In a tiny country on the other side of the globe, far away from the glare of celebrity TV anchors and big-shot correspondents in jungle khaki, a revolution is unfolding, but not if you watch CNN, BBC or CBC.
For two weeks now, hundreds of thousands people from young men and women, aging former guerrilla fighters and grandmothers who still carry the scars of violence, have occupied the Shahbag Square in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The collective anger of a nation, simmering for over 40 years below the surface, finally erupted this month.
The roots of this resentment lay in the genocide of the Bengali people that started in March 1971 by the Pakistan Army and its accuses jihadi collaborators, the mullahs of the Jamaat-e-Islami. The military-sanctioned massacres did not stop until nine months later in December that year when the Indian Army intervened and the Pakistan military promptly surrendered.
From the ashes of a war and three million dead people choking its rivers, the new country of Bangladesh emerged…
For the first time ever in the Muslim world, there has been a popular uprising against the fascism of Islamist parties. One would have expected the western intelligentsia to be thrilled at this development and for the media to report from the square, but the Walter Cronkites of the world are no more.
Back in the 1970s when ratings was not all that mattered to the super stars of the time, George Harrison and Ravi Shankar played for our conscience at the memorable ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ in Madison Square Garden. And then there was Joan Baez who let out a wail in the midst of a genocide. Her song rallied millions:
When the sun sinks in the west
Die a million people of the Bangladesh
Today too, the sun sinks in the west,, but no one is singing for Bangladesh anymore.
‘For the first time ever in the Muslim world, there has been a popular uprising against the fascism of Islamist parties.’ Nothing can be better than mass protests against fascism and barbarism. I am not really supporting the execution of war criminals as I am against the death penalty. If you do not want to do anything but to cry for the death penalty, you can cry as much as you want. The people who are for abolishing the death penalty will not lend you their shoulders to cry on. I support the banning of Jamaat-e-Islami. In Bangladesh, it is nothing but a terrorist organization. The religious terrorist organizations should be banned if we want true democracy, human rights, women’s freedom and freedom of expression.
The Shahbag movement should be led by secular progressive people. If the political parties hijack the movement, they will definitely ruin it. All the political parties in Bangladesh made the fascist Jamaat-e-Islami their allies in the past. It is foolish to trust them.
George Harrison died. The great people of the ‘concert for Bangladesh’ are not here. They are not singing for Bangladesh. But we, humanists, secularists, and dreamers are still alive. Let’s sing for Bangladesh! Let’s make our dreams come true. Let’s encourage people of Bangladesh to make their country a secular country without poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, superstitions,a country without religionism, fanaticism, fascism, barbarism, a country without crimes and corruption!