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BICN 20 Jan - 2 Feb 2000

Volume 3 Number 10


+Feature Article - The Truth About Terrorism by Ali Abunimah 

+Webby! - Freedom of Expression in Bangladesh 

+Commercial Advertisements 

American Intl School/Dhaka Teaching Vacancies for 2000-01 

Contemporary Bengali Instruction 

Have Fun, Get Webby, Join the bicn.com Team 

+Community Announcements 

Erratum: 2000 _IS_ A Leap Year 

Burns Night in Dhaka: Celebrate the Birth of Scotland's National Poet 

The Latest on the ICCDR,B Ball 

+Letters To The Editor From All Over 

+Late January - Early February Event Calendar 

+A Little Later On 

+New Ongoing And Regular Events 

+Personal Classified Ads


 BICN is published first & third Wednesdays September to May from Dhaka Bangladesh by Sara Bennett. To SUBSCRIBE, email bicn-subscribe@listbot.com.  Submission deadline for next issue of BICN: 31 Jan 2000. Email items to news@bicn.com  . 


By Ali Abunimah 22 Dec 99 ahabunim@midway.uchicago.edu  http://www.abunimah.org/  Reprinted with author's permission

[Ed: This essay gives an US Muslim perspective on Western perceptions - and portrayals - of terrorism, and the impact of this on Muslims, in the US and elsewhere.]

Are recent warnings by the US government about the threat of terrorism a reasonable precaution to a real and present danger, or are the media and government once again promoting anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hysteria under the guise of vigilance against terrorism? Whatever the case, the arrest of an Algerian man last week, allegedly for trying to enter the United States from Canada with bomb-making materials, has set off yet another free-for-all of media speculation about vicious Muslim plots to blow up the United States on the eve of the millennium.

To many people this hysteria appears to be nothing more than a reasonable response to a frightening possibility. But if we examine the US government's own data about terrorism, it is a completely unjustified overreaction which puts at risk civil liberties and freedoms of all Americans, but especially those of Arab and Muslim Americans who are, despite all the lessons of Oklahoma City, TWA 800 and other incidents, still the first to fall under suspicion and to be victimized by repressive measures such as the use of secret evidence and passenger profiling.

So, is all the focus on the threat of "Islamic" terrorism justified and based in fact?

To put the issue in perspective, I examined the State Department's own annual report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1998."

( http://www.state.gov/www/global/terrorism/1998Report/1998index.html  )

Below I have summarized some facts from the report about events that the State Department defines as international terrorist incidents (in other words excluding domestic terrorism by purely US-based groups, such as anti-abortion groups). The report uses the following definitions:

"The term 'terrorism' means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. The term "international terrorism" means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country. The term "terrorist group" means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism."


There has been a significant and consistent downward trend in international terrorist incidents in the period 1979-1998.

In 1998, number of international terrorist incidents, at 273, was the lowest ever in the period, and the annual number has shown a consistent downward trend since it reached a peak of 666 in 1987.


Since 1995, Latin America has consistently had the highest annual number of international terrorist incidents of any region, followed by Western Europe. In 1998 there were 110 attacks in Latin America, 48 in Western Europe and 31 in the Middle East. There were 21 in Africa and zero in North America.

The incidents in Latin America are primarily connected to conflicts in Colombia and Peru, while the vast majority of incidents in Europe are, according to the State Department, attributable to Basque separatists in Spain, the conflict in Northern Ireland, the Kurdish movement in Turkey and various anarchist groups in Greece. Middle East or "Islamic" terrorism was not a significant factor in either region.

In terms of casualties (deaths+injuries), the highest number has consistently been in Asia since 1993. In 1998 there were over 5,000 in Africa, 635 in Asia, 405 in Western Europe, 68 in the Middle East and zero in North America.


Consistently, the vast majority of events defined by the State Department as "anti-US attacks" occur in Latin America. In 1998, there were a total of 111 anti-US attacks. Eighty-seven were in Latin America, 13 in Western Europe, 5 in the Middle East and 3 each in Africa and Eurasia.

By far the most common target of terrorists are businesses. Attacks on diplomats, military or government installations are relatively rare.

The total number of US fatalities from these attacks in 1998 was 12, all related to the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.


Here are the numbers for the total U.S. Citizen Casualties Caused by International Attacks, 1993-98. Note that the figures show no upward trend.

1993   7 

1994   6 

1995 10 

1996 25 

1997   6 

1998 12

(The 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania caused a large number of non-US casualties in addition to the US victims).

These numbers suggest that terrorism is a relatively insignificant cause of death and injury to Americans compared with other forms of violence. For example, according to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, 14 children are killed EVERY DAY in the United States by handguns. In the State of Illinois alone, 320 are killed each year (National Center for Health Statistics, 1997).


Although the level of international terrorist events in the Middle East has been lower than in other parts of the world, such violence as occurs is principally related to local political conflicts, not to generalized "hatred of the West" as often portrayed in the media. The numbers and descriptions of patterns of violence in the Middle East suggest that as in other regions like Northern Ireland, violence diminishes when broad-based political processes or solutions are set in motion. The State Department report, acknowledges that the downward trend in terrorism "reflects the improved political climate that has diminished terrorist activity in recent years in various parts of the world."


There is a complete disparity between the facts about international terrorism as presented by the government on the one hand, and the media, official and popular response to the issue on the other. There is no objective connection between the frequency of terrorist attacks originating from and occurring in the Middle East, and the amount of attention that such attacks receive. President Clinton and other government officials have repeatedly defined terrorism as one of the greatest threats facing the world.

There is little or no media attention to the facts about terrorism, as reported by the government, and a generalized willingness to continue to blame and speculate about the Middle East as a principal purveyor of violence. This situation continues to hurt and marginalize Arab and Muslim citizens of the US, and to distort public perceptions about the Middle East, a region in which US taxpayers are being asked to invest a lot of money, often in the name of "security."

Each and every life lost due to terrorism is one too many and of course there must be vigilance against terrorism, and support for genuine efforts to prevent it. But clearly other policy agendas, totally unrelated to public security, are being served by the obsessive focus on Middle East terrorism, when the facts suggest a more balanced approach would be appropriate.


** Freedom of Expression in Bangladesh **

Check out the International Freedom Of Expression Exchange (IFEX) Clearing House, Toronto Canada. They send out alerts when editors/reporters experience assaults/attacks, death threats, arrests etc. (which there seems to be an awful lot of in BGD these days). They also announced an upcoming Media Watch report entitled State Of Press Fredom In Bangladesh In 1999. IFEX is at web site http://www.ifex.org/ , alerts e-mail alerts@ifex.org . Media Watch seems to be a Bangladesh organization, email media@bdonline.com  .


** American Intl School/Dhaka Teaching Vacancies for 2000-01 **

Qualified teachers interested in any of the following positions at the American International School/Dhaka for next school year are invited to contact the Registrar, Anne Blackburn, to complete or activate their application file. Local candidates for these positions will receive priority consideration until February 3, 2000. Commencing February 9, recruitment efforts will focus on recruitment fairs in London and the United States. More information is available on the school's website.

2000-01 Vacancies

Elementary School Principal Elementary School Counselor Various elementary level classroom positions, preschool - grade 4 Elementary School PE Elementary School Music Middle School Counselor Middle School Language Arts Middle School Science/Math Middle School ESL Middle School Spanish/French Middle/High School Music (Band/Chorus) High School Counselor High School English High School Social Studies High School Spanish/French High School Math (AP) K-12 Librarian

American International School/Dhaka 11 United Nations Road Baridhara Dhaka Bangladesh tel: 880-2-882-2452 fax: 880-2-882-3175 email: info@ais-dhaka.net  website: http://www.ais-dhaka.net/ 

** Contemporary Bengali Instruction **

Nondita Chowdhury offers Bengali instruction to individuals and groups:

+Course 1, Survival Bangla - 20 2-hour sessions focusing on speaking and understanding +Course 2, Basic Bangla - 20 2-hour sessions with the introduction of reading and writing +Individual instruction - tailored to students needs

Ms Chowdhury was principal of Heed Language Centre (1991-97), and has over 20 years experience in Bengali instruction. Lessons given at her school in Gulshan or learner's home or office. Courses cost Tk6000 per person for groups of two to seven, or Tk7500 for one person, includes all materials. For more information, email bangla@bicn.com , include your name & telephone number.

** Have Fun, Get Webby, Join the bicn.com Team **

Harold & I are finally ready for another volunteer or two to join the bicn.com team. It's a way to make a contribution to the community, while gaining / improving your Internet skills. It's fun (we think), and the time commitment required is reasonable (on the order of four hours per week is fine).

You can build your own volunteer job description from one or more of the following areas where bicn.com could use your help:

*Associate editor (generate content for the newsletter/website) *Event editor *Proofreader / fact checker *On-line presence developer (generate links to bicn.com at other web sites, generate visitors to bicn.com through online promotions) *Off-line presence developer (flyers, banners, media releases, participation in community events, partnering/exchanging with off-line organizations) *Advertising manager (this can be a paid commission position if you are keen) *Web site developer

Residence in Dhaka is not required, since most things get done through email and the Web anyway. Both expats and Bangladeshis are welcome (of course). For a mutually rewarding experience, a committment to work together through May 2000 (the end of this publication year) is required. At the conclusion of your stint (unless you like it so much you stay on forever ...), your name (alias?) will be permanently enshrined at the website as a bicn.com team member emeritus along under a suitably impressive title ( html://bicn.com/aboutbicn/missionteam.htm ).

If you are interested, email news@bicn.com  with a brief description of yourself and your interest.


** Erratum: 2000 _IS_ a Leap Year (Oops) **

I erred in the last issue when I said 2000 was NOT a leap year. (Thank you to the numerous subscribers who pointed this out. There *must* be a closet proof reader among you!)

Well, 2000 *IS* in fact a leap year. Century years divisible by 400 *are* leap years; the rest are not. My apologies for the error and any inconvenience caused thereby.

** Burns Night in Dhaka: Celebrate the Birth of Scotland's National Poet **

The Dhaka Caledonian Society is holding their annual celebration of the birth of Scotland's National Poet, Robert Burns, on Thursday 27th January. It will be held at the British High Commission Club and starts with drinks at 7:30pm, and dinner at 8pm. There will be a raffle, live Scottish music, Expatria will sing for us, and of course, there will be the usual scrumptious Scottish fare. Tickets are GBP15 or Tk1500. Limited to 150. Email michael.mackie@lineone.net .

** The Latest on the ICCDR,B Ball, 7:30pm 18 Feb, Sonargaon Hotel **

Has the trip down to Mohakhali been putting you off buying tickets to this event? Procrastinate no longer - personalized ticket delivery to your home or office is now available at no additional charge, courtesy bicn.com. The community event calendar listing for this event has the details, see below. Please don’t wait until the last minute to order … this is Dhaka, after all where phones fail, hartals happen, and things generally just don’t happen instantaneously.

Some great door and raffle prizes plus auction items have been organized – I heard “air tickets” among other things. And there’s still time to become a corporate or individual sponsor to support ICCDR’B work – email vbrooks@icddrb.org  for more info.


From Switzerland on 7 Jan 00: “Eid greetings and Eid Mubarak. Eid-ul-Fitr is being celebrated here today. We wish this Eid-ul-Fitr will bring happiness for all people of Bangladesh. Let the happiness be continued time ahead. Let the dream of the people who struggling like you for a egalitarian and democratic society be succeeded. Best wishes and Eid Mubarak.” -- K.S. Hossain, Chairman, SAHRRAD, email: saphr@datacomm

From India: “I am an American working in India for last 15 years on improving standards in zoos and getting zoo and wildlife authorities to work together. Now I have decided to try and get the zoos of the entire south Asia region to associate since that is what other regions around the world do. If I succeed in catalysing a south Asian Regional Zoo Association, the western zoos will be better able to help some of them improve. There are other advantages as well, intra-regionally. One of the ways to build interest in the region as a unit is to inform the zoo community about what's going on in other countries. Therefore, I need information and news about the Dhaka Zoo. I don't have a contact there anymore. Does anyone on this list know anyone who is interested in the zoo, or has volunteered there, or knows anyone who works there ... and who could help me. We publish a monthly magazine and I am trying to get monthly news of all the zoos of the south Asian region for it. -- Sally Walker, Zoo Outreach Organisation, India. Email zooreach@vsnl.com  .


All events are in Dhaka unless otherwise noted. Entry to some events is restricted (eg to members) – contact the organizers for this information.

18-22 Jan – Asia Regional Fair Trade Exhibition Dhaka 2000, at Bangladesh Shishu Academy. 32 craft stalls representing eight Asian countries, organized by ECOTA (Efforts for Craft Organizations Trading Advancement, email ecota@citechco.net , web http://www.peoplelink.org  ).

21 Jan – Soiree Chant at Alliance Francaise de Dhaka 6pm. Launching ceremony of the book “Parisian Portraits” by Roana Haider, followed by a performance by Nazmul Hossain Rubel, a scholar of the Indian Council for cultural relations for Bangladesh. Email alliance@vasdigital.com  .

20-22 Jan – SAARC Golf Championship, Kurmitola Golf Club.

21-31 Jan – Exhibition of Abdus Sattar, Divine Art Gallery, Sonargaon Hotel, 9am-9pm daily.

Sat 22 Jan – UN Women’s Association (UNWA) Monthly Activity. Visit a local newspaper. For details and sign up, email unwa@bicn.com  .

Mon 24 Jan – British Women’s Association (BWA) committee meeting, 7pm Nordic Club. Any BWA member can attend to discuss something with the Committee. Email bwa@bicn.com  .

Wed 26 Jan - Engineers' Continuing Professional Development Meeting, 7pm British High Commission Club. An informal meeting to discuss how Chartered and Incorporated Engineers of all institutions can achieve the CPD days they are now obligated to undergo each year whilst in Bangladesh. Light refreshments will be served. For more info, contact I K (Tim) Khan, ICE Representative Bangladesh tel 601031, email hprendel@citechco.net  or Colin Benham, DFIDB Engineering Field Manager, tel 8822598, email c-benham@dfid.gov  .

Wed 26 Jan – UNWA Coffee Morning, 3pm [sic!]. Email unwa@bicn.com  .

Thu 27 Jan – Disco Party, Canadian Club, 10pm – 2am. Tickets Tk250 at the bar or gate, while supply lasts.

27-29 Jan – Shahnai Concert & Manipuri Dance, Osmani Memorial Hall 6:30pm. Shahnai (classical Indian reed wind instrument) by Ustad Bismillah Khan, and Manipuri dance by Tamanna Rahman. Presented by AIDS Prevention Programme Implementation Committee (AIPPIC). Email news@bicn.com  for ticket info.

27-29 Jan - US Trade Show 2000, sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Embassy. At the Dhaka Sheraton. Interested U.S. firms or their representatives please contact amcham@bangla.net  for further information.

Fri 28 Jan – Alliance Francaise de Dhaka River Cruise. Meets at AFD 9am sharp. Tk500 non-members, Tk400 AFD members & students, Tk300 child under 12. Email alliance@vasdigital.com  .

Sat 29 Jan - BWA January lunch, 12:30pm, Thai House. RSVP bwa@bicn.com  or by phone. Cost the usual Tk300. 

[sic!] Sat 30 Jan – Bengali Classical Dance by Aninsul Islam (Hiroo), organized by Asian Study Group, 6:30pm. Performance by noted exponent of the traditional Bharatanatyam dance form, followed by a lecture on the style. Event is in a private home, maximum attendance 40, email asgdhaka@hotmail.com  for more info (including correct date, given that 30 Jan is not a Saturday…) and reservations.

Mon 31 Jan: Submission deadline for next issue of BICN. Email your announcements, ads, letters, etc. to news@bicn.com  .

Mon Jan 31 – UNWA Monthly Lunch, 12:30pm at El Toro in Gulshan. Sign up and payment at General Meeting. Email unwa@bicn.com  .

29-31 Jan – Biswa Itema (also called Tablig Jamat), Tongi. The biggest assembly of Muslims after the haj in Mecca. Nearly 1.5 million Muslims from around the world join this annual pilgrimage. [Ed.: It would be great to get information on this event in general and this year’s in particular – URLs, photos, text are all be welcome.]

Wed 2 Feb - BWA annual general meeting 3pm, venue TBA. Volunteers to stand for the committee are wanted - if interested email bwa@bicn.com or contact a current committee member. Note AGM quorum is two-thirds of the full members. Associate members cannot vote but are encouraged to attend.


Thu 3 Feb - BWA New Year dinner. Invitation only, invitees will be full and associate members plus associate member waiting list, and their spouses/partners. Ladies attending should bring a small gift <Tk 200 value.

Fri 11 Feb – Valentine Dance, Canadian Club.

Fri 18 Feb - ICDDR,B Hospital Endowment Fund Ball ("Diarrhoea Ball"), 7:30pm Sonargoan Hotel ballroom. For more info email vbrooks@icddrb.org  . Tickets are Tk1500 from ICDDR,B External Relations Office in Mohakhali. Or for personalized ticket delivery to your home or office at no additional charge, email tickets@bicn.com  including the event name; number of tickets wanted; your name, address, and telephone number; and best times to contact you.

Sun - Tues 14-16 May, Oslo: European Network of Bangladesh Studies Sixth Workshop, "Bangladesh - Changing Identities and Economic Transformation," hosted by the Department of Sociology at the University of Oslo, with NORAD funding. For more information, see the website http://www.bath.ac.uk/Centres/CDS/enbs.htm 


Scottish Country Dancing, Monday evenings, Australian Club 7:30pm.

UNWA English Conversation Classes, every Thursday 3-4pm. For details, email unwa@bicn.com  .


WANTED TO BUY: to furnish an office room, in good condition & reasonable price: (1) used chairs / loveseat / coffee table / side tables / lamps. Prefer an existing (matched) set, I'm flexible about which pieces are included; will consider individual pieces however. Cane, wood, or wrought iron. (2) Used desk, table(s), bookcase(s)- imported or above-average local quality. Wood, steel or wrought iron. All items, I can take possession anytime from now to mid-March. Email a brief description, offering price, and location of items to sbennett@bicn.com  .

+Visitors to BICN website since inception (Apr 98): 20,326 (739 in the last two weeks). BICN ezine subscribers: 567 (+25 in the last two weeks)

+Personal classified ads and community organization and event announcements appear FREE. Advertising rates apply to other items. Discounts available for small businesses, advertising packages, etc. Contact news@bicn.com .

+BICN Fans - support BICN by using these links for your online shopping:

Barnes&Noble (books, magazines, music, software)



TravelNow (discount worldwide car/plan/hotel/train bookings) 



EthnicGrocer (ethnic groceries, cookbooks, etc.) 



Click to recommend BICN to your friends


+Mr Kashem's Roving Rickshaw Bookstore ordering information - Email your inquiry or order to books@bicn.com .  Special orders most welcome.  Mr Kashem provides FREE personal book and magazine delivery service to your home or office in Dhaka. For overseas orders:

1. We ship at cost from Bangladesh via FEDEX courier or airmail. Tell us what books you want plus the ship-to country, and we'll send you a quote for these two options.

2. BICN handling charge is USD3 for each order plus USD1 for each item.

3. Once your order is finalized, prepayment will required by USD or CAD check on a US or Canadian bank, or an international money order / bank draft, made out to Sara Bennett, and snail mailed to Sara Bennett, c/o nhc, 4823-99th St., Edmonton AB Canada T6E 4Y1.]