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     Volume 7 Issue 51 | January 2, 2009 |

  Cover Story
  Year in Review
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New Year, New Hope
The year 2008 has been another eventful year for the country. In the international arena, Obama's historic victory, Luminas procession of Olympic Games'08, the Mumbai massacre, Bush's final farewell with a pair of shoes and finally the unanimously expected historic election added a dimension to the year 2008.

Most readers will agree at this point that despite our unstable political past we still remain a very hopeful nation. Most people hope that democracy will be restored at the hands of the newly elected government. We also hope that there will not be any communal conflicts and any further attack on our cultural expression. We hope that unemployment will go down and young people will get jobs in line with their qualifications and the marginalised will get their rights. We also hope that there won't be any more corruption in the country and the education system will be improved. We hope that the media will have more freedom so that they can play a neutral role in disseminating news and forming public opinion and yellow journalism will be eliminated. Instead of thinking that we are Muslims, Hindus, Buddists, Christians, or indigenous people, we will learn to think that we are citizens of the free country of Bangladesh.

We hope that the newly elected government will fulfil their promises, which they inscribed in their election manifestoes.
Aiman Bin Shaofiqul Hamid (Jasim)
Dept. of English
International Islamic University, Chittagong

Cut Off The Head To Get Rid Of Headache
A section of so-called progressives have become very vocal against mosque-based education. Their point of objection is that 'jihadi' lessons and training are being imparted in the mosque-based education programmes. This is no doubt a different kind of bigotry against Islam. Most of the terrorists so far caught in the security nets have not been identified as hard-core madrassa students except a microscopic few. There are so many examples that it is absolutely an ill-motivated propaganda that madrassas and mosques are the breeding ground of terrorists.

Madrassas have the potential to impart basic education on ethics, values and the sense of mutual well being, which is almost absent in the secular education programme and are rare qualities these days, right from the grass-root level. Everyone tries to manipulate and bend the law and discipline to gain their own advantage.

No one can deny that even after so much demeaning of the clergy by our so-called secular pundits, moulvis and mullahs are still held with great awe and reverence by our common people. We can train them to teach how religious education is co-operative, and not contradictory, to secular education.

In our mosques, the 'Khatib' delivers sermons regularly. But that circles a round only 'sin and redemption', 'ablution and prayers'. Those who are against madrassa-based non-formal education should delve deep into their psyche and look for a remedy first in themselves and then find out how best the programme could be made more workable and effective. Abolition of mosque-based education is no remedy at all; rather it will only help multiply the rate of illiteracy.
M. Shawkat Ali
Uttara, Dhaka-1230

A Razakar-free Parliament
It is a great shame for us that the razakars who had not only opposed the birth of this country but also helped the Pakistani military commit genocide and other war crimes have not been brought under judicial procedure yet. These criminals have tried to call our liberation war a 'civil war'. They have no regrets over their role during the liberation war. They don't have any respect for our constitution and don't believe in democracy. As a result they have included in their manifesto a 'blasphemy act' which they will enforce if they come to power. We have to boycott these war criminals so that they don't get the opportunity to insult the heroes of our country. The Sector Commanders Forum has done commendable work to try to keep the war criminals away from the parliament. We have to support these freedom fighters so that Bangladesh can be led by people who have the real spirit of the Liberation War. We have to resist bigots and war criminals to establish a secular and democratic country. Moreover we have to boycott these criminals so that they can be brought under judicial procedure.
Jhalok Ronjan Talukdar
Master of Social Work, SUST

Silver Screen Degradation
Films are not only meant for entertainment but also represent our art and culture. But the very sad news is that films often project vulgarity and obscurity to us.

It's quite hard to believe that once the Bangladeshi filmmakers made such marvellous creations as 'Surjo Dighol Bari', 'Jibon Theke Ney' and many others. Furthermore, actors and actresses no longer show interest in our films and some of them act in films of other countries. Eventually it's our responsibility to bring back the rich culture of cinema like we had before. We should take some steps such as camps and workshop on film and filmmaking, stopping video piracy so that we can see good quality films for three hours.
Sharmin Mahbuba
Dept. of English
M.C. College, Sylhet

Forced Marriage
I appreciate the author of the article 'The Parent Trap' (December 19, 2008) for talking about the important but ignored issue of forced marriage. The writer has clearly distinguished forced marriage from arranged marriage. Most of the arranged marriages have an element of coercion in them. Although the concerned boy and girl give their consent on the marriage but most of the times they are emotionally blackmailed by parents and their relatives to get married. A few days ago a relative of mine got married because of the continuous pressure from his parents and relatives. They said that they had given their word to the girl's family. If he did not marry the girl of their choice they wouldn't be able to live with their prestige. The boy wanted to take time to get established before he got married. He also did not like the girl they chose for her. These kinds of marriages cannot be stopped unless the attitudes of the people change.
Surya Kanta
Norsinghtila, Bagbari, Sylhet

Saving the silver screen
Most of the films produced by Dhaliwood are so vulgar that it can't be seen in the presence of family members. These films can do much harm to the mentality of the young generation. They don't have anything to learn from these movies except immoral behaviour. These will lead us to social disorganisation. I always think that directors, artistes, producer and other people related to film industry should have good aesthetic sense. But most of the time they are proving me wrong. Filmmaking is a business but business can be done in better taste. Our short films and TV plays are proving this point repeatedly. I strongly believe that there are more viewers for aesthetic film than for vulgar films. Filmmakers have a social responsibility to create a positive environment for viewers to enjoy films with family.
Jhalok Ronjan Talukdar
Master of Social Work

The Deplorable Mumbai Attacks
We condemn the atrocious attacks in Mumbai, commiserate, and lament for the lives affected. None of us who love peace want repetition of such incidents. But just after the happening of this incident, we sew condemnation and finger-pointing. Many big terrorist attacks have also been taken place in Bangladesh and Pakistan. So, it ought not to be said that Bangladesh and Pakistan are fostering terrorists for attacking India. I heartily request the Indian Government to look at communal forces within their own country. The Indian Government should also understand that killing or punishing a few selected militants can't be a means of exterminating terrorism.
Nazrul Islam
Dept. of Mgt. Studies
University of Chittagong

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