Monday, October 23, 2006

Freedom of the press under attack - Bangladeshi journalist Salah Choudhury faces the death penalty

Jeff Weintraub: Freedom of the press under attack - Bangladeshi journalist Salah Choudhury faces the death penalty
This is not just a tale of woe, but also a call to action. Over the past decade there have been several significant cases involving the persecution, arrest, and/or or prosecution of writers and intellectuals where international attention has helped to avert, or at least moderate, unjust and repressive outcomes. Some obvious examples include Said Eddin Ibrahim in Egypt, Orhan Pamuk in Turkey, Ramin Jahanbegloo in Iran (where the outcome was far from ideal, but a lot better than it could have been), Kamal Sayid Qadir in Iraqi Kurdistan, etc. International response to these cases, and international solidarity with the victims, are obviously very important to help preserve some space for freedom of expression and to encourage possibilities for political liberty and political sanity.

The case of the outspoken Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, now on trial facing a trumped-up charge of treason with a possible death penalty, is another important challenge of this sort. Bangladesh is generally considered a relatively "moderate" Muslim country, but it is also one in which radical Islamist parties and movements are gaining increasing influence. One sign of these tendencies is the increasingly precarious position of independent journalists, epitomized by the treatment of Choudhury. He has faced years of persecution, including physical attacks and death threats as well as criminal prosecution, for his 'crimes' of criticizing Islamist radicalism and advocating reconciliation with Christians, Jews, and Israel.

Read more here, and then take action!

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