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Thursday, January 11, 2007

They Wish To Shut Our Voice [by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury]

The Jewish Week, New York, (01/12/2007)
They Wish To Shut Our Voice
by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Editor's Note: The author is a journalist on trial and facing the death penalty in his country for praising Jews and Christians, attempting to travel to Israel and opposing Islamic militants, according to the presiding judge. The author, who submitted this essay to The Jewish Week, has received support from the State Department and members of Congress. He was given the Moral Courage Award by the American Jewish Committee in May.
Dhaka, Bangladesh — Islamist radicals are intolerant. They don't want anyone to raise a voice and say "enough to the increasing trend of spreading religious hatred and provoking people with the false interpretations of Koran."
For example, they say, "Jews and Christians are your enemies, go for jihad [holy war] against them." Islamofascist clerics openly give sermons preaching that the Koran forbids taking Jews and Christians for friends, but in fact the verse refers to a time when Islam was developing and is merely cautioning against depending on Judaism and Christianity for your understanding of religion, for guidance in theology, etc.
Islam surely does not forbid friendship between Muslims and non-Muslims; in fact, a Muslim man can take a Jewish or a Christian woman as his wife and mother of his children.
Certainly the Islamist radicals are waiting to execute voices like those who oppose their call for "holy war." 
I have faced persecution since 2003 when I first wrote in my newspaper, Weekly Blitz, about how the jihadists were being bred in madrassas [Islamic religious schools] and kindergarten madrassas. We wrote that cadres for the militant organizations have been recruited from the thousands of madrassas that have mushroomed throughout the country. Many are located along the Indian border in the West and North, where young radicals from both countries are taught the virtues of Orthodox Islam.
Funding for the madrassas comes from donations from local communities and international Islamic charities, such as the Saudi Arabia-based and immensely wealthy Rabitat Al Alam Al Islami.
The madrassas fill an important function in a country where basic education is available only to a few, especially in the impoverished countryside, but, as Bangladeshi journalist Salahuddin Babar said: "Once the students graduate from the madrassas, they either join mosques as imams or similar religious-related jobs. There are … thousands of mosques, so there is employment in that field. But they find it difficult to get employment in secular institutions. Certain quarters grab this opportunity to brainwash them, make them into religious fanatics rather than modern Muslims."
According to latest estimates, there are at least 64,000 madrassas in Bangladesh, most of which are beyond any form of governmental control or supervision. Moderate Muslims note that the Taliban was born in similar madrassas in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province and in Afghan refugee camps, where they promoted a new radical and extremely militant model for Islamic revolutions.
Evil forces became active in suffocating my voice by bringing ridiculous and false charges against me of sedition, treason and blasphemy. To justify their notoriety, they said, "By praising the Jews and Christians, by demanding relations between Bangladesh and Israel and by forecasting the so-called rise of Islamist militancy in this country," I have tarnished the image of Bangladesh in the international arena.
Almost every month, I have to face a radically inclined judge in Dhaka, who has the absolute power to award me capital punishment for my "crime" mentioned above. In 2006 alone they tried twice to kill me, while my family and I live in extreme danger at all times.
Radical Islamist leader, Noor Hussain Noorani, personally threatened my life, terming me an "agent of Ahmadis." Noorani heads the radical Khatmey Nabuat Movement (KNM), which clashed with police several times when it tried to attack the Ahmadi prayer services in Bangladesh. The Ahmadi is a Muslim group that has angered fundamentalists with its belief that Muhammad was not the final prophet, and its belief in the crucifixion of Jesus.
The reason behind Noorani's anger was publication of a number of articles and editorials in Weekly Blitz exposing the nasty attack on the Ahmadi community by Islamofascists.
These threats were not new to me. When I was arrested on Nov. 29, 2003 and sent to prison, some of the prisoners, who were considered to be supporters of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, tried to physically assault me or even kill me inside the prison.
Some of my friends abroad say I should leave Bangladesh and take asylum abroad. But to me, there is no dignity or honor in retreating from my mission of peace. I know for sure, if I will retreat from this very "battlefield," which is filled with religious fanatics, or abandon my mission, anyone else might think twice before raising a strong voice to say no to jihad.
I am grateful for the support of many friends and admirers around the world, although their concern has yet to prod Bangladesh authorities to resist Islamic radicals.
The case brought against me possibly stands as proof that Bangladesh is not deserving of its claim to be a moderate Muslim nation. n
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the publisher and editor of Weekly Blitz (, published from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Special To The Jewish Week

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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