His country wants to hang him. Sallah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a Bangladeshi journalist, publisher and peace activist who has left the fold of Jew-hatred and Muslim supremacy that has infected his country, and for that, he is accused of ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘hurting the image of Islam.’
Choudhury, who says he is proud to call himself a ‘Muslim Zionist,’ is partners on a peace project with a sheikh who believes that the Koran intends for Jews to be the rightful inhabitants of Israel – not what one would expect to hear from a Muslim. In November, 2003, he was on his way to speak in Tel Aviv at a writers’ conference about the role the media can play in promoting peace.
The newspaper he publishes, The Daily Blitz, criticizes the jihad culture that is growing increasingly strong in his country and instead advocates inter-faith understanding between Muslims, Christians and Jews.
If he had been allowed to visit Israel, it would have been a first for a Bangladeshi journalist since his country refuses to acknowledge Israel as a state and travel to it is not permitted. Choudhury chanced it anyway since Bangladesh also prohibits travel to Taiwan, yet it often looks the other way. Unfortunately, however, he was grabbed at the airport by Bangladeshi officials, which started seventeen months of torture in government captivity. Choudhury was beaten so badly his leg was broken, given only dirty water from the toilet to drink, and almost went blind because he was denied medical care for an eye condition.
The charges made against him of sedition, treason and blasphemy were groundless. Even the prosecuting attorney eventually wanted to drop them, but the Islamist judge in charge of the case insisted on continuing the show trial even without any evidence against Choudhury.
Choudhury’s aborted speech needs to be read. In passionate yet surprisingly serene tones, he confronts the irrational hatred primarily directed against Jews and Israel that is inflaming the Muslim world, including its semi-religious belief in Holocaust Denial. Choudhury commends Israel’s democracy and progress, and proposes creating what he calls a “’Culture of peace’ with justice and tolerance for all people as opposed to the ‘culture of death.’” His stated mission is to take personal responsibility to break down the ‘firewall of lies’ and ignorance that separate one people from another, using his talents as a writer and publisher. Are you hearing echoes of Reagan’s famous command, “Tear down this wall?” You should.
Some excerpts from the ABORTED SPEEECH
What a thrill it is for me be here in Israel! You know, it might be unexpected from a Bangladeshi, but I must tell you that coming here has been a lifelong dream of mine. The moment I stepped off the plane and onto Israeli soil, I realized that dream; and I cannot thank you enough for helping to make it a reality. Thank you, too, and all the wonderful people of Israel, who have shown me nothing but kindness and hospitality since my arrival here.
Today, I stand before you, the people of Bangladesh and in fact the entire Moslem world as a witness; a witness that Israelis want above all else peace and justice. And those who spread false rumors to the contrary around the world, and especially in Moslem countries, are, frankly, either deluded or dishonest. I also stand before you perhaps as a living contradiction: a Zionist, a defender of Israel, and a devout, practicing Muslim, living in a Moslem country.
Like you—and my many pro-Israeli brothers and sisters—I believe in the justice of the Zionist dream. I also acknowledge this historical reality: that the world has endeavored tocrush that dream and, yes, even to destroy the viability of the Jewish people. At the same time, I live in an environment where people believe just as passionately in an opposing view—one that sees Israel as illegitimate; and the Jewish people as evil incarnate. Witness the recent statement of outgoing Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed that “Jews rule the world.” But even more significant than his public idiocy is the fact that every one of the 57 delegates who heard those words applauded him for it. To my own chagrin, this included the Bangladeshi representative, as well. I assure you, he was not speaking for me. And these people were not merely caught up in the heat of the moment. To a man, they defended him, and even continue to do so.
A true Culture of Peace is not merely the cessation of hostilities. It is far more than that and includes Justice and Tolerance for all people. A true Culture of Peace is one that allows each person to have pride in one’s own faith, while respecting the pride that courses through the veins of those who follow other paths to G-d. We are all—you and I included—prisoners of the world in which we live; and the Muslim world, unfortunately, still remains captive within that Culture of Death. READ MORE: SPEECH
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