October 28, 2009 – New York – Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Bangladeshi Muslim journalist, who is an outspoken foe of radical Islam and is on trial for sedition, addressed a luncheon at AJC headquarters today. AJC honored Choudhury in 2006.
“Political Islam preaches terrorism, and the 70,000 madrassas in Bangladesh preach jihad every day,” said Choudhury, editor of the Weekly Blitz, the largest tabloid English-language weekly in Bangladesh.
He stressed that this problem goes beyond the borders of his country. “Political Islam is a powerful problem for the whole world because it preaches jihad and the killing of Jews, Christians and anyone not a Muslim.”
In Bangladesh, DVDs and other materials calling for the killing of Jews are sold openly, said Choudhury, adding that the government should be pressed to ban such hateful items as well as prohibit the groups producing and distributing them.
“Choudhury is an outspoken, courageous foe of radicalism in his own country,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.
Choudhury has been on trial in Bangladesh since he attempted to visit Israel in 2003. He has been imprisoned and tortured, and his newspaper offices bombed. Although he could face the death penalty if convicted, Choudhury declared today that he will return to his country after his U.S. visit to continue to defend himself and pursue his battle against radical Islam.
In 2006, AJC presented its Moral Courage Award to Choudhury in recognition of his deep conviction in interfaith dialogue and his dedication to moderation in the Muslim world. The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka helped AJC deliver the award to Choudhury, since Bangladesh prohibited him from traveling to receive it at AJC’s Annual Meeting in Washington. But, he was able to visit the U.S. and meet with AJC leadership in New York in 2007.
During today’s event, Choudhury mentioned his personal efforts to lobby the Bangladesh government to return the one synagogue in Dhaka to the Jewish community. He said there are a couple of thousand Jews in Bangladesh today, though they are forced to hide their identity or face persecution.