Bangladesh: Office of controversial magazine Weekly Blitz bombed

New York, July 7, 2006 — The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a bomb attack on the office of the Bangladeshi magazine Weekly Blitz whose editor is on trial for sedition after writing about radical Islam.

Editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury told CPJ that two small devices exploded Wednesday outside the Weekly Blitz office in the capital, Dhaka, causing minor damage. No one was injured. He said two other unexploded bombs were found inside the office. Although the attacks have received no coverage in the English-language press, they were confirmed by Nayeemul Islam Khan, editor of the vernacular daily Amader Shomoy (Our Time) .

“Even though these were small explosions, they must not be ignored. There are so many threats and attacks on journalists in Bangladesh that each one must be taken seriously,” Khan told CPJ.

Choudhury, whose sedition trial is scheduled to resume July 13 in Dhaka, has written about the spread of Islamic militancy in Bangladesh, and criticized anti-Israeli attitudes in Muslim countries including Bangladesh. Choudhury spent 17 months in jail before his release on bail in May 2005. Sedition carries the death penalty.

“We urge the authorities to act quickly to bring those responsible for this attack to justice,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. Choudhury was originally charged with passport violations after he tried to travel to Israel in November 2003 to participate in a conference with the Hebrew Writers Association. Bangladesh has no formal relations with Israel, and it is illegal for Bangladeshi citizens to travel there. Those charges were dropped and sedition charges brought in February 2004. In support of the sedition charges, court authorities cited Choudhury’s articles about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh.