Monday, October 16, 2006

Welcome to Bangladesh

For a bit of background of the case of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, currently on trial in Dhaka for sedition, this article from the Wall Street Journal by Bret Stephens. It doesn't look good for Mr Choudhury. (I don't understand the phrase "is running for his life" (twice). As far as I know, he's imprisoned and doesn't have much choice in the matter. I've looked for confirmation that the poor man is on the move, but cannot find any. Is this an American idiom that escaped me?)

Welcome to Bangladesh, a country the State Department's Richard Boucher recently portrayed in congressional testimony as "a traditionally moderate and tolerant country" that shares America's "commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law." That's an interesting way to describe a country that is regularly ranked as the world's most corrupt by Transparency International and whose governing coalition, in addition to the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, includes two fundamentalist Islamic parties that advocate the imposition of Shariah law. There are an estimated 64,000 madrassas (religious schools) in Bangladesh. The Ministry of Industries is in the hands of Motiur Rahman Nizami, a radical Islamist with a reputation of a violent past. In March the Peace Corps was forced to leave the country for fear of terrorist attacks. Seven other journalists have also been brought up on sedition charges by Ms. Zia's government, most of them for attempting to document Bangladesh's repression of religious minorities.

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