Image by Rezwan

Overcrowded passenger ferry capsized in the Padma River in Munshiganj, Bangladesh

The World Cup Goal-E Project

This street in Bangladesh has a colorful world cup celebration

New Chum Hill Ruins

Remnants of Kiandra gold mine at New Chum Hill, #nsw #australia

September 30, 2006

Youtube video of the day

Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf takes the hot seat in John Stuart's the Daily Show.

The Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury trial farce continues

I have wrote about this many times before. Last year the news was:

In a meeting with Dr. Richard L. Benkin the Bangladeshi ambassador to US claimed Choudhury's incarceration was related to a "purely internal financial dispute" that had "nothing to do with his attempted travel to Israel" or his journalistic activities.

According to Choudhury's own words :
Since my newspaper, the Weekly Blitz, published several articles that were favorable to Israel, we have been subject to various threats from local fanatics as well from the Palestinian ambassador in Dhaka. Our newspaper was black listed by some of the local companies financed by the Islami Bank, another organization that patronizes and nourishes extremist groups here.

I received numerous threats from the local extremists and from the editor of an extremist daily, and in one case I had to lodge a written complaint with the local police station. Under the instructions and inspiration of Islami Bank, Ibn Sina Trust and some other religious extremist groups, I was thrown out of a private television company where fanatics suddenly acquired the major portion of the stock. Until now I have not been paid the price for my 20 percent share in that company.
On September 18, 2006 a controversial judge had ordered him to stand trial for sedition, a capital offense according to Dr. Benkin. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is still a free man but it is disheartening to see the use of the judiciary by the politicians. The separation of judiciary from administration was an election agenda of the present government and it is yet to be fulfilled. More about it here.

September 29, 2006

The Muslim view

Dean Esmay challenges the Muslim views of the American rightist blogosphere and gets the heat. Michelle Malkin fires back. Eteraz has more.

I wonder why some people view all the Muslims of the world as Jihadists and think that they have to wage an war against all the Muslims in the world. They think the same as the lunatic bin Laden, who waged an war against the West. They should read this first and chill out.

Election centered economy

The economist has an insightful article depicting how election inspires economic nationalism in Bangladesh.

Prior to election Tk 8,746cr development projects were approved in 1 hour, which will in a way fund election expenses of government lawmakers. In Bangladesh's elections, the winner takes all.

Bengali Love

Pakistani president Pervez had a crush on a Bengali girl from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), his autobiography 'In The Line Of Fire: A Memoir' reveals.

Nightmare in Bangladesh

People are again rioting for electricity in Bangladesh, this time in the capital, Dhaka. The power Minister resigns indicating another failure of the BNP government.

This letter to the editor of the Daily Star depicts the misery the people are put through. The government's full efforts are to tackle their political opposition but they are creating another opposition, the common people.

Weak political leadership has led to this crisis. The bad news:- the World Bank in July estimated that Bangladesh needed 10 billion dollars of investment over the next 10 years to fix its average daily power shortfalls.

Bangladesh can do it!

Patricia Kelly tells how Bangladesh took on Google and Microsoft. There are three Bangladeshi developers in the award winning Pageflakes team.

September 28, 2006

Bangladeshi Blogs - another update

I have updated the Bangladeshi bloggers list. Check it out.

Youtube video of the day

"How dare you come to a Muslim area?"

UK Home Secretary John Reid being heckled by an Islamist.

I can't believe the UK government is tolerating this.

September 27, 2006

Poor children in a rich country

The above picture shows the green grass of the Spreebogen Park in front of the Berlin main rail station (Hauptbahnhof) and besides the Chancellors office. On 20th September a German NGO called the Deutscher Kinderschutzbund E.V. laid out 200,000 such blue flags in Spreebogen Park and other places in Berlin to protest negligence bythe government of the same number of poor children in the German capital. It is now official that one in six out of the 15 million children in Germany are living under poverty. Many of these children will not complete their education and will have poor health conditions. Because their parents are unemployed and social benefits cannot sustain the family well.

According to 2005 statistics:
The upper 10 percent of households controls approximately half of Germany’s wealth, while the bottom 50 percent possess less than 4 percent of the total. While the rich and super-rich have been able to record astronomic increases in their fortunes, poverty is extending into wider and wider layers of society. More persons are insolvent than ever before: an estimated 8 percent of all households, or about 3 million people.

The growth of social misery is also expressed in the poverty rate, which indicates how many households earn less than 60 percent of average income and lie below the poverty threshold. In 2005 the poverty rate in Germany was 17.3 percent—the highest rate in Germany’s postwar history. Every fifth citizen lives in poverty in East Germany and a half million live in poverty in Germany’s capital city, Berlin.

The biggest single cause of increased poverty are the Hartz IV regulations implemented by the former SPD-Green government, which reduce unemployment relief to levels lower than social welfare assistance. At a stroke, the Hartz IV measures have led to an over 10 percent increase in the rate of poverty in unemployed households—from approximately 50 percent before the reform to approximately 63 percent in 2005.

One of the hardest hit groups is children. Since 2004, i.e., the start of the Hartz IV measures, the number of children living in poverty has doubled, with 2.5 million living from social welfare relief. One sixth of all children under the age of 15 live in poverty; in some cities this rate is one in three.
Berlin faces the 1990s fate of Washington, DC: of being a bankrupt city with a rich political ghetto. After unification in 1990 Berliners hoped to regain their role of industrial hub and gateway to central Europe. Instead, the city lost two-thirds of its jobs in manufacturing, which now employs fewer than 100,000 in a population of 3.4m. Almost half of the population live under social benefits.

Signs of poverty are now evident in Berlin. Beggars are common in U Bahn (underground) stations. You will see young men and women cleaning front mirror of cars in traffic stops and demanding money. In a busy street once in a while some one stumbles on you asking for some change. Meanwhile the heap Kurfurstendamm (similar to New York's fifth avenue) boast glittering designer shop windows with cloths starting from 3000 Euro. The world class infrastructure and well spread public transports portray a different picture. Berlin is the poorest state in Germany, the tourists will disagree.

September 26, 2006

After the pope, now Mozart?

Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian prime minister and prominent statesman of Germany in the Nineteenth century said
"An appeal to fear never finds an echo in German hearts".
However, this is the twenty first century and the world is ridden by the new fear, offending the Muslims and its consequences. A Berlin opera house proved Bismarck wrong by imposing self-censorship on the performance of the Mozart opera Idomeneo fearing an attack by Islamists. Receiving a security alert from police, the Deutsche Oper, one of the Berlin's three Opera houses cancelled the Idomeneo shows starting from November 4, 2006.

The opera is set in ancient Greece after the Trojan War and tells about the human resistance to making sacrifices to the gods. The production by Hans Neuenfels premiered in 2003 and drew widespread criticism over a scene in which King Idomeneo presents the severed heads not only of the Greek god of the sea, Poseidon, but also of Muhammad, Jesus and Buddha. The disputed scene is not part of Mozart's original staging of the 225-year-old opera, but was an addition of Neuenfels' production, which was last performed by the company in March 2004. (source)

Scene from "Idomeneo" during a rehearsal in 2003: King Idomeneo (played by Charles Workmann) places the severed heads of the Prophet Muhammad on a chair next to the head of Buddha. (Picture courtesy Der Spiegel)

The German government and the main political parties condemned the decision but the Opera house defended it citing the consequences of Danish Cartoon protests.

We now look at how the protests in the Muslim world take place taking Bangladesh as example. During the Cartoon controversy this February, I was in Dhaka and witnessed how political Islam forces people to act on their tune. After the recent Pope speech controversy, CNN published a photo of a Bangladeshi boy protesting, who might be part of a 300 man strong procession. But do they represent roughly 118 million Muslims in the country as the media claimed? Does they really pose a threat to the freedom of speech of a person quite distant from the place of protest?

Andrew Morris writes about the Bangladeshi Muslims:
I watch with increasing despair the portrayal of Muslims in the mainstream Western media. Armchair commentators, many of whom have never lived in a Muslim culture, fulminate about the Muslim threat, basing their entire conception of the religion on a few cardboard cut-out figures. Whose purposes does this tension serve?

Here`s another perspective, from a place where for the vast majority of the population, Islam is part of the home, the street and the village. Where it`s a lived religion, not just a media construct. And you know what? Like all religions played out from day to day, it`s pretty uneventful. It`s not an ideology: it exists in the commitment of minuscule acts of human friendship. It works through and around individuals. It offers a seasonal catalogue of festivals to mark the passing of the months. It provides, in short, the whole background to the grind and flow of daily life. Islam here is in the air, but not in your face.

Of course you can observe the religion at work in people`s appearance too - in the generally modest dress worn by women, although saris or salwar kameezes are actually more expressions of culture and climate than faith. And in the loose robes, beards and skull caps worn by more devout men: although again these are actually a small minority: most men preferring western dress.

But the picture is neither uniform nor static: there are also plenty who don`t go to pray. I have a number of friends who are avowedly secular and even anti-clerical. All in all it`s a pretty laid-back place, where you practise at a level of your own choosing, not dictated to by the imposition of orthodox or fundamentalist belief.

Nothing extreme then. Nothing to be alarmist about. The media is obsessed with those who preach and proclaim the `truth` of Islam, and concentrates on the outlandish personalities, the orthodoxies, the narrow interpretations, the perceived `mediaevalism` and `inflexibility` of the faith. But all that is a long way from people`s experience here, as they go about their daily lives, looking out for each other, complaining about the government, dodging cars, getting food on the table and kids into school.

I for one am convinced that none of the people I know and love here have the slightest inclination to destroy our civilisation, as the media would have us believe. They have far more important things to be getting on with..."
These you will not find in any international media.

So where does the fear come from? The Saudi blogger "Religious policeman" wrote ironically about the Muslim offense level indicator. His every words came true as the world continued to feed the trolls. This fear has to end somewhere. The media need to stop trying to hunt down lone lunatic from an African country who gave a fatwa against the pope. I mean what is it worth? It is probably his right to speak as Pope had the right to speak his mind (whether or not he was right that is another issue). And the world is gauging a religion with the yardstick of few political parasites and Lunatics.

Der Spiegel writes:
Militant Islamists will always find something. But the response needs to be firm. Freedom of speech, after all, is a vital value and needs to be defended.
The world needs courage to fight the fear, otherwise it will give away the peoples' livelihoods to the wills of a few terrorists and power hungry politician veiled with religion.

"Fear is a disease that eats away at logic and makes man inhuman."

September 24, 2006

Bangladesh Blog Buzz

The latest happenings in Bangladeshi blogs around the world:

* Education: Tanvir of Journal of a Disturbed Mind blog criticizes the new grading system of school final examination -S.S.C. (Grade 10) in Bangladesh. Students in some regions are getting the top GPA 5 grade in greater numbers; however they are not represented in the top universities as they cannot do well in the competitive examinations.

* Politics: Journalist Tasneem Khalil depicts that police brutality on opposition activists can sometimes be an obscene affair.

Some more pictures of the police in action from Suchinta blog.

Share the magic criticizes the acquittal of Ex-dictator Hossain Muhammad Ershad from a graft suit in a political move of the current government as charges against him were dropped by the government lawyers.

* Sexual rights: Tasneem Khalil reports that a British colonial law (Section 377 of penal code) dating 19th century is still being used in the countries of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh) to repress homosexuality.

* Disaster: Dristipat criticizes the rescue efforts of the missing Bangladeshis in the coastal region and high casualties after the September 19, 2006 storm.

* Religion: Shafiur of imperfect|world|2006 reports that the late Theotonius Amal Ganguly, a Bangladeshi Archbishop is set to be first saint of Bangladesh.

* Culture: ‘Shab-e-Barat’ (The night of good luck) is celebrated among Muslims on the 15th day of Shaban (the eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar) only in the countries of Indian sub-continent (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan) with religious fervor.

Shaon asks whether there is a religious base of celebrating this night, or whether it is a pure cultural tradition.

* Living of the poor: Except from the celebrity people have little idea about how is it to live in Bangladesh. Razib Ahmed of the South Asia Biz portrays Bangladeshi working class people - three rickshawpullars and a banana seller.

* Corruption: Suchinta Blog shares more information about the ongoing corruption in Bangladesh.

* Celebrity: Shafia of People Tree shares her experience of a day with the Buddhist leader Dalai Lama.

* Diaspora: Imtiaz criticizes some Non-resident Bangladeshis, who have no plan to come back home but always are vocal about the country's welfares.

September 22, 2006

Today's links

* Bangladesh making law to check computer hacking.

* Suit claims UAE rulers enslaved boys.

* My sweet baby girl Rai.

* The Best Web-Based Computer Applications For Small Business.

* Bangladesh builds FTTH system.

September 18, 2006

Getting the bigger picture

The both women have something in common. Taslima Nasrin was exiled from Bangladesh because of her critical views of the treatment of women under Islamic society. Ayaan Hirsi Ali also criticized the treatment of women in Islamic society. They both are born Muslims.

Taslima Nasrin writes an interesting review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's 'The Caged Virgin', which has been published in the Outlook India magazine (subscription required).

Quotes from her review showing Ayaan's rage on Islam where its not due:

* Ayaan’s problem is that she puts the burden of all traditional and patriarchal repression of women squarely on Islam. For her, Islam is responsible for child marriage, incest, purdah, the insistence on chastity, female foeticide, genital mutilation, honour killing and everything else. This, even according to a rabid anti-Islamist like me, is too much.

* Ayaan believes these evils can be wiped out by getting rid of Islam. But what has religion got to do with it? All male-dominant societies, irrespective of their religion, torture women equally. Christian societies burned thousands of women alive before they built secular nations and introduced equal rights for men and women. Hindus have thrown young widows on their husbands’ pyres. Ayaan attacks Islamic societies for not being as liberal about pre-marital sex as Christian and Jewish ones. But surely conservative Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu societies are equally rigid on it.

And she also blames Islamophobia:

* While the Muslim people’s ignorance, lack of education, power play and dictatorial behaviour are behind the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the Islamophobia of the Western world is no less responsible. America’s long-standing terrorism against Palestine and Iraq has now pushed Muslim youth into fundamentalism. There were once secular movements like the pan-nationalist movement in West Asia, led by atheist or secular Muslims, but they have all been crushed by Western conspiracies. While I do believe that Islam alone is not responsible for women’s problems,

Her eye openers on issues like genital mutilation and honour killing that these are not Islam's problem as mentioned by Ayaan but cultural practices:

* Female genital mutilation is a practice prevalent among the tribals of Africa. It is not a religious practice required by the Islamic faith. In Peru from 1200 BC to 1532 AD, alleged adulterers were punished by having their hands and feet tied to a wall. In ancient Roman times, the pater familias retained the right to kill an unmarried but sexually active daughter or adulterous wife.

In many regions, communities live and grow for generations on local mores and rules, irrespective of the religion. The Bengali Muslims have more in common with the culture of the Bengali Hindus and not of the Arab Muslims. Religion and culture are two different things. Some religions have subsumed local cultures but the two are essentially different. It is not the fault of that religion to have adopted ancient, outdated customs but of the people to not have protested against that adoption and instead abide by anti-women traditions. Ayaan has very unreasonably put the blame of all the atrocities against women on Islam; her arguments are one-sided and adamant in many cases.

Taslima is basically anti-Muslim but against all male dominant societies:

* I also maintain that there is no need for Islam to live on. A secular nation and a secular education system will help build rational human beings in a scientific, taboo-free and healthy environment. To demolish anti-women beliefs and rituals, it’s important to shake the foundation of male-dominant societies.

And she congratulates Ayaan for her protests:

* I say three cheers for Ayaan. For her courage to criticise Islam despite being born in a Muslim family. Women are so repressed and benumbed in an Islamic society that a fellow protester fills my heart with hope.

Her thoughts on way forward:

* Muslims must take the responsibility to enlighten the rest of their community and create a rational, scientific and secular society. The change has to come from within. Nobody can impose democracy from outside.

An army of women?

* Male reformers are useless. To break the rigidity of Muslim society, and to reject Islam, we need thousands of angry women presently in the grip of the venomous snake of Islam. Once they hit back, how long can it sting?

Taslima Nasrin has certainly more depth on the issue of repression of women:

'Humankind is facing an uncertain future. The probability of new kinds of rivalry and conflict looms large. In particular, the conflict is between two different ideas, secularism and fundamentalism. I don't agree with those who think the conflict is between two religions, namely Christianity and Islam, or Judaism and Islam. After all there are fundamentalists in every religious community. I don't agree with those people who think that the crusades of the Middle Ages are going to be repeated soon. Nor do I think that this is a conflict between the East and the West. To me, this conflict is basically between modern, rational, logical thinking and irrational, blind faith. To me, this is a conflict between modernity and anti-modernism. While some strive to go forward, others strive to go backward. It is a conflict between the future and the past, between innovation and tradition, between those who value freedom and those who do not.' - From her personal pages.

Via Tasneem Khalil.

September 16, 2006

The Pope Fiasco and Stupid Muslim Reactions

From a recent speech Pope Benedict XVI delivered to scientists at the University of Regensburg quoting the dialogue between the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam took place in the fourteenth century:
In the seventh conversation ("diálesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under [threat]. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war.

Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.
Times Online comments: "Even his critics agree that the Pope did not intend to cause offence to the world’s Muslims".
But his mistake was his failure to distance himself from the emperor’s comments — surely inflammatory enough in their own time, and a thousand times more so when repeated today.

His address is undermined further by a serious error in regards to the Koran. “Sura 2,256 . . . is one of the suras of the early period, when Muhammad was still powerless and under threat.” In fact, this sura [Koranic chapter] is held by Muslim scholars to be from the middle period, around the 24th year of Muhammad’s prophethood in 624 or 625, when he was in Medina and in control of a state. Contrary to what the Pope said, this was written when Muhammad was in a position of strength, not weakness.

Pope quoted an emperor, a Christian adversary of Islam, who had set down the comments while in the middle of a battle, the siege of Constantinople in 1394 to 1402. The tragedy of the episode is that the Pope was arguing against the idea that violence can be justified in any religion. The irony is that the Islamic response illustrates how desperately the world needs to hear his message.
What can be said about the Muslim outrage? Some burned down churches, issued a death sentence fatwa. Even the communists in India joined the protests. Morocco recalled its ambassador from the Vatican.

The pope has apologized for his comments. But to some this apology is not enough.

Some say that the Muslim backlash proved his point. You cannot win every fight or prove something wrong with violence.

September 15, 2006

Transatlantic Fish Bhuna

UK and Ireland have thousands of Indian restaurants and most of them are owned by Bangladeshis. They are quite popular there for their dishes. The fame of the Indie Spice restaurant on Stranmillis Road in Belfast reached on the other side of the Atlantic. Its owner Arif Ahmed, a Bangladeshi got a takeaway order from Steve Francis, a New York dance music producer, also a founder member of the band Soul II Soul. The meal including the exotic fish bhuna, four chicken chat masalas, lots of onion bhajis and lashings of chutneys for the poppadoms — and the hot towels — will cost Mr. Francis $2,500 (£1,400) but the transportation on a charter plane will cost an additional $8,000. For the Bhuna two big tigerfish (baygar) flown in specially from Bangladesh had to be brought from Dublin to the restaurant.

What can we say other than guten Appetit Mr. Francis.

Source: The Times Online

September 14, 2006

Third world VVIP

Picture courtesy: Prothom Alo via Suchinta.

The Bangladeshi Prime Minister was due on this road after a while. An ambulance was wailing on the street with a dying patient. But the traffic police was not letting the ambulance go. He wanted to let the VVIP first. After fifteen minutes the ambulance could move. When later asked who has priority, a high official Dhaka's traffic police said that the VVIPs have priority. But humanity should not be ignored. He said that the matter lies with the discretion of the duty officials and he cannot judge without understanding in which situation they were in that time.

Don't be surprised. The third world VVIPs get no lesser treatment than a King.

September 11, 2006

Quote of the day

"Lest we forget, nearly three thousand innocents lost their lives on that day, innocents who need not have died but whose sole crime was reporting for work.

They could have been your friends, relatives or neighbours.

On that day, we were all Americans. Since that day, we have had Bali, Riyadh, Madrid, London, Egypt, Jordan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq (on going) and so on. Most of the victims of terrorism since that day had been Muslims. I hope the world is successful in destroying the scourge that is terrorism. That would be ideal way to honour the victims."

- A Bengali in Toronto remembering the 9/11 victims.

Today's Links

* 'Suicide bomber' flew on RP plane.

* Shakes on a Plane.

* The ultimate blog post.

* Sheesha ban hits Jeddah cafes.

* Not-so fresh meat in Germany.

* A Glimpse of the UK Bangladeshi community.

9/11 victims: lest we forget

Lt. Gregg Arthur Atlas (44) was a talented and an excellent Fireman in Ladder 34. He was a friendly person with a smile on his face and spontaneously spelled out practical jokes to take the pressure off of a serious moment.

His company was the first unit to respond the call on the 9/11/2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York and Gregg was probably the first FDNY officer to enter the Twin Towers. Although troubled by the age, he did not back down to save thousands of people (a victim remembers).

Gregg was one of the many firefighters who valiantly gave their lives in the line of duty, to rescue the innocent people in the World Trade Center. Yes, innocent, read again if you must, if you are an apologist of the 9/11 atrocities against the humanity. Two Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety Six innocent lives, of many nations, religions and races could not make it to the ground alive, but their spirits still live inside the freedom loving people, who now know the enemy, shrewd enough to make a religion their alibi of madness. They are the enemy of the mankind; there should be no doubt about that.

Nurul Haq Miah and Shakila Yasmin was a Bangladeshi Muslim couple who used to work in the world trade center and was among the unfortunate ones. Nurul was in the 99th floor, attending a meeting when the 1st plane hit their office. Nurul used to work for Marsh & McLennan for about 15 years. Shakila's office was located in the 97th floor, just below. Shakila just started about one year ago six months after they got married on April 2, 2000. (More info)

USA honored them this year by renaming the southeast corner of the 3rd Avenue and Ovington Avenue of Ney York after Shakila Yasmin and Nurul Haque Miah, two Bangladeshi victims of the 9/11.

There are more Bangladeshi victims who died inside the planes which crashed in the world trade center and elsewhere. Syed Muazzem Ali pays his tribute to the six Bangladeshi-Americans who died on 9/11 in the Daily Star.

If you want to know about more of the 2996 victims please look at the pages of bloggers remembering the victims.

In has been five years since that horrible day. Today people talk of the "hypocritical" US policy toward the Middle East that talks democracy but supports authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. President Bush's "Axis of Evil" states (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea) have emerged more powerful, belligerent, and greater threats. Abhi of Sepia Mutiny writes in a touching post:
Five years later can it be said that anyone (even our closest allies) really "hears us?" Can it be said that America is admired for how it responded in the years following the attacks? Does anyone feel safer? I am disappointed because we have not honored the memories of those who perished by living up to the examples that they set for us. Sacrifice and inner strength and not blind fury or angry words were the weapons that Americans used on that day.

"In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich."


September 10, 2006

South Asia Blog Buzz

(Cross posted in the Global Voices Online)

The latest from the South Asian blogs:


- Rajputro writes a satirical piece on how the load shedding (power cuts to manage shortage in electricity supply) in Bangladesh can be counterproductive.

- Shafiur of imperfect|world|2006 is amused with the political dramas set out in Bangladesh as a form of protest.

- Drishtipat has an interesting prediction for the Bangladesh parliament election 2007.


- Blogcamp, India’s biggest blogging conference has started today. There are about 50 active blogger volunteers. Catch up all the actions at Flickr, Technorati and YouTube by typing in the tag ‘blogcamp’.

- The recent 9/8 Malegaon bomb blasts are the continuation of the terror that gripped India with a goal to disrupt the communal harmony. This time the victims were Muslims and the general Indians stand disgraced by all this. Mayank Austen Soofi writes in Desicritics about the story behind the 8/9 terror attacks. Siddhartha of Sepia Mutiny provides more background of Malegaon.

- Preetam Rai of Betterdays reports that the Bollywood fever is taking on China.


- Samudaya.org reports that Nepal invents a new product, herbal wine.

- Blogdai comments that the Maoist ceasefire call is fake as it tries to document the ceasefire violations.

- Paramendra Bhagat of Democracy for Nepal welcomes the planned peaceful protests By the Maoists.


- Eteraj informs that the women’s protection bill of Pakistan to reform the notorious rape laws of Pakistan is about to be passed this Monday. The laws from 1979 require that for a woman to make an allegation of rape she must produce four male witnesses. If she is unable to put forth the witnesses she herself is liable for adultery (and can be imprisoned or put to death for adultery).

- All things Pakistan reports that Mukhtaran Mai, a famous name against repression of women, has started a blog.

Sri Lanka:

- Rant and Raves discusses the brain drain problem in Sri Lanka.

- Lanka Libertarian analyses the situation after the return of the refugees in the coastal town Muttur, who fled the fierce battle in July.

Table of Free Voices

Bebelplatz, a square in Berlin, near to state opera and the Humboldt University buildings has an infamous past. Seventy Three years ago (1933) Nazi youths instigated by their Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels burned around 20,000 books, including works by Thomas Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx and many other authors.

Today on September 9, 2006, Bebelplatz is redeemed of the infamy of above crime. Dropping Knowledge, a Berlin based NGO invited 112 scientists, social entrepreneurs, philosophers, writers, artists and activists from around the world. These inspiring individuals, renowned for their lasting creative, social or humanistic contribution seated around a vast round-table called the 'Table of Free Voices' in that historical square. From 9 AM to 6 PM they engaged with answering 100 questions selected from the 'donate your question campaign' open to the global public.

Treehugger reports:
Hafsat Abiola and Willem Dafoe made their opening remarks against the backdrop of Humboldt University and an oversized pile of books, supposed to represent the invention of the printing press but suggesting also the greatness of the human mind and the tragedy of suppressing human creativity. Yungchen Lhamo put the participants into the proper spirit with a poem and song, in a Tibetan devotional style which she learned from her Grandmother in secret, since such songs were banned in her native land. The exotic melody silenced all present and received a round of applause before the real work kicked off...100 questions in 9 hours.

Each of the 112 personalities invited to the Table is set up with a microphone and video camera of their own.
Read the rest. More news at the Deutsche Welle.

You can see the live videos here.

Now what will happen? Dropping knowledge says this is only the beginning. It wants to start and sustain a new kind of global dialog, simply by prompting people online to ask and answer the questions on their mind. They want to bring protest, political dissent and activism into the internet age.

In this complex world, people need the right to question. German insurance giant Allianz donated more than $3 million for this initiative and is not immuned to face the question:
Why has a big company like Allianz no sozial responsibility and fire 10.000 workers in Germany even they have big profit?
On a side note, Bibi Russel was the lone Bangladeshi amongst all the 112 dignitaries.

September 08, 2006

Picture of the day

One of the many ships that carry tourists across Berlin's waterways providing wonderful scenery.

September 04, 2006


* Controversial cartoons sparked train bomb plot.

* Islamic Evil: defining the enemy.

* Radicalising Europe's young Muslims.

* Bangladeshis in the Middle East.

* Gender: Free online journalism training.

* Who killed the newspaper?

* What Really Is Scientology? The truth behind the mysterious religion.

September 03, 2006

Bangladesh Blog Buzz

(Crossposted in the Global Voices Online)

The latest opinions and views from the Bangladeshi blogs:

* Refugees: Drishtipat discusses the plight of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh as the International community is not taking notice. Rohingyas are Barmese Muslims from Arakan fled to Bangladesh to escape military persecution in Myanmar.

* Gender Equity: Sonia discusses a flaw in the Bangladesh constitution which deters a Bangladeshi women to transmit her nationality to her spouse or children.

* Energy: The recent Asia Energy coal mining controversy in Phulbari, Bangladesh and the people’s uprising leaves a lot to ponder. Conversations with an Optimist argues that people’s power is not always right as it may lead to disastrous consequences for the country. Drishtipat urges everybody to talk less politics and more science reagrding this issue.

* Human rights: Journalist Tasneem Khalil discusses the human rights abuses of Bangladesh’s elite force commando RAB, which overshadows the country’s security forces’ laudable performance in the UN peace keeping missions. More ironical is that some RAB members are being selected for UN peace keeping missions.

* Censoring: Tasneem Khalil informs that the Curators of a British museum are role playing as bigot mullahs, as they have censored a documentary work made in Bangladesh by Syra Miah — Bangladeshi-British photographer from the museum’s Art and Islam exhibition on the charge that it contained an image of a semi-naked woman.

* Politics: Nazim Farhan Chowdhury of Conversations With An Optimist blog predicts the decrease in support of the ruling BNP among the Bangladeshis because of their failures. Salaam Dhaka confirms that analogy from a diaspora viewpoint.

* International relations: Razib Rashedin of Me, Myself and Bangladesh criticizes certain Indian politician’s propaganda that places in Bangladesh should be attacked where the terrorist centers against India are operating. He claims that these accusations are false and there are many insurgencies in north-eastern India that feed on local discontent due to the neglect of the federal government to their needs and from pure separatist impulses. Therefore, it does not require a neighbouring country to instigate troubles in India.

* Culture: The corruption in Bangladesh is becoming ubiquitous. However Salam Dhaka realizes that sometimes bribes can also do good to the society.

* Review: Deshcalling posts a review of an insightful book titled ‘The India Doctrine’ published by the Bangladesh Research Forum and edited by Barrister MBI Munshi. The book is a collection of articles by writers from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka providing insight into controversial issues in this region and the role of India.

* Paintings: Artist Sumaiya Mehreen shares her paintings in her digital portfolio blog.

* Cyber society: Somewherein Dhaka is an increasingly popular user-friendly, informative and interactive events site from Bangladesh. It lets the users know all about the art, culture, sports and lifestyle events happening in Dhaka (what, when and where) and let the users to comment on or review the items. This is turning out to be an useful social networking tool.

Today's Links

* Muslims must come forward.

* Letter From Bangladesh: Where family ties still tightly bind.

* The trial of Henry Kissinger.

* Pregnant man carries a twin-brother.

* Bangabhoomi andolan , Bangasena and Indian citizenship Act.

* Balochistan is far from Bangladesh.