This is in response to Chintito's column "British Law Against Islamic Religion" featured in the August 12 issue of SWM. Tony Blair is proposing to deport radical clerics who not only incite fellow Muslims to attack Britons but also approve and laud terrorist activities. He does not propose to deport all Muslims as Chintito suggests. Blair wants to deport people like Omar Bakri who called the September 11 hijackers the "Magnificent 19" and celebrated the mass murder (which, by the way, included Muslims as well). The same man does not have any problem in collecting disability and welfare benefits from the very "infidel" taxpayers who he says deserve to be bombed and maimed. It is not against the law to have such questionable and even reprehensible views, but it is a problem when young Muslim men listen to these clerics and proceed to bomb subways. I think societies are better off without people such as these. Chintito has got it all wrong in another aspect. The war in Iraq cannot be the root cause behind the bombings ("Heeding to his wise words then may have saved all 56 lives lost"). Some of these very clerics have been calling for holy war against the West long before the Iraq War ever started.
Washington DC, USA
On gyms in Dhaka
I recently came back to Dhaka after living abroad for many years. A big gym enthusiast, I have been looking for a good gym to join ever since my return. Thus I was shocked when I read TS's piece in Dhaka Diary about the fitness centre. While this article has cautioned me to scrutinise gyms in Dhaka thoroughly before joining, I wish the writer had mentioned the name and location so that I knew exactly which gym he/she was referring to. After all that would have helped not only potential customers like me but also the gym's other existing clients about what they had gotten themselves into.
Fear or Favour"?
I used to read "Dhaka Diary" avidly because it was an eye-opener. I thought the column was intended to prevent others from facing the same situations that people had already faced. Thus, when a friend of mine got hoodwinked by a fitness centre I urged her to write about it and send it to "Dhaka Diary" so that other people would become aware and not get victimised. My friend had written the name and location of the fitness centre in her piece but I saw both details missing from the edited version printed in the August 12 issue of SWM. What was the point of printing it if you were going to take away both the name and the location of the place? It doesn't help people in any way. After reading your August 5 issue about the freedom of the press, I thought printing my friend's letter as it was wouldn't be a problem at all. After all, The Daily Star does preach "Journalism without Fear or Favour". But now I am doubtful about whether you practice what you preach.
On the cover story
SWM's cover story of August 5 was impressive. Thank you very much for presenting us with such a gripping story about press freedom. Freedom of expression is a basic right in a democracy. Without freedom of press, human values can never be restored and human rights can never be established. In the third world countries or the least developed countries, freedom of the press is rarely approved. These countries are mostly ruled by dictators in various forms. So the dictators are not at all respectful to democratic norms and values. On the other hand, "yellow journalism" is not acceptable either. The media should not publish scurrilous, biased, false or distorted news and should keep within the bounds of decency.
Md. Mamunur Rahman
I was very pleased to read the timely cover story on the government's position on freedom of the press last week in SWM. Except for a few achievements, the rule of the present government in the last four years has not been a very happy one. The government has been involved in many controversial issues such as the Bangla Bhai issue, price hike of essentials, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and persecution of Awami League (AL) activists and minority communities by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-Jamaat activists. The latter have been connected to political killings such as those of Ahsanullah Master and Shah SAMS Kibria. We have been champions in corruption four times. These are not lies and the people can understand what is going on from their own experiences. So why blame the media? Because they publish negative reports and tarnish the image of our country abroad? But in the age of the Internet, nothing can be concealed from the rest of the world so it is ridiculous to blame the media. They are simply reporting whatever is happening in the country. Instead of attacking journalists, why not improve the situation in the country so their reports do not ruin our image abroad?
Md Kamrul Hasan Regan
Department of English
University of Dhaka
I was shocked to read the cover story "Press Freedom Threatened" by Shamim Ahsan on August 5. The desperation of ministers in the ruling coalition government to curtail press freedom is really appalling. The media, especially the print media, has been playing a great part by upholding the truth by calling a spade a spade. It will be a grave blunder for the government and a misfortune for us all if the media is intimidated in this way. We all have our hopes pinned on a free media which is a prerequisite for a healthy democracy. Intimidating the media will further tarnish our image abroad. Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to journalists across our country who have been risking their lives to uphold democratic values. Finally, thanks to Shamim Ahsan for writing an invaluable cover story.
Rafiqul Islam Rime
On men and hijab
I am writing to convey my appreciation for Nabila Idris's piece on men and hijab. Nabila's perception of the issue is comprehensive and rational. Her attack on the double standards of veiling is extremely appropriate. It is a relief to see women thinking and writing in the direction that Nabila has. We really need more of that.
Presidential amnesty for a murderer
In my first year at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), I witnessed a gunfight on campus over a tender. The fight between the groups of Muki of BUET and Tagar of Dhaka University (DU) took the life of Sabequnnahar Sony. Though Tagar was arrested after the killing, Muki was not. There are rumours that after the incident, Muki was sheltered by an influential BNP leader who later sent him abroad. Three years after the incident, the verdict of the case is yet to be executed. Muki may be abroad at the moment, but it seems possible that even if he was in Bangladesh -- where with the help of political big-wigs, presidential amnesty can be granted 22 years after a crime -- he may be spared punishment for his crime. Jhintu, a Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) leader, was accused of a double-murder. Muki is accused of only one, so it might be even easier for him to escape the gallows. These thoughts have been haunting me ever since reading about the presidential amnesty given to a murderer.
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