MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Monday, October 30, 2006
Journalist Salah Choudhury on trial for his life and ignored
When someone speaks out for what every decent person believes, he deserves the support of every decent person. When his life is threatened for his stands, the world should stand with him. Sadly it seems that is not the case. Since I last wrote about the ordeal of Bangladesh journalist Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury, there have been no dramatic developments. Choudhury spoke out for moderation and dialogue with Israel, and warned about Islamist extremism. This earned him about 18 months in jail, an indictment for sedition, and violence perpetrated against himself, his newspaper staff and his offices.
Some human rights groups took up his cause, a few journals and a few congresspeople have tried to help him. However, the United States State Department, so anxious to promote Muslim democracy, has been largely silent. The great journals of the world that are usually so concerned about rights of journalists and freedom of the press are largely silent. There have been no outraged editorials in the Guardian, The Independent, the Washington Post, the Nation. The New York Times ran a single op-ed on his case in 2003. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been silent. Their silence is deafening. HRW posted an item about beating of Bangladesh journalists, but they have resolutely ingored Salah's case.
Concerned about his plight, I wrote to the Washington Post. Jeff Weintraub took up the story and tells it better than I can below.
Please do write to mainstream newspaper editors to HRW, Amnesty, your local officials, and the Bangladesh government representatives in your country. Some of the addresses we gave previously for Bangladesh officials do not work. Their government is in flux, and that can only make the situation worse.
Here are addresses that should be functional:
Mr. Md. Lutfozzaman Babar
Mr. Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury
Bangladesh Consulate in New York
Amnesty International Contact Information:
Please be civil in all communications, and please represent Salah's case for what it is - a human rights and civil rights case, regardless of political overtones. No journalist should be jailed for publishing his opinion, and nobody should be tried for "sedition" for expressing their ideas. Please ask rights groups and newspapers to stand up for what they are supposed to believe in.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Farewell to Robert Rosenberg - Pioneer of Internet for Peace
Robert Rosenberg, the tireless, ingenious and fearless journalist and pioneer of Internet for peace, was struck down by cancer and is dead at 54.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Israel careens to the right: Government of national disunity
The looming addition of Avigdor Lieberman and his rightist Yisrael Beitenu party to the Israeli government has caused consternation among many.
Continuing with the new style of political appointments that have no relation to qualifications, Lieberman is to be Minister of Strategic Threats. He is a perfect fit for this job, since he has no military or geopolitical credentials, just as Amir Peretz, Minister of Defense, has no military credentials. It appears that Lieberman's function may be issue to strategic threats. Ha'eretz commented that Lieberman, who wanted to bomb the Aswan High Dam not long ago, is a strategic threat. He is sure to generate interesting and alarming newspaper copy. [more]
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Courageous journalist Salah Choudhury may face death sentence
Those who have been with MidEastWeb for a while know the case of Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury only too well. Salah is the Bangladesh journalist who was one of the first to warn about the rise of Islamist radicalism in Bangladesh, explaining how it was carefully incubated in Madrassahs and encouraged by corrupt authorities. The world was surprised when bombs began going off all over Dhakka some time later, but Salah was not surprised at all.
Speaking out against radical Islamism and advocating dialogue and diplomatic relations with Israel are apparently "crimes" punishable by death in Bangladesh. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is on trial for sedition, a capital offence, because of those stands. His trial begins October 12. Believe it or not, the story is even worse than that.
Monday, October 9, 2006
Peace TV? Might Happen
Ada Aharoni, director of IFLAC and a founder of the "Four Mothers" peace movement sent us a notice about creating a Peace Satellite Television station. It is an important idea that should be implemented.
Ami Isseroff [more]
Sunday, October 8, 2006
Islamo-Fascism IV: The Twentieth Century dictatorships and Islamism
In the twentieth century, the world was plagued with several totalitarian dictatorships. As we saw previously, the formal ideological rationales for these dictatorships differed, and, in the case of the USSR, the regime as implemented had little relation to the ideological design. Nonetheless, in practice, all the regimes looked very much alike - They all shared characteristics of repression, belief in undemocratic rule, subjugation of the interests of the individual to that of the collective, curtailing of civil rights, "thought control" and "mass ideology." There was a "right way" to think and a "wrong way" to think, and those who thought the "wrong way" were doomed, pariahs. They were labeled enemies of the state, reactionaries, left-deviationists, un-German, anti-Soviet, anti-Fascisti. They were beaten with truncheons or shipped off to Gulags or concentration camps. The dictatorships were not confined to the first half of the twentieth century. As the world is beginning to understand, Maoist China was fully as bad or worse than anything seen in the days of Stalin: tens of millions of people were murdered. The deposed right-wing Argentine dictatorship shared many of these characteristics on a lesser scale. [more]
Saturday, October 7, 2006
Islamo-Fascism III: How to measure Fascism
Previously, we saw that no two experts seem to agree on the precise definition of fascism. The only formal definition of fascism, by a fascist, is the encyclopedia article by Mussolini (actually co-written or ghost written by Giovanni Gentile), The Doctrine of Fascism. As we noted, a 1921 note appended to that article shows that Mussolini had first coined the term, gathered a movement, and then set about formulating a philosophy that would justify whatever he was going to do. Reading Mussolini's article, and likewise a subsequent article he wrote, "In Germany: Fascism" we find his "philosophy" of fascism is a lot of repetitive, bombastic and sometimes contradictory bumf. The only clear ideas that seem to emerge are that the individual is subordinate to the state, that spiritual "idealism," consisting of action, struggle and death cult, are superior to "materialism." [more]
Friday, October 6, 2006
Islamo-Fascism II: What some experts say
Previously, I noted that while US President Bush never equated Islam and fascism, it was not advisable to use this term as a slogan in official political rhetoric because it angered Muslims and labeled the speaker or writer as an Islamophobe. "Islamo-Fascism," like the term "Fascism" itself, was born out of the need for political spin. As such it appears to have outlived its usefulness.
Regardless of its attractiveness as a political slogan, we can ask whether "Islamo-Fascism tells us something about the relation between Islamist extremism and Fascism. [more]
Islamo-Fascism I: What Bush said, and why it is objectionable
US President Bush's remarks about "Islamo-Fascism" and "Islamic Fascism" created quite a stir. As usual, most of the commentary has added to the confusion, intentionally or out of ignorance. The storm refuses to go way, so we better tackle it. I will do so in a series of articles.
Monday, October 2, 2006
Let's Get Serious about Iraq
US politicians, and most of the world, offer two unpalatable options for solving the problem of Iraq:
1. "Keep doing what US and allies are doing and continue to disaster."
This dismal conclusion is evident from the debacle of Joe Lieberman in the US . Lieberman offered more of the same. His opponent offered "get out now." Even among US Democrats, there seem to be only different flavors of disaster on the menu.
Sunday, October 1, 2006
Signs of Peace - for the hopeful
There is no reason yet for the Hizbullah, anti-"Zionists" and JDL supporters to panic. However, those looking for signs of renewal of the peace process have had some grounds for encouragement.
Opposition Israeli Likud party Chairman, Benjamin Netanyahu, a long time foe of negotiations and of the Oslo peace process, endorsed the intention of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to meet with PNA President Mahmoud Abbas. This statesmen-like move was especially interesting considering that polls show that if elections were held today, the Likud would trounce Ehud Olmert's Kadima party with 24 mandates.
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