Bengal Bells

Its that time again folks…. a time of fables deeply believed  but utterly untrue:

1971: The myth finally busted


Meherjaan, a 2010’s release of Bangladeshi film director Rubaiyat Hossain, was nota pro Pakistani film, yet created a rumpus. Despite partaking in many film festivals and bagging a handful of awards at International film festivals, it was removed from theaters after attracting sell-out crowds for two weeks. While seeing it from the Pakistani point of view, the hero was a negative character, as he is shown a Baloch Regiment’s deserter who fell for a Bengali peasant. Yet the portrayal of a raped woman and its representation of female during the Bangladesh mutiny of 1971 were not good enough for Bengali (and Indian) “viewers”. The radicals who dominate East Bengal’s society were not prepared to see a Pakistani soldier (no matter who he was) involved with a Bengali beauty in some Bangla film. The film’s stance was termed as against Bangladeshi nationalism and a main cause of restiveness among the audiences.

The problem was never with the movie but with the threat instead that was caused to the Indo-Awami narrative about atrocities allegedly committed by Pakistan’s Army. Rubaiyat Hossain is not the only one who was irritating the “stakeholders” but there is another woman also; unfortunately an Indian and that too from a nationalist family of a freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose and she is Sarmila Bose; a researcher, historian and writer of international repute. Both the movie ‘Meherjaan’ and the book ‘Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War’, came almost at the same time that caused a great agony to the Bengali nationalists and Indian officials.

Ever since 1971, a demonising scenario was fostered, portraying Pakistan’s Army as the desperado allegedly committing war crimes like killing, looting and raping the Bengali women. Pakistan was in a state of shock, although it should have not been, since any sane could see the hurricane coming. The rulers of remaining Pakistan struck a jackpot as they were all in all, of what was left over. Yahya Khan and his conglomerate did what they could do to Pakistan under ‘unknown’ durance. The country was burning and Bhutto took his mighty friend Yahya to Sindh for hunting flying ducks only for him to be shot down as a lame sitting duck on 16 December. Yahya was never that dumb – at least his career reveals – but then who was accountable for turning him so incapable? We could have got the answer to this question only if we had got answer to the ambiguity about much awaited Hamood Ur Rehman Commission Report. Bhutto very smartly abridged his role out of Dhaka debacle. Army too was partially responsible but ‘Quaid e Awam’ wanted the army to carry the freight more than the facility and to bail out the political leadership with a clean chit.

The other cheeky maneuver was to ridicule the returning soldiers in the disguise of welcoming them with ceremonial splendor. Imagine how lethal this was – presenting them in the media as ‘the losers’ mortifyingly and then receiving them ‘affectionately’ on JCP Wagah. The strategy worked according to the wishes of the rulers. Timings clicked and the looting, raping and murdering allegations came with the package.

It continued for many decades until someone’s conscience awoke and Sarmila Bose; a Bengali who opened her eyes in a die-hard nationalist family thought to do some research on a number of episodes of the 1971 war in-depth since many Bangladeshis were grumbling that the world seemed to have forgotten the dreadful trauma of the birth of their nation. Hence, she started a logical delve into the 1971 war and soon found that there was a hitch with the story that she had grown up believing: from the facts that originated from the memories of all sides at ground level, noteworthy parts of the “dominant narrative” seem not to have been true. She was shocked to know that many “facts” had been embellished, fictionalised, distorted or cloaked. Many people in conscientious positions had repeated uncorroborated allegations without a thought; some people seemed to know that the nationalist mythologies were false and yet had done nothing to enlighten the public.

It was so irritating and threatening to the Indians and Awami League that even before anyone could have the chance to read it, Dead Reckoning started attracting negative comments. In her own words: “‘Myth-busting’ works that undermine nationalist mythology, especially those that have gone unchallenged for several decades, are clearly not to be undertaken by the faint-hearted”. It’s a naked truth that the scholars and investigative journalists have a vital role in “busting” politically partisan narratives and it was known to Sarmila too. Nevertheless, at the same time she firmly believed that most of the researchers and writers often fall for the seductive appeal of a simplistic “good versus evil” story – or fail to challenge the victors’ histories.

What else should one expect after turning against the state, picking up arms, getting training from the enemy country and killing own soldiers in the name of a freedom movement? Certainly you will not be offered roses. While playing cricket you can’t complain about the bouncers. So there must have been killings by the army too. Sarmila’s book, in fact played a vital role in breaking the victorious Bangladeshi nationalist side’s unquestioned repeated entrenched narrative of Pakistani villainy and Bengali victimhood. The reaction to the book by those who feel vulnerable was obvious; an effort to discard the book before it was available, writing of reports and reviews by people who hadn’t read the book and citing other scholars who didn’t even have the chance to see the cover of the book. The reason was purely simple and double folded; the well-founded fright of “information has influence” and that the book also recorded the brutalities by their own side, committed in the name of Bengali nationalism and unfortunately, its detection blemished the gyrate of Bangladeshi nationalist mythology – baddies versus goodies. Soon, fuel was added to the fire when the Indian generals including Manekshaw appreciated the bravery of Pakistan army and admitted creating and helping ‘Mukhti Bhani’.

As expected, the protests from this section are the shrillest. Why? Because the overriding narrative, which had secured prevalence around the world, was that of the victorious Bangladeshi nationalists and their Indian allies and regrettably they stand to lose the most in any impartial and unprejudiced assessment in the presence of this nerves wrecking book. Sarmila is being targeted only because she refused to repeat the partisan narrative or continue the conspiracy of silence over uncomfortable truths. Her achievement is taken as “betrayal” by those who have bagged for so long from mythologising the history of 1971.

What a pity that intellectuals from among the foes have awakening conscience and are determined to put the record straight while ours have a sleeping conscience and they take pride in receiving awards from the authors of appalling narrative.

Posted in 1971 war, Bengali Extremism, Sarmila Bose | 1 Comment

Prophet of Rage

It’s Rabi ul Awwal.  The month when many Muslims around the world celebrate the blessed birth of our  Prophet Muhammed (sallAllahu alayhi wasalaam).  Nearly all Muslims celebrate this except the radical Wahabbi sect. Will typical Wahabbi Spittoon’s Faisal Gazi be celebrating?

We doubt it given his record of attacking the Prophet  and defending those who slander him.

What is it about the blessed Prophet loved by Muslims and respected by non-Muslims that so irks Mr Gazi?.

We think we may have found the answer; it contradicts his actual religion of  secular Bengali nationalism and his new ‘Prophet’, as embodied by the Awami League :


Musaylima Mujib

Posted in Bengali Extremism, Blasphemy, Festivals | 1 Comment

Neo Conned

As Donald Trump fills his cabinet with their members the neo-cons must be celebrating


Captions Please

Posted in Caption competition, David Toube | 25 Comments

Birds of a Feather ….

Following the shock election of Donald Trump reaction from the Muslim world has been understandably negative .  It’s not just Muslims who are appalled by a fascist  becoming president – even the ambassador of Secular France tweeted this.

However the leader of one Muslim nation DID congratulate Mr Trump in true fawning style. Guess who ?

Why on earth would the nationalist leader of a proud independent nation such as ‘Bangladesh’ write such a fawning letter to a Bideshi leader?


trump-bangladesh-shirt-2-1Of course Sheikh Hasina is the authentic voice of Bengali Muslims !

Compare this fawning letter from the leader of East Pakistan to the dignified message from the leader of West Pakistan , Nawaz Sharif.

Posted in Bengali Extremism, Far Right Extremism, Neo Cons | 1 Comment

To be a Pilgrim

It is the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah and as millions of Muslims make the holy obligatory pilgrimage to Makkah to visit the Kaaba and maybe kiss the black stone . Spitoon’s Faisal Gazi is likewise making a trip obligated by his religion of Bengali nationalism, to visit his Idol of stone  Rabinder Tagore.



A candidate for stoning ?

Captions please


Posted in Bengali Extremism, Caption competition, Faisal Gazi | 5 Comments

Faisal Gazi: ”the turd with a smile”

A hilariously accurate assessment of Mr Gazi over at the Intellectual Muslim


Our latest competition: Can you think of a similar, pithy description of Der Spittoon’s Fuhrer?

Posted in Faisal Gazi, Open Joke Competition, Satire | 5 Comments

Brown Skins, White Masks

The great French -Martinique sociologist Franz Fanon  once wrote a  seminal anti-colonialism  text Black Skins ,White Masks   (read it here ):

Black Skin, White Masks (French: Peau noire, masques blancs) is a 1952 book by Franz Fanon in which Fanon studies the psychology of the racism and dehumanization inherent in situations of colonial domination.[1]

With the application of historical interpretation, and the concomitant underlying social indictment, the psychiatrist Frantz Fanon formulated Black Skin, White Masks to combat the oppression of black people. He applied psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theoryto explain the feelings of dependency and inadequacy that Black people experience in a White world. That the divided self-perceptionof the Black Subject who has lost his native cultural origin, and embraced the culture of the Mother Country, produces an inferiority complex in the mind of the Black Subject, who then will try to appropriate and imitate the culture of the colonizer. Such behavior is more readily evident in upwardly mobile and educated black people who can afford to acquire status symbols within the world of the colonial ecumene, such as an education abroad and mastery of the language of the colonizer, the white masks.

Based upon, and derived from, the concepts of the collective unconscious and collective catharsis, the sixth chapter, “The Negro and Psychopathology”, presents brief, deep psychoanalyses of colonized black people, and thus proposes the inability of black people to fit into the norms (social, cultural, racial) established by white society. That “a normal Negro child, having grown up in a normal Negro family, will become abnormal on the slightest contact of the white world.”[2] That, in a white society, such an extreme psychological response originates from the unconscious and unnatural training of black people, from early childhood, to associate “blackness” with “wrongness”. That such unconscious mental training of black children is effected with comic books and cartoons, which are cultural media that instil and affix, in the mind of the white child, the society’s cultural representations of black people as villains. Moreover, when black children are exposed to such images of villainous black people, the children will experience a psychopathology (psychological trauma), which mental wound becomes inherent to their individual, behavioral make-up; a part of his and her personality. That the early-life suffering of said psychopathology — black skin associated with villainy — creates a collective nature among the men and women who were reduced to colonized populations.,_White_Masks

Spittoon’s Faisal Gazi certainly seems taken by Fanon. He even has his picture as his Facebook profile picture How ironic then that Fanon diagnosed the coconut syndrome suffered by Mr Gazi.


Fanon’s work on the Algerian war of Independence is seminal. But of course that was the past – even longer ago than the 1971 ‘Bangladesh’ war. Except in our time it is the war of terror that dominates the headlines and it is the ‘Brown skins , White masks’ of people like Gazi who defend western imperialism.  Hamid Dabashi has a brilliant book of that title exposing Mr Gazi and his neo con ilk -‘the native informers’

Dabashi shows how intellectuals who migrate to the West are often used by the imperial powers to misrepresent their home countries. Just as many Iraqi exiles were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, Dabashi demonstrates that this is a common phenomenon, and examines why and how so many immigrant intellectuals help to sustain imperialism.

The book radically alters Edward Said’s notion of the “intellectual exile,” in order to show the negative impact of intellectual migration. Dabashi examines the ideology of cultural superiority, and provides a passionate account of how these immigrant intellectuals — rootless compradors, and guns for hire — continue to betray any notion of home or country in order to manufacture consent for imperial projects.


Here’s a review:

Hamid Dabashi

The anti-colonialist writer Frantz Fanon’s first book was a howl of outrage called Black Skin, White Masks, published in 1952. It explored the psychology of colonial subjects who came to identify with their oppressors.

Hamid Dabashi has written a new howl of rage with Brown Skin, White Masks against these “native informers”.

Dabashi is a radical Iranian living in New York (see interview on page 20). He sees a new version of Fanon’s happy colonial intellectuals in the academics, pundits and columnists – largely from the Muslim world – who make their living cheering on Western imperial intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan. Initially it can be confusing for a British reader as he assumes you will know the people he is attacking – writers who have become bestselling authors in the US. In the early chapters he doesn’t spend time repeating what they wrote.

But by the middle of the book he lays into two authors at some length – the Iranian writer Azar Nafisi and the commentator Ibn Warraq. Now Dabashi makes the reason for his rage very clear. He says that Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran “exemplifies the abuse of legitimate causes (in this case women’s repression), for illegitimate purposes (US global domination).”

He hates writers who the US right cites because they are from the country’s affected, but who seem to have picked up much of their knowledge from Western sources and appear unaware that there are traditions of criticism in the Muslim world. They appear unaware that “there has been scarcely a period when radical and subversive thought has not been integral to Islamic intellectual history”.

He uses Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism and combines it with Malcolm X to come up with the “house Muslim” who uses the idea of the Muslim as other to get in with the West. His polemical style sometimes uses an overly broad brush. To take one example, it is not true that the US never seriously considered using nuclear weapons between 1945 and its plans to attack Iran in 2006.

For me the most interesting section dealt with the demonisation of Barack Obama, and the shift in right wing racist dog whistles as to what is the worst thing to be – black, Arab or Muslim. “One no longer need be in Algeria to be colonised – Harlem, the Bronx and Newark will do just as well”, he says. This idea was popular with the US left in the 1960s, but is unclear what “colonisation” means as opposed to simply racism or oppression.

In the end he may be throwing in arguments from too many unrelated traditions, but the bile is refreshing and he is quite right to conclude that “the world today is more than ever divided between the overwhelming majority who are abused by capital and the very few who are its beneficiaries”.

Brown Skin, White Masks is published by Pluto, £14.99

Posted in Faisal Gazi, Neo Cons | Leave a comment