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Volume 5 Issue 03 | March 2011



Original Forum

Readers' Forum

Sultana's Nightmare:
Henas and the Feminist Movement
--Shahana Siddiqui
Women in the CHT: The Violent Hills --Hana Shams Ahmed
Notes to My Successor:
The Forgotten Women of the 1971 War

--Ziauddin Choudhury
Liberating the Women of 1971
Interview with Shafina Lohani
Interview with Mahmuda Haque Choudhury

--Marianne Scholte
Woman on a Mission
--Marianne Scholte talks to Shafina Lohani
Project Post-1971
--Marianne Scholte speaks to Mahmuda Haque Choudhury
Her Home
--Shayera Moula
Photo Feature: Freedom at 40--Zahedul I. Khan

Journeys through Shadows:
Gender and armed conflict
--Bina D'Costa

Women as Decision Makers:
Are organisations ready?
--Dr. Syed Saad Andaleeb
Govern Migration, Take Women Forward --Farheen Khan
Women's Rights and the Fourth Estate
--Arafat Hosen Khan
Why Women in India Should
Defend Arundhati Roy

A Patriotic Dissenter
Empress Extraordinaire
--Rubaiyat Hossain


Forum Home


Hartal days

A hartal day is a peculiar day, peculiar, because it is unlike any other normal day of the year. Normally, we have some routine work to do everyday. Some, for example, have office, others have their businesses and so on. In a word, the necessity of the day drives people. But what happens to them on a hartal day? The poor, unable to work that day, do not know what to do, what to eat, how to feed the family. Those who have good jobs with the government or multinational companies enjoy an unauthorised leave at home. Some high officials, of course, have to bear the hardship of rushing to office very early in the morning on foot, sometimes risking their lives. On the other hand, hartal supporters gang up and create barricades impeding the movement of vehicles. It is also peculiar the way the ruling party claims the hartal failed completely while the opposition claims that it was highly successful. We need an end to such politics.

Rowshan Ali
Department of Law
Northern University of Bangladesh


Cricket commentators

I want to thank Sunil Gavaskar and Navajat Sing Siddhu for making it to Bangladesh and commenting on the World Cup 2011 matches. They have certainly played a vital role in Indian cricket and it was nice to see them entertain locally and internationally. I appreciate them sharing their thoughts, congratulating the winners and criticising the losing teams. However, I have noticed that they always supplement their criticism of Bangladeshi cricketers with intense ire. It seems as if they have a deep-seated animosity against us, as a cricketing nation. It is true that it was very frustrating for India to lose against Bangladesh in the last World Cup but we have improved as a team, now we can proudly say the day is not far when we will hold the World Cup in our hands. The commentators are very much welcome in our country but they should be careful about their comments so that no animosity is created between nations.

London, UK


On “The Trouble with Naik”

In the last issue of Forum, I was shocked to read the article “The Trouble with Naik”. The way the writers described him was very appalling especially because of his views regarding women in Islam. Islam gives complete freedom in pursuing higher education, doing a job (a woman should be in her hijab), the right to choose a husband and a woman can divorce her husband with a proper reason. Now you may ask why hijab? Hijab completely protects a woman from evil eyes, which makes her less prone to rape, acid-throwing or eve-teasing, for women are considered to be precious pearls in Islam. These are the words of Naik. The writer also compares Naik to Delwar Husein Sayeedi, who is allegedly a war criminal. I don't understand what relation Naik has to the war crimes trial in Bangladesh. Such articles hurt the sentiments of devoted Muslims at home and abroad. I hope you will take this into consideration before publishing such articles.

Anika Nawal Ahmed

I would like to draw the attention of Farah Mehreen Ahmed and Jyoti Rahman on the above topic which appeared in The Daily Star's February 2011 edition of Forum.

To start with, I would like to point out that the term A'leem is derived from the root word I'lm which means knowledge. Any person who possesses knowledge is an A'leem. A real Muslim cannot be ignorant. S/he needs to have knowledge of Islam. Hence, every Muslim is an A'leem (in the truest sense) and so is Dr. Zakir Naik. However, one's level of knowledge may vary but that is besides the point. The concept that Islam should be preached by an identified class of people (whom we consider A'leem in our present day scenario, coming from a Madrasa) is a concept alien to true Islam.

So far the direct quote is concerned regarding what Dr. Naik preaches, it has been quoted in part and out of context. Nowhere in Islam, a woman is deprived of her rights or is degraded in any way. In fact, it is Islam that has given women status and rights no religion has given. All people with knowledge will testify to that.

It is alleged that the doctor quotes from various scriptures but “no one really bothers to cross-check what he is saying”. You are saying this because you have not cross-checked it. Actually, he quotes correctly. I don't have any other religious scriptures but in the One I have, which is the Qur'an, I see his references tally up, and so do millions of Muslims around the world.

To build up an anti-thesis, you should first study in depth the thesis. Study Qur'an yourself and prove what the doctor preaches is wrong. We will all be with you.

Mustafa Zubair

The credibility of journals and newspapers depend largely on the accuracy of the facts and news published. On this note, it is a matter of deep regret that the writers of the article “The Trouble with Naik” in the February issue of Forum have clearly fabricated some major “facts”.

The second, third and fourth paragraphs of the article refer to a visit and a lecture series in Dhaka in early December by Dr. Zakir Naik. The writers went to the extent of stating that Dr. Naik's visit was overshadowed by Shah Rukh Khan's concert, the politics of hartal and that “Naik's visit may be portent of things to come in a more significant way than most other recent developments.” The writers continue to focus on Dr. Naik's visit by further stating that “the mainstream media has been rather silent about the implications of Dr. Naik's visit…”

This is where the writers hit the nail on the head. The mainstream media was indeed very silent about Dr. Naik's Dhaka visit simply because Dr. Naik never visited Dhaka in December, or for that matter, ever in his lifetime. Dr. Naik has never given a series of lectures in Dhaka.

I remain confident that your publication will ensure in future that such inaccurate facts are not published.

Elthem Kabir



The Writers' Response

The second paragraph of our article “The Trouble with Naik”, published in the February 2011 issue of Forum, contains the sentence: "Dr. Naik visited Dhaka in early December, giving a series of lectures". Dr Naik was supposed to visit Dhaka in early 2010, but this was rescheduled to December. It now appears that the visit did not take place, and thus the sentence is factually incorrect. We apologise for the error.
Nonetheless, Dr Naik retains a large following in Dhaka and we stand by our argument that while there are good reasons for this following, his message is simplistic, dangerous and detrimental to a progressive Bangladesh. Our error about his visit does not change our argument.

Jyoti Rahman and Farah Mehreen Ahmed, Drishtipat Writers' Collective

The opinions expressed in Readers' Forum are those of the writers' and in no way reflect the opinion of the publication.
Letters for publication in Readers' Forum should include the full name and address of the writers. Letters should be limited to 150 words and sent to forum@thedailystar.net or Forum, The Daily Star, 64-65 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Dhaka 1215, Bangladesh.
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