- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 23, 1999

'Cultural aggression'

A political leader from Bangladesh is on a quest in Washington for ideas to rid his country of what he called the "cultural aggression" of sex, violence and pornography on television.
The Bangladeshi airwaves are under assault from television networks in Russia and Asia, Information Minister Abu Sayeed told editors and reporters yesterday at The Washington Times.
The United States, often blamed for "cultural imperialism," is not at fault.
"We only get CNN," he said. "News is all right."
Mr. Sayeed said the government has no intention of censoring news broadcasts, and the State Department human rights report notes there are currently no restrictions on access to foreign news broadcasts or the ownership of television satellite dishes.
That could change, if the government can find a way to block offensive programming, Mr. Sayeed said.
"Selling sex, pornography and violence to our country should not be allowed," he said.
Mr. Sayeed called the programs "cultural aggression" against the Muslim society.
"It destroys our values and our culture," he said.
Mr. Sayeed said he is aware of complaints in the United States about sex and violence on television and the efforts of the Clinton administration to promote "V chips" to block those programs.
"If we could find a way, we would cut it off," he said of the sexually explicit and violent programming from Russia's TB 6 network and several Asian television broadcasts that are picked up in Bangladesh.
"We have to motivate our people against sex and violence [on television]… . We must stop it," he said.
He met yesterday with State Department officials and had an appointment with the Voice of America to learn about its broadcasting practices.

Politics in Bangladesh

Meanwhile in Bangladesh yesterday, the U.S. ambassador tried to help end a political crisis between the government and opposition leaders who have encouraged economically crippling labor strikes.
Ambassador John Holzman met with President Shahabuddin Ahmed to step into the dispute between Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed of the Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
The opposition has organized labor strikes and demanded Sheik Hasina step down and hold early elections. She has pledged to serve out her term, which expires in 2001.
The president thanked Mr. Holzman for his concern and assured him that "a [political] consensus was not an impossible thing," a government spokesman told Agence France-Presse.
Mr. Holtzman emphasized in his talks with the president that political stability would help the economy of Bangladesh prosper.
Mr. Holzman called for "tolerance" and "compromise" and said the dispute is "severely hindering economic growth."

AIPAC 'miracle'

In an evening of mutual admiration, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) feted Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval, who is leaving Washington next month.
"He served through two U.S. administrations and four Israeli administration, through times of war and peace and always with distinction," AIPAC Director Howard Kohr said at the farewell reception earlier this week.
Mr. Shoval, a political appointee of the conservative Likud bloc, served in Washington from 1990 to 1993 during the Bush administration. When Labor defeated Likud in 1992, the new government kept him in Washington for nine months.
He returned in 1998 under Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was defeated in elections in May. Again, Labor kept Mr. Shoval in Washington for several months until his replacement was ready to assume the position.
"I am a great fan of AIPAC," Mr. Shoval said of the primary Israeli-American advocacy group. "It is a miracle in an age of miracles."

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