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     Volume 4 Issue 35 | February 25, 2005 |

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A Valentine's Day of Hatred
I was shocked to see the news about the bomb blasts at Dhaka University at a Valentine's Day gathering. Recently, it is a risk to attend any public gathering, not only political, but also, if not especially, cultural ones. Ramna, Udichi, the recent blasts at different jatras and the most recent Valentine's Day fiasco at DU all confirm this fear. People don't necessarily have to accept Valentine's Day and other such occasions as a part of our culture, but that doesn't mean that they won't let them take place at all. We've been suffering from the intolerance of our political parties for years; now it seems that religious and cultural intolerance is on the rise. It is even more sad when students, innocent youths, have to suffer due to the narrow-mindedness and hateful nature of others.
Samina Alam
Dhaka University

On the Last Cover Story
I have read with much interest your article entitled "Reading in Translation". The article contains much valuable information. I should like to add that, in 1992, the Bangla Academy published my translation of a book of poetry by the Middle Ages Turkish poet Yunus Emre (he is a contemporary of Jalauddin Rumi). He wrote nearly 750 years ago and I had the great privilege to be the first Bangali to translate his work. The occasion was the celebration by UNESCO of Yunus Emre Love Year. The most remarkable aspect of Emre's poetry was that, during his time and the region from which he came, writers and poets used Persian and Rumi was no exception although he lived in Konya, the heart of Anatolia and Turks and Iranians both claim him as their poet. As for Emre, he wrote in Anatolian Turkish and it is not possible to find Persian in his poems. For your kind information, I have translated the earliest book of Andre Malraux. La Tentation de l'Occidentr (The temptation of the West) from French into Bangla. The magnificient role of Malraux during our Glorious War of Liberation is well known and the Government of Bangladesh in 1973 under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman honoured Malraux on the free soil of Bangladesh.
Arshad-uz Zaman

On Spitting
In "Long Live the Spittoon" (SWM, Feb 18), Azfar Aziz has hit on a very pet peeve of mine. Why do people spit? The streets are spotted with still-glistening loogies. His playful suggestion that spittoons be legislated has a recent precedent not so far away: disgusted by the rusty stains everywhere, the city of Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea this month enacted a bylaw requiring betel chewers to use spittoons installed on the street-sides. I hope for the day when throat- and sinus-clearing noises and spitting become as publicly unacceptable as breaking wind.
Sid Tupper
Baridhara, Dhaka

Stop Hartals
It is beyond comprehension to think how a Hartal can be a solution for all the opposition parties, especially when they have unrelenting problems. Days of continuous hartals are being called by the opposition for almost any possible reason they get. A country such as Bangladesh, in which there are normally many holidays, will definitely fail to carry out even its normal operations if, in addition to these holidays, unnecessary hartals continue. We call our country a democratic one, but do our respected opposition parties care about our opinions and rights and do they even care for the development of our country? The answer is "no", because they have forgotten the existence of their country. Why do we bother electing them? And why do we call our country democratic when the whole country is protesting to stop the hartals while these so-called country-lovers continue their indisciplined activities. As a simple citizen of such a 'helpless' country, I would request the opposition parties to stop imposing hartals and settle their matters in the parliament like most civilised democratic countries around the world. Stop using hartals as the weapon of choice because they can never be a solution to problems. Rather, they serve as a means of destruction to put the country at stake by crippling it permanently from all sides.
Naome Syed,

21st February
All of us agree that 21st February is a day of pride as well as a day of mourning . I think this day should be observed by showing respect to those that gave their lives for the sake of our mother tongue. However, for the last few years, I have observed that today's youth consider this day to be like any other. University and college going women see it as an opportunity to dress up and wear pretty ornaments to match. Some university students paint the Bangla alphabet on their faces, necks and hand but they go through the whole day with a cheerful frame of mind. Unfortunately, many youngsters and teenagers look up to college and university students and follow their example, thereby showing similar disrespect for this day. The whole meaning and importance of the Language Movement is diminishing. Do these people ever think about the achievement of the martyrs and feel for them from their hearts.
Farhana Deeba
Department of Marketing
Dhaka University

Love and Fundamentalism
It's insane! A bomb blast on a friendly harmless Valentines Day programme at TSC. On a day of celebrating love, we had to associate ourselves with the frantic act of fundamentalism that turned a cordial environment into a devastated nightmare in the span of about a minute -- injured people and students were crying out in agony, blood, glasses, sandals and dying flowers scattered all over the place. A stage of love soon turned into a nightmare of hatred, inhumanity. Love, the most beautiful, blessed feelings of earth could not survive the dissent of some mentally sick people! However, its more tormenting to see the two leading student groups accusing each other and making it a political agenda instead of protesting the crime. Can't love be protected from such political issues? Has love evaporated completely? If it exists, irrespective of political differentiation, we should all unite in order to voice our opinions against such insane fanaticism. We should be united and learn to move past our political differences, before it's too late and we have nothing left.

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