The Abandonment of the Brave

Posted: 11/3/2006 4:00:00 PM
Author: Melanie Phillips
Source: This article was republished on the Scholars for Peace in the Middle East website.

The Abandonment of the Brave
Melanie Phillips

Note from Librarians for Fairness: Melanie Phillips authored the important, recently-published book, LONDONISTAN. Outrageously, all too many acquisition librarians have not been purchasing it. Not a few libraries now routinely ban and censor materials deemed to be politically incorrect, while heavily skewing their collections to an ultra-radical leftist viewpoint. Murderers like Arafat, Castro and Che are lionized, while a true hero, such as Salah Uddin Shoaib Chowdhury, is not. To the bigoted American Library Association's so-called Social Responsibilities Round Table we shout: WHERE ARE YOUR PROTESTS ABOUT WHAT IS BEING DONE TO MR. CHOUDHURY? And we shout the same thing to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (two groups that have largely abandoned the principles that they were founded on).


I have previously written (here and here) about Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, the immensely courageous Muslim editor of the Bangladeshi newspaper The Weekly Blitz, who condemned the power of radical Islam in his country and sought to provide his readers with unbiased news about the Middle East. He wrote, for example:

Today, I stand before you perhaps as a living contradiction: a Zionist, a defender of Israel, and a devout, practising Muslim living in a Muslim country. Like you I believe in the justice of the Zionist dream. I also acknowledge this historical reality: that the world has endeavored to crush that dream and, yes, even destroy the viability of the Jewish people.

For his pains, nearly three years ago he was arrested as he prepared to address the Hebrew Writers’ Conference in Tel Aviv on ‘The Role of Media in Creating a Culture of Peace’ and thrown into jail. His family was threatened and attacked. The government said he was ‘spying for the interests of Israel against the interests of Bangladesh’.

In May 2005, after 17 months in prison he was freed on bail after agitation by a couple of stalwart campaigners. But since then things have taken a bad turn for the worse. In July, the offices of the Weekly Blitz were attacked by Islamic militants. In September - as Bret Stephens reported in the Wall Street Journal on October 10 -a judge with Islamist ties ordered the case against him to continue, despite the government’s reluctance to prosecute, on the grounds that Choudhury had hurt the sentiments of Muslims by praising Christians and Jews and spoiling the image of Bangladesh world-wide.

The next day the newspaper offices were ransacked and Choudhury was badly beaten by a mob of 40 or so people who broke his ankle and called him an ‘agent of the Jews’. The police then issued an arrest warrant for him, and so now he is on the run for his life. If he is jailed and tried, he faces torture and death by hanging - all for standing up for freedom, truth and justice, and against hatred, violence and bigotry.

His fate is a paradigm of the threat to all who stand in defence of those virtues. But from the governments prosecuting the so-called ‘war on terror’, and who constantly talk about promoting and defending moderate Muslims, there is only a shameful silence. Bret Stephens observed:

The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka has kept track of Mr. Choudhury and plans to send an observer to his trial. But mainly America’ s diplomats seem to have treated him as a nuisance. ‘Their thinking,’ says a source familiar with the case, ‘is that this is the story of one man, and why should the U.S. base its entire relationship with Bangladesh on this one man?’

So much for principle and consistency. The so-called liberal newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic are silent about the fate of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. So too, as far as I know, have been the so-called human rights NGOs. There is, in short, widespread indifference to the persecution of a decent, truly moderate Muslim by the Islamist fascists who threaten all of us. When push comes to shove, therefore, all the pious talk about supporting Muslim reformers in their heroic stand against Islamic extremists is the purest cant and humbug. For western governments, Choudhury is too marginal, too inconvenient. For so-called western ‘multicultural’ liberals, he can’t be a cause to champion because he does not fit the stereotype - he actually supports Israel and Zionism, for heaven’s sake, and thus puts such ‘anti-racists’ to shame by exposing their own indefensible prejudice against Jewish self-determination.

Above all, how can they condemn Bangladesh and hold it to account? Only western countries can be guilty of terrible deeds, after all; the third world is by definition the blameless victim of western imperialism (sic). So there will be no marches on Bangladesh High Commissions, no boycott calls from humbugging academics, no impassioned leading articles or op-eds in the posh papers in solidarity with one of their own profession who is being persecuted for telling the truth.

Shameful - and short-sighted. For the fate of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is our own.