Bangladeshi video blogger and secular activist Asad Noor has been arrested at Shah Jalal International Airport (DHK) today. This incident took place as the dissident blogger was heading towards Nepal after being threatened by the Islamist continuously since he returned to Bangladesh from India. He was arrested under the infamous Section 57 of the ICT act of the country. According to Section 57, any acts hurting religious beliefs are non-bailable and the supposed perpetrator can face up to 10 years of imprisonment and/or fines up to 10 million BDT (approx. 150k USD).
In April 2017, Limon Fakir, a friend and co-blogger of Mr Noor, was also arrested under the same law, just after few days of returning to Bangladesh from India. The news was largely overlooked by the mainstream media and was covered by a few local media only. No update on the present condition of Mr Fakir could have been retracted. Both Fakir and Noor moved to India from Bangladesh in early 2016 after being targeted by the Islamists factions of the country.
As per the local media, on the 11th of January of 2017, one Mufti Omar Farooq filed a case under section 57 against Noor. The case was filed in Amtoli, Barguna where Asad’s parents are based at. Mufti Farooq is the president of the local chapter of a fundamentalist Islamic society called Islami Andolon. The immigration police arrested him at the airport from where he was supposed to get into a Kathmandu bound flight for a temporary relocation. Noor did not have the idea that, his passport was flagged and a red notice had already been issued upon his travelling.
Due to the international uproar against the oppressive law, BD lawmakers have declared that they will repeal the act. However, the draft of the new Digital Security Act of 2016 has provisions ensuring that anybody hurting religious feelings would be arrested. The punishment period has been axed down to up to 5 years and/or 1 million BDT. The draft Law does not categorize defamation as not a non-bailable offence. Nonetheless, it is not among the bailable offences either. A loop has been left intentionally to take the advantage of.