Issue 10


This October marks three years since Islamic extremists in Bangladesh attempted to put an end to the publishing house of Shuddhashar. Perhaps if we announced that we would no longer publish any controversial works, Shuddhashar would have been able to return to the publishing business at home. But caving into demands in order to return home did not seem auspicious for freedom, secularism, and democratic values. Besides, publishing was not just a business for us; it was a commitment to a socio-cultural movement. That commitment is why we have survived through the loneliness of exile. We are continuing to stand up against human rights abuses, economic oppression, religious dogma, and intolerance, but an unexpected consequence of exile is that the online platform enables us to serve not only Bangladeshis but also to connect with diverse perspectives and experiences on an international scale. This enriches all of us. It expands our collective understanding of humanity and responsibility as we work toward a shared socio-cultural movement.


It is a matter of grave concern that there has never been a trial of the events of 31 October 2015, nor of any events prior or subsequent to that day, when writers, bloggers, publishers, and freethinkers have been attacked and, sometimes, killed. People do not even know if there are official reports on the incidents. Some newspapers have reported that the crossfire and extra-judicial killings by law-enforcement agencies are linked to the murders of the writers, bloggers, and publishers. Such information, if true, would explain why the Bangladeshi Government is reluctant to investigate and prosecute the killings and attacks on free thinkers.


There are many countries in the world today that face challenges similar to those Bangladesh, where we see a sudden rise in autocracy and dictatorship. In these countries, human rights violations are rapidly increasing. People face torture, forced disappearances, and murder simply for expressing opinions contrary to the ruling party’s official line. Instead of serving to protect civil society, the state constitution and judiciary have surrendered honor and justice to serve the will of the government. Authoritarian political power is using religion as a means to further consolidate their strength. Perhaps even worse, people are turning against each other because their emotions and values are being intentionally provoked. These are the barriers to peace and progress in our world, the barriers to the possibility of a balanced, equitable, and humanitarian approach to justice.


Writing and reading are the most important ways to share the true depth of people’s thoughts, to stimulate an expansive creativity and self-reflective honesty, and to inspire people to reach out in a multidimensional, broad, and progressive way. Shuddhashar’s activities, struggles, and efforts play only a small part in this collective work to create an equitable world.


We are pleased to deliver a strong collection of articles this October and hope that you find many ideas worth thinking about further. Our contributors have written powerfully on issues of education, writing, and social justice; public awareness, post-colonialism, and teaching; the rise of Islamism in Bangladesh; free speech violations in Bangladesh; the religious politics of the beef ban in India; the pain of war and exile among Syrians; the challenges of exiled life; environmental activism and democracy in Norway; and the applicability of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt to the socio-cultural and political concerns in India. These diverse articles highlight the importance of being informed and thinking critically. They also demonstrate that being an activist can take different forms – but returning to one’s homeland where one must self-censor is not one of those options.

Borderless-World_Issue 10

A Borderless World?

Introduction: On Social Justice: Radical teachers and thinkers must keep thinking and teaching a borderless world.  Remembering Edward Said, and facing the wall separating the West Bank, it is on this theme that I will speak. Border-thought calls for judgment and discrimination. Borders must be both removed and respected. I will open with a general word …

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আনু মুহাম্মদ, Issue 10

সরকারের বিজয় উন্মাদনা

সর্বশেষ জানা খবর অনুযায়ী গত ২৪ সেপ্টেম্বর কারাগারে গেলেন চট্টগ্রামবিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের শিক্ষক মাইদুল ইসলাম। মনে হচ্ছে সবচাইতে বড় অপরাধ এখন কথা বলা আর লেখা। এনিয়েই সরকারের যতো ভয়। ধরপাকড়, ত্রাস সৃষ্টি করেও শান্তি নেই নিত্যনতুন আইন প্রণীত হচ্ছে- সর্বশেষ ‘ডিজিটাল নিরাপত্তা আইন’। যখন খুনের দায়ে দন্ডপ্রাপ্ত ব্যক্তি মাফ পেয়ে মুক্ত হয়, যারা হাজার হাজার কোটি টাকা …

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Nilu, issue 10

No Local is Anymore Local: A Transcultural Adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt

In this presentation, I will talk about the approach to my theatre production NativePeer, based on Henrik Ibsen’s text Peer Gynt, which I directed with the final year students of National School of Drama, New Delhi. The premiere took place on 28 September 2015. In my discussion, I will focus on the process of transcultural …

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PhilStewart, Issue10

Education and Democracy

“The cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy. It is the only dictator that free man acknowledges. It is the only security that free man desires.” -Mirabeau B. Lamar Martin Luther King, Jr. once famously asserted that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” This oft-cited line bolstered …

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Maruf 1, Issue 10

A Delineation of Islamism in Bangladesh

Bangladesh emerged as an independent country in 1971 after experiencing a genocide that cost millions of lives. Despite the fact that the US, a major superpower, extended overwhelming support towards Pakistan, Bangladesh fought a successful liberation war with a secular-nationalist vision. The nine-month long war devastated the country, thousands of women were victimized of sexual …

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Paul 1, Issue 10

Teaching and Writing as Activism: From Scholar to Blogger

“I also understand that as we put into practice an education that critically provokes the learner’s consciousness, we are necessarily working against the myths that deform us. As we confront such myths, we also face the dominant power because those myths are nothing but the expression of this power, of its ideology.” -Paulo Freire, Teachers as …

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Vivi 3, issue 10

Hazardous waste and climate consciousness

When Norwegian employees started their summer holiday in Norway some months ago, the Minister of Climate and Environment, Mr. Ola Elvestuen, announced that his Department had given the green light for the company NOAH (Norsk Avfallshåndtering AS) to start an impact assessment on waste landfill in the small town of Brevik. NOAH wants to use …

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