Philanthropists and anti Jihadists wake up please!

Since my previous article titled 'Hindu persecution, anti-Semitism and anti-Jihadist media' got published here and there, I continued to receive several emails from people asking, “How calm the Western media is still unaware of the fight of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury against militant Islam”. I really did not have the answer!

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a self-claimed 'Muslim Zionist' in Bangladesh, who runs an English language newspaper named Weekly Blitz from the capital city of Dhaka since 2003. Editorial policy of this newspaper is unique, because, it is the only newspaper in the Muslim world, openly declaring it as an “anti-Jihadist newspaper”.

Mr. Choudhury, a recipient of prestigious 'Moral Courage Award' from American Jewish Committee in 2007; 'Freedom to Write Award' from PENUSA in 2006; 'Monaco Media Award' from Prince Albert of Monaco in 2007 is a man of rarest virtue. He is a journalist, writer, lyricist, movie director and defender of Israel.

I was simply amazed at the courage and firm commitment of this man in fighting militant Islam as well defending Israel for years, under severe adversity. Let me quote here a few of the comments from the international press on Mr. Choudhury.

New York Sun in its editorial few years back said: “Mr. Choudhury is a man in the mold of such heroes of freedom as Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa.”

In its editorial the Washington Times said, “The United States must encourage people like Mr. Choudhury to speak out. But when they do, it must also do all it can to protect them. Freeing Mr. Choudhury will tell others like him that when you stand against Islamists, the United States will stand with you.”

The Jerusalem Post said, “Despite the dire circumstances in which he finds himself, Choudhury remains strong, upbeat and determined.”

The Jewish Week said, “In a world where radical Islam is on the march, threatening moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike, outspoken and fearless individuals like Mr. Choudhury deserve our full support. It is they, after all, who are on the front lines.”

Canada Free Press editor Judy McLeod wrote: “… Shoaib Choudhury is in reality a Muslim hero, at a time when a terrorism wary world most needs one.”

There are hundreds of such commentaries on this man available on the net. The New York Times, wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, The Australian, Arutz Sheva etc have already published editorial commentaries on the struggle of Mr. Choudhury.

In brief, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was arrested on November 29, 2003 at Dhaka International Airport in Bangladesh on his way to Israel for attending a peace conference. Authorities in Dhaka tortured him during 10-days interrogation, broke his leg with field hockey stick and pushed him into solitary confinement at Dhaka Central Jail, where he was detained for long 17 months. He was denied medical treatment and in 2004, when his mother died, Bangladeshi government did not allow him to attend his mother's funeral and the bail-on-parole was ignored.

While Choudhury was suffering inside prison and members of his family at home, one Jewish activist named Dr. Richard Benkin (a residence of Mount Period Prospect in Illinois) stood up and continued his battle in freeing this extremely courageous journalist and peace activist. Dr. Benkin knocked the doors of a large number of US Senators and members of Congress. But, the only Senator, who refused to do anything in support of Mr. Choudhury, is Barack Hussain Obama. Congressman Mark Steven Kirk and his entire Congressional team joined wholeheartedly the effort of freeing Shoaib Choudhury. Rep. Mark Steven Kirk met Bangladeshi ambassador in Washington DC and demanded his immediate release. After numerous meetings between Mark Kirk and Bangladeshi embassy as well as unrelenting efforts by Dr. Benkin, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury was released from prison in 2005 (April). Right after his release, joyous Richard Benkin called Shoaib Choudhury's residence and asked him to “take rest for few days”. But, Choudhury said “brother, I am not brought out of prison for taking rest. I must continue my mission. Otherwise, why I am free?”

Dr. Benkin recollects that memory every time with heavy emotional voice and tears in eyes.

On getting released from prison, Mr. Choudhury resumed the publication of his newspaper Weekly Blitz (English language newspaper) and Weekly Jamjamat (Vernacular newspaper). In July 2006, his office was bombed by Islamic militancy group named Khatmey Nabuat Andolan. In October same year, his office was attacked by thugs belonging to the ruling party and Mr. Choudhury was physically assaulted.

On 18th February 2008, he was abducted at gun point by the members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). At this stage again, Dr. Richard Benkin and Rep. Mark Steven Kirk took prompt initiatives which ultimately saved the life of this courageous editor.

Lately, on February 22, 2009, Mr. Shoaib Choudhury's office was attacked by a gang of armed thugs accompanied by members of Bangladeshi military intelligence. He was again physically assaulted along with other staffs of his newspapers.

In 2009, publication of Weekly Jamjamat had to be suspended due to severe financial crisis. It may be mentioned here that, entrepreneurs and business establishments in Bangladesh refrain from placing any advertisement in either Weekly Blitz or Weekly Jamjamat because of its anti-Islamist and pro-Israel editorial policy.

Few weeks back, Shoaib Choudhury made an appeal through editorial column in his newspaper asking immediate help for continuation of the publication of Weekly Blitz as well resuming the publication of Weekly Jamjamat. Several newspapers in the West as well in Israel also published editorials in favor of helping Mr. Choudhury and his newspapers as well his peace mission.

So far, there isn't any good news except some help from Hudson Institute and Middle East Forum. Eminent writer and scholar Dr. Daniel Pipes as well NYC based activist Ms. Nina Rosenwald came forward with some help, at least to save Weekly Blitz for a couple of months. Should other philanthropists, especially those opposing Jihad and willing to help the only anti-Jihadist and pro-Israel newspaper in the Muslim world to continue, come forward, things would have been resolved any time.

I personally phoned the office of Mr. Shoaib Choudhury last Wednesday to get the latest update on the situation. They said, for months Mr. Choudhury and his team are trying to get some fund wither as grant or soft-term loan, which would ensure smooth publication of both the newspapers as well continuation of the peace work.

I was amazed to learn as to how this 'One Man Army' in the Muslim world is continuing battle against militant Islam and Jihad and so far succeeded in getting Hizbut Tahrir as well a publication of another Islamic militancy group Hizbut Towhid banned. Both are anti-Semitic groups with heavy funding from Afro-Arab sources as well Islamic Charity (Zakaat) is continuing various types of propaganda against Jews, Christians and Israel.

If you haven't yet read Weekly Blitz, I would strongly recommend reading this newspaper to understand the important role it is playing in today's world. Link to the newspaper is here.

Also it is my hope that major philanthropist groups and individuals in the world will forthwith come forward in extending their support for the extremely precious and important works of Mr. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Wish this write up would get into the attention of philanthropists like Lawrence Ellison, Sheldon Adelson, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Michael Dell, Steve Ballmer, Carl Icahn, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, Samuel Newhouse, Rupert Murdoch, Robert A Iger, Philippe P Dauman, Jeff Zucker, David Westin, Donald Graham, Mortimer Zuvkerman, Arthur O Sulzberger Jr, Mel Karmazin, Joanne Lipman, Jann Wenner, Richard S Fuld Jr, Lloyd C Blankfein, Charles R Schwab, Alan D Schwartz, Bruce Wasserstein, Dr. Joseph Ackerman, James Dimon, Blake Gossman, Larry Ellison, Oleg Deripaska, Sumner Redstone, Sir Philip Green, Joseph Safra, Esther Koplowitz, Alicia Koplowitz, Ralph Lauren, Nicky Oppenheimer, David Geffen, David & Simon Reuben, Stef Wertheimer, Shari Arison, Lev Leviev, Yitzhak Tshuva, Sammy Ofer & family, Arnon Milchan, Steven Spielberg, Lloyd Dorfman, Richard Desmond and many others.

Vinod Mehta
Free Lance Writer on regional and international issues

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Articles by Vinod Mehta