Bangladesh is a country about which most Westerners know little or nothing. Somehow the news that does get through is not good. Not long ago, a young woman writer was forced to flee into exile because she was asking for rights taken for granted outside the Muslim world. Now there is the case of Salahuddin Shoaib Choudhury. In Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, he founded a magazine with the title The Weekly Blitz, and has published and edited it. The magazine calls for moderation, and rejects the Wahhabi extremism that Saudi Arabia is doing its utmost to export there, as everywhere, and which is causing such political and moral chaos. More than that, Choudhury believes in interfaith dialogue and advocates opening relations between Israel and the Muslim world.
First armed gangs came to bomb his office, and to loot its computers and funds. Then the authorities arrested him and maltreated him, persecuting his family. Now he is up for trial on a charge of sedition, no less, as “a spy for Israel.” The penalty for sedition may very well be death. On his website, Mr. Choudhury writes that he is proud to be a “Zionist” — the inverted commas are his — and continues, “My enemies could never crush my spirit and faith.” Also, “Time has taught us to endure extreme adversity.”
This remarkable and courageous man should not be abandoned to monstrous victimization. Everyone who believes in our common humanity should protest on his behalf. If there is any hope for the Muslim world it lies in free spirits like him. Until he is able to say what he thinks, none of us are really free either.