Journalist leaders yesterday lambasted Social Welfare Minister Syed Mohsin Ali for his abusive remarks on newsmen, and demanded his removal from the cabinet.
Terming the minister “mentally unbalanced”, they also demanded that Mohsin Ali withdraw the comments he made on Saturday and apologise.
"The minister will have to be fired from the cabinet and arrested within 48 hours. Otherwise, we will continue our movement," said Ruhul Amin Gazi, leader of a faction of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ), at a demonstration in front of the Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
Questioning the minister's sanity, Abdul Hai Sikdar, president of a faction of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ), said, "We will go to court for legal action in this regard".
Later, they brought out a procession that paraded different adjoining streets.
“The minister's remarks reflect his mean mentality. These also tarnish the image of the government and the cabinet,” said the other faction of the BFUJ in a statement yesterday.
BFUJ President Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul and Secretary General Abdul Jalil Bhuyian, DUJ President Altaf Mahmud and General Secretary Quddus Afrad in the joint statement said the minister's repeated offensive remarks are provocative, and question his education, taste and political and family culture.
"It is shocking that Mohsin Ali used the name of the prime minister [in doing these] which is embarrassing for all," the statement said. The journalist leaders called upon the prime minister to take initiatives so that Mohsin Ali withdraws his comments and apologises.
“Remarks of some MPs or ministers about journalists create scope for others to wonder if these people want to achieve something ill by having the relationship between the government and media deteriorate,” the statement says.
Urging Mohsin Ali to learn from history, the journalists said they play their professional role without being influenced by any vested quarter.
They called upon all to create an environment where newsmen can play their due role in upholding democracy and protecting the public interest.
Dhaka Reporters Unity in a statement yesterday said it would boycott the social welfare minister if he did not withdraw his objectionable comments on the journalists.
Journalists of Sylhet too have demanded Mohsin's exclusion from the cabinet and have announced to boycott all programmes attended by the minister.
They made the announcement at a human chain at Sylhet Central Shaheed Minar yesterday.
Meanwhile, Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh President AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury termed Mohsin Ali's comments unacceptable and sought an explanation from the prime minister.
“If the remarks are true, the minister should not be kept in the cabinet,” the former president of the country said in a statement.
At a programme at Sylhet District Council auditorium on Saturday, Syed Mohsin Ali termed journalists as “dirty chaps and of bad character”.
At the beginning of his speech, he told the photojournalists to move away from in front of him.
“I have not come to see your faces … They have not studied journalism to become journalists. Only my daughter has done an MA in journalism. And others have only roamed around their colleges,” Mohsin Ali said.
Mohsin Ali said, “My leader Sheikh Hasina called me and said Hasanul Haq Inu is a 14-party leader, and you are Awami League's grassroots leader. You continue to do what you are doing. Let journalists write whatever they want. It does not matter.”
At one stage, the MP elected from Moulvibazar said, “Once the independent [broadcast] commission is formed, we will see how far you can go".
After this, the journalists there left the venue in protest and demonstrated in front of the auditorium.