly visual world. A world that can no longer just ban the making of pictures as it once did or tried to do. A world in which technologies drive the move away from the word driven and language riven cultures towards vast visual information landscapes that are increasingly becoming part of a real, war driven, information wars . Wars that are, says the Project for a New American Century, about Full Spectrum Domination.
Domination that is blatant about not allowing any challenges ??military, economic or cultural?. Domination that seeks ?control of all international commons including Space and Cyberspace, Culture not excluded? and is driven by never ending wars that see whole societies as a battlefield. A battlefield where – in the language of the US Marines? ?Fourth generation Warfare? ? ? the action will occur concurrently- throughout all participants depth , including their society as a cultural and not just as physical entity?. Special Human Terrain teams now work alongside the American Armed Forces. These anthropologists, ethnographers etc are uniformed cultural warriors. They are, very problematically, working in battlefields to understand and subvert cultures and peoples. Humanity is now a terrain to be controlled.
It is against this background of militrarised information and cultural control that one needs to look at the Time magazine cover. It was its founder, after all, who first projected the idea of the 20th century as ?An American Centrury?. Henry Luce founded a media empire to project his agenda. Time, Fortune, Life and even the March of Time film series served to mediate his synarchist ideas of corporate control of political power. That he was a member of Yale university?s secretive Skull and Bones society like so many other American leaders, only adds to ones suspicions of hidden agendas.
Continue reading “Power from the barrel of a lens”