Action if anti-Islam materials rerun, Bangladesh govt warns

THE Bangladesh government has warned that legal action would be taken against media outlets for rerunning write-ups which demean Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Urging newspapers and television channels to refrain from such practices, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu said on Wednesday that rerunning such materials is more demeaning than running those for the first time,

The minister held a press conference at Press Information Department (PID) to send the government message in the wake of some newspaper and TV channels’ rerunning of anti-Islam write-ups published on blogs and some websites.

While publication of anti-Islam materials are creating tension and harming peace in the society, some media houses are acting against journalistic ethics by rerunning those, said the minister.

The debate banged to the fore after the start of Shahbagh protest in demand of capital punishment to war criminals, which angered Jamaat-e-Islami and its student organisation, Islami Chhatra Shibir, as several top leaders of the party have been arrested for war crimes.

As the protest gained momentum with thousands of people joining the demonstrators at Shahbagh, Jamaat-Shibir men started smear campaign against the frontline activists of the movement, which entered 16th day on Wednesday.

Days before blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar’s killing on Friday, anti-Islam blog posts were published in his name, which the Shahbagh protesters rejected as Rajib’s. As cyber war continued between the two sides, more and more anti-Islam contents were published on different websites targeted at maligning the protesters’ characters, the Shahbagh protesters said.

Some newspapers also published those contents to add further as the debate received more heat.

Three newspapers on Tuesday published a half-page advertisement of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, Darul Ulum Hathazari, Chittagong, which contained highly offensive texts, which looks like online post, claiming that the Shahbagh movement was against Islam.

Following the development, Shahbagh protesters firmly trashed the allegations that the demonstrators were making derogatory comments about Islam.

The demonstrators also urged the nation not to believe the rumours.

Imran H Sarker, one of the organisers of Shahbagh movement, said they have not made any derogatory comment about any religion and they will never do so.

“We only have made derogatory comments about war criminals and collaborators,” he said.

On the other hand, High Court Judge Mizanur Rahman Bhuiyan Mizanur on Monday sent photocopies of news items on the alleged blog posts of blogger Haider regarding Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to other Supreme Court judges.

The reports were published in Monday’s Bangla daily Inqilab, Sangram and Amar Desh.

The issue was raised in the parliament and Law Minister Shafique Ahmed assured lawmakers that he would discuss the issue with the chief justice to form a supreme judicial council for taking action against the HC judge for his “misconduct”.

The minister also termed the judge’s conduct as extra-constitutional and against country’s sovereignty.


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