Bangladeshi Facing Death Penalty Publishes American's Book

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"It Fell From the Sky, it Must be Ours: a Poem for Peace with Justice" has been published by Shoaib Choudhury’s company, Blitz Publications.

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Shoaib Choudhury’s support for the State of Israel has earned him stiff opposition in his native Bangladesh, where Islam is the official faith. Currently on trial for sedition, a charge which can bring the death penalty in his country, Mr. Choudhury has already spent time in prison because of his principled opposition to violent jihadism and his support for interfaith dialogue and improved relations between Muslims and Jews.

"It Fell From the Sky, it Must be Ours: a Poem for Peace with Justice" has been published by Choudhury’s company, Blitz Publications. A modern, experimental poem, it came into being after the predicament of its publisher, a Zionist who is also a devout Muslim, caught the attention of its author, D. H. Kerby, a Los Angelino political essayist who did anti-apartheid work in South Africa during apartheid and who now lives in Amsterdam.

The last straw for Mr. Choudhury appears to have been his attempt to travel to Israel to attend a writers’ conference at which he was to deliver a speech about ways in which members of the media can contribute to peace. He was arrested at the airport in Dhaka.

Kerby became aware of Choudhury after the writers’ organization PEN (Poets, Essayists and Novelists), which supports writers all over the world who have been imprisoned for their work, honored Choudhury with its Freedom-to-Write Award. Kerby has written that “For Bangladesh to prohibit its citizens by law from traveling to Israel makes no more sense than for the United States to prevent U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba.”

Mr. Kerby began to write letters of support for Mr. Choudhury, sending one to the United States Ambassador to Bangladesh, believing that had Mr. Choudhury been a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil his activities would have been protected by the First Amendment’s “peaceable assembly” clause guaranteeing freedom of association, and wanting to defend a fellow writer’s right to differ from his government,

Kerby and Choudhury share a belief in the importance of the right to disagree with the powerful and have become good friends.

When Mr. Choudhury’s publishing operation expanded to include books in addition to newspapers (he is the publisher of Weekly Blitz of Dhaka), Kerby sent the manuscript of his 45 page poem to Mr. Choudhury in Dhaka. Grateful for Mr. Kerby’s support and admiring his poetry, Choudhury decided to publish the work.

Former Canadian diplomat and U.C. Berkeley English Professor Peter Dale Scott has written of It Fell from the Sky, it Must be Ours that “Kerby’s short epic is an awakened poem of the nightmare we live in, one in which both religion and science are at the service of oppressors. More intensely personal and self-questioning than Ginsberg’s ‘Howl,’ his poem also gives more authentic snapshots of our chaotic world, from the streets of Jerusalem, Frankfurt, Managua, and Port-au-Prince to the pressroom of the United Nations. Readers will share his vivid experiences, whether of an unfolding military coup d’ etat, or of invasive psychiatric obtuseness. Above all, one feels the agony of ‘a man of peace in a situation of war.’”

The book is available from Amazon.com and is priced at $5.00. It can also be ordered (in quantity) from Blitz Publications of Dhaka.

Contact:

D. H. Kerby

Tel.: 31 020 777 5700

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D. H. Kerby

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