'America, Don't Let This Courageous Man Die'
Posted by Daniel Freedman
Fri, 19 Jan 2007 at 10:13 AM
A D V E R T I S E M E N T|
A D V E R T I S E M E N T|
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury's ordeal is on its final stretch, one
way or another. On Monday the final part of his trial begins and he
told us this morning that he expects to know within two to three months
whether he'll face the death penalty.
As we wrote in November, "he goes on trial for his life on counts of sedition, treason, and blasphemy."
none of that has changed, he told us this morning. The "same radical
judge" is presiding over the trial, and "although the government has
changed and the public prosecutor should have been changed," he told
us, "it hasn't."
Choudhury, a Bangladeshi journalist, is accused, he told us, of
"praising Jews and Christians," "spying for Israel," and being "an
agent of the Mossad" -- because he advocated relations between Israel
and Bangladesh. He's also accused of being critical of Islamic
radicals, which is considered blasphemy. He committed these crimes by
writing articles favorable toward Jews and Christians.
He did so,
he says, because while he was born and raised in a Muslim country
(Bangladesh) where he was taught a "religion of hatred" and a "religion
of Jihad," his father "told from an early age not to listen and to
learn for himself." He did and became friends with Jews, realized the
lies he had been taught, and wanted to end "the culture of hatred." He
says that if "Muslim countries want peace they need relations with
Mr. Choudhury says he holds no hope of getting a fair
trial. The judge, he says, is a radical Islamist who has already made
clear his view that Mr. Choudhury is guilty. "In open court ... he made
comments that by praising Christians and Jews I have hurt the sentiment
of Muslims ... which is a crime," the journalist says. Other comments
made by the Judge have made it clear, Mr. Choudhury tells me, that the
judge's goal is a conviction and a death sentence. Mr. Choudhury
describes his judge as a "one man judge and jury," and Mr. Choudhury
cannot even present witnesses in his own defense.
And so his trial, which he describes as "just a
game" to those running it, goes on with the same death sentence hanging
over his head and with little hope of a fair trial.
We wrote in the Sun on his case. The Sun editorialized on the case as well. Bret Stephens wrote about Mr. Choudhury in the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times editorialized on Mr. Choudhury back in December 2003:
may now be among the world's most dangerous countries for journalists.
That makes Mr. Choudhury's courageous stand for Muslim-Jewish dialogue
all the more admirable -- and vital to defend. Most recently Canadian Member of Parliament and former Justice Ministier, Irwin Cotler, wrote on Wednesday in the Jerusalem Post:
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is not yet a household name. But he should be ...
What can we do to help Choudhury? Quite alot. As I wrote in November:
as Mr. Choudhury reiterated to us this morning, he thinks that the new
government in Bangladesh will be more amenable to pressure. He told us
that "if they would be hearing complaints from the international
community" then they are likely to intervene in the trial.
the trial is prejudged and Mr. Choudhury will be given a death
sentence, the president of the country can drop the charges if the
national interest is at stake. And here's where America comes in.
America gives Bangladesh $63 million a year. The American people and
government might begin to question what we're getting for our
If the threat of reconsideration of that aid
allotment isn't enough, 70% of Bangladesh's garment exports are to
America. Bangladesh's economy is totally dependent on the garment
industry. If America threatens to block imports from Bangladesh and to
switch, say, to Indian products unless Mr. Choudhury is freed, that
could have quite an effect, Mr. Benkin suggests.
can write to their representatives in Congress, urging them to support
resolutions in Congress supporting Mr. Choudhury. (Update: Here is a resolution to support.)
Letters to the State Department are in order as well. Secretary Rice appeared to punt the case when Congressman Weiner raised the issue. The State Department's main switchboard number is: 202-647-4000.
can also contact the numbers of the companies that import from
Bangladesh and the representatives in Congress from those districts. We
post those numbers here.
remain amazed at Mr. Choudhury's courage. He ended our conversation
this morning telling us that "let them do their job and whatever they
want because finally they will be defeated." He said: "This is a war
against Islamofascism and radical forces and we have to fight it and
win the battle ... for the sake of a peaceful world."
America don't let this courageous man die.
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