The curious case of Abu Samara and his jihad against freethinkers
A.H. Jaffor Ullah
Source: Mukto Mona
Bright and early on Jumma Day (Muslim Sabbath Day), September 28, 2007 I learned via an e-mail that one Abu Samara wrote an article in Bengali, which is needless to say – a diatribe-ridden from Alif to Yaa, and published in a vernacular newspaper on September 24, 2007 by the name Naya Diganta (New Horizon). In this article, he poured his venom to freethinker writers who originated from Bangladesh . Conspicuously absent in the article was the name of heavy hitters such as Ibn Warraq or Ali Sina who had been writing exposé to reveal all kinds of inanities in the religion of “peace” dating back from 7th century.
You see, neither Ibn Warraq nor Ali Sina is from Bangladesh. Therefore, a Bangalee taking a nom de plume (fake name) Abu Samara, which means "father of Samara", decided to lambaste the freethinkers originated from Bangladesh with the hope that the present military-backed government could do something to harass the family members of these writers who were left behind Bangladesh. And for that purpose he mentioned in his magnum opus that this group of writers is trying to tarnish the "image' of Bangladesh to outsiders. Lest Mr. Samara forgot, Bangladesh had topped the list of most corrupt nation on earth prepared by Transparency International (TI) consecutively for few years during the reign of Khaleda Zia and Jamaat who took control of Bangladesh in October 2001. What more the writers of Mukto-mona, NFB, or Vinnomot could do to tarnish the "pristine image" of Bangladesh that had been going downhill since August 1975 to abyss (read hell) and thanks to the alliance between the military and Islamic parties such as Jamaat for this retrogressive journey. I have called these people who are the likes of Abu Samara – Bangladesh Über Allis (Above All in German language) folks. To these self-proclaimed patriot and defender of Islam anyone who critiques Islam and Bangladesh in public is nothing more than the enemy of Islam and the motherland. Therefore, they wrongly think these folks should be identified, vilified, and censured.
The conspiracy theory of these Bangladesh Über Allis folks is loaded with falsity. A case in point is the alleged role the Zionists playing to propagate "falsities" against Islam. Mr. Samara conveniently found the connection between Mukto-mona and Zionist organization. Did he mention one name from Zionist camp that is supporting Mukto-mona financially or intellectually? No, he won't find even one. But how conveniently did he spread the proverbial horse manure in the Internet.
The timing of slandering the freethinkers of Bangladesh origin at this time needs some probing. Most cyber writers took up their pen in late 1990s because the established publishers of newspapers and periodicals in Bangladesh won't touch their probing articles because of the fear these may unleash. In the last ten years a tremendous amount of articles critiquing the Mullahs way interpretations of Islam was published in 'News from Bangladesh' (NFB), Mukto-mona, Vinnomot, and a few intrepid websites in the Net. Writers whose name was "unearthed" by Abu Samara are already well-known' many of them had published books in Bangladesh. In short, these writers are already known to many booklovers allover Bangladesh. Mukto-Mona has been awarded prestigious Jahanara Imam Memorial Medal recently for making significant contribution in the movement for establishing humanism, rationalism and scientific mindset among the people. Why then Abu Samara took this onerous duty on himself to propagate hate among Bangalee readers? I think I know the answer.
On January 11, 2007 a new administration was placed in Dhaka with the help of Bangladesh military. Gen. Moeen, the chief of military is the main backer of this government. In February or March of 2007 Gen. Moeen gave a public lecture in Dhaka when he mentioned that religion would play a very important role along with a homegrown version of democracy in the future polity of this nation of 150 million. This statement gave incentive to religious parties and their followers. These obscurantists found their epiphany from the tall talks of Gen. Moeen. They started allover again to think about a Green Bangladesh. Move forward to September 2007 and you will find some truth to what I am propounding here. Just the other day the government arrested a twenty year old budding cartoonist by the name Arif. The kid is languishing in jail for a piece that he wrote and drew. It was an innocuous cartoon poking fun at the very people like Abu Samara who takes the hadiths (example set by Prophet Muhammad) literally. These people because of their reverence to Prophet Muhammad opined that the cartoon had offended the "feelings" of many Muslims. No opinion poll was taken in Bangladesh that I know but the Mullahs were quick to assert that Arif's carton was blasphemous and not fit for public consumption in Bangladesh. The government who through their action had proved that they are friendly to Mullahs' cause had quickly acted and arrested the kid. And that is not the end of it. The editor of vernacular newspaper Prothom Alo, which published the piece in their magazine by the name "Al-Pin" (Arabesque way of putting it), not only apologized in public but also went to the national mosque asking the forgiveness of Ulemas (learned mullahs) in a highly publicized Tauba Ceremony. Many a reader thought the editor asked the forgiveness on behalf of secular writers. The mullahs had sardonic laugh allover their face and many of them may have interpreted the ceremony as the capitulation of secular ideals from Bangladesh at least for the time being.
Inspired by the highly publicized Tauba Ceremony of Dhaka the petite Islamists of garden variety allover Internet had been roused from their hibernation. They are active again. Thus, spoketh Abu Samara. He is a coward one who took a sobriquet to lambaste many intrepid writers including me. Am I perturbed by all this? Not at all. The likes of Abu Samara think that the time is right to daub black tar on secularist writers. However, their jihad won't bring any fruition.
Come to think of it, there once was a website by the name Shodalap whose main task was to critique the writings of Bangalee freethinkers. Perhaps the website had changed its stance and had become an inclusive forum. However, there still exists virulently anti-secularist websites from which the likes of Abu Samara draw inspiration to lambaste Mukto-mona writers. Without an ounce of sapience Abu Samara, the toothless tiger, wrote his ad hominem article. I strongly denounce his malevolence that he showed out of hatred that he harbors against Avijit Roy, Fatemolla, Taj Hashmi, Mehul Kamdar, and of course myself. Mr. Samara thinks that our effort to link the incidences of bombings in Bangladesh for the last 7-8 years with radical Islamists will be an exercise in futility. How preposterous is Mr. Samara's claim. Yes, Mukto-mona writers always wrote that there is a connection between the radical Islamists in Bangladesh and the spate of bombings over there. The arrest of Bangla Bhai, Shaikh Abdur Rahman, and many of his followers and their subsequent trials that led to the walking of the Islamists to gallows all point to the fact that we were right in our assertion. One could easily draw the conclusion that the real face behind Abu Samara is born loser Bangalee belonging to Rajakar party – Jamaat. The reason he hates the secularists is because we are like thorns in his path to Islamism.
The wannabe Abu Samaras will do justice if they could bring concrete evidence of foul play by the secularist writers. By the way, Google is a search engine that relies strictly on strings of words. Therefore, if anyone wrote "Salahuddin Shoyeb Chowdhury" and "Friends of Israel" in the same article, then of course one will see the article in which these two phrases appear. What is the big deal hear. One however needs to see an authoritative article or reference to draw any conclusion. The puny-brained Islamists such as Abu Samara will never understand how a search engine works. It is mentioned that "Little learning could be dangerous." Caveat emptor, readers! Watch out of articles that come out in parochially inclined newspapers such as Naya Diganta . That is all I can assert here.
A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a writer and columnist, writes from New Orleans, USA