June 03, 2007

Two months on - a personal note

Tomorrow will be two months since I've revived this blog, turning it from a personal summer journal in Dhaka into an impersonal all-rants accepted blog about Dhaka. It has been two eventful, invigorating, virtual months.

Initially, I expected very few people to read the blog, even less to take it seriously. In May alone, I had over a thousand hits to these pages. So I know at least people are reading it. And to those of you who have taken the trouble to leave comments behind, I thank you for taking me seriously enough to do so. It was truly my privilege to have a conversation with you. Special thanks must go to Mr. ABC who took the news on these pages SO seriously that he decided to issue threats (alas, I was not alone in receiving this most unwelcome attention!).

Eventful it certainly has been, especially this last month: from bomb blasts in three stations to the arrest of a journalist. I just wrote about them because I could do nothing else. That my words could have any real world repercussions was not something I believed. I still don't believe it, but the drama surrounding the arrest and the subsequent threats suitably tempered my disbelief.

Invigorating it certainly has been. Through this blog, I have met keen, incisive and perceptive individuals I rarely expected to meet outside a university campus. Some have increased my knowledge of matters, others have given me different perspectives to approach issues from, yet others have impressed me to no end with their tolerant attitudes, their kindness and helpfulness, and not a few have challenged me to clarify and even re-define my opinions. You know who you are. And if you knew me personally, you'd know that these are the qualities I value in people in real life. So thank you.

Lastly, some random things I ought to make clarify about the inherent biases at work when I write my pieces. It's a social science thing.....:

1) I'm a Bangladeshi nationalist and Muslim, both by birth and choice. My opinions are inevitably coloured by these identities.

2) I'm a firm believer in people's right to hold any sort of opinions, even those contrary to my nationalism and religion. That is why I condemned the threats against Rushdie, even though I beieved that the Satanic Verses theory was stupid and his fiction since Midnight's Children was putrid. That is why I condemned the attack against our very own Dr. Humayun Azad, whose religious faith obviously differs from mine but whose writings on feminism I have cherished dearly. Paradoxically, it makes me unable to issue the blanket condemnation now in fashion to Islamist political forces that practice a degree of pluralism (there are none in Bangladesh).

3) I'm a firm believer in non-violence and on the fence about violence sanctioned by law. That is why I don't like the state of our present student politics, the present state of our "religious" discourse (or what goes on in its name in the Muslim world: see, Dr. Azad above, plus Nagoub) or any of our political parties.

4) If I had written our '71 constitution, I would have only put in the word "Democracy" in there. From this comes my distaste for our two major parties, one of which sacrifices democracy to protect "socialism and secularism" (or so it has said) while the other sacrifices democracy to protect "nationalism" (or so it has said). This also makes me unable to support JIB, JP and any other "third force", be it bureaucratic, military or technocratic.

And if you ever find me straying from this spirit, leave a comment, a rant or send me an email. Trust me, I'll appreciate it.

7 comments:

Zafa Noor said...

You are not alone.
We all have this insatiable urge to speak up…for the things we believe in…and against the things that are detrimental to human rights and the environment.
Hope you'll never stop writing.

J @ ShadaKalo said...

Asif:
I am very glad you decided to revive your blog.

May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and may your blog always be filled with your rants.

J

Rumi said...

Congratulations Dear Dhakashohor. :)

Good work. In fact very good work.

Keep it going.


Rumi

asif said...

Thank you all for your encouragement and good wishes!

Rezwan said...

You are doing great! A notable addition to Bangladeshi blogosphere.
Remember the struggle is to carry on and on..

Keep up the good work.

Anthony said...

Abul Mansur Ahmed, one of the founders of the Awami League and a leading intellectual founder of Bangladeshi nationalism, made the same point in his memoir as your number 4: if you ensure democracy, nationalism/secularism/socialism will have their appropriate place in the scheme of things, whereas without democracy, none of those ideologies would suffice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dhakashohor - yes, keep writing! Am learning a lot about BD politics from your blog..
bonbibi