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Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist and playwright who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. She has published seven internationally best-selling novels, and is the author of a hit play.


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PostSun Jul 01, 2007 2:37 pm     Urgent!! Three weeks to save Shoaib Choudhury's life    


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Urgent!! Three weeks to save Shoaib Choudhury's life

Friends,

On July 18, the Bangladeshi journalist whose only crime is
his pro-Israel stance goes on trial for his life. He faces
a judicial system that is weighted against him. We need to
urgently contact our Senators, Congressman, and political
leaders in countries around the world to help him. You can
google to find out the name and e-mail, or phone number of
your representative. Below, a heartrending letter from
Shoaib's brother. We need to get behind this man whose only
crime is that he is a Muslim who dares point out the Koran
says the land of Israel was given to the Jews. Please help.
Please forward this. We cannot let Shoaib be sacrificed.

In America, to find your representative, go to
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

In Australia,
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/senators/index.htm

In Canada http://www.canada.gc.ca/main_e.html

For the rest, just google.

Naomi

============================================================
================



Dear Colleagues and Friends,

My brother Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury went to court today,
June 28th, filled with optimism. The Government of
Bangladesh had recently sent the judge and public prosecutor
who, until now, had been trying his case, to another part of
the country with the result that his trial would have to
begin again with a new judge and prosecutor. We were hopeful
that this might result in this judge dropping the charges
again Shoaib today. Sadly, it appears that the government
has only removed a judge who was hopelessly tainted by his
public assertions that he would convict Shoaib regardless of
the evidence that might be presented.

Today, the judge stated that he is prepared to proceed
quickly, and the prosecutor was prepared with witnesses
ready to testify against Shoaib.

You may recall that, in Bangladesh, there will be no jury in
this trial on charges of treason, sedition and blasphemy.
Neither will Shoaib's attorneys be permitted to bring any
witnesses in his defense. The only option open to the
defense is to cross examine the prosecution witnesses. In
addition, the judge has the option of ending the trial and
issuing a verdict after only half of the witnesses have been
heard. It is safe to assume that the witnesses who can make
the most convincing case against Shoaib will be heard first.
If convicted the penalty will be either death by hanging or
thirty years in prison, which is, in fact, a death sentence.

This only reason for the present delay is that there is one
more appeal to void the charges now pending in the Supreme
Court. While the Supreme Court is on vacation, it may or may
not be possible for the judge to press for a decision from a
jurist in chambers rather than from the full appellate
court.

Shoaib Choudhury is on trial because he urges his government
to recognize the State of Israel. This is not a crime. He is
on trial because of rumors originating in Saudi Arabia that
he is a Mossad agent, something so patently ridiculous that
no reasonable court would even consider it. Why would a
secret intelligence agent publicly proclaim his support for
Israel in an Islamic country? The Qur'an states that
Allah/God gave the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. His
country proclaims that Shoaib's support for Israel is
treason because it is in opposition to their policy and that
it is blasphemous, a charge they find convenient. He is on
trial because he has Jewish and Christian friends and
because he publishes their articles in his newspaper. This
is not blasphemy, and it is not a crime. although some
extremist Muslims would like to think that it is. He is on
trial because he writes plainly about the danger of
extremist madrassas teaching children as young as five to
hate Jews and Israel. The majority of Bangladeshis cannot
afford any other form of education for their children and
are willing to send them anywhere as long as they learn to
read and write. Every charge against Shoaib is false. Shoaib
works tirelessly for interfaith understanding. Bangladesh
considers this treason and blasphemy.

He has committed no crime at all, except for his attempt to
travel to Israel - a minor passport violation for which
others have been assessed a fine equivalent to about US
$7.00. Yes, seven. Shoaib was imprisoned, tortured and held
in solitary confinement for seventeen months. His glaucoma
was not treated, and he lost his sight in one eye. During
that time, he was never tried. He was released only because
of the efforts of his dearest friend and brother in the
United States, Richard Benkin and a U.S. Congressman, but
without the charges being dropped.

Please note that Shoaib takes no public position on matters
of Israeli policy.

We will begin again. We will not give in to defeatism or
despair.

There is a new U.S. Ambassador in Dhaka who has scarcely had
time to unpack. We cannot give him the luxury of easing into
his responsibilities.

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS AND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS. TELL THEM THIS IS AN URGENT HUMAN RIGHTS CONCERN,
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH. REMIND THEM THAT THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES PASSED RESOLUTION #64 IN SUPPORT OF SALAH
UDDIN SHOAIB CHOUDHURY IS MARCH OF THIS YEAR BY A VOTE OF
409-1. URGE THEM TO CALL THE STATE DEPARTMENT NOW. WE WANT
OUR AMBASSADOR TO BANGLADESH TO TAKE THIS TO THE HIGHEST
LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT THERE. THE TIME IS PAST FOR LOWER LEVER
DIPLOMATS TO MAKE INEFFECTIVE GESTURES SUPPORTING SHOAIB.
THESE HAVE BEEN APPRECIATED, BUT THEY ARE NOT ENOUGH. WE
HAVE LESS THAN THREE WEEKS TO SAVE SHOAIB'S LIFE.

Yes, this is a worst case scenario. There may be further
legal delays, but it is equally possible that there may not
be. What is absolutely clear is that this new judge and
prosecutor are fully prepared to hear the case against
Shoaib quickly. In Bangladesh, this is never a good sign. We
must proceed as if the worst will happen, because it is very
possible, and then pray that it does not.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO OTHERS WHO MIGHT CONTACT SENATORS AND
REPRESENTATIVES. THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE CLERGY, PLEASE SPEAK
TO YOUR CONGREGATONS AND ASK YOUR MEMBERS TO CALL CONGRESS.

Additional information about Shoaib may be found at
www.interfaithstrength.com .

PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO HELP SHOIAB.WHEN
YOU CALL CONGRESS, PLEASE TELL ME WHO YOU REACH AND WHAT YOU
HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. PLEASE DO NOT GIVE IN TO FRUSTRATION. IT
IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO REACH OUR PUBLIC SERVANTS.

Wishing you abundant blessings,


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