In Cambodia in January I found myself drinking in a bar which was also full of middle-aged European businessmen, and inevitably, young South-East Asian prostitutes. It was a bit awkward but the jukebox was playing great music, so we sat back and watched the night unfold. However, we all couldn’t help smiling when suddenly the jukebox started playing ‘Roxanne’, the Police’s tribute to female emancipation; because you couldn’t have a more inappropriate song and no-one else seemed to notice. The whole scene with that soundtrack went from seedy to hilarious.
It struck me recently that an equivalent in Bangladesh would be playing Andy William’s ‘Music to Watch Girls By’ – if that song’s a tribute to the pleasure of watching attractive women go about their business, it would have been some two and half minutes shorter if Andy had been to the Desh. Statistically there should be about a thousand-odd women in every square kilometre of Bangladesh, but in Sylhet at least, they’re all hiding from me. Every street teems with life; there’s always noise, commotion, trading, talking, arguing everywhere, but it’s all men. It’s very strange.
Continue reading ‘Sex, Pornography, Men, Women and their Rights in Bangladesh’
Published December 11, 2006
Democracy , Iraq , Islam , Politics , Security , Terrorism
The Combatting Terrorism Centre at West Point has made a study of Islamic Militant writings and ideology, and produced this ‘Atlas‘. It’s very interesting.
They bill it as the “first systematic mapping” of an ideology sometimes called jihadism. They conclude that bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, have had a relatively minor influence on the movement’s intellectual foundation. Among the network’s ideologists, they have come to be seen more as propagandists than strategic thinkers.
The study predicts that the scholarly work of a group of Saudi and Jordanian clerics — most notably Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian — seems more likely to influence the next generation of Islamic militants.
Continue reading ‘Atlas of Jihadist Ideology – call for Mario’
Published October 27, 2006
Bangladesh , Islam , Politics
Since he won the Nobel Peace Prize a few weeks ago the people have been acting as if it’s pretty much the best thing to happen to Bangladesh since their Liberation. A good article about him has just been published in Open Democracy, you can read it here.
Another interesting op/ed appeared in Dar Al Hayat a few weeks ago, contrasting Dr Younis as a shining example of Islam, with Bin Laden. Check it.