For 17 months starting in November 2003, I was fighting to free anti-Islamist journalist, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury from prison. Quite often, I was alone in this fight, but even when people joined me, I knew that it was my responsibility to bring about his freedom. The Bangladeshis arrested journalist Shoaib Choudhury after he wrote articles exposing the rise of radical Islam in his country and their use of madrassas to recruit more Bangladeshis to their cause. He also advocated interfaith understanding based on religious equality—something radical Islamists considered heresy—and relations with Israel; he tried to go there, too, but the Bangladeshi government refused to him.
And Shoaib Choudhury is a Muslim. Yet, this Muslim has done more actual work to stop the rise of radical Islam and the genocide of innocents than almost all the individuals and organizations that claim to be working on behalf of the minorities. Oh, I know they are being honest when they say they want to help the Bangladeshi Hindus; many travel all over the world saying that. But is the life of Bangladeshi Hindus any better because of it? Is there anyone who can say their lives are better than they were, say ten years ago? Is radical Islam any less a threat to all Bengalis than it was back then? Is the racist Vested Property Act any less a law today than before? And have the murders, rapes, and other crimes against the Bangladeshi Hindus stopped or even lessened? No, no, no, no, and no!
Every day of those 17 months, I reminded myself that if I did not act, if I took a day off, if I decided to let other people do what is needed; then that would mean one more day of imprisonment and torture for the man who is now my brother; one more day when radical Islam could crush those who oppose them. This is exactly what we are facing with the Bangladeshi Hindus. As I told the Indian media earlier this year, “It strikes me how everyone in India knows what’s happening to the Bangladeshi Hindus, but no one is doing anything about it.” Each day without effective action against this genocide-to-be means more murders, more young girls raped, more Hindu children raised as Muslims and forced conversions, more villages once Hindu taken over by Muslims—and less time before it is too late to save the Bangladeshi Hindus and stop the radical Islamists.
That is why we must act now! But there are other reasons as well. Bangladesh is in somewhat of disarray and is expected to hold elections next month with political alliances less certain than they have been in decades. A few officials in private conversations have told me they are ready to repeal the racist Vested Property Act when the next government takes power. A new administration is about to take office in the United States and could be vulnerable to an early human rights effort. Otherwise, signs point to it coming to terms with radical Islam even if it means the end of Bengali Hinduism. There are even promising signs in India. Congress is more open than before having just jettisoned its Communist allies over the United States nuclear deal. And this year, the CPIM suffered defeats in local West Bengal elections for the first time in decades. When I visited Bangladeshi Hindu refugee camps earlier this year, the only politician to go with me was from the Congress Party.
I am an American Jew who has taken up the fight to save Bangladeshi Hindus—in East and West Bengal, where they should find comfort and aid from fellow Hindus. It is my own fight, too; these are my own people. I have visited their refugee camps. I have listened to the words of their children. They are in my heart forever, and I must do what I can to save them!
So where does that leave us?
First, recognize that the time for empty speeches and meetings that lead nowhere is over. An organization or individual that claims to stand for the Bangladeshi Hindus must show that stance with action. Is there anyone among us who is surprised to learn about another rape or murder in Bangladesh or even West Bengal? While it is important to continue documenting these atrocities, the only reason for the mass emails about them is to spur people to action—to do something about it. That could be providing aid and shelter to the victim, public protests, forcing the prosecution of the perpetrator, and so forth. And our only measure of success must be the condition of the Bangladeshi Hindus.
Second, we must put aside our individual egos and recognize that our goal and the welfare of the Bangladeshi Hindus is far more important than any of us as individuals. If we can accomplish something for the people, is it important who gets the credit for it or the praise? But too many people still put themselves or their organizations above the welfare of the Bangladeshi Hindus—and that is a betrayal of our people.
Third, we must organize an umbrella organization that coordinates action to stop ethnic cleansing and prevent genocide. No person or group should be asked to give up their independence, but if we are to succeed in helping these people, we will do so if organized and united. Our enemies certainly are! In fact, I am engaged in such an effort in the United States and want to do the same in India and elsewhere. Let us not dissipate our energies and resources on events that do little good for the people. Let us maximize their impact for the Bangladeshi Hindus.
And fourth, we must commit ourselves to helping these people; to remain focused on results rather than our efforts; to refuse any half measures or offers of money and position that do not include a complete cessation of ethnic cleansing, and end to all persecution of the Bangladeshi Hindus. If an American Jew can come to India to defend Hindus, why would not every one of the 800 billion Hindus in India do the same?
Stand with me and fight to stop the atrocities not just cry about them!
Those who wish to join me—and I will do it alone if I have to—can contact me via email at email@example.com or visit my web sitehttp://www.InterfaithStrength.com and please help by donating to our cause.