The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Greater Sylhet Welfare and Development Council - is it kosher?

I smell a rat...

Bit of background: the UK has received immigrants from all countries in the Indian sub-continent; but several communities come from small areas. For instance, Mirpur District in Kashmir has a population, it seems, of around 350,000. Yet the UK population of Mirpuri origin number around 300,000 [1].

Similarly, a large proportion of the UK population of Bangladeshi origin (ie, from ex-East Pakistan) come from the Sylhet division of Bangladesh (according to this, with a population of around 9 million out of a national total of 140 million.)

The best-known concentration of Sylhetis in the UK is in the East End of London, around Brick Lane.

End of background!

Reference is made to the Greater Sylhet Welfare and Development Council in a Guardian piece today on a novel - Brick Lane by Monica Ali - which just happens to be up for - the Guardian First Book Award:
The Greater Sylhet Welfare and Development Council, which represents many of Britain's 500,000 Bangladeshis, has written an 18-page letter to the author outlining their objections to the "shameful" way the book depicts the community.

On the organisation, searches on Google and AllTheWeb produce a blank.

The closest I get is the Greater Sylhet Council - six items from Google on that name.

Is this the same outfit as the GSWDC? If so, why the different name? It is a translation thing?

Or is the GSWDC a fake, dreamed up for the purpose of a publicity stunt courtesy of a gullible Anglo hack?

Why is there no named source? To run a story like this quoting an anonymous source is ludicrous. Why can't the source give his name?

I've emailed these points to the Readers' Editor (ombudsman, kinda) at the paper - one can but wait and see.

  1. Note the BBC's use of the expression Azad Kashmir on their site. Surely the Beeb isn't taking sides on the Indo-Pak Kashmir dispute? (The Indians would call it Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.)

MORE (December 7)
Of the two original versions amongst the pieces pulled out by Google News, the fullest version to date is in the Telegraph of December 4, bylined Amit Roy.

He's sceptical about the organisation:
The Greater Sylhet Welfare and Development Council, which says it represents thousands of Bangladeshis in Britain, demanded cuts in it.

Emphasis mine: the BBC and Guardian pieces on the list aren't thus qualified.

And names Kalam Mahmud Abu Taher Choudhury as the leader of the protesters.

Oh, and Brick Lane lost in the Guardian awards.

That's enough Sylhet. Ed.

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