BANGLADESH: Throwing the (Face)Book at the Prime Minister!

Posting unflattering Facebook messages about Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has landed another person in hot water.

On July 12, The Daily Star: Lebanon reported that Bangladesh police jailed  Shariful Islam after he posted to his Facebook page an edited picture of the female prime minister’s face superimposed on a partially-naked woman’s body. Police say they found pictures of the prime minister, as well as other “doctored” photos of other ministers, on Islam’s computer. The advertising exec could face up to ten years in jail if found guilty on defamation charges.

Islam isn’t the only Bangladeshi who has gotten into trouble for posting “inappropriate” images or comments about Hasina. In June, a student was charged with sedition after posting a Facebook comment that linked Hasina with the disappearance of an opposition political leader. Also, in January, 19-year-old Al Nayeem Jubaer was arrested for posting “obscene” remarks about Hasina’a father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who also happens to be Bangladesh’s founding leader. To top it off, in January, a 29-year-old man from Bangladesh was sentenced to six months in jail after he posted a message on Facebook that implied that he wished for Hasina to die in a car accident.

It’s clear Hasina has take her lumps on the popular social networking site. That’s to be expected. But Islam and others are finding that if your government lacks a sense of humor, a respect for free speech or simply has nothing better do to, such open air commentary can land you in more trouble than expected.

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