Bangladesh: journalist could face death sentence

This seems like a worthy cause, but how much is the American Jewish Committee actually hurting Choudhury’s chances of acquittal or clemency by campaigning on his behalf?

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Bangladeshi journalist and the editor of Blitz, the largest tabloid English-language weekly in Bangladesh, is currently facing a sedition trial for speaking out about the threats radical Islam poses in Bangladesh. Mr. Choudry’s trial is set to begin on [Oct. 12], and if he is found guilty, he could face the death penalty.

AJC and other human rights organizations are calling on world leaders to press Bangladesh to end its persecution Mr. Choudhury, who was arrested in November 2003 when he tried to attend a conference in Israel and imprisoned under extremely difficult conditions. Although he was released last year thanks to the tireless efforts of many government officials including US Congressman Mark Kirk, the Bangladesh government continues to harass Mr. Choudhury, intent on silencing him and his views.

In May 2006, AJC presented Mr. Choudhury with its Moral Courage Award recognizing his efforts to promote dialogue between Muslims and Jews and his courage to speak the truth against Islamic extremism. However, the Bangladesh government prevented him from visiting the United States to receive the honor.

Speak out for Mr. Choudhury by emailing Ambassador Shamsher M. Chowdhury and calling on the Bangladesh government to grant Mr. Choudhury his freedom. Urge US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to echo these calls and urge the Bangladesh government to free Mr. Choudhury.

See our last post on Bangladesh.

    It would be interesting to see reactions if groups like the AJC didn’t add to the chorus for him. “Pro Israelis silent on Bangladesh: journalist killed for pro Israeli support.” It might even be a headline on this blog, no?

    1. Solidarity is cruelty?
      So, Bill, the AJC is hurting Choudhury’s case by supporting him? My first response is who on earth else is supporting him? Look him up in google news and it’s mostly right-wing and Israeli newspapers reporting the story. Liberal defenders of free speech don’t seem so interested in Choudhury, because they don’t like his message.

      But your suggestion that the AJC are hurting him by their solidarity is also worrying because – if true – it implies that Israel-hared is so strong that it completely blinds Bangladeshis any truth that interferes with the Israel-hating worldview. That’s either a pretty contemptuous view of the Bangladeshi street – or very disturbing.

      1. Yes, sometimes
        Look, I am not happy about it, but it is a fact that solidarity efforts can sometimes be counterproductive. It is indeed a very disturbing trend that progressives in the West have ceded the cause of free speech to conservatives and especially neo-conservatives. As we have noted before, worldwide, secular pluralists are lining up with the neocon right while the once-secular “left” aligns with the Islamist right. This a very dangerous trend, and fighting it is sort of WW4 REPORT’s raison d’etre.

        There is a struggle within Islam being waged globally between modernism and fundamentalism, and, counterintuitively, the Western left is allying with the latter, and the neocons with the former. This is problematic on two counts: First, the left-jihadi alliance constitutes a betrayal of the left’s own values, and costs it much legitimacy in the court of public opinion. Secondly, the right-secular alliance constitutes a betrayal of secular values (which have traditionally belonged to the left), and, worse, delegitimize the secularists in the Islamic world as the pawns of imperialism or Zionism.

        1. Mostly
          I completely agree with your second paragraph. And I agree that solidarity can be counter-productive (e.g. I wouldn’t want the British National Party to back me up if I got into trouble). But I think it says something very worrying that support from American Jews can be seen as potentially sealing someone’s fate in Bangladesh.

          It is also terribly sad that the left – on the whole – has failed to back Choudhury, because Israel is seen as such a unique evil in the world by most of the left.

  2. BLITZ
    Blitz no way near to be the leading papers of Bangladesh. The Daily star and Bangladesh observer are the two leading english newspapers.

    I do not know that charges.If its a harrrasment one then this might be a good time to save him as the govt is changing in Banglaqdesh.