Amnesty International alleged that folk singer Shariat Bayati was arrested for solely exercising his right to freedom of expression and demanded to the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.
The international rights watchdog made the allegation and placed the demand in a press release on Friday.
‘Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action for Bangladeshi folk singer Shariat Boyati, who has been arrested under the draconian Digital Security Act for stating that music is not forbidden in the Quran. He faces up to five years’ imprisonment on vague charges of hurting religious sentiment,’ the release read.
AI’s South Asia campaigner Saad Hammadi said, ‘The arrest and subsequent detention of Shariat Bayati is a clear example of how the Digital Security Act violates Bangladesh’s international obligations. Shariat’s words may have been offensive, but to arrest him on a vaguely defined provision such as hurting religious sentiment is a violation of the right to freedom of expression.’
‘Such arrests create a chilling effect, stopping journalists and anyone who expresses dissent to fear the Digital Security Act will be arbitrarily used against them. Shariat Bayati was not attacking Islam or the Muslim community, just a section of Islamic scholars. Defending music is not a crime,’ he said.
Shariat was arrested on January 11 from Bhaluka, Tangail in a case filed with the Mirzapur police station by an imam of a mosque of Mirzapur under Digital Security Act on January 9.
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