Monday, January 15, 2007

The Choudhury Case in Context

Librarians for Fairness recently republished a good overview of the case of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury:

Choudhury's crime: calling for diplomatic ties between his native Bangladesh and the State of Israel.

"The High Court has ruled that by conveying the message of the rise of Islamic militancy in Bangladesh to Jews and Christians, and by advocating relations between Dhaka and Jerusalem, I have damaged the image of Bangladesh worldwide," Choudhury said.


Choudhury, who is free on bail, said there is little chance of receiving a fair trial, and he probably will be sentenced to death. He spoke from a secure landline since his cell phone is under government surveillance, Choudhury said.

"The judicial system is corrupted by Islamic radicals," he said. "By continuing this trial and convicting me, they want to send the message that anyone else in Bangladesh who thinks as I do will face the same consequences."

Sadly, Mr. Choudhury is far from the only victim of Islamist persecution in Bangladesh. Novelist Taslima Nasreen was forced to flee the country in the early 1990s after an organized Islamist campaign demanding her murder. As with Choudhury, instead of standing against these threats, the Bangladeshi authorities themselves hounded Ms. Nasreen. As best I can determine, the fatwas against Ms. Nasreen remain in effect.

According to Reporters Sans Frontieres, in Bangladesh "55 journalists were hounded and threatened in 2005 for articles deemed “un-Islamic” by fundamentalists."

How has this situation come to pass? A Bangladeshi writer based in Sweden offered this analysis to Daniel Freedman of the New York Sun:

After the major political changeover in 1975, what's actually going on in Bangladesh is gradual Islamicisation of the country. And by the time, coming out from the 'closet' the Islamist forces are now dominant in the country.

They're deep seated in society too, where they're dominating social life and behaviour, now. Hardline demands are intensifying day by day at national and local levels. As a result, a grave and grim danger is fast unravelling for the country, its secular people and minorities as well as its moderate Muslims, which also threatens the region.

Mr. Freedman's correspondent lays out in detail how Bangladeshi Islamists have taken advantage of both a permissive environment and large foreign subsidies to spread their cultural and ideological influence. The consequences of this creeping radicalization have been disastrous for free expression:

Secterianism, bombing of shrines, minority bashing (especially the Hindu minority), killing secular writers and thinkers -all are now on the rise. Islamist zealots are "wildly" calling for changing the political system from democracy to Sha'ria-based governance. More fatwas(religious edicts) are now emanating from the foaming mouths of Islamic fanatics and their likes. Soon the entire nation will be> radicalised. That's why Ms. Eliza Griswold, a reporter of The New York Times, painted a very grim picture of Bangladesh in her very damaging write-up on January 23, 2005, in its magazine section, in which she boldly proclaimed that Bangladesh is becoming a 'hotbed' of Islamic fundamentalism.

So, it's no more the internal issue of Bangladesh, it's turning dangerous rapidly for the region. Hence the international community has to act on containing these thriving evil forces, before it's to late. Otherwise, the threatening boast of the 'mullahs'--the gradually forced Islamicization of the country--will become a reality sooner than anyone can imagine.

Bangladesh is one of the world's most populous Muslim nations, with nearly 150 million people. If its troubled democracy is replaced by Islamist totalitarianism, the people of Bangladesh aren't the only ones who will suffer.


Post a Comment

<< Home