Bangladesh, Dhaka: Yesterday, an officer said, Bangladesh police arrested and charged a publisher after demonstrators warned of violent protests over one of his books which they deemed offensive. Police also shut down Shamsuzzoha Manik’s stall at the country’s book fair in Dhaka where he was selling copies of “Islam Bitorko” (Islam Debate), which includes a controversial chapter on sex and Muslims.
Senior police officer Abu Baker Siddique said, “There was a chapter entitled ‘Muslim Manosher Jouna Bikriti’ (sexual perversion of the Muslim mind) and contents were also offensive”. He told AFP, “We got complaints from many people and we were worried that it could trigger a serious deterioration of law and order”.
Manik was the translator and publisher of the book. The 73-year-old’s arrest on Sunday comes amid mounting fears over freedom of speech in conservative Bangladesh, which has seen a series of killings of secular bloggers and publishers blamed on militants.
A small group called Khelafat Andolon (Caliphate Movement) had warned on Sunday that it would storm the month-long book fair unless Manik was arrested within 24 hours. Police charged Manik under the country’s tough Internet law for publishing material that hurts religious beliefs. He faces up to 14 years in jail if convicted. Police arrested Manik, the owner of publishing firm Ba-dwip Prokashoni, at his home in the capital and raided his offices, seizing copies of the book.