The first duty of a desperately impoverished nation most of which is under water is to find somebody or something that is unIslamic and pitch a fit.
After being accused of “sucking blood” from the poor, Bangladesh’s only Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus faces a new state-backed hate campaign seeking to paint him as un-Islamic and a spreader of homosexuality.
Following years of attempts to discredit his legacy as a pioneer of micro-finance – since copied the world over as a development tool – the hounding has turned more personal and dangerous.
The perceived crime of the 73-year-old was to sign a joint statement along with three other Nobel laureates in April 2012 criticising the prosecution of gay people in Uganda.
Little remarked at the time, it has since been seized on by the Islamic Foundation, a government religious body, and amplified through tens of thousands of imams on its payrolls.
Protests have been held, leaflets calling him “an accomplice of Jews and Christians” have been distributed, and a “grand rally” has been called for October 31 in the capital Dhaka to denounce him.
What a disgusting conglomeration of bad reasons and bad actions and bad thinking, not to mention bad governance. When in doubt, whip up hatred at somebody who objects to the whipping up of hatred. The first duty is to hate some people for no good reason.
The hate-object used to be my friend Taslima.
“How can a state-run organisation run a campaign of criminal intimidation? It’ll instigate violence against professor Yunus,” Sara Hossain, a top lawyer and rights activist, warned in an interview with AFP.
The harassment has echoes of another movement against feminist writer and religious critic Taslima Nasreen who was forced to flee the country after being denounced like Yunus.
“It’s unfortunate that he’s facing the kind of campaign that I faced in 1994,” Nasreen told AFP. “I was forced to leave the country because of the campaign by the fundamentalists, which the then government actively supported.”
Don’t do this, Bangladesh.