Publication: The Jewish Chronicle
Date: September 3, 2010

Im Bangladeshs Zionist

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury has not followed the usual path of a Zionist dissident from a Muslim country. He has not renounced Islam and he has not moved to the West. Instead, Choudhury believes that he can fight for his cause most effectively from within Islam and within his own country. For this reason, he rejects the offers of political asylum that would guarantee his own safety.

Choudhury, known to friends as Shoaib, publishes the Weekly Blitz, the only anti-Jihadist newspaper in the Muslim world. But every few weeks he is to be found not at his desk in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but in a nearby courtroom, on trial for his life.

In November 2003 I was arrested at Dhaka Airport as I was attempting to travel to Tel Aviv for a writers conference. I was tortured for 10 days as the police tried to make me confess that I was an Israeli spy. Then they kept me in solitary confinement for 17 months. I was released on bail after US Congressman Mark Kirk raised my case with the Bangladeshi ambassador. But I am still on trial for sedition, treason, blasphemy and espionage.

Choudhury is not a spy but he is a resolute supporter of Israel. My father used to tell me not to believe the weekly hate speeches against Christians and Jews that we would hear in the mosques. I tried to follow his advice, and later on I kept an open mind when I met Jews. Now I have thousands of Jewish friends and I am a proud Zionist.

Choudhury rejects Geert Wilders assertion that there are moderate Muslims but no moderate Islam. My Islam derives from the Koran. This teaches that Muslims, Jews and Christians will all be rewarded for good deeds and punished for doing evil.

The Weekly Blitz, which is published both in print and on the web, has influenced both government policy and popular opinion in Bangladesh. As a result of its articles the government has banned Islamist group Hizbut Tahrir and the antisemitic publication Dajjal. The Blitz ran a campaign against Muslim supremacist Dr. Zakir Naik, leading the British and Canadian governments to refuse him entry. It publishes articles on the Jewish festivals. Its features on Israeli achievements have led to a popular campaign for the government to recognise Israel.

We are also trying to reach the sizeable segment of the population that cannot read. We are producing a feature film called Leelakhela, based on a story I wrote about a childless family falling under the grip of Islamists.

"Sometimes I am asked why I am prepared to risk my life for this fight. But as a Muslim Zionist I believe that confronting militant Islam is the most important issue in ensuring a peaceful world for all of us.

But much to my pain, the Blitz is in continual danger of closure. We have had no advertising revenue ever since we started publishing pro-Israel articles. I have been subsidising the newspaper for years from my own resources, but I really cannot do this any more. But I believe in God's power. Maybe He will save Blitz.