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Bangladesh's Muslim Zionist on trial

    Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury certainly stands out in his native Bangladesh: he is a Muslim Zionist.

    But unlike several other Zionist dissidents from Muslim countries, like the PA's Walid Shoebat, who converted to Christianity and now lives in the United States, he has not renounced Islam and he has not moved to the West.

    Mr Choudhury believes that he can fight for his cause most effectively from within Islam and within his own country, and rejects the offers of political asylum that would guarantee his own safety.

    Mr Choudhury is publisher of The Weekly Blitz, the only anti-jihadist newspaper in the Muslim world. But every few weeks he is forced away from his desk in Dhaka to a nearby courtroom, where he is on trial for his life.

    "In November 2003 I was arrested at Dhaka Airport as I was attempting to travel to Tel Aviv for a writers' conference," he recalls. "I was tortured for 10 days as the police tried to make me confess that I was an Israeli spy. Then they kept me in solitary confinement for 17 months. I was released on bail after US Congressman Mark Kirk raised my case with the Bangladeshi ambassador. But I am still on trial for sedition, treason, blasphemy and espionage."

    Although he denies he is a spy, he is a resolute supporter of Israel.

    "My father used to tell me not to believe the weekly hate speeches against Christians and Jews that we would hear in the mosques. I tried to follow his advice, and later on I kept an open mind when I met Jews. Now I have thousands of Jewish friends and I am a proud Zionist."

    He rejects Geert Wilders's assertion that there are moderate Muslims, but no moderate Islam.

    "My Islam derives from the Koran. This teaches that Muslims, Jews and Christians will all be rewarded for good deeds and punished for evil."

    The Weekly Blitz has influenced both government policy and popular opinion in Bangladesh. As a result of its articles the government has banned Islamist group Hizb-ut Tahrir and the antisemitic publication Dajjal. The Blitz also ran a campaign against Muslim supremacist Dr Zakir Naik, leading the British and Canadian governments to refuse him entry.

    It publishes articles on the Jewish festivals, and its features on Israeli achievements sparked a campaign for the government to recognise Israel.

    But the paper may not last for much longer. Mr Choudhury says it has lost most of its advertising revenue since it started publishing pro-Israeli articles and is only kept afloat through hisown money and the money of supporters.

    "I may have to close down soon. But please pray for me. I believe in God's power. Maybe He will save Blitz."

    Meanwhile, he plans to continue his fight with a new anti-Jihadist daily, to be called Frontline, in December 2010.

    "Sometimes I am asked why I am prepared to risk my life for this fight. But as a Muslim Zionist I believe that confronting militant Islam is the most important issue in ensuring a peaceful world for all of us."

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