Salah Choudhury Biography
Salah Choudhury is a Bangladeshi writer, author and peace activist, who is popular in the world of journalism for his anti-jihadist outlook. This award-winning journalist pioneered in launching the first ever Bangladeshi private television channel, A-21 TV. He is also known for promoting interfaith dialogue between Muslims, Jews and Christians. His support for the Jews and Christians landed him in trouble, resulting in his imprisonment, physical assault, mob attacks, and brief kidnapping by Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). His anti-jihadist newspaper, The Weekly Blitz, has made him a popular name. It is the largest English-language weekly in Bangladesh. He serves as the editor-in-chief of ‘Jamjamat’ and editor of ‘Daily Frontline’ and has also written a couple of books in Bangla and English. He has received several international awards for his continuous endeavor to create intercultural understanding between Israel and the Islamic world.
- Salah Choudhury was born as Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury on January 12, 1965, in Sylhet Medical College Hospital, Sylhet, Bangladesh, as the eldest child of Ghulam Ather Choudhuri and Sharifa Choudhury.
- He began his professional career in 1989 with Soviet Union’s Itar-TASS News Agency as a correspondent. He was then promoted as its chief correspondent in Bangladesh in 1991.
- With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1996, a number of Itar-TASS offices were closed across the world, including Bangladesh, thereby leaving Salah jobless.
- He launched the first ever private television channel in Bangladesh, A-21 TV, in 1996.
- In 2001, he joined ‘Daily Inqilab’, a newspaper run by war criminal Maulana Abdul Mannan, leader of the most powerful Bangladeshi Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami.
- He served as the managing director of Inqilab Television, a private TV venture of Daily Inqilab.
- He started an English language newspaper, ‘The Weekly Blitz’, as an anti-jihadist tabloid in 2003, publishing articles supportive of the Christians and Jewish, especially those in Israel.
- In November 2003, he was arrested from Dhaka airport just before flying to Tel Aviv via Bangkok to attend the Hebrew Writers’ Association conference, allegedly for his connections with Mossad.
- In his attempt to travel to Israel, he violated the Passport Act, which bans Bangladeshi citizens visiting those nations with which it does not have diplomatic relations, like Israel and Taiwan.
- Charged with treason, sedition, and blasphemy, he was imprisoned for 17 months in a Dhaka jail and refused to be treated for glaucoma. He was released on bail in April 2005, without the charges being dropped off.
- A year after his release, his tabloid office was firebombed in July 2006 and he was beaten up badly by the mobs, which resulted in a fractured ankle. Subsequently, his office was ransacked and he was yet again attacked by a mob.
- In March 2008, he was kidnapped by the members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and physically assaulted, but released hours later, under increasing pressure from his supporters.
- He was yet again physically assaulted by armed goons of Bangladesh Awami League when they raided his ‘The Weekly Blitz’ office in February 2009. Even though a police complaint was lodged, no action was taken against them.
- He has authored several books in both English and Bengali. Some of his works include ‘Injustice & Jihad’ (2007) and ‘Inside Madrassa’ (2009).
- He has been serving as the advisor of Bangladesh Minority Lawyer’s Association since 2005. He is also the editor of ‘Daily Frontline’ and editor-in-chief of the weekly ‘Jamjamat’.
- On January 9, 2014, he was convicted by the Metropolitan Session Judge in Dhaka on treason and blasphemy charges and was sentenced to 9-years rigorous imprisonment. The court verdict said, Salah Choudhury has hurt the sentiment of Muslims by praising Jews and Christians; tarnished the image of Bangladesh by branding Osama Bin Laden and Yaseer Arafat as terrorists; and conspired against the country by claiming Madrassa were breeding grounds of radical Islamic militancy.
- Salah Choudhury filed an appeal against this verdict. The appeal was kept pending for years while Shoaib Choudhury got released from the prison on July 29, 2018 after serving the entire period of conviction. Following his release, Bangladesh authorities have seized his passport thus barring him from travelling abroad.
- He was felicitated with the Freedom to Write Award from PEN USA in 2005, towards his contribution in the field of journalism.
- In 2006, he was honored with the Moral Courage Award from the American Jewish Committee. He wasn’t able to receive the same as he was stopped by the Bangladesh government to travel to the United States.
- He received the Monaco Media Award from HRH Prince Albert of Monaco, in 2007 towards his commitment in creating a mutual understanding between Israel and the Islamic world.
- His book ‘Non Sono Colpevole’ was the first book written by a Bangladeshi journalist to be translated into Italian, which was released by Neftasia publication house in 2008.
- He was presented with the Key to Englewood from Mayor Michael Wildes and a certificate of moral courage from New Jersey Mayor Elie Katz.
- He is married to Shahnaj Choudhury and has two children.
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