It’s not the sex, stupid…
Afsan Chowdhury/Dhaka Courier
Poor Mamunul Huq. All he wanted was to have a good time while becoming powerful courtesy the rising tide of Hefazot. He had no knowledge what tech gadgets can do and no one told him that his telephone calls were being listened to. What he should have known is that when a man says he is going to fling the statue of the PM’s father into the river Buriganga, he is a marked man. The last thing he should do is take a woman of questionable marital status to a resort and then get busted.
This is exactly where the personal and the political worlds intersect. And Mamunul has become a good example of that.
Telephones can kill careers
The results as he is the best to know are rather unpleasant. It also terminates a possibly promising political career. Mamun will be around no doubt but he will never be a force like he was before getting caught. Many things will haunt him now including his marriages –which some say may be three by the latest count- his telephone calls, all duly recorded, the possibly second wife’s very disastrous diary revelations about him and the rest.
He is no longer a political being but a sexual one. In an amazing transition, he has gone into an entirely new space. People now think of Hefazot in connection with resorts not madrassas. This is probably how branding works.
People who went after Mamun knew his weakness long back but timing was everything. Mamun didn’t have a clue about what was about to land on him. He should have known better but how would he given that he inhabits a world mentally where electronic surveillance is rather unknown? And all this just after Hefazot had been given enough rope to hang themselves by attacking police stations, police cordons, violent hate speeches, the trap was sprung.
Public, Facebook, sex and freedom to have flings
Public saw the sex and some on the FB including feminists and media workers were robust in defending the rights of an adult individual to have a fling. This was followed by more titillating discoveries of supposedly interesting sex life of the Hefazot leader. The diaries of the “second wife” by her son added the biggest dose of fuel to the fire.
It appears she was feeling very victimized at the hands of Mamun, not sure if married or not. While many were bashing media for exposing all that sleaze, it wasn’t easy to discount the son as it occupied a completely different space, the family. He couldn’t be accused of being an anti Hefazot person or a GOB element. It’s the son of the second, which pushed the knife the deepest into the public image of Mamun.
All this was very interesting to read and social media was full of quips and cartoons and protests in favour of Mamun why not? Nothing beats sex as a public sports and this was in full display before a crowd that was millions strong. Except that a very different game was being played and in this the state was on the offensive but to control not crush a foe. It was aimed at redoing the outfit which has passed into the less friendly hands of Babunagri than that of the Allama’s son.
The socio- politics of the honey trap
Many liberals have accused the ruling party of pampering the rise of the Hefazot but it was inevitable. The political layer of the ruling class which lies at the bottom-the politicians – have more or less failed to deliver. They have more economics than politics in mind.
Both liberals and the Hefazot have read one thing wrong – the power of ideology. Many liberals fear the Hefazot as an anti-liberal force and the Hefazot seeing the crowd at waz read their own socio-political power as per the crowd size.
It’s true that they have the madrassa system and the mosque network but both are not party cadres of any one.
Rural middle class consumption aspiration is as strong as that of the urban lumpen crowd. However, they are culturally closer to Hefazot but being away physically from state forces Hefazot may have felt erroneously of being autonomous. As the Mamun episode shows, the distance between the state and those who challenge it is never that far.
This crowd may also face a crisis next year as remittance money may shrink due to lesser space in the Saudi labour market. ILO has begun to roll out several projects to support the new unemployed caused by corona in the Middle East and that translates into lesser clout of Hefazot too.
Once rural social leaders see the downside of supporting Hefazot and perhaps even a certain element of danger in this, they will move away even further. Hefazot’s accounting will most probably be the next target. Bank records of top leaders have already been called.
The formal state forces are powerful and the link between the Government is now closer than ever. The informal forces can survive by keeping a distance not confrontation. Babunagri said, that AL can go on ruling but nothing will be allowed against Islam.
That is correct but one shouldn’t be surprised if that happens under a new Hefazot leader. And deciding the timing of that isn’t with Hefazot anymore.