BANGLADESH: Bigots rally against Prothom Alo

Protestors accuse Daily Prothom Alo of hate campaign and call for cancellation of the newspaper

The Daily Star
Friday, August 20, 2004

Thousands of angry teachers and students of Kowmi Madrasas demanded cancellation of the declaration of the Daily Prothom Alo from a rally in Dhaka yesterday amid concerns of journalists.

Accusing the newspaper of a hate campaign against unregistered religious schools, the protesters threatened to hem in and burn down the daily's headquarters and call a hartal if the editor and the publisher were not arrested in the next 24 hours.

"No conspiracy against Kowmi Madrasas and Islam will be tolerated," said Islamic Oikya Jote Chairman Fazlul Haq Amini at the rally in front of the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque staged by Befakul Madaresil Arabia, the Kowmi Madrasa Board.

He pegged the editor and the publisher of the Prothom Alo as the agents of American and Jewish axis.

The mob burnt copies of the daily in front of the mosque and paraded through Paltan Crossing, Zero Point, Nayapaltan and Dainik Bangla and ransacked the billboards of The Prothom Alo and The Daily Star at Zero Point and Dainik Bangla intersections.

Amini called upon 'the Muslims of Chittagong' to cripple life in the port city with protests against the daily

Maulana Abdul Khalek called upon the participants in the rally to protest the burial of prominent writer Humayun Azad, who died in Germany on August 12, beside National Poet Nazrul Islam at the university graveyard.

"The Prothom Alo hurt the sentiments of Kowmi Madrasas only once, but 20 lakh students of the Madrasas will hit back 20 lakh times," said Abdul Zabbar, secretary general of the Madrasa Board.

He asked the teachers and students of the madrasas to take a vow to sacrifice their lives for smashing the daily.

"Either we or The Prothom Alo will exist in this country," Zabbar said.

Chittagong Union of Journalists (CUJ) and Chittagong Press Club (CPC) leaders expressed deep concern over the threat of stopping the distribution of the daily in the port city.

In a joint press statement, they demanded administrative action against Sammilita Madrasa Parishad (SMP), a platform of unregistered Islamic schools, and the IOJ for issuing the threat.

Criticising the SMP demonstration in front of the Bangla daily's Chittagong office on Wednesday, they said the organisation could go for legal action against the newspaper if there were anything wrong in it.

CPC President Abu Sufian, General Secretary Kalim Sarwar, CUJ President Mostaq Ahmad and General Secretary Shahidul Alam signed the statement.