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The Way It Is - Emdad Rahman

Pure poetry

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Artistic brilliance with the radiant Shamim Azad

By Emdad Rahman

I first met Shamim Azad at a community event in 2004. She is a poet who uses aspects of Asian folk and oral traditions with chanting and percussion instruments and was specially recruited from Bangladesh to work as a primary school teacher in London. A published writer with over 15 years of experience in working with the community the talented artist has published many books of fiction, essays and poetry.

Borrowing her broad narrative style from Chaucer, her improvisational technique from Rimbaud, and mystically connected to the living spirit of William Blake, Azad has, like these earlier greats, made herself both subject and object of her verse. Her work is poetry without intellectual boundaries, where internal landscape and worldly concerns are metaphysically united.

In my interview with Shamim, she talks about herself and her poetry. Her spiritual quests, her socio-political convictions are candidly and exuberantly explored. In essence we get a glimpse of this wonderful woman and what she is about.

Working in two languages, she says, gives her a different take on the world, but she would now like to focus on working in English. “I would like to cater for multi cultural audiences who can read English. Because I found that once they know my work, they're keen on my work in Bengali as well.”

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Streams, tributaries, rivers and oceans

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As the “alternate stream” gathers pace EMDAD RAHMAN meets UK Convenor Ohid Uddin

Ohid Uddin has emerged in recent years as one of the most powerful and articulate voices of the new consciousness in Bangladesh.
In an era of name-calling and sour dogma, his work and that of the Bikolpodhara (alternate stream) party in Bangladesh calls for reconciliation and self-empowerment. In a culture obsessed with therapies and experts, he insists that the healer is within each of us. In a time of widespread fear and confusion, he returns again and again to the power of love and forgiveness.
A native of Deulgram in Beani Bazar, Sylhet, Ohid first entered the public eye in the early 1980s when he began working with groups in areas around his locality to look at ways to help Asian youth in Britain.
Ohid, who is described as a “multimedia activist.” is the Vice President of the National Executive Committee of the rising star known as Bikolpodhara. The erstwhile politician is also the party’s UK convener and hails from a ‘mere’ family of fifteen in Deulgram, Beanibazar.

The young Ohid found himself boarding a plane to the UK in 1977. The son of the much respected Master Farmuz Ali, the founder of Deulgram High School was enrolled at Birmingham’s Thomas Telford High School and before long he began to excel in his studies. After attaining a Diploma in computer science from Liverpool Tech college, the talented youngster pursued further business studies at Warwick College.

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The Minister talks

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Exclusive Interview with Bangladesh Social Welfare Minister Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid

In a groundbreaking interview Emdad Rahman meets a distinguished guest from Bangladesh. This is the first Bangladeshi Parliamentary Minister to be interviewed by Cyber Sylhet.

The Bangladesh Social Welfare Minister, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid is overseeing a big shake-up in Bangladesh. He believes everyone has a crucial role to play and can make a unique and growing contribution to the delivery of public services. Widely acknowledged to be an extremely hard-working individual, Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid has spoken out on subjects ranging from the welfare of orphans, to the rehabilitation of drug abusers and the support of the not so fortunate. In fact the Minister feels so strongly about the current efforts being taken to improve social welfare that he has made it his personal mission to make sure that absolutely nothing jeopardises this.

I met with the Minister to discuss issues in the present climate.

ER: Assalamualaikum. What is the purpose of your visit to the United Kingdom?

AAMM: Wa-Alaikumussalam. I have had official appointments with various ministries in relation to disabled peoples affairs. I have also been attending seminars and gathering information for a Bangladesh Government project, which will support those that are homeless. The second stage of my visit has included meetings with various community organisations and individuals. Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) invited me to attend their annual training camp, which was held in Leicester. I was also invited to address a large audience at the recent Islamic conference, which was convened at Stepney Green School.

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Moulana Mohiuddin

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Moulana Mohiuddin is from Dhaka, Bangladesh and is a prolific scholar and thinker of Islam. He is the son of a distinguished academic and studied at one of most the famous educational establishments of Bangladesh. He is a renowned Mufassir of the Quran and travels widely for the purpose of Dawah. Recently, he was invited to the United Kingdom to visit leading Islamic and educational establishments. He is currently on his fourth visit here. Emdad Rahman was recently allowed some time in his presence. This meeting took place at Markazul Uloom, an Islamic Institute in Dalston, London. Moulana Mohiuddin Khan gained his Madrasah degree in 1955.

This was followed by an additional Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) degree soon after. Soon after he began working for ‘Pasban’, an Urdu daily in the capacity of Junior Sub-Editor. In 1957 the Moulana was made Editor of the ‘Daily Aaj’. Moulana Akram Khan, a distinguished and reputable scholar took him under his wing during that period and the newly graduated Moulana found himself also working for the ‘Daily Azad’. It was soon evident that the real reason for this was to revise Moulana Akram’s works on Quranic Tafseer. This assignment took three years and Moulana Mohiuddin speaks extremely highly of the valuable experience gained under the tutelage of the great Moulana, which has stood him in good stead ever since.

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Surreal musings, philosophical meanderings and inspired comedy

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EMDAD RAHMAN meets an all round groovy gal

Don’t let the name fool you… Amy Anderson has been described as “a skinny Margaret Cho” and “a heterosexual, Asian Ellen”. Amy would describe herself as “a funny American girl who happened to be born in Korea and adopted by Swedish parents in suburban Minnesota”.

Long before she graced the stage of a comedy club she was performing as a musician. A singer and pianist since the age of two and also an accomplished guitarist, Amy eventually earned her B.A. in classical music from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.

Ultimately, Amy decided music was not her calling and hearkened back to the advice of her first grade teacher, Ms. Nickel: “Amy, you should become a comedian… now go to the principal’s office.” After a lengthy stint in the principal’s office, and a couple years working as a temp, a waitress, a dog walker, a luggage salesperson, a boarding school dorm mother, a boy choir manager and a behaviour modification specialist for autistic adults, she decided to check out the Minnesota comedy scene. She spent six years working in Minneapolis/St Paul as a comedian, theatre and commercial actor, sketch writer and performer before fleeing to sunny L.A.

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