Dr Shafiq Siddique, a professor at Dhaka University and husband of Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Rehana, has described the lawsuit spree against The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam as “too much”.
“Mahfuz Anam has made a mistake. But many have made more mistakes than him… If there is trial, all of them should be tried. We have seen a lot of debate on this. It should end here,” he said at a talk show titled “News and Views” on private TV channel Bangla Vision early yesterday.
“The filing of 35 defamation and sedition pleas against Mahfuz Anam is too much,” said Shafiq.
Many newspapers wrote a lot of things at that time. “Have all of them apologised?”
“Why all are now after Mahfuz Anam?” he asked.
Referring to the Awami League leaders, who allegedly betrayed the party after 1/11 political changeover, he said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina didn’t make any of them ministers after coming to power. “She said that ‘I have forgiven them but I haven’t forgotten’.”
He said Mahfuz Anam could have made the admission seven years ago after a democratic government returned to power.
At a talk show on a private TV channel on February 3, the Star editor made an introspective comment about a lapse in his editorial judgement in publishing a few reports, based on information given by the Task Force Interrogation Cell during the 2007-08 tenure of the last caretaker government, without being able to verify those independently.
Shafiq said Sheikh Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy is “very talented”.
Joy was very hurt when corruption allegations were brought against his mother after the 1/11 changeover. Joy made some comments on Facebook after Mahfuz Anam recently regretted publishing some reports about Hasina without being able to verify those independently.
“It is very normal from his point of view. But I feel bad about the events that followed. The issue was raised in parliament, and 35 cases have been filed against him [Mahfuz Anam]. Joy let it go after saying something. He didn’t file any case. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did not file any case either.”
Some other people are filing sedition pleas (with courts). “Mahfuz Anam is in no way a traitor. He may have a different opinion but he is a patriotic person. I consider him to be a hundred percent patriot.”
Libel cases should be filed by someone whose reputation has been harmed. “Sajeeb Wazed Joy and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina could have filed a case. But they did not do so. Why excesses are being done about it?”
“Health Minister Mr Nasim made a good remark that Mahfuz Anam should resign now since he has admitted his mistake. This culture is there in the West and even in India. But the practice is not seen here.”
Replying to a query whether he, as a member of Bangabandhu’s family, would play any role in stopping the lawsuit spree against the Star editor, Shafiq stated that this should end after what the health minister, as a spokesperson of the 14-party combine, had said.
“He [the health minister] did not say anything about filing cases.”
Shafiq also referred to Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu’s comment that Mahfuz Anam had done a courageous thing by admitting his mistake.
“It is in our religion that Allah pardons a person if he or she asks for forgiveness. I hope it will end here,” added the DU teacher.