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Dhaka, Bangladesh: A spirited debate is unfolding in Bangladesh as its Supreme Court prepares to hear a 28-year-old petition challenging the constitutionality of an amendment that made Islam the state’s religion.
The High Court division of the Supreme Court on March 27 is scheduled to hear the petition and set a future date for a ruling on the amendment, which was enacted under the dictatorship of Gen H M Ershad in 1988.
The country’s constitution guarantees secularism, but the legal move aimed at stripping Islam of its status as the official religion in predominantly Muslim but multi-religious Bangladesh has ruled Islamic groups and parties.
The writ petition was filed 28 years ago by 15 civil society leaders after Ershad’s Jatiya Party led parliament declared Islam as the state religion. But the Supreme Court never heard the case, Rana Dasgupta, one of the lawyers representing the petitioners, told reporters.
“Ten of the petitioners already died before any hearing took place. We firmly believe that the court will examine the documents and give a verdict without being influenced by the comments of others on the issue,” he said.
Dasgupta is also general secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad, an association representing religious minorities that have been targeted in recent and sometimes deadly attacks by suspected Islamic militants, amid a growing wave of fundamentalism.
He said some leaders of Islamic party publically were calling for retaining Islam as the state religion in order to influence the justices before the hearing.
Bangladesh’s original constitution, framed in 1972, adopted secularism as one of the four fundamental principles of the state, according to Dasgupta. However in 1976, the country’s first military ruler and founder of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Gen Ziaur Rahman, removed the secular provision in the constitution and replaced it with “Faith in the Almighty Allah.”
Ershad, the second military ruler, 12 years later added another change that made Islam into the state religion.
Millions sacrificed in name of secularism
“In 1988, we formed a committee against autocracy and fundamentalism and filed the writ petition. … We sacrificed three million people in the 1971 war [of independence] against Pakistan for a secular country,” Professor Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, one of the 15 petitioners, told reporters.
“Mr Ershad made Islam as the state religion to cash in on common people’s sympathy with a view to prolonging his rule, not for passion for Islam,” he added.
Since 1971, Bangladesh has pursued secularism as a state policy, but the military rulers who usurped power following the August 1975 assassination of the country’s founding president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Islamized the constitution in a way that went against the spirit of the independence war, Chowdhury said.
“The writ petition is going to be heard after 28 years,” he added, noting that the political atmosphere now was relatively better and more conducive to discussing this issue.
“[W]e think the issue of State religion should be settled now,” he said.
Islamic parties and groups are resisting the legal move, with some leaders even threatened to stage protests over the upcoming court case, according to reports.
“We want Islam to retain [its status] as the State Religion of Bangladesh because the Muslims are the majority here. You will see state religions in many countries in the world,” Abdul Latif Nizami, president of the conservative Islami Oikya Jote party, told agencies.
Islami Oikya Jote is aligned with Bangladesh’s largest faith-based party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and the main opposition the BNP.
Nizami said the majority of Muslims in Bangladesh would not accept scrapping Islam as the state religion. But he declined to say whether the Islamic parties would stage street protests.
“And I hope the judiciary would consider the opinion of the majority of the people while delivering the judgment,” Nizami added.
But a report by Agence France-Presse (AFP) last week quoted Islamic Oikya Jote Secretary General Mufti Mohammad Faiz Ullah as saying that protests could happen.
“Any move to scrap Islam’s status will undermine and defame the religion,” Faiz Ullah told AFP.
“Obviously, the Islamic parties, general people and the clerics will resist the move by holding protests.”
Gauging how people might react
But according to Professor Nizam Uddin Ahmed, a political commentator and author of several books on Bangladeshi politics, the average citizen doesn’t really care about the issue of Islam’s official status in Bangladesh.
“The common people of Bangladesh have never been bothered whether Islam should be the state religion,” he told reporters.
“I personally think that the abrogation of Islam as the state religion would not heat up the country’s political situation because the Islamic parties are cautious about waging a street movement over the issue. Again, they are divided, too,” he added.
In his view, the constitutional amendments passed by the regimes of generals Rahman and Ershad no longer are legitimate because, in 2010, the Supreme Court declared their regimes as illegal.
“In line with the court order, the [ruling] Awami League restored the original 1972 constitution, but they did not risk removing Islam as the state religion of Bangladesh, fearing tough street agitation. Now, both the Islamic parties and the opposition are at bay; the government has established a tight grip,” Ahmed said.
However, another commentator warned that doing away with the provision in the amendment that established Islam as the state religion might worsen the country’s current political climate.
“The hardline Islamic parties and the militant outfit would preach it (replacing Islam with secularism in the constitution) as an anti-Islamic act. Every possibility is there that the militants may mislead the people about secularism,” Brig Gen Shahedul Anma Khan, a security analyst and columnist, told reporters.
(Published with permission from BenarNews)
By Sukant Deepak
He describes himself as a 'Shiv bhakt' and a 'Muslim Jogi'. In his world, stories are not mere tales that entertain, but a tool to reinforce contemporary realities among listeners. Rich in metaphors, vivid with minute details, Jumme Khan likes to transport his audiences not to a world far away but the universe that surrounds them.
Part of a Jogi family from Pinan village in Alwar, Rajasthan and accompanied by his band of musicians, he uses a combination of harmonium, chimta, dholak, and the single-stringed bhapang - his instrument of choice - to retell stories that resound across generations. "The key here is connection. Unless people can relate, they will not enjoy it. To touch them, we have to decipher the common truth, find that elusive thread that binds us all. That is when the audience becomes one with the storyteller," he tells IANS.
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Khan, who enthralled the audience with the oral tradition of the improvisatory, communicative story-telling style of the Jogis at the recently concluded 'Mahindra Kabira Festival' in Varanasi, started singing when he was 13-years-old, and there has been no looking back ever since. "But it never gets repetitive. Every day on the stage is a new one. One is forever in search of something new that will resound with the audience," says Khan, who has also penned a song on the ongoing Corona pandemic.
For him, the magic of folk is unparalleled. He insists that nothing can replace the enigma of folk music in any culture. "Of course, this does not mean that steps are not taken to preserve it. We have seen a decline in the number of folk artists in the past few decades. But the immense power of folk seldom fails to move the audiences, including those who have always had access to modern entertainment," says Khan.
But he does feel that culture has taken a back seat in modern education. Remembering the time when schools would regularly organise cultural activities for students, he says, "It seems nowadays everything is about academics. How can we forget the fact that music and the arts play an indispensable role in all-around development? Culture opens an altogether new horizon, imparts a vision and understanding about the self. At least, give the children access and introduce them to different art forms including music. Let them decide if they want to pursue or not."
Swearing by the power of live and the energy he derives from the audiencesUnsplash
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Swearing by the power of live and the energy he derives from the audiences, Khan says that he is just not cut out for digital concerts. "They may have become a rage during the lockdowns, but I was clear that I would not be a part of them. In my art form, the live audience is an indispensable part of the whole act, without them, things will fall flat."
Stressing that while there were many platforms (festivals, etc) including those provided by the government, it was important that honest and qualified people be made part of the decision-making committees. "You just cannot expect artists to make rounds of programme officials trying to impress them. When as a country, we take so much pride in our culture, is it not important that this sector be streamlined and right people be recruited in the decision making bodies?" (IANS/PR)
Keywords: Shiv Bhakt, Dholak, Rajasthan
Today, we are exposed to a gazillion beauty product launches every now and then. The cosmetic industry is ever-changing and always gives us something new to wish for. But how much thought do we actually put in before buying the skincare product for ourselves? You should always pay attention to the products and their ingredients. Choosing products from a company with a reputable line of products can be helpful, since each component may be designed to work in conjunction with the others. You can also be assured of the products' quality and may better be able to predict how your skin will react to trying a different product in the same line.
Skin is one of the largest organs of the body. Because of this, caring for your skin can directly affect your overall health. Your skin acts as a protective shield and is most vulnerable to outside elements. It's affected by more factors than you may think. In addition to this, your health also affects your choice of skincare products and vice-versa.
Nandeeta Manchandaa, Founder of ENN shares the whys and hows:
Let's talk Vitamins: Your body needs all essential vitamins for proper functioning and if any vitamin is a miss, then effects show on your skin too. Like- dark spots, pigmentation are often seen on people with melanin issues, or even in pregnant ladies. So Vitamin-C rich products are the go-to to combat this issue.
Your body needs all essential vitamins for proper functioning and if any vitamin is a miss, then effects show on your skin too. | Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash
Baby on the way: Another major health factor that influences your skin care product selection is -- pregnancy! Pregnant women undergo 360-degree change internally and externally while their hormones are at their peak -- it gives way to allergic reactions, limitations of using certain products/ ingredient applications too. They are advised to stay away from Retinol (found in all anti-ageing creams), Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic acids (for face washes and cleansers) Essential oils (are the base for any serum, facial oils) So better to opt for clean and natural products as substitutes for the same.
Pregnant women undergo 360-degree change internally and externally while their hormones are at their peak. | Photo by Alicia Petresc on Unsplash
PCOD/PCOS: Thanks to the sedentary lifestyle and long working hours, one health issue in women that has been on the rise is PCOD (Poly Cystic Ovary Disorder) and PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome) Hormonal imbalances coupled with weight issues show their effect on skin too. A majority of women suffer from symptoms like cystic acne, excessively oily skin and scalp, open pores, blackheads/whiteheads, dark spots, dark patches to name a few. In this case, choosing products that will not irritate your skin or aggravate inflammation is your best bet. Avoid products with cocoa butter, isopropyl myristate, oleic acid lanolin, and butyl stearate. Chlorophenols are used as preservatives in cosmetics and have been linked to acne so these too must be avoided.
Avoid products with cocoa butter, isopropyl myristate, oleic acid lanolin, and butyl stearate. | Photo by Sabrina May on Unsplash
This is why we see the trend of clean beauty, Vegan beauty and herbal products flooding the markets because they claim to be free from all the nasties and let you get the maximum benefit of skin care products without any guilt. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: herbal products, PCOD, PCOS, vegan beauty, vitamins, beauty, India, skincare, products )
Hackers have stolen crypto tokens worth $120 million from Blockchain-based decentralised finance (DeFi) platform BadgerDAO. Several crypto wallets were drained before the platform could stop the cyber attack. In a tweet, Badger said it has received reports of unauthorised withdrawals of user funds. "As Badger engineers investigate this, all smart contracts have been paused to prevent further withdrawals. Our investigation is ongoing and we will release further information as soon as possible," the company said late on Thursday.
According to the blockchain security and data analytics Peckshield, the various tokens stolen in the attack are worth about $120 million, reports The Verge. According to reports, someone inserted a malicious script in the user interface (UI) of their website. Badger has retained data forensics experts Chainalysis to explore the full scale of the incident and authorities in both the US and Canada have been informed. "Badger is cooperating fully with external investigations as well as proceeding with its own," it said. DeFi is a collective term for financial products and services that are open, decentralised and accessible to anyone. DeFi products open up financial services to anyone with an internet connection and they are largely owned and maintained by their users. While the attack didn't reveal specific flaws within Blockchain tech itself, it managed to exploit the older "web 2.0" technology that most users need to use to perform transactions, according to reports. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: crypto wallets, BadgerDAO, decentralised finance, Blockchain, 120 million, crypto tokens, Hackers)