Key events that shaped our social, political and cultural history
By Arfa Shahid
December 16, 1971: Bangladesh Celebrates Victory Day
After the British rule ended in the Indian subcontinent in 1947, East Pakistan was declared as part of West Pakistan’s territory, despite the fact that the two regions were separated by more than 1,000 miles of Indian territory. Although the two states shared the same religion, significant cultural and racial differences separated both states. By late 1960s, East Pakistan began to call for autonomy. In March 1971, Bangladesh claimed independence and West Pakistani forces were called in to suppress the revolt. After a brutal military campaign in which an estimated one million Bengalis were killed and 10 million became refugees, India, led by Indira Gandhi, provided substantial clandestine diplomatic, economic and military support to Bangladeshi nationalists. Two weeks after India’s invasion of East Pakistan in support of the independence movement there, 90,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to Indian forces, thus resulting in the secession of East Pakistan to Bangladesh.
December 17, 1903: First Airplane Flies
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, made history this day in North Carolina by flying the first successful self-propelled heavier-than-air aircraft. The gasoline-powered biplane stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight. The Wright brothers grew up in Ohio and developed an interest in aviation after learning of the glider flights of the German engineer Otto Lilienthal in the 1890s. Although the brothers did not have a formal college degree, they possessed extraordinary technical ability and a sophisticated approach to solving problems in mechanical design. They built printing presses and in 1892 opened a bicycle sales and repair shop. Soon, they were building their own bicycles, and this experience, combined with profits from their various businesses, allowed them to pursue actively their dream of building the world’s first airplane.
December 19, 2005: Ahmadinejad Bans All Western Music on State Media
Then newly-elected President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced a total ban on western music on state-run television and radio in the country. Ahmadinejad had previously displayed an aversion to Western culture while he was the mayor of Tehran in 2003. For instance, he had issued a ban on all outdoor advertisements featuring British football star David Beckham. However, the ban on music was simply a restatement of a previous official policy, first put in place following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and which dictated that all music, with the exception of religious-themed music, would be banned. Then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini had stated that “music dulls the mind because it involves pleasure and ecstasy, similar to drugs. It destroys our youth who become poisoned by it.” In the decades that followed, prior to Ahmadinejad’s election, tolerance for Western music had increased significantly.