Thursday, August 14, 2008

  • Thursday, August 14, 2008
  • Elder of Ziyon
I have not yet blogged about the trial of Shoaib Choudhury, the pro-Israel editor of The Weekly Blitz, whose Zionist views may get him executed.

Details of the trial have not been forthcoming out of Bangladesh but I encourage you to read this article that nicely summarizes his precarious situation. Excerpts:
There lives in Dhaka one of the elusive souls for whom most of the world, or at least most Western politicians, have been searching: a true Islam-loving moderate Muslim who believes in brotherhood among all religions and respect for all nations by all nations. Unfortunately, it is possible that this priceless and endangered species may soon become extinct. At least since September 11, 2001, world and communal leaders have been touting the virtues of the "moderate Muslims." The express or implicit message is always that Islam has been hijacked by aberrant radicals but if we look to, nurture and promote the moderate Muslims, all will be well with the world. I've found a moderate Muslim, one who loves his religion and sincerely believes and steadfastly writes about his dreams for respect and understanding amongst all the great religions of the world. His name is Sallah Udin Shoaib Choudhury. He may well be executed for those beliefs soon. This Bangladeshi Muslim journalist dares to defy the party line of hatred towards Israel and contempt for all religions other than Islam. Not only does he write about the need for communication and understanding among Muslims, Christians and Jews in his newspaper The Weekly Blitz, but he dared to accept an invitation to attend and speak at a writers' conference in Israel. The topic of the conference was "Education Towards a Culture of Peace." On November 29, 2003, as he was about to board the plane in Dhaka on his way to that conference, Shoaib was dragged from the tarmac and arrested. His crime? He violated Bangladesh's Passport Act which forbids citizens from visiting countries such as Israel, with which it has no diplomatic relations. That law typically carries a fine of $8. What he found out the next day, however, when the magistrate announced it in court, was that he was accused of being a "spy for Israel."

...On September 18, 2006, the Bangladesh government ordered Shoaib to stand trial for sedition. The charges, as read to Shoaib by Judge Md. Momin Ullah on November 13, 2006, informed him that he "made offensive comments on [the] Muslim world, Islam and Muslims in Bangladesh and commented about the existence of al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups, by which you have tarnished the image of Bangladesh in the outside world." Such sedition is punishable by death.

Finally, after years of delay coupled with repeated government-backed episodes of intimidation, brutal attacks and the repeated ransacking of his newspaper's offices, the case against Shoaib Choudhury began on August 6, 2008.

...for a glimpse into the rarified soul of Shoaib Choudhury, hear what I heard when he answered two very obvious questions he fields wherever he goes.

The first question is -- why he doesn't seek political asylum and get out of Bangladesh as soon as possible? His answer -- I heard it with my own ears -- is that if he were to leave, what kind of message would that send to his many silent supporters who want him to succeed, who want greater freedom and broader understanding, but who fear speaking out themselves. He says he won't abandon those people and leave them without any hope.

The second question I not only heard with my own ears, but felt right through my heart. When asked whether he was afraid that he was going to get killed, he said: "Look, everyone is going to die. The only issue is what you do while you are alive." And what he is doing is trumpeting his message, educating toward a world culture of peace. Imagine a world in which people like this were lionized instead of victimized, if they became world-renowned and lauded instead of being threatened and hounded.

Whether Shoaib Choudhury will be given a forum in which to speak and educate all citizens of his sublime worldview remains a question. The Islamic fundamentalists who, in Shoaib's conception of the universe pervert their religion and use it as a tool to oppress and even murder all those who disagree with their worldview, have imprisoned him, tortured him, threatened his children and threaten to kill him. If they remain steadfast in their position, Shoiab will be silenced forever.

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