By Shah Husain Imam ,The Daily Star/Asia News Network
A bolt from the blue has hit Bangladesh as if the nation didn’t have a plateful on our hands already: SMS threats to some Christian bishops as Christmas approached, earlier attacks on a couple of them and attempted intimidation of the Shiites with the lethal bombing at Hussaini Dalan. Australia, meanwhile, has embargoed air shipments from Bangladesh and four other countries on security grounds, effective from Dec. 19. The Australian government circular places Bangladesh in the none-too-glorious company of Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Somalia! The blanket label is another eye-opener to a sweeping profiling Bangladesh is being subjected to, for reasons best known to Down Under, though not an unknown tormentor of Bangladesh, if you jog your memory just a bit. So you are bizarrely shaken now to a realization that even our cargo is suspected of purveying danger along with that of some troubled countries. But we should be keeping our wits about us to get to the bottom of what we regard as an undeserved sanction and therefore an unfair trade practice imposed on us unilaterally. A waiver on certain items like mail and light cargo not exceeding 500 grams is too measly for the apparel exporters to be able to send out their samples by air. It appears Australia is at it again — in its “whistle-blowing” role, as it were. Public memory is still fresh on Australia’s boycott of a cricket match series with Bangladesh citing security risks, roundly debunked by cricket celebrities like Shane Warne. They played the World Cup round in Dhaka just because it was mandatory on their part to play out in return for the Bangladesh side having played their match in Australia earlier on.
Now touch-base with Islamophobia in the West. The anti-immigration voices were so long heard making a couple of points: One, the immigrants’ non-assimilation in the host societies; two, assertion of their identities in isolation from the mainstream; and three, increasing potential of population growth among the Muslims. Now a new apprehension has entered into the equations or lack of them between immigrant communities and host societies: The fear of terrorism, especially after the Paris massacre. You have the anti-immigration campaign group Pegida nicknamed “patriots” in Germany brimming with almost an overpowering sense of victimhood and therefore frustrations against the immigrants. At the same time, colorful banners hang from the facade of a central opera house reading “open your hearts” and “The dignity of humans is sacrosanct” — quoting article 1 of the German constitution. But at the close of count in December, Germany will have registered a record intake of 1 million refugees; that is a tribute to Angel Markel and German hospitality. Move to Britain: Supporters of the British offshoot of German anti-Islamization group Pegida carried a banner depicting Winston Churchill with the slogan: “No surrender to terrorists.” Fewer than 100 supporters waiving the Union Jack were met by anti-fascist counter demonstrators in two groups. Britain has banned marches of the National Front and the English Defence League for their bigoted and aggressive agenda going against the very grain of the British belief system anchored in multiculturalism.