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     Volume 4 Issue 61 | September 2, 2005 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   Straight Talk
   Food For Thought
   Time Out
   Slice of Life
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Fear is the key
I was working at my office when the news about the recent bomb blasts broke. This was definitely a pre-planned attack, but I doubt whether they were conducted with any intention of physical damage in mind. Rather, this is like a warning of what could happen if the demands of the self-proclaimed bombers are not met. Hopefully, our law enforcment agencies can find out more by interrogating those who were arrested, but if we are not careful, incidents like these are bound to continue and get worse. The news of the bomb blasts (no matter how small the impact) will no doubt worsen our image as a country where religions are respected. This was a plan long thought of and executed to near-perfection. Actually, "Fear" is the key to everything. The US use this idea to promote their war against terrorism (but I don't have any noun for what they are doing in Iraq -- helping democracy or plundering). I doubt any of our renowned political parties (BNP, AL or Jamaat) are linked to the attacks. Those who have done it obviously do not care about the people or their opinions. Dark times are ahead of us.
Faisal Khair Chowdhury (Bobee)
Gulshan-2, Dhaka

Laughing at poverty
I was warmed by the incident reported in "Dhaka Diary" by Jafrin Jahed Jiti, who was accidentally made aware of how little it takes to bring a smile to the face of a street child, and has subsequently been handing out sweets regularly to these children. It's a sad statement that any child should be so deprived that it takes this little to make them happy! But I commend her nonetheless for doing something positive about the situation.
By contrast, I was horrified by the attitude of Saad -- also in "Dhaka Diary" -- who reported that he "enjoyed a good laugh" (ironically or otherwise) at the sight of a 10-year-old "tokai" who was begging for money to buy a pair of trousers. I don't know whether to laugh at him or weep at the thought that such poverty should be a source of amusement to anyone! According to him, these are common stories. So, "ordinary" misery, poverty and disability generally fail to move him, and only something unusual can hope to do so. It sounds as if the only thing it moved him TO however, was laughter! Did he even reward the child whose misery brought him such a good laugh? Seeing these two stories side by side illustrates for me just what is wrong with our society. It would be nice to see more action, and less laughter!
Eeshita Rahman

On hijab for men
I greatly appreciated Nabila Idris' article "Hijab for men does exist you know" in SWM. Idris did a brilliant job in pointing out the discrimination made by our so-called Islamic leaders between men and women when Islam has given full priority to the establishment of equal status of men and women which many religions have failed to enforce. We common Muslims greatly rely on our society's Islamic leaders to explain to us the laws and moral values of Islam but it is evident that they use our ignorance to their advantage by giving wrong information about the religion. Perhaps this is so because they themselves do not know the true meaning of the Quran and Hadiths. Muslim women in our society have misunderstood the principles of "hijab" and taken it for granted to be the "burkha". The word "hijab" is mentioned in several places of the Holy Quran. The Arabic word "hijab" actually means "to cover" not only physically but also mentally. In a country such as Bangladesh, which is highly congested and where the weather is extremely hot, it is hardly practical to wear a suffocating burkha over regular clothes. A shalwar kameez can also be hijab if worn decently and with modesty. It should be the same for men, for the main concept of hijab is that both men and women must not be vulgar in appearance or approach.
Naome Syed

The August 17 blasts
The nation is shocked at the series of bomb blasts allegedly carried out by Jama'atul Mujahidden Bangladesh (JMB), something unprecedented in not only the history of Bangladesh but of the world. They have apparently done this demanding Islamic rule in the country. But is this the way to go about it? Neither Allah nor the prophet ever indicated that Islam should be established using violence and death. Islam is a way of life, and if the majority of the people accept it as such, it will itself be practised throughout the country. Extremism or an armed revolution is not the way. This insidious group has tarnished the image of Islam and presented it as a religion of terror. This will hinder us in our path to development. We must stop the evil design of these terrorists, otherwise a great catastrophe is awaiting us.
A reader

On Richa Jha's piece on childbirth
I read with alarm Richa Jha's conclusion in her otherwise interesting article on childbirth. While I agree that there is no greater joy in life than having children, her piece was misleading, and risked denying the very real pain and dangers that many women face in the process of childbirth. She is obviously one of the fortunate few who have experienced painless childbirth, and as someone who went through two difficult pregnancies and painful labour -- one actually life-threatening for both myself and my baby -- I can only envy her. However, I suspect that more women will relate to my experience than hers, especially given the unacceptably high rate of maternal mortality in this region. I would therefore advise her not to generalise from her own experience and mislead others, however unintentionally -- whether by encouraging young mothers to romanticise a real life experience, or confirming the mistaken beliefs of many men who undervalue the blood, sweat and tears involved on the basis that this is a "natural" process. In conclusion, let me again emphasise that despite the pain experienced, I would agree that it is more than compensated for by the joy of having a baby.
Shaila Rahman

A great project
Thanks, SWM, for the cover story on August 12, 2005. After finishing the story, I felt rather happy because, we never find any good news in the papers. But this particular story talked about a para centre changing the face of the undeveloped hill tracts and only after I finished reading the story did I realise that it was indeed possible. It will be a great achievement for us as a developing country if UNICEF and CHTDP are able to finish the project successfully as I am very hopeful that they will.
Md. Arifur Rahman
Department of Textile Engineering
Primeasia University

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