Arab revolution: don’t rejoice yet | columns | Hindustan Times
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Arab revolution: don’t rejoice yet

columns Updated: Feb 27, 2011 00:21 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh
Hindustan Times
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The sudden eruption in some Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and Libya has received wide and favourable reception in the world’s media. It is seen as a triumph of democracy over dictatorships. I am not so sure because with one notable exception most Muslim change-seekers want to put the clock back. During the Shah’s regime, I spent a week in the capital and some other cities. I arrived on the first day of Ramadan. I took a walk in the afternoon. I saw men and women in the sun drinking beer on footpaths. I did not see a single woman in burqa. After the Shah was ousted and the Ayatullahs took over the country, the chief Ayatullah Khumeni pronounced sentence of death on Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses. The new ruler Ahmednijad declared that the first priority was to wipe Israel off from the map of the world. Israel is a nuclear power. Imagine what the consequences would be if Iranians really tried to destroy the Jewish State. Women were ordered to veil themselves. Women visitors were provided with burqas at airports. In Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Algeria the story is the same. Muslims Brotherhood which led the revolt in Egypt is a conservative party seeking restoration of the Shariat Code of the Middle Ages. It is the same in other Arab states, women are forced to veil themselves. Those caught breaking marriage codes will be punished by having their noses cut or being stoned to death.

The one glorious exception is Turkey. There the revolutionary leader was Ata Turk Kemal Paasha. He was a forward-looking dictator. He banned burqas and gave equal rights to women. He looked to the western world as his role model, and succeeded in making Turkey like any other advanced European country. He is not looked upon with favour in other Muslim nations. I fear if the revolutionaries succeed in ousting Sultans and Emirs from Arab nations, they will opt for Taliban-minded leadership. It is premature to rejoice at what is happening in the Muslim world.

Anti Corruption Day
What did you say: Anti-Corruption Day?
Don’t be silly yaar; you must be joking.
Why do you dig up the archaic word :Anti,
Spoiling the cocktail of my morning tea,
Flavour of Darjeeling, aroma of corruption,
Fomented by glaring media headlines?
Your crawling out of mother’s belly?
Is not enough to prove you are born;
It needs a proof acquired with bribe.
You pay donation to get admission
For that fake passport, education,
Then secure a job by greasing palms,
You don’t know, of how many persons.
A licence, a permit, a ration card,
A bed in a public ward or even a place
In the endless queue of life, if you want,
You’ll get it — only pay the price.
And when this mortal journey is over,
Don’t think you can exit life unnoticed,
You still need proof with a price tag, too.
Why do you bother and tear your hair?
It is a sore that will fester, stink every day,
Bringing down the system with its load
Or explode, paving the way for a new order.
(Courtesy: A K Das, Lucknow)

Hore Vs Whore

Hore is a Bengali surname. Poornima Hore (not her real name), a pretty and meritorious girl got a scholarship from an American university. She applied for passport. In the passport office her surname which is pronounced as ‘Whore’ created rapture among the officials. While she was being interviewed in the American embassy for visa, the middle-aged American officer hearing her surname blushed and with great difficulty checked a guffaw. She felt humiliated.
Subsequently, she reached America and joined the university. But her daily embarrassment with the surname continued. She met a young Bengali engineer who had settled there. He was a bachelor. To get rid of her surname she desperately roped him and breaking the age-old taboo she proposed. After a brief courtship they were married. Now she is known as Poornima H Chatterjee.

(Contributed by Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)