Monday, 25 February 2013

The Great Leader has spoken

In a public outburst of piety, "Sheikh" Hasina demonstrates why she's truly worthy of her honorific title:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday warned that disparaging remarks against Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and publishing those will not be tolerated.

“Many make disparaging remarks against Hazrat (Prophet Muhammad). I won’t tolerate that."

This is of course a veiled attack on Amar Desh, the BNP-leaning daily, which accused the Shahbag protesters of insulting religion. Lawsuits have been filed against the editor of Amar Desh, Mahmudur Rahman, and the Shahbag crowd issued an ultimatum demanding his arrest.

Now, warm feelings between Amar Desh/Mahmudur Rahman and the ruling Awami League go way back. The paper was closed down by the authorities back in 2010, prompting HRW to publish a report stating that

...the government should immediately ensure that an impartial investigation is conducted into allegations by the editor, Mahmudur Rahman, that he was beaten and abused in custody, Human Rights Watch said.

More than 100 police in riot gear stormed the offices of Amar Desh in the middle of the night of June 2, 2010, and arrested Rahman. At least 34 charges have been lodged against him, including 28 involving defamation. The police shut down the printing press, said the paper's license to print had been revoked, and took away all copies of the newspaper that had been printed for that morning's distribution. Police officers attacked and wounded several journalists working the late night shift.

The authorities should also fully examine the credibility and legitimacy of any evidence they have gathered. The publisher of Amar Desh, Mohammad Hasmat Ali, told Rahman that members of National Security Intelligence took him to their headquarters and forced him to sign two blank sheets of paper. The authorities subsequently claimed that Ali had signed two statements, and that they had decided to take legal action against Rahman on the basis of those statements.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Shahbag is being co-opted by the AL government for its political purposes, and, perhaps unwittingly, the Shahbag crowd is going along with this. It's interesting to note that Imran H Sarker, one of the organisers of the protest who appears to have become a sort of self-styled spokesman for Shahbag's demands is an AL member. He's quoted in the article I linked to above:

“The Jamaat-leaning Amar Desh has instigated (Friday’s) attacks. It’s (Acting) Editor Mahmudur Rahman must be detained within 24 hours,” said Imran H Sarker, one of the organisers of the movement demanding death sentences for all convicted war criminals and a ban on the Jamaat on Friday. 

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