The Nation, or Chhatra League…?

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By Rahnuma Ahmed

Apnader kacche desh boro, na Chhatra League boro? If anyone had asked Awami League leaders this question right after the national elections in December 2008, they would have— without a shred of doubt—chorused, desh. Desh.

In all likelihood, they would have added, with utter indignation, How on earth can you even think of asking such a question? It is true undoubtedly for ahem those parties, those utterly corrupt ones which had led the previous government, i.e., the BNP-Jamaat government, you know, the ones that brought the country to ruin. Those whom the people resoundingly defeated in the elections… Why yes, their student wings were corrupt. Their leaders and followers were downright thugs, from top to bottom. They have nearly-wrecked the glorious tradition of our public universities. They worked closely with criminal syndicates, under the patronage of the infamous Hawa Bhaban. It is they, these evil forces, who are self-serving, they don’t love the nation. Not one bit. And well, there’s no point in asking about the Jamaat separately, what else can you expect of those who were opposed to the birth of Bangladesh? Their student wing, those Islami Chhatra Shibir guys, the rog kata bahini, going around cutting tendons. Absolutely barbaric. But again, what else can one expect of rajakars and al-Badrs… the previous political party government, the BNP-Jamaat government, it is they who sacrificed the nation on the altar of progress, development and democracy.

Whereas we, we are the party that won independence in 1971. Our student organisation, the Bangladesh Chhatra League was established before the Bangladesh Awami League itself, so, no, there can be no doubt… why, the BCL is part and parcel of the nation. Of its history. If you ignore the BCL, you ignore the nation’s historic struggles for democracy, you ignore the liberation war itself. The very birth of the nation. Both the AL and the BCL, we are devoted to the nation. We are indistinguishable from the nation. [We are the nation].

But soon enough, this glorious Awami League narrative began to suffer from hiccups. What BCL unleashed was so severe that Sheikh Hasina was obliged to step aside as its organisational leader last April.  After the death of two students. Many more injured. Kicking out opponents to occupy and establish control over student halls of residence. Brandishing arms and firearms to establish supremacy. Turf wars between BCL factions over leadership. Preventing contractors from submitting bid documents for purchasing equipment, for doing construction work. Within campus, outside campus. Extortion. Grabbing haat-ghat-math-pukur-nodi-nala… as the list of places being occupied kept getting longer, the prime minister expressed her disapproval. She stepped aside. She even refused to grant top BCL leaders who had rushed over, presumably to squirm apologetically until they regained her favour, an audience. At least that’s what the newspapers reported.

Was it a good idea? Did her strong disapproval instil the fear of God in BCL hearts? Did it prevent them from doing whatever they were doing? Make them mend their ways? Come to their senses?

Whatever the intent of the prime ministerial gossha, it has largely proven to be ineffective. This has raised a pertinent question in public minds: if the most high-ranking national leader cannot gauge the effect of her disapproval, why express it? Why bother? Why not do something else, something that will be effective? Some go a step further. The disapproval, they think, was for public consumption only. Whatever be their faults and blemishes, the Awami League and the PM need the Chhatra League.

But BCL members have been the targets of violence, too. Faruque Hossain, a Rajshahi university student, was killed and dumped in a manhole. According to newspaper reports, by Islami Chhatra Shibir activists. Incidents of sporadic violence have occurred between BCL and ICS students on other campuses as well. These have spread elsewhere. Such as the Pabna Press Club incident. Two mess quarters where ICS students lived had been set on fire, allegedly by BCL cadres. As a mark of protest, ICS had called a press conference at the local press club. Local-level administration and police hurriedly advised the press club to cancel the event. ICS agreed to the cancellation. But outraged BCL activists insisted on turning up. On ransacking the rooms of the press club. On assaulting journalists.

Battle in Dinajpur town between four groups battling over a 14 crore taka public works bid document. — Focusbangla photo

Of course, it is no use blaming the BCL alone for what student fronts, particularly those belonging to ruling political parties, do. It is systemic, practised by all student fronts except those largely belonging to the left tradition. Here is a list of these `excesses,’ diligently compiled and published in a recent Shaptahik-2000 feature. Its writer has added, the list is far from complete (January 29, 2010):

  • Picking a fight for no reason but to display superior physical/armed prowess
  • Asserting control by whatever means, including killing one’s opponent
  • Taking protection money from contractors
  • Forcibly evicting tender competitors (tenderbaji)
  • Illegal VOIP connection
  • Forcibly stripping and photographing a girlfriend
  • Drug dealing (phensedyl, yaba)
  • Setting up adulterated pharmaceutical company
  • Manufacturing forged documents (licences, passports)
  • Using the names of leaders, even dead ones, for extortion
  • Holding fierarms high, shooting blank rounds during processions and rallies
  • Kidnapping neighbour’s daughter
  • Breaking out convicts from police custody
  • Extorting money from seller of land
  • Extorting money from buyer of land
  • Taking protection money from contractors
  • Beating up public works and water development engineer
  • Assaulting a UNO, threatening him with death
  • Grabbing land allocated for landless
  • Evicting a martyred freedom-fighter’s wife from her house
  • Cutting off a ear for insufficient applause to leader’s speech
  • Blockading roads for extortion
  • Raping and extorting money from sex-worker
  • Illegally renting out government billboard space
  • Grabbing river banks
  • Commandeering government land for political party
  • Leaning on police to file cases
  • Leaning on police to withdraw cases
  • Threatening teacher with gun to pass exams
  • Counterfeiting money
  • Severing tendons of arms and legs, plucking out eyeballs
  • Beating up a good student for attending exams
  • Blackmarketing
  • Extorting money from korbani cattle market
  • Grabbing korbani cattle-hide at throwaway price

An imposing list undoubtedly. Other excesses can easily be added. Such as, what-has-come-to-be-known as admission trade (better named, admission `profiteering’). Three city colleges—Dhaka College, Eden Women’s University College, Kobi Nazrul College—reportedly netted the BCL leadership one crore taka this year. Admissions could be purchased for Tk 20-25,000.

When public outrage was at its height, the AL general secretary and the LGRD minister Syed Ashraful Islam, presumably to deflect public anger, had said that the Islami Chhatra Shibir had penetrated Chhatra League. The BCL, he had claimed, was “neither our front organization nor our associate organization.” Unfortunately, no one believed him. At least, not the poor, not the meek, not the law-abiding citizen. In other words, the majority. They knew that if they had committed any of these excesses, they would have had to pay. They knew that to get away with any of these excesses, you’d have to belong to Chhatra League.

Sahara Khatun’s attempts at explanation were similarly unsuccessful. When Abu Bakr Siddique, a Dhaka university student was killed this February as a result of factional fighting between BCL groups, the home minister had told the press, These are isolated incidents. It is no big deal. These things happen. What is more important is what steps we are taking…’ Steps? None. Obaidul Kader, Awami League MP and Presidium member, however, had sounded pretty honest when he had blurted out, The way Chhatra League is proceeding, it seems neither allopathy, nor homeopathy, nothing short of surgery will work.

Whereas the prime minister recently expressed dismay at the Chhatra League’s excesses. I feel sad when I read the news, she had said. This led BCL activists to promptly beat up journalists, of Shaptahik-2000, Budhbar.

A very literal understanding, No bad news. No sad PM. But once again questions have arisen: why does the PM insist on doing that which is either ineffective or easily misunderstood?

Published in New Age April 12, 2010

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5 Responses to The Nation, or Chhatra League…?

  1. Ability of being big in terms of organization and history and leader`s design to inculcate value and culture are two different things.Organizational value and culture has its own grammar are scared to practice.We are good in struggle and movement and bad in planning post victory delivery process.

  2. nomo sudhra says:

    Chatra Leage is the true follower of Muhammed

    Was Islam’s “perfect man” sexually restrained?

    Summary Answer:

    Muhammad had sex with just about anyone he pleased, thanks to Allah’s extraordinary interest in his personal sex life, as immortalized in the Qur’an.

    Although the Qur’an didn’t appear to have enough space for topics like universal love and brotherhood (which Muslims sometimes insist are there, but aren’t), the list of sexual partners that Muhammad was entitled to is detailed more than once, sometimes in categories and sometimes in reference to specific persons (Zaynab & Mary).

    Muhammad was married to thirteen women, including eleven at one time. He relegated them to either consecutive days or (according to some accounts) all in one night. He married a 9-year-old girl and even his adopted son’s wife. On top of that, Muhammad had a multitude of slave girls and concubines with whom he had sex – sometimes on the very days in which they had watched their husbands and fathers die at the hands of his army.

    So, by any realistic measure, the creator of the world’s most sexually restrictive religion was also one of the most sexually indulgent characters in history.

    The Qur’an:

    Allah managed to hand down quite a few “revelations” that sanctioned Muhammad’s personal pursuit of sex to the doubters around him. Interestingly they have become part of the the eternal, infallible word of the Qur’an, to be memorized by generations of Muslims for whom they have no possible relevance.

    Qur’an (33:37) – “But when Zaid had accomplished his want of her, We gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah’s command shall be performed.” No doubt millions of young Muslims, trying to outdo one another at memorizing the Qur’an, have wondered about what this verse means and why it is there. In fact, this is a “revelation” of convenience that Allah just happened to hand down at a time when Muhammad lusted after his daughter-in-law, Zaynab, – a state of affairs that disturbed local customs. The verse “commands” Muhammad to marry the woman (following her husband’s gracious divorce). As for why this should be part of the eternal word of God…?

    Qur’an (33:50) – “O Prophet! surely We have made lawful to you your wives whom you have given their dowries, and those whom your right hand possesses out of those whom Allah has given to you as prisoners of war, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts, and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who fled with you; and a believing woman if she gave herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to marry her– specially for you, not for the (rest of) believers; We know what We have ordained for them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess in order that no blame may attach to you; ” This is another special command that Muhammad handed down to himself that allows virtually unlimited sex, divinely sanctioned by Allah. One assumes that this “revelation” was meant to assuage some sort of disgruntlement in the community over Muhammad’s hedonism.

    Qur’an (33:51) – “You may put off whom you please of them, and you may take to you whom you please, and whom you desire of those whom you had separated provisionally; no blame attaches to you; this is most proper, so that their eyes may be cool and they may not grieve, and that they should be pleased” This is in reference to a situation in which Muhammad’s wives were grumbling about his preference for sleeping with a slave girl (Mary the Copt) instead of them. Accordingly, Muhammad may sleep with whichever wife (or slave) he wishes without having to hear the others complain… as revealed in Allah’s literal and perfect words to more than a billion Muslims.

    Qur’an (66:1-5) – “O Prophet! Why ban thou that which Allah hath made lawful for thee, seeking to please thy wives?…” Another remarkable verse of sexual convenience concerns an episode in which Muhammad’s wives were jealous of the attention that he was giving to a Christian slave girl. But, as he pointed out to them, to neglect the sexual availability of his slaves was against Allah’s will for him!

    Qur’an (4:24) – “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” Allah even permitted Muhammad and his men to have sex with married slaves, such as those captured in battle.

    From the Hadith:

    Muslim (8:3309) – Muhammad consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was only nine. (See also Bukhari 58:234)

    Bukhari (62:18) – Aisha’s father, Abu Bakr, wasn’t on board at first, but Muhammad explained how the rules of their religion made it possible. This is similar to the way that present-day cult leaders manipulate their followers into similar concessions.

    Muslim (8:3311) – The girl took her dolls with her to Muhammad’s house (something to play with when the “prophet” was not having sex with her).

    Bukhari (6:298) – Muhammad would take a bath with the little girl and fondle her.

    Muslim (8:3460) – “Why didn’t you marry a young girl so that you could sport with her and she could sport with you, or you could amuse with her and she could amuse with you?” Muhammad posed this question to one of his followers who had married an “older woman” instead.

    Bukhari (4:232) – Muhammad’s wives would wash semen stains out of his clothes, which were still wet from the spot-cleaning even when he went to the mosque for prayers. Between copulation and prayer, it’s a wonder he found the time to slay pagans.

    Bukhari (6:300) – Muhammad’s wives had to be available for the prophet’s fondling even when they were having their menstrual period.

    Bukhari (93:639) – The Prophet of Islam would recite the ‘Holy Qur’an’ with his head in Aisha’s lap, when she was menstruating.

    Bukhari (62:6) – “The Prophet used to go round (have sexual relations with) all his wives in one night, and he had nine wives.” Muhammad also said that it was impossible to treat all wives equally – and it isn’t hard to guess why.

    Bukhari (5:268) – “The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number.” I asked Anas, ‘Had the Prophet the strength for it?’ Anas replied, ‘We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty men.’ ”

    Bukhari (60:311) – “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.” These words were spoken by Aisha within the context of her husband having been given ‘Allah’s permission’ to fulfill his sexual desires with a large number of women in whatever order he chooses. (It has been suggested that Aisha may have been speaking somewhat wryly).

    Tabari IX:137 – “Allah granted Rayhana of the Qurayza to Muhammad as booty.” Muhammad considered the women that he captured and enslaved to be God’s gift to him.

    Tabari VIII:117 – “Dihyah had asked the Messenger for Safiyah when the Prophet chose her for himself… the Apostle traded for Safiyah by giving Dihyah her two cousins. The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims.” He sometimes pulled rank to reserve the most beautiful captured women for himself.

    Tubari IX:139 – “You are a self-respecting girl, but the prophet is a womanizer.” Words spoken by the disappointed parents of a girl who had ‘offered’ herself to Muhammad.

    Additional Notes:

    Muhammad’s sexual antics are an embarrassment to those Muslims who are aware of them. This is particularly so for their prophet’s marriage to Aisha when she was 9-years-old. The thought of a 52-year-old man sleeping and bathing with a young girl is intensely unpleasant and it reflects the disgusting character of a sexual glutton rather than a holy man. Critics even allege that Muhammad was a pedophile.

    Some Muslims respond by denying the hadith itself, which is a mistake. The accounts of Muhammad sleeping with a 9-year-old are no less reliable than those on which the five pillars of Islam are based. They have been an accepted part of tradition and did not become controversial until social mores began to change with the modern age.

    The charge of pedophilia may or may not be true, depending on how it is defined. Technically, Muhammad did have a sexual relationship with a child, but Aisha was also the youngest of his twelve wives. Zaynab was in her 30’s when she attracted the unquenchable lust of the prophet. We don’t know the age of Muhammad’s sex slaves. They may or may not have been as young as Aisha, but there is no point in speculating.

    Prior to the medical advances of the last century, marriage occurred at a much younger age across all societies. When life expectancy was in the mid 20’s (or lower), it made no sense to wait until 19 before having children. Otherwise, one ran the risk of not being around to raise them. In short, childhood as we know it was abbreviated by the reality of the times.

    Another strong piece of evidence against Muhammad being a pedophile is that, according to the same Hadith, he waited from the time Aisha was six (when the marriage ceremony took place) until she turned nine to consummate the relationship. Although the text doesn’t say why, in all probability it was because he was waiting for her to begin menstrual cycles – thus entering into “womanhood.” It is unlikely that a pedophile would be concerned about this.

    On the other hand, Muhammad passed down revelations from Allah that clearly condoned sleeping with underage girls, even by the standard of puberty. Qur’an (65:4) lays down rules for divorce, one of them being that a waiting period of three months is established to determine that the woman is not pregnant. But the same rule applies to “those too who have not had their courses,” meaning girls who have not begun to menstruate. (In our opinion, this would have been a great time for Allah to have said something else instead like, “a real man is one who marries a real woman”… but that’s just us).

    Thanks to Muhammad’s extremely poor judgment (at best) and explicit approval of pedophilia, sex with children became deeply ingrained in the Islamic tradition. For many centuries, Muslim armies would purge Christian and Hindu peasant villages of their menfolk and send the women and children to harems and the thriving child sex slave markets deep in the Islamic world. The Ayatollah Khomeini, who married a 12-year-old girl, even gave his consent to using infants for sexual pleasure (although warning against full penetration until the baby is a few years older). In April, 2010, a 13-year-old Yemeni girl died from injuries suffered to her womb during intercourse.

    Muhammad’s penchant for girls so much younger than him was such that at least two of his father-in-laws (Abu Bakr and Omar, the first two Caliphs) were actually younger than him as well. This disappointing pattern is very much at odds with the sort of sexual discipline that one might expect of a true “prophet of God.”

    Muhammad’s pursuit of Zaynab, the wife of his adopted son is almost as tough for Muslims to explain. This is because it not only raises a similar question of moral character, but also casts suspicion on whether his so-called prophecies were really divine revelation or dictates of personal convenience. According to one biographer, even Aisha appears to be somewhat doubtful of Muhammad’s claim that Allah commanded him to marry Zaynab, wryly remarking, “Truly Allah seems to be very quick in fulfilling your prayers.”

    So controversial was Muhammad’s desire to marry his adopted son’s wife that he had to justify it with a stern pronouncement from Allah on the very institution of adoption, which has had tragic consequences to this day. Verses 33:4-5 are widely interpreted to imply that Islam is against adoption, meaning that an untold number of children in the Islamic world have been needlessly orphaned – all because Muhammad’s lustful desires for a married woman went beyond even what the other six wives that he possessed at the time and a multitude of slaves could satisfy.

    Some Muslims deny that Muhammad was married to more than four women at a time, merely on the basis that the Qur’an only gives permission for marrying four. Unfortunately, Muslims historians disagree. Only one of Muhammad’s last eleven wives died before him (Zaynab bint Khuzayma). The rest outlived him by many years.

    Muhammad forbade his ten widows from remarrying, even making sure that this “divine” order was forever preserved in the eternal word of Allah – Qur’an (33:53). To add insult to injury, they were all summarily disinherited from Muhammad’s estate by his successor (courtesy of another divine order “given” to Abu Bakr from Allah).

    In summary, Islam’s holiest texts portray Muhammad not as a perfect man, but as a sexual hedonist. Not only did he become fat from indulging in food, but his pursuit of sex was no less gluttonous. On top of it all, he used personal “revelations” from Allah to justify his debauchery to the gullible masses which, to this day, continue to be venerated and memorized as if they are the holiest of utterances.

  3. mohua says:

    Hey you are on the wrong page! There’s no mention of BCL’s sexual offences in this piece by Rehnuma. Did someone `instruct’ you to put in this pre-formatted prophet Mohammad bashing stuff but you got your instructions all wrong and put it on this page instead of Chhatra League’s Sexual Offences. A Widespread State of Denial?

    You seem to be sleeping on your job, brother 😉

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