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Written By: Ahmedullah
01/11/2014 0:46 01/11/2014 0:44

Image: Golam Azam

I have seen Gulam Azam and Jamaat e Islam in Bangladesh often described as Hitler and Nazi Party, who helped to unleash a German style and scale genocide in Bangladesh during the 1971 Liberation War. I would like people to reflect on this and ask critical and searching questions whether there is any inch of credibility in the above. This is because unless one as an individual, or as a community, or as a nation, learns to be realistic and objective about things then we will never know exactly or nearer the truth, what crimes Gulam Azam and Jamaat committed during 1971. Our views will be shaped by propaganda, political speeches, artistic creativity but not on any real solid empirical foundation. There are consequences of holding these kinds of views and beliefs, such as giving licence to some to harass and oppress others and others feeling that they have been the victim of injustice and unfairness, which in turn, act as a source of instability and further conflict.

Given the doubt and credibility problems of the Bangladesh War Crimes trial any guilty verdicts delivered by the courts will not be seen as reflecting justice and proven guilty of allegations made against them. The supporters of the war crimes trial who wants to rejoice cannot be fully satisfied because they know in their hearts that in reality and in the eyes of the wider community alleged crimes of these people have not been proven convincingly in a fair and credible legal process. They will feel less certain and confident about the verdict and as a result morally weak. On the other hand those who oppose the war crimes trial, believing that it is a political showcase trial, poor evidence based, biased, pre-planned verdicts, etc. will hold the process to account in the future and challenge the supporters of the trial with strong arguments and higher moral conviction.

The large number of people reported to have attended the funeral of Gulam Azam has unnerved many people in Bangladesh and Bangladeshi origin in the Diaspora. I have seen many analyses and discussion on this tipic on facebook postings. I don’t believe hundreds of thousands attended his funeral at the national mosque but the numbers did attend has generated fear in some quarters as they thought Gulam Azam, being a Hitler like ‘war criminal’, did not have much support within Bangladesh and that Jamaat by managing to bring such a large crowd have achieve a big propaganda victory. Some have tried to explain this by staying that Jamaat being a very organised party must have meticulously planned this for a long time. It has also been suggested that large numbers attending an event does not really matter as ‘Crowd is a very poor metric to judge anything political anywhere’. I agree with this but only partially. Although a seemingly large crowd in one place does not reflect their power base across the country and their political potentials, but on the relativity question crowd does matter.

I don’t believe that Shahbagh also attracted the number claimed. I am thinking of doing an estimate of the number who might have attended during the peak days / evenings. I know the Shahbagh area very well and have also recently walked around to get a feel of the area, its size, etc. Again it’s the relativity question and how certain groups manages or fails to use the presences of large crowds for political propaganda. I wrote against the Shahbagh at that time but I have learnt a little about how although ‘Crowd is a very poor metric to judge anything political anywhere’, in terms of wider support base, people do get inspired or fearful of seeing seemingly large crowds.

Just to reiterate, relatively speaking, crowd on the street does matter as different groups are competing for space, propaganda, public opinions, etc. To outside observers and critical researchers crowds can be placed in the right contexts but those engaged in the battle crowd is a very potent, important and relevant metric for many things political.


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Golam Azam funeral 1971 Liberation War Jamaat Bangladesh War Crimes trial 


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