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Sedition or Patriotism?

03/09/2006

I was saddened to learn that my friend Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury, publisher of the Bangladesh weekly Blitz, will soon stand trial for "sedition" in Bangladesh, a charge that can result in capital punishment.

What are his "crimes?" Shoaib warned repeatedly about the rise of extremism in his country. He also tried to travel to Israel in order to bring a message of peace, and became the Bangladesh representative of IFLAC, a harmless international organization that encourages dialogue through culture. The enemies of democracy, peace and sanity have advanced the absurd claim that this group is somehow collected with nefarious Israeli intelligence organizations. Shoaib's "offences" are that he exposed the growing influence of Islamist fanaticism in Bangladesh before anyone else was aware of the problem. His courage brought down the wrath of the forces of evil upon him. He spent many, many months in jail, and was released only through the efforts of good friends abroad, US congresspersons and international press associations.

By raising a warning flag about the growing influence of extremists, Shoaib performed a signal service to Bangladesh democracy and the safety and well-being of its citizens, as well as a service to the world community. This was shown subsequently by the wave of terrorist attacks that claimed many lives in Bangladesh. Had Shoaib's warnings been heeded, perhaps these terrible attacks could have been avoided. Instead, he was jailed and subjected to a Kafkaesque legal procedure that is not over yet.

Al-Qaeda and their fanatic allies are not waging a war of civilizations. The terrorists and fanatics do not represent Islam and they represent no civilization. Rather, the fanatics are waging a war against civilization, against religion and decency. All over the world, a great struggle is being waged between enemies of peace and sanity and those who defend it. In each country, especially in the Muslim world, voices of sanity, decency, courage and moderation are needed to stand against fanaticism and intolerance. Shoaib is one such voice, a true patriot of the world, as well as a patriot of Bangladesh.

Shoaib is certain that the sedition charges will be overthrown, because of course, there is no evidence to support them. I am not so certain, because I know that evidence is one thing, and trial verdicts can be something quite different. In the best of all possible worlds, wise judges would understand that Shoaib acted in the best interests of Bangladesh, and that those who are trying to thwart him are the true enemies of the Bangladeshi people. Alas, we do not live in the best of all possible worlds. I fear that without our help, Shoaib may face a long jail term or worse, which would be a blot on the conscience of the Bangladeshi people. Everyone who hopes the best for Bangladesh and for human rights must raise their voice to ensure that these absurd charges are dismissed, and that the book is finally closed on this absurd miscarriage of justice.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000435.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 2 comments

I sent this to Human Rights Watch and suggest that others do the same.

Posted by Murray Levine @ 03/09/2006 04:09 PM CST

very silly no, a cyclone in a teapot ovr totally nothing. bling people who want to keep their eyes close and cant accept the truth try to shut up a intellectual if you ask me

Posted by moiz esufally @ 03/12/2006 02:51 AM CST


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