On 27th of February, 2004, the most significant poet, novelist, linguist, and freethinker of Bangladesh Prof. Humayun Azad(1947-2004), PhD, was attacked by the Islamic fundamentalists while he was on the way back home from the national book fair. They attacked him for his latest novel, Pak Saar Jamin Saad Baad, which portrayed the brutal acts of the fundamentalists to the innocent public, and in the broader scale, to the world. They used chopping knives and tried to cut Dr. Azad's head off. He was bleeding profusely from his left jaw and the back of his head. Dr. Azad, an author of over 50 books and the most outspoken writer of the country, was clinically dead for a few days and later was sent to Bangkok, Thailand, for better treatment. He survived the attempt, but was living in a continuous threat of the terrorists upon returning home. In the first week of July, they even gave him an ultimatum that they would kill him within a month. The fundamentalists backed government of the country failed to protect him and Dr. Azad was kind of forced to fly to Germany receiving a scholarship offered by the Munich University in co-operation with the PEN of Germany. Upon his arrival, he was found dead in his apartment. The German Police said it was a heart attack. But, his death is a mystery to millions of people. The Islamic fundamentalists, who want to make Bangladesh a second Afghanistan, won this time; though Dr. Azad and his writings will be with us forever.
This issue of Shabdaguchha is a tribute to the outstanding human figure, the monument of the country or even the world against fundamentalism, who fought his whole life to educate people other than the traditional socio-religious way. We are happy to publish an interview with him that was recorded in 2002 while he was visiting New York. Surprisingly, in this interview, printed in Bengali, he commented, "The United States has become a Middle-Aged Catholic country." Well, not only fundamentalism, Dr. Azad was against all kind of religious teaching, which, he mentioned else where, makes people 'blind and restricts their creativity from unfolding.' We are also happy to publish 'The Fable of Religious Sentiments,' one of his articles widely criticized by the Islamic group, in translation. Three of his poems are printed in translation too. His letters written to the editor of Shabdaguchha are also being printed. Moreover, we are privileged to share an emotional article written by his daughter, Mouli Azad.
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Shabdaguchha, A Journal of Bengali and English Poetry, Published in New York, Edited by Hassanal Abdullah.