10 May, 2021

Uneasy Resurrection

Sheikh Hasina seeks to put her father back in the history books

Uneasy Resurrection

IT was not entirely unexpected. Yet the unscheduled special programme on state-run television prominently featuring Sheikh Mujibur Rahman only hours after his daughter, Sheikh Hasina, was sworn in as Bangladesh's new prime minister caused millions of Bangladeshis to rub their eyes in collective disbelief. For, the programme not only marked the formal lifting of the official ban on any mention of Bangabandhu (as Mujibur is popularly called) on TV, it also set in motion the rehabilitation of the charismatic leader who led Bangladesh to independence in a civil war 25 years ago.

For 21 years, since the Awami League government was toppled and Sheikh Mujib gunned down along with more than a dozen of his family members in a military coup, successive regimes have tried to depict him as a monster and at the same time literally obliterate his name from history books. To achieve that, they changed everything the Sheikh stood for. Secularism was removed from the Constitution as one of the four state principles, turning Bangladesh into an Islamic...

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