Altab Ali Day and the history of Bengali fightback against racism

I often hear from the older generations the difficulties and racism they faced when they came to Britain. I could only image what things must have been for them. But when I hear about isolated brutalities on innocent Bengalis, it pains me immensely. One of them is the heart breaking story of racist killing of Altab Ali.

On May 4 1978, Altab Ali was walking home from the factory where he worked in London’s East End when he was stabbed and murdered by racist thugs. St. Mary’s Park near the site of the incident was renamed to Altab Ali Park in memory of Altab Ali.

Racism may not be as bad as before but it’s still live and kicking. Altab Ali was killed, so was Stephen Lawrence, the reality is any one of us could be next. Before there was the National Front, now we have the British National Party (BNP) and English Defence League (EDL).

Amongst the doom and glooms, as a Bengali I feel proud to see Altab Ali Foundation as an inspiring movement led by sincere activists. We must propagate truth and justice and fight racism at all cost.

Click here for “Commemorating Altab Ali Day 4 May” pamphlet, which explains the anti-racist movement, support for independence of Bangladesh and history of Bengalis in Britain better.

Commemorating Altab Ali Day
Brick Lane, 20 August 1978. Demo by Tower Hamlets Defence Committee and the Anti-Nazi League.

Morning Star article “The Bengali fightback against the racist EDL“:

On May 4 1978, Altab Ali, a 25-year-old Bengali clothing worker, was walking home from the factory where he worked in London’s East End when he was stabbed and murdered by racist thugs. His death sent shockwaves through the Bengali community. It was the eve of the local elections when Altab Ali left to die in a pool of blood. He was heading past St Mary’s Gardens (now renamed Altab Ali Park) when he was murdered in Adler Street off Whitechapel High Street. The racist killing was not an isolated incident in the East End. The  following month a 50-year-old Bengali man, Ishaq Ali, was murdered in Hackney…

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DM Digital Rapped by Ofcom for Broadcasting Extreme Views

The lunacies of the Asian satellite channel are endless. Just look through the regular Ofcom Broadcast Bulletins and you will discover countless breaches. One wonders how these businessmen/women think they can operate such services with amateur behaviours and a lack of respect of the rules. The breaches range from abuse of charity appeals, political advertisements, phone competition to advice that is extreme in anyone’s eyes to name a few.

In Broadcast Bulletin Issue number 205 08/05/12, DM Digital a television channel primarily aimed at Pakistani audience have been found in serious breach of broadcasting rules. Some of the things that were said is so outrageous, you wonder where DM Digital staff think they live. I mean inciting violence? Persecuting minorities? Have Pakistan not got enough of their own problems? Have the immigrants to UK not left Pakistan to escape shit like that? DM Digital staff must have the little-Pakistan mentality, where they live in a ghetto and picture the villages of Pakistan in the mind!

Ofcom is now considering sanctions against the channel. Let this be a lesson that the ground in Britain is set and neither DM Digital nor any other channels can change it.

Keep it up DM digital and you will head in the same direction as Press TV, that is to the end of a cliff and back home to Pakistan, or Iran in Press TV’s case!

Praise Ofcom for doing a great job regulating Television, praise the individuals who took the time to complain to Ofcom! This goes to show if we all make a stand we can preserve the values that gives us freedom to live a better life in Britain than Pakistan or other similar places we immigrated from.
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Jahanara Imam – The Profile of a Fighter

Jahanara Imam (May 3, 1929—June 26, 1994) was a Bangladeshi writer and political activist. She is most widely remembered for her efforts to bring those accused of committing war crimes in the Bangladesh Liberation War to trial. She was known as “Shaheed Janani” (Mother of Martyrs).

Secular Voice of Bangladesh: Jahanara Imam – The Profile of a Fighter

One of the most revered names in the recent history of Bangladesh is Jahanara Imam. She personifies the ideals of the liberation war of Bangladesh of ‘71 and embodies the protest against obscurantism and bigotry.

Through her dissenting voice she had assumed a bigger than life stature of a warrior, resounding the sentiment of those who had fought for the ideals of democracy and secularism, and continued their struggle to reinstate them in the new found democratic setup of 1991.

Before she heralded her call for the movement the trial of the killers and collaborators of ’71 in 1992, Bangladesh had suffered long 15 years of military rule. This militarization, which began only three years after the reception of Bangladesh in August 1975, continued till the over through of General Ershad in December 1990. Over the years under military rule, the democratic space had shrunken for the people to assert their right in matters of the state and its policies. The military dictators amended the constitution to suit their end and remove the principles of secularism and socialism, thus fortifying the use of religion ion politics. With the over through of the last military despot through people’s movement, a New Hope for a democratic society had set in.

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Television Charity Fundraiser Abuse

Giving charity is one of the basic principals of Islam. In fact, Zakat (that which purifies or alms) is one of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat is giving a fixed portion (1/40th) of one’s wealth to the poor and needy.

During the holy month of Ramadam, when Muslims fast, they tend to give their Zakat and make more donations. People also tend to donate as a way of asking for forgiveness from God and for good health etc. All this sounds good, except as you would expect, there are people who will exploit the good nature of Muslims and abuse this money.

People of Bangladesh live in abject poverty. The ones who have migrated to the UK feel the need to send money back home. But, instead of focusing on developing their community, the money is used for feeding the poor and building Madrasa (religious school) and Mosques. This does not alleviate the poverty, instead makes the poor more dependant on charity, just like the people in e.g. Ethiopia. A lot of the money is wasted before it even gets to the needy and some are even embezzled.

Tune into any of the countless Asian/Muslim TV channels on the Sky satellite platform and you are likely to find a charity fundraiser programme. During Ramadan, it’s every day on every channel of Muslim background. There on your screen, you will see holy-men (yes just men), with their long beards, long gowns, Arab style head gears, pleading with gullible viewers to give their money to charity. Some of them have become TV personalities and household names. The Bengalis will know of one well known person, who is on their TV screen nearly every day. He likes to brag that he is a qualified barrister too! This person was nearly beaten to death by officials at a Bangladeshi airport few years ago. Just goes to show charity alone does not change the people.

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Leading British Muslim leader faces war crimes charges in Bangladesh

Bangladeshis still feel the pain of their suffering back in 1971. Justice for some may be here at last. The Telegraph reports on alleged war crimes against Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, a British citizen who immigrated from Bangladesh after the war. I recall allegations against him for several decades and his links to UK charity Muslim Aid.

One victim says: “I have waited 40 years to see the trial of the war criminals,” said the widow, Noorjahan Seraji. “I have not spent a single night without suffering and I want justice.”

We hope there is justice and her suffering and the suffering of many others eases a little.
Telegraph

One of Britain’s most important Muslim leaders is to be charged with war crimes, investigators and officials have told The Sunday Telegraph.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, director of Muslim spiritual care provision in the NHS, a trustee of the major British charity Muslim Aid and a central figure in setting up the Muslim Council of Britain, fiercely denies any involvement in a number of abductions and “disappearances” during Bangladesh’s independence struggle in the 1970s.

He says the claims are “politically-motivated” and false.

However, Mohammad Abdul Hannan Khan, the chief investigator for the country’s International Crimes Tribunal, said: “There is prima facie evidence of Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin being involved in a series of killings of intellectuals. Continue reading

Political Advertisements on Channel i Europe

In the past, several Bengali TV channels broadcasting from the UK have been rapped by Ofcom for breaches of broadcasting rules. I’m sure many other breaches go unnoticed, largely due to the viewers not flagging up the issue to Ofcom (via their website).

Recently, Channel S and NTV were found to have breached Ofcom rules (Bengali TV channels, Channel S and NTV in breach of Ofcom rules, again!)

Yesterday, I was shocked to see a range of political advertisement on Channel i, a Bengali satellite TV channel broadcasting to UK and Europe. It was for similar advertisements that NTV was found in breach of. One wonders if the people operating these TV channel are ‘fit and proper’ for the purpose? It also makes you wonder if such individuals have close connections to political parties originating from Bangladesh? Here is a complaint made to Ofcom with images and videos of the advertisements.

Dear Ofcom,

The Bangladeshi people around the world are used to political wrangling that takes place back home. The constant national strikes by these political parties brings the country to its knees and hinders progress. People live in fear of constant threats and violence from individuals associated with political parties. Poverty often fuels such association and motivation for violence.

A large number of Bangladeshis have left their impoverished motherland and made homes abroad, like the UK. Although Bengalis have a strong sense of nationalism due to the violet birth of their country in 1971, many of these immigrants avoid modern politics like the plague.

There are two large political parties in Bangladesh with their branches and advocates spread around the UK and the world. One of them is the Bangladesh Awami League (Awami League), the current ruling party. Its leader is Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of the founding father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The other is the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Its leader is Begum Khaleda Zia, the the widow of the President and former army chief Ziaur Rahman. Continue reading

Bengali TV channels, Channel S and NTV in breach of Ofcom rules, again!

Channel S in breach over impartiality rules

 

Channel S is a satellite TV channel aimed at Bengali speaking people in the UK and Europe. The April 2012 Ofcom bulletin makes an entertaining read, especially at the way Channel S advises Ofcom on how and when to carry out their investigation. You can read the full Ofcom report here (page 19-27). I guess Channel S bosses dream of things being like how they are in Bangladesh! Basically, Mr Samad Chowdhury, the Chairman of Channel S used the TV channel to launch a personal attack on Syed Anas Pasha, a newspaper journalist. Mr Pasha is being accused of slandering Samad Chowdhury in a newspaper. The funniest things is, Mr Samad Chowdhury also made a claim for £10 million damages for defamation as he claims to be an “important community personality”. In the internet slang term I’m “Laughing My Fucking Ass Off”!!!

 

Samad Chowdhury ain’t no community personality, nor is his imaginary community reputation worth a penny let alone £10 million! Even if the allegation against Mr Pasha were true, Samad Chowdhury had no rights to use Channel S as his mouthpiece to attack a newspaper reporter in such a manner where he hand picked few of his puppets from the community to strengthen this attack. The news reports on Channel S was clearly one sided as evident in the Ofcom findings.

 

Quoting from Ofcom report “We are concerned that the breach in this case comes after two previous contraventions of the Code rules covering due impartiality and elections recorded against Channel S in Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin 177 and Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin 188. Should there be any further breaches of the due impartiality and elections rules of the Code in future by the Licensee, we will consider taking further regulatory action.

 

Thank God the Bengalis living in Britain has fled such behaviours that dominates Bangladesh. Channel S claims to be leading the Bengali community in Britain. Well, let me tell you the honest truth, Channel S and its wannabe Mafia bosses drag the Bengali people backward while humiliating them.

 

This is not the first time they’ve breached Ofcom rules and it won’t be the last. Any Bengali with a bit of decency must report future potential breaches to Ofcom to rid their community of this media Mafia culture. I certainly will keep an eye on Channel S, not because I find the channel entertaining but simply to help the Bangladeshi community by reporting future breaches to Ofcom.

 

Earlier this year I raised an issue with the way I feel Channel S denigrates the memories of the victims of Bangladesh Liberation War. Numerous e-mails and letters were sent to Samad Chowdhury and Mahee Ferdous Jalil at Channel S. Not a single reply! Why? Because Channel S knows it’s the truth and they have no defence. Damn the perpetrators of genocide against the Bengalis, damn the war criminals still going unpunished, damn Samad Chowdhury, Mahee Jalil and Channel S. One day the Begalis will see light and completely reject these phoney leaders who push their own political and business agenda, while claiming to be doing the Bengali community a favour.

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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

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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Teaching MPACUK the forgotten chapter of Pakistan’s history

It’s common knowledge that Pakistan does not teach its school children the truth about its brutalities during 1971, when East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh. The Guinness Book of Records lists the Bangladesh Genocide as one of the top 5 genocides in the 20th century, yet it’s hardly featured in Pakistan’s textbooks, academic discussion or the media. On the 40th Victory Day of Bangladesh, BBC Radio 4 documented how the Pakistani school children perceive Bangladesh Liberation War, they’re in a state of denial of Pakistan’s genocide of Bengali people in former East Pakistan. They have been taught by the propagandist a conspiracy of Hindu Indians causing tensions between the two Muslim wings of Pakistan. The children’s deny Pakistanis could ever do such things to their brothers and sisters in Bangladesh! In one sense these children are also suffering abuse by their own government by being denied the truth. Pakistanis are suffering from this curse even today except of course, the military elite who live on American handouts to the tune of billions of dollars.

As one Pakistani historian in UK writes:

“The roots of the civil war in 1971 are of course in the partition of 1947 and the establishment of Pakistan. Since Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted a partition on the basis of religion alone, East and West Pakistan came into being, despite the thousand mile distance and different racial, cultural and political inheritances — the only common thread was the fact that both wings were a Muslim majority. In a way, the success or failure of this experiment was the practical test of the two-nation theory. From the beginning, however, there were clear tensions between the two wings. The first one was a clash over national language (to be clear, English was to remain the official language). The Bengalis, with thousands of years of culture behind them, obviously wanted their language recognised as coequal to Urdu, not least because they did not speak Urdu. Nevertheless, Jinnah categorically refused the Bengali demand in his speech at Dacca University in February 1948, igniting the flame of linguistic nationalism. It is, of course, an irony that Jinnah himself was never fluent in Urdu and spoke mostly in English to the Bengali crowd.”

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