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Outrage Over Elderly Bangladeshi Woman’s Arrest After Son’s Facebook Post on Maulana Delwar Hossain Saidi

The arrest of 60-year-old Anisha Siddika by Bangladesh’s Khulna Metropolitan Police has evoked outrage and controversy. Anisha was arrested under the controversial Special Powers Act after her US-based son Tanzilur Rahman criticized the trial of late Islamic leader Maulana Delwar Hossain Saidi on Facebook.

Maulana Delwar Hossain Saidi, convicted of 1971 war crimes, passed away in prison last week. In his post, Rahman questioned the disappearance of a key defense witness in Sayedee’s trial.

In what appears to be retaliation, police raided the home of Rahman’s mother Anisha, who always wore a Niqab veil in public. Police even posted her photo without her Niqab online, causing public backlash.

Anisha has now been accused of attending a secret meeting to plan the escape of jailed leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Her family claims the charges are fabricated. She was denied bail.

Rahman says after his Facebook post went viral, police accompanied by Awami League members attacked his uncle’s home where Anisha lives. They arrested Anisha and two protesting students, accusing them of “sabotage.”

The Awami League denies its members’ involvement and the police claim of Anisha’s arrest being unrelated to her son’s post is being questioned.

Rights groups see the arbitrary arrest and public shaming of Anisha as an attempt to intimidate dissenting voices abroad by targeting families in Bangladesh. It has also raised concerns about the misuse of the Special Powers Act to stifle dissent.