Sat, 2007-02-24 05:51
US Congressman Visits Persecuted Journalist
By Dr. Ricahrd Benkin
Dhaka, 24 February, (Asiantribune.com): Republican Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio held a thirty minute meeting with dissident journalist, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury at the US Embassy in Bangladesh. Chabot, whose district includes the city of Cincinnati, became taken with Choudhury’s plight after a resolution supporting him was brought before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on which Chabot serves.
Choudhury has faced continued persecution since 2003 for exposing the rise of Islamist radicals, calling for relations with Israel, and advocating religious equality. He has been beaten, tortured and imprisoned for his efforts, and mobs have been allowed to attack him and bomb his newspaper with impunity. House Resolution 64, introduced by Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) calls on the Bangladeshi government to drop charges of “sedition, treason, and blasphemy” against Choudhury. If convicted he could face the death penalty. Chabot became a co-sponsor of HR 64.
As few US lawmakers visit Bangladesh, a meeting with Chabot during his 20-hour stay was the hottest ticket in town. Chabot, however, turned down almost all of them to meet with Choudhury, in addition to only two members of the government and two former Prime Ministers.
Speaking from Dhaka, Choudhury said he was touched by the Congressman’s sincerity for his situation and for his humanity. After he requested and had his picture taken with the Congressman, Choudhury said, Chabot then took out his own camera and asked if he could have a picture with the pro-Israel Muslim.
Chabot asked Choudhury if he was being treated well and spoke with him about a range of topics including recent progress against the growing power of Islamist radicals in Bangladesh.
- Asian Tribune -
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