26 September 2006

Biting Mangos... and Bullets: from Bradford to Bangladesh -- a Tribute to my Uncle

Over the weekend, I had travelled down to join a panel of media experts and film-makers at the annual "Bite the Mango" Bradford Film Festival at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. Our panel hosted two seminars at the Festival, the first on 'Faith in Film', and the other on 'Representation of Muslims in Media'. I was invited at the last minute in a frantic telephone call from one of the coordinators of the festival, and drove down with my family on Friday so that I could arrive comfortably in time for the Saturday morning workshops.

Among the issues I discussed in the Q & A sessions was Home Secretary John Reid's face-off with self-styled "radical cleric" Abu Izzadeen, where Reid took it upon himself to warn Muslim parents to watch out for "signs" of their children turning into dangerous extremists. Izzadeen's heckling diatribe in response, was followed by more heckling diatribe from Anjem Choudray. Reid pointed at the conduct of these two imbeciles as proof of his point.

In reality, the very fact that Izzadeen and Choudray are free to run around heckling a British Minister is precisely the evidence that disproves Reid's Islamophobic attempt to pin responsibility for terrorist-extremism on Muslim parents.

Both these individuals are notorious extremists affiliated to the proscribed al-Muhajiroun network linked to al-Qaeda and chaired by Omar Bakri Mohammed, a network re-named as the Saved Sect and then Al-Ghurabaa. Despite apparent proscription, the group's key members and activities operate intact, quite unhindered. To date, the government refuses to arrest and prosecute these individuals in spite of their repeated violations of British law, including incitement to violence, racial hatred and terrorism, and in particular despite their open admission of engaging in terrorist-training with confessed intent to target Britain.

Consider Izadeen's statement a week after 9/11 cited on p. 77 of my book, The London Bombings: "There are a sizeable number of Moslems undergoing military training in the UK... If America decides to bomb Afghanistan, then we'll wake up. If they're going to attack Afghanistan then what's my duty? It's going to be a new chapter." The day after, his colleague Zahir Khan told an al-Muhajiroun meeting in Birmingham that: "If Britain helped attack Afghanistan, it would be allowable for Moslems to attack military targets in Britain."

A Sunday Times investigation recorded Izzadeen's declaration to a group of teenagers on 2nd July 2005, that it was imperative for Muslims to “instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar”, and indeed that: “I am a terrorist. As a Muslim of course I am a terrorist.” Claiming to have engaged in military training in Pakistan, he said he did not want to go to Allah while sleeping in his bed “like an old woman”. Instead: “I want to be blown into pieces with my hands in one place and my feet in another.” That was five days before the 7/7 atrocities.

Six months before the London terror strikes, Izzadeen's mentor, Omar Bakri, had delivered a fatawa over the internet urging British Muslims to join a global al-Qaeda jihad. He explicitly described Britain as a legitimate target, condoned the killing of civilians, and condemned the British government's deployment of anti-terrorist legislation -- which had been used not long before to arrest Bakri's close associate Abu Hamza, whose trial was scheduled for 7th July 2005.
But the British government wasn't interested in investigating Bakri. Instead they allowed him to travel to Lebanon, upon which they debarred him from returning to the UK, and thus ensured that he is permanently outside British jurisdiction. Meanwhile, Bakri himself -- who continues to indoctrinate and guide a small circle of extremist fixers in the UK -- boasts that he is regularly called in for questioning about terror-related issues by the Lebanese on behalf of the British government -- a matter on which the Foreign Office has "no comment".

And of course, Reid wouldn't want us to consider the role of MI6 in the mid-1990s in actively using Omar Bakri, Abu Hamza and suspected 7/7 mastermind Haroon Rashid Aswat to recruit British Muslims to go fight in Kosovo, as reported by multiple American and French intelligence sources cited in the New Criminologist, and elsewhere. Reid's reluctance to take serious, meaningful legal action against Bakri's boys, like Izadeen and Choudray, does not square with his eagerness to blame Muslim parents for the same failure.

That was the thrust of my observations on this televised debacle at the film festival.

We got back from Bradford on Sunday evening. I had forgotten my mobile at home, and had a backlog of messages, one from my Dad, so I called him back. He had very bad news.

My uncle in Bangladesh had been shot on Saturday morning while I was speaking on my panel in Bradford. A nationally-respected professor of political science at Dhaka University, Dr. Aftab Ahmed, had been attacked in his own home on the university premises by unidentified gun-men, who had pushed their way into the apartment and shot him four times at close range in the upper body, in the presence of his wife (my aunt) and 9-year old disabled daughter (my cousin).
This evening, at around 8 pm, my Dad called to let me know that my uncle passed away earlier this morning. He had been recently demoted from a government-appointed post as Vice-Chancellor at Bangladesh's National University. In that position, he had tackled entrenched issues of political corruption and bribery, the legacy of the previous Allawi League government, when hundreds of university staff had been systematically recruited solely for their political support of the govt, as opposed to their merits as teachers. In a politically explosive and unpopular move, he had fired all staff recruited on the basis of corruption and moved to revitalize academic standards in university recruitment.

This wasn't the first time my uncle had made enemies. He was well-known as a Marxist dissident, and had often been imprisoned by previous governments for his loud opposition and participation in demonstrations and strikes. In 1995, he co-authored a powerful critique of the lack of accountability Bangladesh's purportedly democratic institutions, warning of "the intransigent attitude of the bureaucracy" and highlighting "the lack of willingness and ability ofMPs to seriously enquire into government policies and operations."

In another notorious episode, my uncle had made a few off-hand televised remarks suggesting the Bangladeshi national anthem be amended for a new time, and to give new impetus to the people. He was harshly criticized by hardline nationalists in a concerted campaign that almost lost him his job. But such things never bothered him.

My uncle was a courageous academic who stuck by his principles, and spoke what he believed. For unswervingly doing what he was convinced was just, he was murdered in a brutal assassination, unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh. As the world turns and the newsbites chatter, I pray for uncle's soul, and hope that his legacy of political activism on behalf of freedom and, always, against oppression and corruption, will be carried forward in Bangladesh, this beleaguered icon of Third World devastation from which I am descended. To those out there who believe, please pray with me.

19 comments:

  1. Nafeez, I am truly sorry, and I am lighting a candle for your uncle, and thinking of you and your family.

    Peace be upon him and you all, and a light in the darkness. I am very sorry indeed that such a brave and intelligent man has been taken from the world.

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  2. Dear Nafeez,

    I am truly sorry to hear such sad news. My heart goes out to you and especially to your aunt and cousin.

    May have Allah(SWT) have mercy on your uncle's soul and reward him for his courage. Not many people in this modern world stand up for what they believe in, and hardly any of us have the guts to actually speak out - like your uncle did. He is in a better place now.

    Remember your prayers and meditation always

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  3. Nafeez,
    So sorry to hear about your uncle. I share your prayers and your hopes for your country and for our world.
    Best wishes.

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  4. Nafeez,

    We send our sincere condolences for your loss. A voice of truth has been cut off, making us all willing to continue to tell the full story.

    Peter Phillips and Project Censored

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  5. Nafeez,

    Please accept my condolences. A great man has passed on but I am sure that out of this tragedy you will find the strength and inspiration to do even greater work in the service of humanity.

    In solidarity.

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  6. Dear Nafeez,
    Please accept my deepest condolences on your great loss. May your uncle's life and death be an inspiration to you and us all to continue the work to get the truth out and make this a better world. In peace and solidarity,

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  7. Nafeez. You describe Izadeen and Choudray as imbeciles. Why are they so?
    Because they don't fit comfortably in the current domain space of British politics, becasue they heckeled a make-do minister whos aura of lies and abrasiveness is practically tangible, becasue they make no valid points or something else? It's often a wiser choice to listen first before blanket dismissal. I knew some young Muslims who affiliated themselves with al-Muhajiroun. I disagree with your description of them and I wouldn't have expected you to repeat the neocon mantra about them so casually, especially the ludicrous 'linked with Al-Qaeda' claim', a Rumsfeldian sneer, never quantified, as its origins nest in a politically motivated, US hoax. Perhaps you are benchmarking al-Muhajiroun form the current British political reality, that which sees an official establishment who engages in national (DeMenezes, 7/7, almost Forestgate!) and international (Afghanistan, Iraq) murder romps. By that standard, Al-Muhajiroun are doves.

    You cite from your book, Izadeen's statement saying (after 9/11) "There are a sizeable number of Moslems undergoing military training in the UK... If America decides to bomb Afghanistan, then we'll wake up." To those foxed by the establishment this reads: "terrorism will follow", yet to the more cautious, less establishment-bonded appraiser, one reads the statement as saying "Muslims will come to the defense of Aghanistan AFTER it is INITIALLY attacked" That to me is rather virtuous. Afterall, It wasn't Afghanistan or the Taleban that attacked the US. In fact, the Taleban were on record as saying they wanted proof of bin Ladens guilt. Again, sounds very reasonable to me. It wasn't Afghanistan that ALLOWED the US to be attacked either!

    You also say of Izzadeen that he says the words "instil terror into the hearts of the kuffar", but again, given that (as Tony Blair puts it) the 'pieces are still in flux' it would be prudent not to instantly accept established mainstram media reports as 'oil-baron' George Galloway might testify. Izzadeen's words (if indeed they were his words) could, if pressed, be spun to mean "terror not meaning militaristic terror, but via protest and activism". Such spin may be weak, but did anybody actually ask him to clarify? Remember he mentioned an uprising in the context of DEFENSE (of Afghanistnan). Additionally, you quote him as saying "I am a terrorist. As a Muslim of course I am a terrorist." He is absolutely correct. Becasue as we increasingly see, practically every Moslim who doesn't sell his independance and thoughts to the British establishment, IS SEEN AS PRECISELY THAT - A POTENTIAL TERRORIST. This is an objective of the War of Fear. A charged atmosphere of suspicion, useful for justifying pre-emptive oil grabs and support for the Zionist empire.

    Then you pander to the establishment methodology yourself and say QUOTE: “{Izzadeen: I want to be blown into pieces with my hands in one place and my feet in another.” That was five days before the 7/7 atrocities. END QUOTE. By attaching those words with "5 days before a symphony of dubious and murderous events unravelled", You are demonising him further as though his words reveals an involvement with the murder romp of that day. Did it ever occur to you that he could have been referring to fighting US or British troops that were dropping bombs of Afghani villagers who happened to be celebrationg a wedding, or fighting US troops as they dropped white phosphorous on the civillians on Falujah?

    OK, It seems like you are painting a bleak picture towards them becasue you think these men are actually part of the establishment itself. Perhaps your right. But if you are wrong? What then? What if the British government gives only the appearance that the MI5 or MI6 assets. Does anyone actually think that these men are consciously going about their lives as agents? I cant see it. If you are wrong, then you have aided the establishment in the demonisation of Moslems who have a legitimate point on defending other Moslims from attack by Zionist Imperiaists, and lead the marginalisation of Moslims who dont conform to the peculiarly shaped box that the British establishement sets aside for it. Even if you are right, the marginalisation still occurs becasue the focus is on them rather than the UK establishment.

    It is OK you know, not to have to conform to the establishments default demonisation of groups and ficticions. In fact, given the collection of lying rabble that characterises the power elite we currently have, one could say it is sagacious to do so. What's the big deal about a periodical, Muslim equivavlent of a ficticious anti-semitism accusation along the way, as you analagously expose of the Zionist fascists, lying hidden beneath Judaism?

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  8. Dear Mr Ahmed, allow me to express my condolences to you and your family on the barbaric murder of your uncle Dr Aftab Ahmed. This sad event is not the right time to make any political comments so I shall refrain from doing so.

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  9. Nafeez i have just read your post about your uncle. Im shocked at your news and offer your family my pray's.

    Glen Jenvey

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  10. I am sorry to hear about your uncle. Thank you for telling us about him. Examples of true courage are precious in these days, and I admire the path you are taking in your own work.

    I think your comments on the John Reid incident are helpful. It is dealt with very well over here, together with some observations on some other interesting converts to Islam.

    Looks like George Galloway is starting to smell a rat as well, judging by the article on the Respect web site.

    I was wondering if he ought to have some concerns a little closer to home. One of his colleagues is another of those converts to Islam with a soft spot for extremism who keep popping up, was an Information Officer in the Territorial Army and has had some spouses with interesting intelligence connections, or so a scan of the internet would have us believe. I was wondering if this person had cropped up in your researches?

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  11. Anonymous - I think Abu Izzadeen is doubtless sincere but the current of radical Islam he represents has constantly played into the hands of the Western Powers that Be (e.g. their validation of 9/11 as an Islamic attack) - which is possibly why he was allowed in to the meeting for Reid to look calm and statemanlike replying to this emotional darkskinned person and thus gain future Leader stature as the UK's leading Gauleiter for the War on Terror (New Labour are determined not to be outflanked by the BNP in being tough on Muslims).

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  12. I also agree, to a very large extent, with Anonymous' view (Thursday, 28 September, 2006) that challenges your extremely judgemental and ideologically-tonal views that dismiss Izadeen and Choudray "as imbeciles". First and foremost, to the detriment of your uninformed perspective, neither Izadeen, Choudrey nor Bakri have broken English law, either with regards to incitement to terrorism or religious/racial hatred. The fact is that the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan police have never found any evidence that Bakri/Choudrey/Izadeen have broken the law, despite their numerous investigations. Their statements you cite as evidence of their “their repeated violations of British law, including incitement to violence, racial hatred and terrorism” in fact do not constitute the criminal offences you have claimed they have broken and continue to break.

    Further, your conspirital and rather unsupported assertion that Bakri/Choudrey/Izadeen are in cohorts with the British government or are willingly manipulated by the British government is nonsense: Abu Hamza, several members of Al-Muhajiroun, including a senior organiser, and other Islamists, pre- and post-9/11 and pre- and post-7/7 have been successfully prosecuted and or deported for various terrorist and incitement-related offences.

    Either you are consciously part of the same hegemonic discourse that seeks to marginalize Muslims qua depictions and condemnations of “notorious extremists” (your statement, a debatable opinion) or you have uncritically assimilated that othering discourse as normative (I guess this is why you profligately cite quote racially Islamophobic sources such as The Daily Telegraph and similars in an attempt to ideologically condemn Bakri/Choudrey/Izadeen as ‘notorious extremists’ and MI5/MI6/British government pawns. But, I guess in attempting to forward your agenda, this is an expedient thing to do). Further, you may not like what Bakri/Choudrey/Izadeen state as it most probably disrupts your (and others) own self-essentialising narrative as a ‘moderate’ or ‘good’ or ‘representative’ Muslim. But, some of us know that you are as much an Islamist, in spirit, as they are despite your attempts to portray yourself as a self-proclaimed non-ideological neutral commentator on pre- and post-9/11 Western hegemony. One more thing: if you don’t like the views of Bakri/Choudrey/Izadeen, then you’ll hate Sunni and Shi’a jurisprudence and verifiable hadith of the Prophet Muhammad as they all state what Bakri/Choudrey/Izadeen, albeit in their modernist tones, articulate. Your problem Nafeez (and I dismiss in advance what ever polemical retort you may wish to post in response to this posting, I know where you are coming from).

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  13. Nafeez, I am very sorry to hear about your uncle. My condolences to you, and the rest of your family members.

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  14. Dear Nafeez,
    Salams.

    Condolences on the brutal murder of your uncle. The perpetrators will not escape the Divine Justice.

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  15. Salaam Bro,

    Condolences on the news of your Uncle's assassination. I didn't realise that political activisim was in your blood. I hope his murder is an inspiration for you to continue your good work.

    I think the two comments by the anonymous posters in regards to Al-Muhajiroun are interesting perspectives. Perhaps it would be helpful if you provided the evidence you are familiar with which shows that OBM is indeed an agent.

    Regards,

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  16. Keith Mothersson said...
    Yes keith, those Moslims that are portrayed as radicals do play into the hands of the wedlocked coalition partners. I think it's safe to say that the British establishment will keep some 'radicals' {as it calls them} in the public eye to make the public keep the faith with the neocon/neolabourites. Afterall, how many behind the scenes 'liquid bombs' or 'Canary Wharf' foiled {fake} attacks can you announce before the public completely ignores you?

    Nafeez. Some commentaty on the points above would be very much appreciated.

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  17. Salaam bro,

    Prof Aftab was a real character and someone to learn from. a political inswinger, who started off at the left(in the learning stage) but drew to the right later on. His contribution and insight will be missed and is being mourned.

    i have written something about him on my blog, http://fugstar.blogspot.com/2006/09/remembering-prof-aftab-ahmad.html

    May Allah recognise him as one who bore witness to the truth and grace bangladesh with individuals of his calibre.

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  18. Salaamz to you dear Nafeez,

    I have just looked at your blog and was shocked to hear of the brutal killing of your uncle. Death is always a time of grief for the members of the family, but not necessarily for the person(s) dying. Though they suffer from the pangs of death, they feel a kind of happiness, when they realise that they are going to a world everlasting, full of peace, bliss and enjoyment, the Heaven where they will be able to see ALLAH (SWT) and one day all their relatives and friends.

    My deepest sympathies to you ALL.
    I pray that the Almighty ALLAH (SWT) gives you all the sabr (patience)and the strength to overcome your loss.

    There is a saying by the playwright Terence Rattigan which succinctly encapsulates what I want to say at this time:

    “I shall not insult you by trying to tell you that one day you will forget. I know that you will not. But at least in time you will not remember so fiercely as you do now, and I pray that time may be soon”.

    May Almighty ALLAH (SWT) bless him, rest him in peace, make his journey to the akhira (the hereafter)easy and give him janatul-firdous-ameen.

    Once again, my deepest sympathies to you and your family.

    Was-salaam,
    Ahmed

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