Gaza, Pakistan and ignoble US legacy

The anti-government protests now raging in Pakistan and the travails of Hamas in Palestine remind me of Nurul Amin, my mentor. He served, at different times, as prime minister of Pakistan and Bangladesh, which was then East Pakistan. In February 1972, in Rawalpindi, Amin was telling me about the political intrigues that had led to...

Struggle for Bangladesh’s cultural soul

SYLHET, Bangladesh: Is modernity finally putting brakes on the Islamization campaign in Bangladesh? Is it eroding the nation’s ethnic culture? These questions keep haunting me during trips to Bangladesh. A visit yesterday to  Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in Sylhet lent the two questions special poignancy. The population of what is now Bangladesh is...

Bangladesh: Pot calling kettle black

SYLHET, Bangladesh – Khaleda Zia, the leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, her son and some of her political associates go on trial April 21 to face charges of corruption during her two terms as Bangladeshi prime minister. On the face of it, it’s a good thing. Investigation by media and a previous government...

Don’t write Brotherhood off too soon

(Published in The Daily Star, Lebanon, July 16, 2013) Alejandro Jodorowsy said, “Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.” The French filmmaker’s remark was resoundingly vindicated by Egypt’s liberal elites. They led massive crowds against President Muhammad Mursi and succeeded in getting the all-too-willing army to overthrow his year-old democratically elected government....

Bangladesh’s epic quest for identity

I’M SADDENED by the bloody mayhem rocking Bangladesh, where I lived and worked through two turbulent decades.  Street fights between the country’s secularist government forces and Islamist activists have claimed dozens of lives. The clashes were triggered by a death sentence handed by a Bangladeshi court to  a leader of the Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami. ...

Obama, Romney clueless about Islam

That was a shocker. On Monday, Mitt Romney launched a blistering, if empty,  assault on President Obama’s allegedly “passive”  policy toward Muslim extremists and terrorists. The Republican presidential nominee accused the president of not being able to tackle “violent extremists,” some of whom stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Obama “passive” about extremists and...

The outrage: Revisit free speech

 (Published in the San Francisco Chronicle, September 14, 2012) It was a reprehensible crime. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. diplomatic staff members were nurturing excellent U.S.-Libyan relations until they were murdered by a Muslim mob in Benghazi. Many Libyans will fondly remember Stevens’ hard work to implement the U.S. policy to facilitate...

Democracy fluid in Bangladesh

By Mustafa Malik SYLHET, Bangladesh – Paralyzing general strikes, known here as hartal, remain a common and effective tool of democratic politics in Bangladesh. A local opposition politician has been kidnapped from a highway, which the opposition says was arranged by the ruling Awami League party. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), to which the abducted...