05.04.2002 : Demonstration in Hong Kong
On April 5, dozens of protesters burned copies of the Far Eastern Economic Review in front of the magazine’s Hong Kong premises. Most of the protesters, of Bangladeshi origin, were brandishing placards on which slogans such as "FEER articles are groundless and false" or "Far Eastern Error Reporting" were written. The protesters also presented a protest letter with four hundred signatures to David Plott, the magazine’s Deputy Editor in Chief.
The magazine has decided to publish a right to reply from the Bangladeshi government in its April 11 2002 issue.
In a letter addressed to the Information Minister Tariqul Islam, Reporters Without Borders (RSF - Reporters sans frontières) protested against the seizure and banning of the latest issue of the weekly Far Eastern Economic Review published in Hong Kong. "After banning the weekly Newsweek in February, your government has again censored an international news magazine. This is not how it is going to improve its image abroad", said Robert Ménard, RSF general secretary. The organisation urged the minister to do everything in his power to ensure that this issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review was made available on news stands.
According to information gathered by RSF, on 3 April 2002 the Bangladeshi government banned the 4 April edition of the Asian magazine Far Eastern Economic Review. The Home Affairs minister announced that copies had been seized and that its "publication, sale, distribution and possession" were banned. According to the authorities, the article by Bertil Lintner entitled "A Cocoon of Terror" was "baseless". The journalist, based in Thailand, described the upsurge of Islamist groups in Bangladesh, a country with a vast Muslim majority. In particular, he wrote that in Bangladesh there were "radical groups linked to international terrorist organizations".
During a session in parliament, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia denounced those who "were trying, at home and abroad, to tarnish the country’s image by spreading false and malicious information". The article in the Far Eastern Economic Review was headline news in the country’s main dailies. Some Bangladeshi editorialists confirmed the emergence of an Islamist tendency but also noted certain errors in Bertil Lintner’s report.
RSF wishes to point out that the Dhaka authorities banned the February 2002 issue of Newsweek which contained an illustration of the Holy Prophet. In September 2000 it banned an issue of the same magazine for an article on Islam.