Sri Lanka attack: A common enemy and the resurgence of ISIS

Little less than three years ago on July 1, 2016 – IS attackers invaded the Holey Artisan Bakery cafe in a diplomatic enclave of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Gunmen killed 20 hostages many of who were tourists, foreign dignitaries and two police officers before authorities raided the restaurant and terminated the nearly 12-hour standoff. Soon after, ISIS claimed responsibility for this attack.

Time may have elapsed but Dhaka did not forget dismay of that dark night.

We did not forget the precious lives of the two Bengali students who came to visit their motherland. Nor did we forget the nine Italians and seven Japanese men and woman who lost their lives in our acreage.

Dhaka remembers with immense trepidation and utmost concern as yet another horror of ISIS is unleashed upon our cousins in Sri Lanka.

Horror sweeps the land of Lanka

From the latest news received from The Guardian, the explosions at eight sites across Sri Lanka have now left the death toll at 350 and above. More than 500 has been injured.

On Sunday 21 April a series of synchronized bombings took place in Sri Lanka. The explosions targeted Christians at Easter Sunday church services in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa, and sightseers staying in hotels in the capital.

On Tuesday 23, two days after the tragedy Islamic State released a video claiming responsibility of these premeditated attack.

The capitals that have been hit by the joint attack includes:

Colombo – Where six out of the eight explosions were carried out

Negombo – Explosion at St Sebastian’s church

Batticaloa – Blast at the Zion Church

A timeline of events

21 April 2019 8.45 am – Explosion at Shangri La hotel in Colombo

21 April 2019 8.45 am – Explosion at St. Anthony’s Church in Kotahena, COLOMBO

21 April 2019 8.45 am – Explosion at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in NEGAMBO

21 April 2019, 8.45 am – Explosion at Kingsbury Hotel in COLOMBO

21 April 2019 8.50 am – Explosion at Cinnamon Grand Hotel in COLOMBO

21 April 2019 9.05 am – Explosion at Zion Roman Catholic Church in BATTICALOA

21 April 2019 1.45 pm – Explosion at New Tropical Inn in Dehiwela, near the national zoo. This was the seventh explosion.

21 April 2010 2.15 pm – Explosion at a house in Dematagoda, COLOMBO, during a police raid where three police officers were killed. This was the eighth and the final explosion for the day.

Within noon, the country was consumed in a pandemonium of destruction, damage and loss.

Widespread hysteria engulfed the entire country forcing the Government to block all major social media networks and messaging services, such as Facebook and WhatsApp by 2.20 pm.

Later within the hour, the government declared an indefinite islandwide curfew. By evening, it was learnt through the Tourism chief, that the outbreak of bombings caused the death of at least 32 foreigners and severe injury of 30 more among who many were Bangladeshi.

The bombers

According to Reuters, a combined effort of nine suicide bombers created the entire operation among which, one was a woman who blew herself up in front of two of her children. Killing them all with several police officers, informed a Sri Lankan investigator.

The Sri Lankan authority further added that they continue to investigate whether Islamic State (IS) who claimed responsibility for the coordinated blasts, had provided more than symbolic support, such as by training the attackers or building the bombs.

On Tuesday, 23 April – a group of eight men who appear to be the Sri Lanka bomb attackers is seen at an unknown location at an image taken from video uploaded by the Islamic State’s AMAQ news agency.

Standing in front of a black flag of the Islamic State, the eight men announce their devotion to the group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

“We pledge allegiance … and to obey him on everything either in easy or difficult conditions,” they say, before praising the God.

All the men in the video had their face covered in black scarves except one. The one man who appear to be the mastermind of the entire attack and who also had his face uncovered is known as Mohamed Zahran.

The Sri Lankan intelligence has deduced that Zahran is a Tamil-speaking preacher from the east of the Indian Ocean island country. It looks like he is well known for his militant views, according to Muslim leaders and a Sri Lankan intelligence report.

Rendering to Reuters, leaders of three prominent Sri Lankan Muslim groups voiced that they had held several meetings with Sri Lankan defence and intelligence officials in the past three years to warn about Zahran’s radical beliefs after he began posting content that included messages supportive of Islamic State.

They also informed that Zahran was at a time, an individual with less than 200 followers. However as soon as he began posting extremist videos on his Facebook page in 2016 that called for violence against non-Muslims, his name became more alarming among the Muslim community.

The resurgence of ISIS?

After this barbaric tragedy, many questions have bubbled to surface. ISIS’s influence and ideological strongholds were perceived to have declined over the years.

They have been driven out of Mosul surely but the recent atrocity goes on to show that ISIS is not at its end after all.

Whatever their motives may be, their acts have prompted strong apprehension that has spread from our minds and around the world, leaving us feeling quite deserted and exposed to yet another dose of attack.

Possible link to Christchurch attack

“The initial investigation after the Sri Lanka bombing has revealed that this was in retaliation for the New Zealand mosque attack,” junior minister for defence Ruwan Wijewardene of Sri Lanka told the parliament.

He did not elaborate on why authorities believed there was a link to the two tragedy that has occurred in a span of thirty –eight days. The New Zealand mosque shooting involved the murder of 50 people at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch during Friday prayers on March 15. A gunman single-handedly carried out those attacks.

This is yet to be proven whether this is indeed retribution of the earlier attack at Christchurch, New Zealand. However, given the nature of the tragedy and the extensive loss of lives, it is one of the primary notions that must be addressed.

As the argument continues to rise, officials say that the deadly attack would have taken weeks to organize and New Zealand Prime Minister Adern expresses serious scepticism to the idea that these two attacks are if indeed interlinked.

The story of Rafsan Sabab and WHAT A SHOW!

Rafsan Sabab, a young boy enrolled in cadet college since grade seven harboured big dreams. Dreams that began with his great affinity towards the power of words. While growing up, he had always been attracted to the command of speech and the influence it brought on people’s lives. Since then, he was an active member of the national debating circuit through the early years of his school and college.

A dream is but not a dream

However, as soon as he joined university, he became more familiar with the concept of presenting himself in a stage with a keen audience. The spark within him was ignited and he soon became a force to be reckoned with. Fueled further by his inspiration from legendary hosts such as – Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Kimmel. His mind clicked that, in order to pave a profession out of his passion, anchoring was possibly the best way to move forward. And indeed it was.

The prologue

Rafsan Sabab What a show

In his sophomore year in university. He approached Ayman Sadiq, founder of Robi 10 minutes school to pitch the idea of a show combined with both education and entertainment – Edutainment. This was launched, known as the 10 minute school show and was the inception of his career as an anchor.

Soon enough, afterwards a production company Dhaka Live for a talk show approached him. Rafsan did not believe in genericity. He wanted something more creative.

With this thought in mind, he embarked upon the journey of a YouTube show,“Hashtag with Rafsan Sabab” which later continued for 4 episodes.

This show focused on a celebrity’s digital profiles only. Creatively attempted to only give limelight to the guest’s social media and digital persona.

Let the show begin!

Rafsan Sabab had bigger dreams about his own show. This included a live audience who will be able to share their immediate response from the performance in the stage.

Rafsan Sabab What a show

“I wanted to be able to hear the laughter of the crowd if the punch line really worked!

Added Rafsan.

His friends and family believed in his thoughts. He wanted to be different by breaking the stereotypical characterization of Bangladeshi talk shows.

“As a host, I thought of becoming better researched, effective and at the same time more entertaining towards my guests and my audience. Therefore, I put together a dedicating team handpicking each one personally. Approaching them one at a time.”

He further added.  

It began at first with a production team, ‘Sketch board Interactive owned by Ziaus Shams and Sakib Mansur Zihan who are co-founders of What a Show. The show started gathering a stellar crew by bringing onboard Lamia Tasnim, a professional model and co-founder of What a Show.

Rafsan Sabab What a show

A dream was a dream no longer with his show becoming a reality.

It began with the idea of redefining the talk show trend in Bangladesh.

By making it more interactive, fun and at the same time create an alternative marketing platform for everyone. The vision of one day hosting the Oscars really did not seem that farfetched after all.

“From where I am right now, it is not just about the final destination but rather about the gradual steps I take on the way. After graduating from IBA, University of Dhaka, I chose not to enter the corporate world. Undertaking anchoring as a second profession would not have allowed me the time or energy to launch ‘What a Show’ at this scale. Moreover, that decision has been truly worth it.”

Expressed Rafsan gladly.

WHAT A SHOW, indeed

Rafsan Sabab believes that every individual is both experienced and talented in his or her own fields.

Rafsan Sabab What a show

“When inviting guests, at first my team and I, we were looking to invite people who understood the concept of our show. Aiming for Celebrities who were sporty and could build a rapport on stage almost instantaneously.”

Said Rafsan.

Episode one: Nabila and Pritom

On the first episode, two guests were invited. Pritom Hasan, composer, singer, music video actor renowned for his famous songs, “Local Bus” and “Beainshab”. Followed by an amazing actor and anchor, Masuma Nabila.

“The first episode was an instant hit with absolutely no skepticism from our guests having being invited in the first episode of a YouTube Show. The energy was great and we really did hit it off in front of an enthusiastic live audience.”

Exclaimed Rafsan!

‘What a show’ is indeed different with conversations that were engaging and flowed freely both ways. There were the two interactive games – ‘Kache ashar oshomapto golpo’ and ‘Cholen cinema banai’ each with its own style of humor. Unlike most shows in the country, the set is casual at the same time to create a cozy vibe by the looks and feel of it. The conversational style is unique with positive humor ensures the contents of the guests are being promoted through our show.

Episode two: Tahsan, Taskeen and Ridy

Rafsan Sabab What a show

For the second episode, What a Show was grander and more glamorous. This episode consisted of a very famous international dancer Ridy Sheikh who is originally a Bangladeshi but lived in Russia for the most part of her lives. Followed by The famous singer and actor Tahsan Khan who was the second guest appearance of the show.

Tahsan, along with the third guest appearance, Taskeen Rahman, actor promoted their joint movie– Jodi Ekdin. The episode ended with an amazing individual live performance from both Tahsan Khan and Taskeen Rahman as a cherry on top for the audience and viewers.

Epilogue

What a Show will be launching episodes fortnightly, each intending to be better than the one before.

Rafsan says, “We see a lot of different content in social media every day. We are very quick to jump and criticize if it does not satisfy us. We see many different kinds of trends and if the content is good, we appreciate it but we almost never ensure that it is being reached in our own circle. My request to you is that if you do like my work; please spread it within your own circle so that together we can create a more impactful journey in people!”

Subscribe to their YouTube channel to watch their upcoming episode to be aired soon and stay up to date with their Facebook page.

How Holi became a festival of the masses in our country

Anyone relishing his or her adulthood in the early ’80s has been well acquainted with the quintessential Holi song ‘Rang Barse Bhige Chunar Wali’ from the classic movie Silsila. After three decades, the age-old, romantic song cast with Amitabh Bachaan and Rekha is still the song to be played in every street when the festival of colour is upon us.

Read More: Here’s how you need to prepare for Holi this year! Happy Holi!

Every year, Bangladesh, like our neighboring country, celebrate Holi with great enthusiasm and zeal. The festivity is mostly celebrated in a grand nature at Shakhari Bazar, Old Town. Although Holi indeed is a celebration that stems from the Hindu religion, this festivity breaks communal religion boundaries and encourages people of all age and religion to participate in this grandiose festivity of colour.

Origins

Hinduism, a religion enriched in rich history celebrates Holi to signify the demise of winter and the arrival of spring, colour and festivity in the surrounding nature. In some cultures, this festivity stems a stronger meaning where holi bids goodbye to broken relationships and encourages taking a step towards forgiveness and fostering love towards renewed relations.

In our country, Holi is commonly known as ‘Dol Purnima’ or full moon. This lasts for an entire evening on the night of the Purnima and the following day. In Hinduism, the first evening is known as Holika Dahan and the following day has many names such as Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Phagwah.

The night of full moon, (Holika Dahan) is concerned more towards the religious aspect of the festival where people gather to perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that the wicked nature within every individuals is destroyed. The next day we celebrate the eve of holi festivity, which we call the Rangwali Holi.

Holi in Dhaka

As experienced in the streets of Shakhari Bazar, Holi calls for every soul to embrace a jovial spirit of the day where people smear each other with colour (abir) and drench each other with water guns and watercolor filled balloons. Holi celebrates the beginning of a new season blossoming with love and aims to break boundaries between every caste, hierarchy, race and religion. The thrill of playing with colors is seen in every yard, rooftops and alleys. It is often a very popular spot for photographers with the intention of capturing these priceless moments.

Over the years, Holi in our country has surpassed the religious barrier and become a festival of the masses.

People from all stages of life come together in celebration of spring in frivolous dance, music and color splashing. The festival of Holi truly comes to life with the participation of people from all the corner of the society.

Colloquially celebrating Holi is also known as ‘Rong Khela’ in our country. On this day, those celebrating also often indulge in a customary drink known as ‘bhang’ made from cannabis. Whilst it is slightly intoxicating, it is drank only a celebrating purpose and in order to make this even more memorable.

The history and the myth

Similar to all other festivities in Hinduism, the beginning of Holi is also commendable in history.

The tale of Hindu deity Sri Krishna and Sri Radha gave birth to this ceremonious day.

As a child, Krishna was born with dark skin tone a demon Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. Nonetheless, throughout his adolescence he has been worried wondering if the fair-skinned beautiful Radha would ever reciprocate the romantic feelings, he has towards her. Krishna’s mother who also shared his anxiety approached Radha for his son and requested her to paint Krishna’s face with any colour she would like.

The festivity of colour, Holi, began since then and Krishna and Radha has been a regal couple throughout our legends.

Every year, Dhakeswari National Temple offers religious song and prayers to begin the Holi festival followed by rong khela to reminisce the abundance of love that fostered between Sri Krishna and Sri Radha and embrace the festivity of color with open arms.