Issue 13

Editorial

Hatred only creates more hate. When a person or group of people believes to be superior to others, hatred is generated. When we see cultural differences in thought and behavior as threats to our existence rather than as basic characteristics of society, hate spreads further. People establish their own superiority based on skin colour, physical strength, wealth, religion, nationality, and other politically motivated and culturally constructed ideas of differences. These projects of evaluation of groups, caste, society, politics, and religion gave birth to imperialism and colonialism in South Asia. We see how the politics of difference led to communalism during and after the British Raj. We see the hatred and violence continue to increase today.

 

From caste feuds to communalism to today’s space wars plan to extend imperialism – these are various projects aimed at gaining superiority of one group over another. The attempt to assert the superior status of one religion is particularly insidious because religion can easily be used to manipulate people’s emotions, making individuals go against everything religion stands for, including education, kindness, and love and instead turning people to savagery, selfishness, revenge, and violence. Seen from a global perspective, hatred of the Other is an epidemic in the contemporary world.

 

The recent attack in Christchurch has again made people stand against each other. This kind of tragic situation only puts world peace and humanist values under the custody of history. We see blame thrown at different groups, vitriol increase, and serious lack of empathy even among people who have experienced marginalization and discrimination in their own lives, at the hands of other perpetrators.

 

However, prime minister of  New-Zealand Jasinda Arden showed her political prudence by trying to calm the situation and by expressing condolences towards the Muslim minorities attacked and killed in their place of worship. She rapidly sought to restrict the purchase and use of semi-automatic weapons. She acted swiftly and with a strong moral stance. We can only hope her brave and decisive acts will be an inspiring example to politicians around the world. It is also important to note that this human compassion and generosity cannot be used by any fundamentalist-extremist group. They are, regrettably, too occupied with building walls, condemning those who are not like-minded, asserting claims about their own righteousness, and spreading hate.

 

It is a fundamental human right to discuss, analyze, question, criticize, and oppose another person or group’s broadcasted ideology, assumptions, and activity. However – and this is important – criticism and opposition does not mean to suppress or eradicate differences. Human civilization demands that we are also self-conscious and self-critical. We need to cultivate our best moral selves in order to stand by principles of equal justice and respect – not hate.

 

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Regarding the recent death of a young student in road accident in Bangladesh, students wanted to go to the streets to demonstrate for increased safety. But at the end they had to return home, defeated. This proves that the Bangladeshi government did not execute the commitment they gave after the August 2018 student movement to establish discipline in the roads. Instead, under the instruction of the government, numerous students were expelled from their educational institutions for participating in the movement. We all know about internationally recognized photographer Shahidul Alam. But aside from his widely (and well-deserved) notoriety, several other stories about people getting harassed were published on social media. In this climate, where youth are punished for demonstrating in the name of road safety, it is obvious why people do not have the courage anymore to protest against any wrong-doing of the government and other powerful institutions. And this is how a strong authoritarianism is being established in Bangladesh.

 

In this issue, we are happy to include three essays by students – one in Bangladesh, one in Norway, and the other in the US. Their topics differ, but with increasing wisdom and self-reflection, they reflect on the world they inherited. Importantly, they end with a hope spawned by empathy, love, and an awareness of their ability to make a difference. Shuddhashar is committed to introducing and nourishing new writers. Hopefully, they’ll continue writing, thinking, and cultivating responsibility towards society.

Recognition of Hijra as a third gender / Shuddhashar

Recognition of Hijra as a third gender: A boon or a bane for the community?

In November 2013, the Cabinet of the Bangladesh government in an unprecedented manner decided to recognize ‘Hijra’ as a gender marker effectively classifying 160 million people as male, female and hijra. The announcement, widely covered and revered by national and international media, caught many activists and especially the hijra community by surprise. Firstly, because it …

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2018 Parliamentary Elections in Bangladesh

The Geopolitics of the 2018 Parliamentary Elections in Bangladesh

It is generally agreed by independent observers that the 2018 parliamentary elections in Bangladesh were flawed. The ruling party won more than five out of six seats in parliament while the opposition was nowhere to be seen during the campaign or during the vote itself. Transparency International found serious irregularities in 47 of the 50 constituencies it investigated. Most of …

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discussion of sexual assault

Decolonizing Activism

*Trigger warning: discussion of sexual assault “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  “Young white liberals love hummus.” I had never realized that my personal enjoyment of a Mediterranean chickpea spread was, in fact, an identifier of my race, age, and socio-political alignment. According to my friend Denny, though, the prepackaged pretzel and …

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The other I , Shuddhashar

The Other I

Do not insult the gods you neither believe in nor did not know about.  We have been becoming adults through our long journey on this earth; the first human was killing to survive, and he or she didn’t know that the others were him or her.  It was a fear of difference.  It’s quite a pity …

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I Am a Woman, Shuddhashar

I Am a Woman

As a middle-class American woman and college student, I know that I have been afforded opportunities that many other women around the world have not. Even within America, many women have not had the same chances as me. Opportunities for women are changing and growing around the world and yet, women everywhere still struggle to …

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lack of it in prominent feminism, Shuddhashar

Intersectionality and the Lack of it in Prominent Feminism

The concept of intersectionality has been heralded as one of the most important contributions to feminist scholarship. It is a critical concept, and despite being popular there has been confusion concerning the topic and how it can be applied, especially to feminism. Intersectionality can be defined as the complex, accumulative manner in which the effects …

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Anti-Nazi Sign Supports Norwegian, Shuddhashar

Geburg Aasland (1886-1970) blind organist og aktivist

  «Det er så sin sak å prøve å skissere en manns profil mens han ennå er blant oss», skrev biskop Johannes Smidt i forordet til Geburg Aaslands selvbiografi, ‘I kamp med skjebnen’, i 1968. «Først og fremst vil han kanskje selv protestere. Men det er nå, mens bildet er levende, det bør tegnes. For …

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Bokhandler man viser fram, Shuddhashar

Bokhandler man viser fram

Rundt det sentrale, men vesle torget Harvard Square i universitetsbyen Cambridge er det flere fremragende bokhandler enn i Oslo. En av disse er Grolier Poetry Book Shop, som tilbyr 15 000 poesititler i sitt skakke, sjarmerende lokale, hvor bokhyllene som ble snekra på 20-tallet huser vers fra alle bokhøster. De arrangerer stadig opplesninger og gatefestivaler. …

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Poet Behind Bars, Shuddhashar

Poet Behind Bars

REIS DERE, MITT FOLK, REIS DERE ​Reis dere, mitt folk, reis dere. I Jerusalem kledte jeg mine sår pustet mine sorger og holdt i hånden hjertet til et arabisk Palestina. Over hele verden blir kunstnere truet, forfulgt og fengslet for sitt engasjement og mot til å reise seg i protest mot brudd på menneskerettighetene. En av disse er den palestinske …

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