Bangladesh Court Penalizes Duo for Serving Bread Instead of Cake at Event

Jesmin Papri
2022.02.02
Dhaka
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Bangladesh Court Penalizes Duo for Serving Bread Instead of Cake at Event A man wearing a facemask walks past a banner depicting Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, March 8, 2020.
[AFP]

Let them eat cake!

In a decision that would have pleased Marie Antoinette, a Bangladesh court has penalized two men for defaming the country’s founding father by cutting bread instead of cake to mark his birth anniversary last year.

As punishment, the court on Tuesday ordered the convicts – both madrassa teachers – to plant 20 trees and read five books, including three written by the nation’s founder, the late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was also the father of Sheikh Hasina, the current prime minister.

Md. Abdus Salam and Golam Kabir, of the Baurtala Dakhil Madrassa in northwestern Chapainawabganj district, were convicted under the draconian Digital Security Act for live streaming the bread-cutting event on Facebook, according to a copy of the judgment seen by BenarNews.

“The two convicts will be under the supervision of a probation officer appointed by the court for the next one year,” the judgment said.

“At this time, they will have to read three books written by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation….”

The court said the convict Salam cut the bread while his partner in crime, Kabir, broadcast it on Facebook last year on March 17, to mark Mujib’s 100th birth anniversary. Mujib was born in 1920, but centennial celebrations were delayed by the pandemic.

A leader from the Awami League, the party headed by Hasina, filed a complaint against the duo, who were arrested soon after. They were in jail until Tuesday’s probation order set them free.

BD-pic-2.jpg

Md. Abdus Salam, (left) talks to the media as Golam Kabir stands next to him, in front of the Rajshahi Cyber Tribunal, in Bangladesh, Feb. 1, 2022. [BenarNews]

‘A trivial incident’

If the pair violates probation conditions – including reading five books and planting 20 trees – they will be thrown in prison for a year and fined 100,000 taka (U.S. $1,168), the judgment said.

Wasting no time, convict Salam has begun his reading and planting assignments.

“I have already started reading the books following the court’s verdict. I have not received all the books yet. I hope to get all within one or two days,” Salam told BenarNews.

“In addition, I have started to plant trees. I have already planted 15 saplings of mahogany and mango trees in the madrassa complex, as there is no space to plant trees near my house.”

Salam told BenarNews he and Kabir did not mean to offend anyone with their actions last year.

“We earlier held prayers in his [Mujib’s] name,” Salam told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“But when students wanted to celebrate, we could only find bread in a local shop as we live in a remote village where good quality cake cannot be found instantly,” said the 57-year-old, according to AFP.

Faruq Faisel, the South Asia Coordinator of a pro-press freedom group called Article 19, said the incident did not merit such attention.

“This incident is an example as how a trivial incident is being given state-level importance, which is unfortunate,” he told BenarNews.

“If someone does not have enough money, he can observe a birthday with bread. Where is the problem?”

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