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Bangladesh Textile Today - A Comprehensive Publication for the Textile & Apparel Industry
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Reaction on Charlie Hebdo cartoon on Bangladesh; We may produce for you but we are not Charlie...

The new edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has gone on sale, with a cartoon depicting Bangladeshi garment workers as shown in figure 1. The cartoon shows garment workers wearing ragged and tear dress sewing t-shirts. The t-shirts are with the slogan ‘I am Charlie’ print on its chest. The cartoon depicts that the workers are happy in making such garments and the feelings they are expressing is ‘All hearts are with you’. The news of the publication of the cartoon has reached to the people within the garment sector of Bangladesh. The title of the cartoon on Bangladesh published within the copy that has been printed more than five million copies was ‘Meanwhile in Bangladesh’. Charlie Hebdo is a magazine that has earned huge popularity for its cartoons, many of which hurt people’s beliefs and respects. The magazine has been publishing many cartoons making fun of many religions and their idols including Islam.  The French magazine’s office has recently been attacked by two or three gunmen reportedly and around 12 persons have been killed. Some of the released videos of the attack indicate that the attack on the magazine was a consequence of its cartoons having deceiving images of Muslim’s Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). The French police has killed the attackers in reply after some combing operation.     Figure 1: Cartoon on Bangladesh in Charlie Hebdo magazine.   The west condemned the attack saying it is an attack on the ‘freedom of speech’ and many world leaders gathered in Paris by the side of French president François Hollande to express solidarity with the magazine. And meanwhile a slogan have been spread throughout the world through social and other media mentioning ‘JE SUIS CHARLIE’ meaning ‘I am Charlie’. Many people have been sharing the slogan to express solidarity with the magazine.     Figure 2: Leaders from around 40 countries gathered in the rally protesting attack on Charlie Hebdo.   Meanwhile after the attack the magazine has published its new issue again with an image of Muslim’s Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) on its cover. And in the same issue the cartoon on Bangladesh also appears. By this time, people in the Muslim world have come out on the street and has protested the publication of the images of their beloved prophet (pbuh). It is to be mentioned that as per Islamic ideology it is forbidden to draw any sort of image of their prophet (pbuh). ‘To Love Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) even more then thyself’ is one of the basic beliefs of Muslims. As per the reports appear from number of Muslim countries, it is clear that repeated publication of the deceiving images of ProphetMohammad (pbuh) is hurting many Muslims. Muslims in many countries has come out on the street to protest such publication.   By this time, the cartoon on Bangladesh as triggered some reactions from the sector. People working in the sector anonymously identify the cartoon as a much planned one to hurt Bangladeshi Muslims deliberately. Bangladesh is a country where more than 90% of its population is Muslim and they bear strong love and affection for Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), and so majority of people working in the garment sector are Muslim as well. The cartoon indicates that poor Bangladeshis are happy receiving such orders of making garment. The cartoon also indicates that poor Muslims are living on such garment making, and so they are with ‘JE SUIS CHARLIE’.     Figure 3: Huge gathering in Chechnya to protest Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Chechen president has led the protest.   After talking with some of the workers of garment industrywho expressed anonymously that they clearly condemn the publication of deceiving images of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). And they mentioned that we love our beloved Prophet and there is no reason for us to say that ‘I am Charlie’.   Some industry insiders opined that there is no reason for Bangladeshi Musim’s to say that ‘I am Charlie’ rather they bear an equal belief that they condemn such publication. Some owners of garment factories expressed that we produce the orders taken from the west as they ask. And it doesn’t mean that we believe what is printed and it doesn’t mean that we wear those garments. They also echoed that we don’t know whether any Bangladesh factory has received any such orders where ‘JE SUIS CHARLIE’ is printed. Even we receive those orders, it can never be meant that we also believe as the slogan means. All of the interviewed persons echoed on the reaction that we may produce as the west place order but we don’t share the same belief and we are not Charlie.   It is to be mentioned that garment making in Bangladesh is one of the cheapest in the world and that’s why the country is producing most of the volume orders for European countries. For last several years western buyers have been criticized for their tight prices for the garments they produce in Bangladesh. For those tight prices many compliance and safety requirements are being unaffordable for many factories in Bangladesh. Skill and performance of Bangladeshi workers are helping western buyers souring garments in a very low price. And so the western consumers can buy garments in a lower price. Recently in a conference organized by Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladeshi Prime Minister urged western buyers for increasing prices for their garment making in Bangladesh. Readymade Garment industry is a buyer driven industry and most of the time the price offered by the buyers are not ethical.   Charlie Hebdo has printed 5 million copies of the latest issue which is 8,233% higher than their usual print run. It is clear how its sales have increased after the incident of 7th January. The incident has no connection with Bangladesh and its garment industry has no benefit on this. So there is no reasonfor Bangladeshi garment sector to be happy after what happened in Paris and what the magazine Charlie Hebdo has published.   French president along with many other leaders from the west has vowed to defend the right of freedom of speech after the Paris attack. Meanwhile some reports has been released that some Muslims throughout France are being harassed and attacked after the incident of 7th January. It is to be added that The Senate of France on 14 September 2010, banned the wearing of face-covering headgear, including masks, helmets, balaclava, niqābs and other veils covering the face in public places, The ban also applies to the burqa, a full-body covering, if it covers the face. France holds the highest population of Muslims in Western Europe. Muslims consume around 10 percent of total French population.


January 2015

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