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Associated Press “correspondent” Parveen Ahmed

The Islamist activist in Associated Press’ Dhaka office

 By Judi McLeod  Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bangladesh journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib ChoudhuryThe unflagging courage of Bangladesh journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury continues to inspire so many.

Tortured, jailed, cut off from those he loved including his dying mother for 17 long months in a Bangladeshi prison, Choudhury continues to be forced back into court on trumped up charges by the government of his own country. 

The extreme adversity that comes from mental and financial constraint has lasted for the past five years.

The pain imposed on the Dhaka-based journalist began when he decided to confront radical Islam and Jihad and from his insistence without surcease to advocate with his American “brother” Dr. Richard Benkin, an interfaith understanding that calls for open relations between Bangladesh and Israel.

The persecuted Choudhury is a Muslim hero at a time when a despondent needs a Muslim hero.

Slight in stature, relying on thick eyeglasses due to the glaucoma, which advanced when he was denied medication during his jail term, Shoaib Choudhury looms mammoth when it comes to standing up for what he knows in his heart and soul to be right.  No matter how forlorn his circumstances, the spirits of Shoaib Choudhury soar with the eagles.

At the most hindermost at the ever-moving rear of the carping cabal of tormentors in the life and times of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury comes Associated Press “correspondent” Parveen Ahmed.

God only knows there are always those who would seize on what they envision as the vulnerability of a journalist an entire government bearing down on without relief, it is just difficult to take when that journalist is sanctioned by the office of the world famous AP office in Dhaka.

It is not favourtism that the journalistic community expects from AP, but balance, neutrality and dignity for all of the little guys of life.

Some of us know that as brave as we think we are in pursuit of what we know is right, we might not be as resolute as Shoaib Choudhury when the chips are down.

One thing to rail about radical Islam from the safety of a Western country, quite another to stand up to an enemy known the world over for its unabating brutality--on the same home turf.

We can only hope that is the case for AP’s Parveen Ahmed, whose knife was so sharp against Choudhury that she lost no time to fire off a tell-off email to South Asian columnist Sunita Paul, who had written an article on the repression of journalists like Choudhury in Bangladesh.

In an email that Paul called “anti-Semitic”, Ms. Ahmed called Choudhury’s struggling publication the Weekly Blitz an “underground newspaper”.

As one might expect neither Choudhury nor Paul are taking the inflammatory letter sitting down.  Choudhury, who was removed from his office with another employee of Weekly Blitz on March 18, 2008 never stands still.  Personal survival does not afford him that luxury.  Ms, Paul, who is standing right up to Ms. Ahmed, is also asking why AP would allow such conduct from one of its own.

Ever since it was revealed that AP fired its Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Christopher Newton in September of 2002, there are some who would call it an “underground” organization with a sometimes-definable political agenda.

Newton was accused of fabricating at least 40 people and organizations during a two-year period.  Some of the non-existent agencies quoted in his stories included the “Education Alliance”, the “Institute for Crime and Punishment in Chicago”, “Voice for the Disabled” and “People for Civil Rights”.

Ms. Ahmed accuses Choudhury, among other things of “violating our (Bangladeshi) Passport Act by choosing to travel to Israel.  She considers traveling to Israel or even communicating with this country as a serious crime.

“I never heard of such laws in Bangladesh, nor is there anything like this in the penal code of the country,” Choudhury says.  “Possibly such concepts are those like Parveen, who might be representing radical Islamists and notorious terror groups like al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Ms. Ahmed also accuses the Weekly Blitz of “receiving funds from outside”, adding that the publication has been “outlawed”.

If Parveen Ahmed chooses to come on like an activist that is her individual right, but sending tell-off letters to other journalists on the official email of Associated Press is a liberty surely not hers to take.

Meanwhile, Shoaib Choudhury, who hides from no one, faces off the lions in the arena, every time he is forced back before Bangladeshi courts.

Perhaps if Parveen Ahmed wants to moonlight as an activist, she should come out of hiding in the Dhaka AP office.

They’re still open for peace activists to act as human shields in Palestine and Iraq.

Posted 05/4 at 02:47 PM   Email  (Permalink

 This piece is in Category: Canada




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