Bangladeshi lawmaker arrested and jailed in Kuwait

Mohammed Shahid Islam
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Updated 09 June 2020

Bangladeshi lawmaker arrested and jailed in Kuwait

  • A foreign ministry official in Dhaka told Arab News that Islam was staying in Kuwait on an “ordinary passport” instead of “red passport” which is a privilege for the lawmakers of the country

DHAKA: Bangladeshi lawmaker Mohammed Shahid Islam, arrested in Kuwait by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the country, was taken to jail late on Sunday, according to sources at Bangladesh’s embassy in Kuwait. 
 Islam, an independent member of Bangladesh’s parliament, was arrested at his residence in Mushrif, Kuwait City, around 9:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, an embassy official told Arab News.
 “The judicial authority of Kuwait denied Islam’s bail petition when he applied for it on Sunday afternoon, and subsequently he was sent to jail,” the official added.
S.M. Abul Kalam, Bangladesh’s ambassador to Kuwait, said the mission authorities were still unsure of the charges leveled against Islam.
“I was informed about the arrest of the Bangladeshi parliamentarian on Saturday night by one of his brothers who resides in Kuwait. We wrote a letter to Kuwaiti authorities to update us about the charges against Islam. However, we are yet to receive any reply,” Kalam told Arab News on Monday. 
Due to the coronavirus disease pandemic, most institutions in Kuwait are closed, which may cause delays in the exchange of information, the envoy said.
Al-Qabas, a news media outlet, reported on Sunday that Islam was arrested on allegations of human trafficking and money laundering.
It added that he jointly owns a company in Kuwait named Marafie Kuwaitia Group, which operates in sectors such as engineering, contracting, logistics and facility management. Islam, it said, runs the company as the managing director, and does business in Kuwait, Oman and Jordan.
A foreign ministry official in Dhaka told Arab News that Islam was staying in Kuwait on an “ordinary passport” instead of “red passport” which is a privilege for the lawmakers of the country.

FASTFACT

Mohammed Shahid Islam arrested over alleged human trafficking and money laundering.

“In such a situation, the law will take its own course, no matter who the person is. But as of today, we don’t have much information in hand about the arrest. We are very much concerned about the news since he is a lawmaker of the country,” F. M. Borhan Uddin, director general of the Middle East wing of Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry, told Arab News.
“Currently, we are not sure in which direction the situation is moving regarding the arrest of the parliamentarian,” Borhan Uddin added.
Islam’s arrest in Kuwait created concern among his peers in Bangladesh’s parliament.
“On grounds of involvement in immoral activities, if he is convicted by the court (and sentenced to) at least 2 years of imprisonment, the lawmaker will lose his position as a member of the parliament,” Fazle Rabbi Miah, deputy speaker of Bangladesh’s parliament, told Arab News.
However, he couldn’t be sure whether the allegations of human trafficking and money laundering would fall under the purview of “immoral” category or not.
Islam’s wife, Selina Islam, who is also a member of parliament, denied the allegations against her husband.
“The media reports about the arrest of Shahid Islam in Kuwait were not correct. He is not accused in any case there. The Kuwaiti government has summoned him to a CID government office to discuss his business as per their rules,” she claimed through a statement on Sunday afternoon.


French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

Updated 28 min 55 sec ago

French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

  • President Emmanuel Macron: Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country
  • French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom

PARIS: French police on Monday launched a series of raids targeting extremist networks three days after the beheading of a history teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The operation came a day after tens of thousands of people took part in rallies countrywide to honor history teacher Samuel Paty and defend freedom of expression.

Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said “dozens” of individuals were being probed for suspected radicalization.

While they were “not necessarily linked” to Paty’s killing, the government aimed to send a message that there would be “not a minute’s respite for enemies of the Republic,” he added.

Darmanin said the government would also tighten the noose on NGOs with suspected links to extremist networks.

“Fear is about to change sides,” President Emmanuel Macron told a meeting of key ministers Sunday to discuss a response to the attack.

“Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country,” he said.

Paty, 47, was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Paris.

A photo of the teacher and a message confessing to his murder was found on the mobile phone of his killer, an 18-year-old Chechen man Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police.

The grisly killing has drawn parallels with the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, where 12 people, including cartoonists, were gunned down for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Paty had shown his civics class one of the controversial cartoons.

According to his school, Paty had given Muslim children the option to leave the classroom before he showed the cartoon in a lesson on free speech, saying he did not want their feelings hurt.

The lesson sparked a furor nonetheless and Paty and his school received threats.

Eleven people are being held over his murder, including a known radical and the father of one of Paty’s pupils, who had launched an online campaign against the teacher.

Darmanin accused the two men of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty, using the term for an edict that was famously used to describe the 1989 death sentence handed down against writer Salman Rushdie by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Anzorov’s family arrived in France from the predominantly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya when he was six.

Locals in the Normandy town of Evreux where he lived described him as a loner who had become increasingly religious in recent years.

Police are trying to establish whether he acted alone.

Four members of his family are being held for questioning.

In scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, when over a million people marched through Paris to defend press freedom, people again gathered at the central Place de la Republique on Sunday to express their horror over Paty’s death.

Some in the crowd chanted “I am Samuel,” echoing the 2015 “I am Charlie” rallying call for free speech.

French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom.

The government has vowed to step up security at schools when pupils return after half-term.

Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who laid a wreath outside Paty’s school on Monday, called for “wartime legislation” to combat the terror threat.

Le Pen, who has announced she will make a third bid for the French presidency in 2022, called for an “immediate” moratorium on immigration and for all foreigners on terror watchlists to be deported.

Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial started last month over the Charlie Hebdo killings.

The magazine republished the cartoons in the run-up to the trial, and last month a young Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the publication’s old office.