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Islamist conspiracy to kill Weekly Blitz

by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

(July 06, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) When we started our journey, back in 2003, as one of the periodicals in Bangladesh, no one really had any problems with us. We even were receiving advertisements from the local advertisersBut, during mid 2003, when we started publishing positive articles and editorials on Israel and some other issues, which were almost considered to be taboo in Bangladesh, local advertisers swiftly turned away their faces from us.

Then I was arrested on November 29 2003, at Dhaka International Airport, on my way to Tel Aviv for attending a peace conference. The then Bangladesh Nationalist Party [BNP]-led Islamist government used the state machinery in placing me on remand for 10 days, thus mentally and physically torturing with the 'hope' of extracted a confessional statement. They considered me to be a Zionist Spy.

Later the government sent to an isolated cell at Dhaka Central Jail, where I was detained for 17 months in extreme hit and humidity.

In 2004 [January], the government brought sedition, treason and blasphemy charges against me. According to Bangladeshi law, sedition bears capital punishment.

I was not allowed to attend my mother's funeral when she passed away on August 9, 2004.

At the intervention of Congressman Mark Steven Kirk and relentless effort by Dr. Richard L Benkin [my Jewish brother] as well as Congressional aide Jeff Phillip, I was released on bail on April 30, 2005 from Dhaka Central Jail.

The sedition, treason and blasphemy charge is still hanging on me and every month I have to appear in the court to face trial. Though Bangladesh's present government is renewing its commitment in fighting Islamist militancy, it is reluctant in dropping the charge, fearing reaction from the Islamists.

On my release, Weekly Blitz resumed its publication in 2005 and since then, we never received even a single advertisement in our print edition. Only two or three advertisements were offered by some philanthropists and my supporters with a small amount of money, which is again not enough for Weekly Blitz to sustain for a week. But, still, my profound gratitude and admiration for those kind hearted people, who stood for us, during our difficult days.

From the mid of 2008, Weekly Blitz is again seeing extreme adversities in continuing its publication. In the same year, our office was attacked and we were evicted from our own office, illegally by some politically blessed thugs.

Thanks to Dr. Daniel Pipes and Middle East Forum, for helping us in taking a new office just in May this year. The entire amount received from MEF has already been spent for the new office and furniture.

Sensing our inability and economic adversities in running Weekly Blitz, a business tycoon with heavy affiliation with an Islamist party offered to buy the entire newspaper with an amount equivalent to US$ 300K. They even continued to offer us much higher amount, if we were ready to sell the newspaper. We knew they were planning to buy Weekly Blitz for turning it into a newspaper like all others in the Muslim nation, mostly spreading message of hatred against Israel and Jews. Their intention was to morally kill our newspaper. We did not bow to such dirty desire of the Islamists.

But, now, our very sustainability has become almost impossible. Each month, we are losing huge amount of money in continuing the print and online edition of this newspaper. For any newspaper, it is absolutely impossible to sustain without any advertisement revenue.

Can we expect, some of the philanthropists or organizations, who want this only anti-Jihadist newspaper in the Muslim world to sustain, would kindly help us with advertisements or grants? Such help is so much urgent for us. And, this is for the first time; we are making this appeal.

Please help us! And also refer our appeal to everyone you know. This is such critical time for us. Your actions and help can help us stay alive. If you are willing to help Weekly Blitz, kindly write to: ediblitz@yahoo.com

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