October 25, 2007

Free Arifur Rahman: An update

Background: Free Cartoonist Arifur Rahman

Drishtipat blog posts an appeal to all:
It is more than a month since Arifur Rahman’s arrest.

In the past month, we have debated Arif’s culpability many times. The purpose of this post is not to re-visit that old debate. Even if we think of this man as guilty, we should ask ourselves: is his incarceration what the Prophet (SW) would have prescribed given his sense of generosity, forgiveness and - most importantly - justice?

We understand that Arif is being held at Dhaka Central Jail. We sincerely urge all of his well-wishers to write to him expressing solidarity at the address given below.

Mohammad Arifur Rahman,
Son of Mohammad Matiur Rahman,
re CR Case No. 2298/07,
Dhaka Central Jail,
Nazimuddin Road,

We also urge those offended by the cartoon to write to him, for compassion towards one’s adversaries is a fast-vanishing Islamic value in today’s world.
From Dhaka Shohor:
Arif has spent the better part of Ramadan in prison and has spent Eid away from his family. Even his exact whereabouts are open to question.

Let me take a moment here to note the absolute silence about him in the mainstream media. A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E.

Ask yourself: is this what the Prophet (SW) would have prescribed? Given the stories of his sense of generosity, forgiveness and JUSTICE we all grow up with, the answer would have to be a resounding "no"! But of course, this will fall on the deaf ears of the people who use the Prophet's (SW) name explicitly (and that means YOU Hizb-ut-Tahrir!).

Free Arifur Rahman and let him live with security and dignity.
Mridul Chowdhury and Sikder Haseeb Khan writes in the Progressive Bangladesh:
The cartoon by Arifur Rahman is a source of grievance of scores of Islamist activists in Bangladesh who have risen up in arms to see Arif severely punished – some have even felt it their ‘sacred’ duty to declare death sentence on him. Isn’t it ironic that we are defying the very teachings of the Prophet in the name of trying to uphold his respect? Isn’t it a disgrace that we have ignored the peaceful and tolerant teachings of Islam and the Prophet (SM) to the point of making Islam look to the outside world like an intolerant and barbaric religion?

If the government fails to free Arifur Rahman and give him adequate protection for his life, it will only fan the fire of religious bigotry and ignorance in the country. If unchecked, this fire runs the danger of extending to proportions that we see in some other Muslim countries, hampering our international relations and jeopardizing our image as a ‘moderate Muslim nation’ that can serve as an example for others. We hope that this government will be prudent in taking a decision on this matter since it is not just an issue of freedom of expression but one that goes to the very fabric of who we are as a nation.


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