Thursday, July 05, 2007

Interview with Sharon Chadha - Part 4

Samurai, him what you want but just don't call him late for dinner (as my grandmother used to say) or describe him as a 'moderate Muslim.' You'll find out why below.Part 4 of my interview with Mac Haque, lead singer of the band Maqsood O'dHAKA, live from the Islamic world. Scroll down my home page for Parts 1-3.
Today's question for Mac was: Is Islamic extremism a problem in Bangladesh?And this was his response:

Over all, it would be very unfair to say we have a major problem with Islamic terrorism here in Bangladesh. We had some simultaneous bombings in 2005 that were attributed to Islamic terrorists but I had and continue to have serious doubts about the government’s version of these events. A recent expose suggests that my
initial hunches may have been correct. Now that many of the politicians then in power are now behind bars on corruption charges, perhaps the truth about these attacks will finally emerge.In my view, many Westerners have a lot of media-driven misconceptions Muslims. This started when Bill Clinton coined the term ‘
moderate Muslim’. There is no such thing as a moderate Muslim and there never has been one. The pluralist nature of the Muslim people speaks for itself.

Then I object to this idea that madrasas produce terrorists. I have never seen convincing evidence of this – at least not in Bangladesh.Westerners need to understand that for poor children, a madrasa education is often their only option. Madrasas are for the most part free and in many cases, these schools also double as orphanages. Without the madrasa system here, millions would be left completely illiterate. We are simply not a rich enough country to mandate compulsory education for all.That said, there has been a concerted effort to incorporate a modern education into the Islamic syllabus. There is a successful training program here in Bangladesh, funded by the U.S., that offers prayer leaders and madrasa teachers English-language and computer-skills training. Western NGOs also work with the madrasas to educate them on the concept of Islam in a changed world. Many madrasas now teach HIV awareness, contraception, and gender issues - subjects that even five years back were taboo.

By the way, you can purchase some of Mac's music (and other Bangladeshi recordings too) - for the incredibly low price of $1.89 at Key in the word pOTAKA in the SHOP section.
And here's this note from Mac about these recordings:
One word I would like to mention about the pOTAKA, it is NOT a dHAKA album, but a special project I took up for my Baul musician friends both urban and rural under my Heritage Revival Ensemble banner. So its a bunch of young , little or unknown musicians (including my son Dio playing 9 out of the 10 tracks) backing me on all tracks.Let Mac know if you buy this music, and he'll send you what all the songs mean.


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