Mukto-Mona Condemns the Arrest of Cartoonist Arifur Rahman

Published on September 20, 2007

The September 17th arrest of Aalpin (daily Prothom Alo's weekly satirical supplement) cartoonist Arifur Rahman over a cartoon is an act of barbarism by a military regime in cahoots with religious obscurantists.  This incident pin points at least two things immediately.

 First, the current military backed government is dangerously ignorant as to what constitutes an insult to a religion and religious sensitivity. Secondly, the incidence shows- contrary to current government's demand and much uproar for political reformation one thing to date remains same at least in political arena of Bangladesh: fundamentalists exerts significant influence on the government. If not so, the government would not have forgotten that a simple play on words, apparently in a cultural context, cannot tantamount to an "insult" to any religion. Inventing a "special motive" or "conspiracy" behind such plainly intended act of art is a sign of an unenlightened and jaundiced mind, to say the least.  Arifur Rahman finds himself in the august company of academicians from Dhaka university, inconvenient politicians and, indeed, anyone whom the Bangladesh military and its fundamentalist cohorts dislike, in prison. And, with him imprisoned, the baying by the fundamentalists for his blood seems to have reached a crescendo that sounds rather like a Taliban kangaroo court.

Thanks to the army & fundamentalists' combined efforts, Mr Rahman's life is now threatened inside or outside prison. What should have been a funny cartoon for people to laugh at has suddenly turned into a matter of life and death for a man whose only attempt was to provide readers amusements. Mukto-Mona demands the immediate release of Mr Arifur Rahman and for protection to be provided to him so that he does not suffer any harm. The military led government of Bangladesh is squarely responsible for Mr Rahman's persecution and needs to ensure his immediate freedom and safety. Failure to do this would be yet another disgraceful step towards turning Bangladesh into a theocratic dictatorship.


Mukto-Mona Moderation Team.



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