Blitz editor faces trial for
anti radical writings
the present interim government is continuing to show to the world that
they are committed in combating Islamist militancy in Bangladesh by
already executing six notorious kingpins of outlawed Jamaatul Mujahedin
Bangladesh (JMB) as well as bringing charges against the abettors and
patrons of such heinous crime, internationally acclaimed award winning
journalist and editor of Weekly Blitz, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
continues to face sedition, treason and blasphemy charges in
Bangladeshi court for writing about rise of Islamist militants in
various madrassas in Bangladesh.
In 2003, Choudhury wrote several investigative reports on the existence and activities of several radical groups in Bangladesh, along with the patrons of such notorious activities.
In one of his article, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury wrote in 2003: “Bangladesh
is known as a 'moderate Muslim country' and its people have the
reputation of 'moderate Muslims,' free of rancor against other faiths.
However, our society, like many others, is being subverted by the
efforts of Muslim extremists.
We must admit that most of the people of Bangladesh
still lack the opportunity for modern, scientific education and are
therefore open to persuasion by religious extremists. In recent years
there has been a strong upsurge in activities of religious extremist
groups in a number of countries, including Bangladesh. Recently, law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh
have captured members of quite a number of such groups in various parts
of the country. These were operating under the umbrella of "Islamic
Kindergarten Madrassas" or madrassas financed by Afro-Arab
organizations. Islamic Kindergarten Madrassas are supposed to be
innocent institutions where young boys learn the elements of Islamic
faith, but these madrassas have a different program.
In the capital city of Dhaka,
even now such organizations are quite in evidence and have large
memberships. Promoters of these organizations hire huge buildings in
posh areas and target boys from the semi-affluent middle class.
Previously, madrassa education was mostly confined to lower income and
less affluent groups. However, following the emergence of these
so-called Islamic Kindergarten Madrassas in Bangladesh, the students are drawn from richer segments, and even include boys of the richest class..
One of the accused arrested from one such institution confessed to Bangladesh
police that they were planning to have an Islamic revolution in the
country, and that they were anxiously looking for boys from the
affluent class since politics is mostly controlled by them. The accused
admitted that they were heavily funded by a number of African and Arab
The arrest and statement of the accused have been widely
carried by local press. According to these reports, these belligerent
people under the covering of various 'Deen' (true path) training
organizations intend to coach a section of ill-educated and prejudiced
people to be their followers. . Through their clandestine campaigns
they are plotting to wage a 'Holy War'. As instruments to induce rage
and delude people, they are using different recorded tapes with
extremist provocative speeches and songs. They also include messages
from Osama Bin Laden.
few months ago a Syrian teacher was arrested. He had belonged to a
similar organization named the 'Al-Haramine Institution'. According to
records of police intelligence in Bangladesh,
members of this organization use the kindergarten madrassa as
camouflage. They regularly communicate with various underground armed
groups in the country and even recruit locals and send them to Palestine
as guerilla fighters. Each recruit gets US$ 1500-2000 as an up front
payment for their 'new job'. Later family members or legal
representatives or spouses of these guerilla fighters will receive US$
150-200 per month as salary. If any of the are killed during the war,
their family would get US$ 5,000 as compensation.
According to the
police report, Al-Haramine Institution maintains a secret training camp
inside the compound of its kindergarten madrassa. The recruits are
given theoretical and practical training for seven weeks before they
proceed to their destination. During training, they are given an
elementary idea of their responsibilities and a practical knowledge
about some of the weapons used by Palestinian fighters and other
Al-Haramine Institute is gradually spreading its wings in other parts of Bangladesh too. Recently they have established their offices in eastern and southern Bangladesh. One of the main objectives of this organization is to sell the idea of jihad (in the sense of violent holy war) to
the masses. The organization maintains very good relations with some
extremist news dailies. Owners of these dailies are regularly
compensated by this organization and in exchange, these newspapers give
quite open support to its activities.
is another such organization run by one Hafez Munirul Islam. He was a
teacher in a local madrassa with the monthly salary of US$ 75 only.
Just recently an office of Al-Koran Society has been established in Bangladesh with Hafez Munirul as its Executive Director in Bangladesh.
Office of the organization is located at city's top most posh area
costing US$ 2000 per month. Hafez Munirul also receives US$ 1000 as a
monthly salary. This organization claims that its main activity is
printing and distributing the Koran. However, in fact, Al-Koran Academy is mostly engaged in providing political coordinators for various mosques in Bangladesh.
The local tax department raised questions about the sudden change in
fortunes of this poor madrassa teacher, and investigated the sources of
the funding. They found that most funding for this organization comes
from the Middle East.
The Daily Inqilab acts as a mouthpiece of the fundamentalists in Bangladesh. It is an extremist sort of provocative newspaper spreading the theme of jihad amongst the local population. Inqilab was initially funded by Iraq's
deposed autocrat Saddam Hussain and presently it receives regular cash
support from a large number of hidden organizations in Bangladesh and abroad. One of the owners of this daily is based in Dubai
where from global activities of this organization continues. It is
believed that Inqilab enjoys very close contact with Osama Bin Laden,
and it has extremely good relations with a large number of small and
medium ranking organizations and parties in Bangladesh. Some of these organizations are on the regular pay role of the daily.
fanaticism and terror are not the way to bring about positive changes
in the minds of people or in any society. Such attempts have always met
a grim fate in the past, whether perpetrated by organizations or states.
leaders, government and various organizations have started to make
people aware of vicious designs of the extremists and to combat them.
Governments, along with the law enforcing agencies should strengthen
their efforts to isolate these destructive elements before it is too
late. Various media can also serve to disseminate messages to counter
extremist propaganda, to generate awareness, and to organize people in
favor of peace and against all sorts of religious and other extremism.”
In another article, commenting on the rise of Islamist militancy Choudhury wrote: “Muslim nations compare us with Pakistan, which is 97 percent Moslem, Egypt 94 percent, and Iran
which is 99 percent Muslims. We Bangladeshi Muslims have learned to
respect other faiths. And we are also—in contrast to those other
The greatest number of non-Muslims in Bangladesh are Hindu. Others adhere to other so-called "Eastern" and "tribal" religions. But we also have a small Christian
population, and I want to share our experience in Bangladesh with my
readers, because I believe it is very instructive. Christian
missionaries, as we know, are active throughout the world, including
several Muslim countries. They operate churches and schools with the
goal of convincing people to embrace Christianity—of "spreading the Gospel." Muslim leaders have not always welcomed them. In Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
and elsewhere, they have been attacked, arrested, and expelled. But
among the tolerant Muslims of Bangladesh, some 400 such missionaries
operate free of such harassment. And they have been successful in
converting some 500,000 members of tribal groups and various minorities
to their faith. Do we Bangladeshi Muslims consider this an offense
against The Prophet? Do the converts face legal or other disabilities?
because that is not our way. Quite the contrary, we recognize the
missionaries’ charitable work and positive efforts among the people—our
people. Just outside Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, are the areas of ‘Bhaluka’ and ‘Pubail.’ Most of the residents are converts to Christianity,
and I have personally visited the area several times. Beyond their
proselytizing, the missionaries have established schools, colleges,
hospitals, community centers, and other facilities for the local
population. They have helped many poor farmers out of poverty and their
previous lives on the constant edge of starvation, and helped modernize
Bangladeshi agricultural. Lives in Bhaluka and Pubail are changing very
fast and the paradigm is becoming a positive example for Muslim, Hindu
and Buddhist neighborhoods. And of course, no one has accused them of
using their activities as a cover for terror, or raised any objection
to their activities.
You might be surprised to see the
conservative Bangladeshi Muslims celebrating Christmas and other
holidays with the Christian community in our country. School children
from all faiths share these celebrations with Christian classmates.
Their parents have not objected and in fact are rather happy to see
their children participate in the religious festivals of others. In
some English-language schools, students even read the Christian Bible
and tales of Christian saints. All of this is surely creating a more
open atmosphere for our next generation.
In December 2002, more than two million Christmas cards were sold in various outlets throughout Bangladesh. These statistics alone are evidence of Bangladeshi
tolerance. But, what they do not reveal is the positive role that both
electronic and print media played in our acceptance and even enthusiasm
for various Christian festivals and rituals. During Christmas, for
state owned electronic media offer elaborate programs to mark the
occasion, and newspapers print special articles and supplements.
Christmas Day is a public holiday in Bangladesh,
even though Islam is our state religion. The significance of this
history is apparent: contrary to the—accurate—image of most Muslim
nations, Bangladesh is a society tolerant of other religions.
even in Bangladesh—and certainly elsewhere in the Muslim world--many of
us have a blind spot, don’t we? And I am ashamed to say that it is with
regard to the Jewish people and Israel that too many conveniently
ignore the nobler, and even essential, principles of Islam—and of basic
human decency, for G-d’s sake! In contrast to the Christian
missionaries are the Islamic missionaries who have taken root in Bangladesh recently. Funded by shadowy sources in the Middle East and Africa,
they operate under charitable-sounding names like Islamic Hospital,
Free Ambulance Service, and Kindergarten Madrassa. But charitable they
are not. Whispered allegations—for louder objections place you at
considerable risk—whispered allegations that Islamic Kindergarten
Madrassas train students for guerilla war found support when many of
their graduates went on to real battlegrounds in Afghanistan and Iraq;
and, yes, some even volunteered to fight alongside the PLO and other
terrorist organizations right here.
"Repatriated Soldiers from Palestine," an organization in Bangladesh,
cares for "soldiers" wounded in the fighting here, then recruits a
fresh batch of terrorists to take their place. You might think these
revelations would harm their agenda—place them in a bad light among theDespite
the fact that, most of the prophecies of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
already turned true in the eyes of the people but, unfortunately, the
false charges against him continues to hang.
If anything, it improves their standing in the eyes of, to my chagrin,
many Bangladeshi citizens. That popularity has taken them to more
affluent and influential neighborhoods, away from the lower-middle
class and poverty-stricken areas that were once their exclusive
Children of prominent Bangladeshis now attend the
Madrassas, where they learn Bangla (our vernacular), Arabic, Urdu,
English, and in some places, French, as well as other advertised
subjects. But they also learn the theory and practice of guerilla
warfare. Old hates are taught as faith, and they learn to revere Bin
Laden, Arafat, Saddam, and the shahids. Innocent Muslim children are
lured towards ‘Jihad,’ are taught to hate Christians and Jews, and are
encouraged to kill them and destroy their property as a religious duty.
Glimpse the future leaders and elites of Bangladesh!
It so distressed me to think of them taking positions of influence with
the extremist attitudes, and hatred brainwashed into them by the
Madrassas. These institutions surely are breeding thousands of Bin
Ladens and Arafats for our children’s futures.
education takes hold only because it finds support in other social
institutions. I am sorry to confess that most mosques in Bangladesh
and elsewhere have turned Friday Prayer into carefully orchestrated
hate-fests. People are exhorted to hate Christians, and Jews
especially. Fearing neither contradiction nor censure, Mullahs openly
quote Hadit (verses from The Prophet) that any Muslim who befriends or
has any relations with Jews or Christians will be cursed by Almighty
G-d and sent to hell.”