Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bangladesh and its struggle for Independence in 1971

As 26th of March approaches, I remind myself and others of the brutalities that was unleashed on the Bengali people in 1971.

March 26 is the Bangladesh Independence Day (Shwadhinota Dibosh in Bangla). It commemorates the declaration of independence, and the start of Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

The below from Liberation War Museum talks about the country and its struggle to end oppression and gain independence.


Bangladesh is located in the easternmost periphery of the Indian Subcontinent. The people of Bangladesh can be proud of a civilization that dates back to almost two millennium. For centuries, the lush and fertile plains of Bengal have attracted traders, travelers and conquerors alike. The Bengali culture has assimilated the influences left by these contacts but at the same time has retained its distinctive features. Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam have also left their own signatures in the life and society and in the process have helped to make Bengal a tolerant and secular society with a liberal outlook. Bengal is also the home to almost 45 different ethnic tribes, each with their distinct language and culture.

Bangladesh carries a rich tradition of folklore and folk music, heavily influenced by mystic traditions, which in a large measure has given Bengal its characteristic of humanism and tolerance. The spread of modern education, the influence of the European Renaissance brought by the British, the literary excellence of Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and others have deeply influenced the Bengalee society. There have been great social reformers like Rammohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Gupta who have helped to modernize the society and its social customs. Begum Rokeya has pioneered education among conservative Muslim women.

During the Pakistani period, the struggle for a Bengali cultural identity began with the language movement of 1952. The cultural struggle has always been an integral part of the national struggle.

Emergence of Bangladesh

In the background of the nationalistic struggle against British Colonial Rule in India since the mid 20’s of the last century, Hindu-Muslim communal tensions led in 1947 to the partition of India and Pakistan was created as a separate homeland for Muslims. East Pakistan was inhabited by the Bengalee nation with a distinct language and culture of its own and was physically separated from West Pakistan by a thousand miles. Pakistan therefore, was an unrealistic state from the very beginning.

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The duplicitous nature of British jihad

The word Jihad has many meanings to many people. Some are afraid to even utter Jihad from their lips! In the last decade or so, it has been over used and over abused, especially by the media and small number of people claiming to be Muslims. No one has monopoly over concepts in Islam like Jihad yet we see people define this term to fit their own agenda. So often we hear the word Islam being twisted to Islamist and associated with acts of terror. This plays right into the hands of  Islamophobes who use negative images of Islam as portrayed in the media to win support from uneducated public, to convince them that Islam as a whole is to be blamed for the actions of few.

The British government’s double standard is clearly evident as the article below makes it clear. It sheds some light into understanding the meaning of Jihad in light of current Arab revolutions and previous British court cases. The meaning of duplicitous or duplicity: deceitfulness in speech or conduct, as by speaking or acting in two different ways to different people concerning the same matter; double-dealing.

Cageprisoners Ltd is a human rights organisation that exists solely to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror. Its Director, Moazzam Begg, is a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who was released without charge in 2005.

Article from CagePrisoners Written by Fahad Ansari

The duplicitous nature of British jihad

The concept of jihad has never been an easy one to grapple with for British Muslims with various groups and individuals exploiting the language to justify all sorts of actions as diverse as fasting in the summer months to political participation to suicide bombings against civilians.

Most understand it to be a struggle of some sort against one’s desires and endeavouring to venture outside one’s comfort zone for the greater good of one’s self and humanity. The most controversial aspect of the latter is clearly the issue of military jihad.

While debate rages within Muslim circles about jihad zones, methodology and legitimacy of targets, the British government and courts appear intent on muddling the waters further through its legislation, policy and actions in recent years. Take for instance the following judgement of Judge Paget in the Court of Appeal last week:

“Acts by insurgents against the armed forces of a state anywhere in the world which seek to influence a government and are made for political purposes are terrorism. There is no exemption for those engaged in an armed insurrection and an armed struggle against a government.”

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