Friday, October 12, 2012

Shock & Awe Talk: A Click is Mightier than a Machine-gun



Mac Haque

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - Martin Luther King Jr.

I apologize to regular readers of this column for my long hiatus. Somehow, an eerily depressive inertia overtook me several months ago and I asked myself; what difference would writing, or not writing a regular column make? Likes of us have to remain content with bah bah’s and occasional slaps on the back, ‘keep up the good work’ retinue, of having ‘contributed to the national thought process’ ah awesome, and after that, all is forgotten. But thankfully nothing stays static for too long. Gone are the days when scribes changed society, and therefore gone also are the days of ‘pen is mightier than the sword’. The good news, a click today, is mightier than a machine-gun, and you really don’t need trained soldiers to fire them!

It is heartening to see more and more people writing than ever before. Whether they are on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs or whatever, there are wonderful things being written by ‘ordinary people’ and some, deserve our deepest appreciation. If not anything, via social networking, we seem to be getting a feel of the pulse of citizens, which we couldn’t have otherwise. Click-tivism and Like-tivism therefore sets the pace of how citizens in general view issues overall, as also their anger, rage, contempt, and even acerbic slanders (read gaaliz). No one is spared…..clap clap.

The status quo however forgets the era of communication has dawned and what is not known to the Bangladesh Politico-Business Mafia (BPBM hereafter) is life more than ‘reactive’ has become interactive and the dose of comments of ‘actual citizens’ in a ‘virtual world’ narrates stories, that we direly want to hear. The BPBM who have laid siege on the fate and fortune of this nation, are understandably not pushed. The usual and somewhat garaemya dismissal is, ‘who the hell cares what goes on in Facebook’ - and they thought ‘business would be as usual’? That was not until the recent carnage in Ramu and Chittagong tilted the ante and changed the equation; possibly forever.  But before I get to it, let us start with the youtube ban. I want to spare readers the details.

We are in this habit of reading aloud our political CV of past achievements at the drop of a hat. They include terms such as ‘anti-fundamentalist’, ‘zero tolerance to militancy’, ‘progressive’, and the by now hackneyed ‘moderate Muslims’ and ‘secular’. However as bluntly as I may: none of the above expressions have any element of truth whatsoever. True, we may call ourselves Muslims and refer back to the 1971 days of infamy and ignominy, as how we most gloriously beat back the Pakistani marauders and emerged as a nation, how we have now instituted an ‘International Crimes Tribunal’ to try and maybe hang the local Jamaat/Razakar  collaborators etc, etc, but then this is exactly what the BPBM wants us to believe, because in essence these excitable issues permits them to exploit us, keep us reactive and divided, while they loot and plunder, without our even sensing it.

Question: did we fight the Pakistan Army, Jamaat E Islami or Razakars in 1971? The answer to that is a thumping - NO we did not! What we fought was the pathologically intolerant perverse Wahabi Islam of Saudi Arabia that was, and still is part and parcel of Islam of Pakistan today. But the real tragedy is whatever ‘Islam’ we preach, practice and consider a ‘lifestyle’ in Bangladesh, has nothing in common with the egalitarian Islam that was founded by Prophet Muhammad. It is therefore not at all unsurprising that our television channels are bombarded by likes of the misogynist ‘Muslim’ evangelist Zakir Naik, quoting spurious Hadith and man-made Sharia laws, to create fissures in our already fractured society.

As if that isn't enough, there are hundreds of local mullah imitators out there, who for ages have displayed the audacity to misquote the Quran on prime time TV, waaz mahfil etc and yet; no one screamed for their blood? So deep is our fear of the mullahs, so great is our ignorance, that interpretations of Islam by these half baked ‘theologians’ are not only accepted as the truth, the majority of Muslims of Bangladesh are even prepared to jump into a murderous fray at anytime, if the issue rightly or not,  is the Prophet or the Quran. So wide is their outreach that it was amusing to view a senior pro-Government functionary state in a live TV talk show: ‘Islam commands us to declare jihad if any ‘insult’ is made to the Prophet Muhammad’. Thankfully, it was the Editor of this publication who checkmated him by quipping; ‘I am unaware of any such ‘command’ as I have not read anything to support your contention’.

Folks, the Quran is a book of knowledge for the knowledgeable to be ‘read and understood’, and not something to be believed based on aspersions made by dogmatic myopic ‘mainstream’ mullahs and/or their interpretations based on Hadith, that neither the Prophet nor the Quran ever ‘commanded’ the faithful to believe, read, or even discuss. Little do our Wahabi Islam pasand vulnerable majority know, that there are no records of Prophet Muhammad in his lifetime forget killing - ever rebuking or punishing anyone for blasphemy! The enemy therefore is not Islam, but Wahabism whose descent can be traced back to the Iyazid clan, that murdered the grandchildren of Prophet Muhammad.

What is interesting to note is the chronology of events. The violence in Bangladesh escalated and coincided just as it was erupting in Pakistan, but the subsequent ban on youtube has nothing to do with it. The Governments intentions became all the more pronounced, and it is evident that it wants to curb citizen’s right to freedom of information, expression, and is using the so-called ‘Islamic militancy’ issue as a ruse.

Again, sparing readers the details, what really happened in Ramu and Chittagong had nothing to do with either Buddhism or Islam. To imagine that the citizens of Bangladesh who exercised such remarkable restraint in face of the massacre against Rohingya Muslims by Buddhist in Myanmar, to go on such devastating pogrom of violence, in destroying, looting and defiling of Pagodas and Monasteries in Ramu, simply because an ‘objectionable anti-Islam photograph’ was tagged to the Facebook profile of a Buddhist native, merits deeper introspection's.

Was it at all an ‘attack by militant fundamentalist’ and if so; why couldn’t the administration in a heavily militarized area, contain the goons who were equipped with only sticks and stones? Lest we forget, the military and not the police, were deployed to contain a fracas between Chakma and Bengali students just a few days before the incident. The Prime Minister may have gone right ahead in her maya kanna about the mayhem in her recent visit, and as is customary, blame the Opposition BNP while promising ‘exemplary punishment to the culprits’, but the ‘story’ simply doesn’t end there.

What we have not seen is any attempt to recover the historical relics, which include ashes of the Lord Buddha’s cremated body, old manuscript and heads – repeat heads - of gold Buddha figurines looted during the melee. The market value for such antiques may not be known to us, but the BPBM surely does and may have already made a killing?  My guess is the numbers are likely much more than what Hallmark and Destiny combined looted. After all, ‘Taka 4000 crore is NOTHING’!

That said, the Facebook tag ‘story’ suggest a deep rooted conspiracy in which the Government and Islamic militants are covert partners. The aim is to permit further escalation of Facebook centric violent incidents, providing once again a ban, which will then cascade to Blogs, Twitter, newspapers, TV, Radio..…have I missed any?

Meanwhile, the banning of Facebook by the Government in 2010, because of an ‘objectionable cartoon’ of the Prime Minister has provided new ammo to the mullahs. The beard jerking voices on the street were stark and scary: ‘if the Government could ban Facebook because of an objectionable photograph of the PM, why WON’T it do so if a cartoon of the Prophet is also circulated?’ Good question, any answers there?

We forget that blood begets blood, ban begets ban, and intolerance begets intolerance. To go on this unrestrained rollercoaster ride will just about create the ‘perfect’ opportunity to welcome everybody to Aiyyam E Jahilliyah Bangladesh. Khosh Amd

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