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     Volume 8 Issue 58 | February 20, 2009 |

  Cover Story
  Special Feature
  Ekushey Grantha   Mela
  Photo Feature
  Writing the Wrong
  Straight Talk
  Star Diary
  Book Review
  Post Script

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Desecrating the Mosque
It is not only traumatic but also unexpected to see the way we are polluting the environment of the mosques of our country. What has happened in the consecutive Jumma prayers in the last couple of weeks is nothing but desecration of the Baitul Mukarram mosque, an icon of Islam in Bangladesh. Some Islamic parties have been using the mosque as the centre of their political activities. Whenever any clashes break out, they store their weapons in the mosque and use it as a hiding ground as police are not allowed to enter in the mosque. The shoe throwing scandal centring on the appointment of Imam Nuruddin has left me in a state of shock and disbelief. Mosques are places where people go to spiritually connect themselves with Allah in a calm and quiet environment. People of all classes say their prayers forgetting the difference of wealth and rank behind the Imam. The government should take the matter into account and save the honour of a holy place from the clutches of the evildoers.
Shakawat Hossain
Department Of Accounting
Final Year
Govt City College Chittagong


The shoe-throwing incident inside the Baitul Mukarram Mosque centring around the issue on appointment of new khatib has proved further how fanaticism has grown in our country. It seems that the system has completely succumbed to the fanatics. If we look at the time of the previous caretaker government we see that the previous government has also surrendered to the fundamentalists and without any argument they have removed the Baul sculptures. But nobody was arrested for the crime. Why did the then government simply yield to the zealots? It seems that the rulers thought the group of fundamentalists were so powerful that any action taken against them might have brought chaos.
It is time the government rights these wrongs by taking action against the fanatics.
Subir Das
Dept. of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
BUET, Dhaka

Musings at Midnight
I was both outraged and saddened by A Roman Column "Musings At Midnight" (January 30, 2009). Neeman Sobhan's outburst against women who wear the hijab has a hollow ring on several counts. Millions of women in our towns and villages wear the hijab or the burqah with dignity, and it is very much part of our culture. Our grandmothers did not try to "get rid of the pernicious purdah". While fighting to claim their rightful place in society, they wore it as a badge of honour. So do we wear it today as a token of our belief? I am a medical doctor and I never found the hijab "regressive" as Ms. Sobhan claims. I am a Bangladeshi Muslim. I choose to wear it not because I am trying to "become Arab" but because I find that the Qur'an commands me to wear it. I would find it hypocritical to claim to be Muslim, yet denounce Islam's basic tenets. For me, it is as simple as that. It is a personal choice, and nobody should make fun of it.
I do not know what the writer means by Bangalis having our "own brand of religion and spirituality". If we follow that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, Islam would be an "Arab" religion too!
Neeman Sobhan weeps for Palestinian children, and laments Arab disunity. She forgets that what makes Israel strong is unity among the Jewish people worldwide. It is this unity that makes superpowers like the USA take notice, and forces them to support Israel's stance. The basis for that unity is their Jewish faith. When American Jews gather to celebrate Hanukkah, they don't dismiss the skullcap as a "Middle Eastern invention". They are not apologetic about their beliefs. Perhaps a little more respect for our religion would be a good first step towards Muslim unity?
Dr Mansura Akhtar Shammi
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University

Textbook Crisis Again!
With the academic year of the secondary level students of the country already in progress from this month, as many as 50 per cent of the students will have to wait to get the books prescribed by National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) due to an artificial crisis believed to have been created by NCTB itself and syndicates of textbook publishers and sellers to earn illegal profit. The situation prevailing now, however, is not new at all as the failure and indifference of the authority concerned have been reflected time and again.
But this year the crisis seems to be more acute than before. In the past, lesser number of books used to be published than the actual demand as about 30 percent of old books were recycled every year. But recently the syllabus of the secondary level students have been modified with the introduction of a new system, known as 'creative question method', which leads every student to buy a new set of books. This causes the demand to be higher.
Being fully aware of the new syllabus, the NCTB's decision to print around two and a half crore books has been puzzling, whereas the actual demand was estimated to be over five crore. Interestingly, the textbook publishers and NCTB are blaming each other for the situation mainly created by them!
Teachers, students and guardians are facing big problems in getting the required number of books to continue the academic activities. On top of it all many teachers are still unaware of the new teaching method, as necessary training has not been given to them. If it goes on like this, achieving a good standard of education will no doubt remain a far cry.
Sarwar Hussain
Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering
University of Chittagong

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