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6 Jul, 2016

Sole Bangladeshi Nobel laureate links terrorism to ongoing Middle East conflicts

Bangkok – Bangladesh’s only Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus has issued a statement linking the 1 July terrorist attack in Dhaka to ongoing conflict in the Middle East, asserting that the world “must wake up to the fact that violence in one place breeds violence even in remotest places of the world.”

The statement should be an eye-opener to the travel & tourism industry which, if it can muster the intellectual and moral courage, can use it to broaden the debate on terrorism, conflict and violence and move it beyond mere condemnations and calls for more security.

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Prof Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He is one of only 12 Muslims who have won Nobels.

The thrust of Prof Yunus’ statement is in perfect accordance with the 1 July 2016 adoption of a United Nations General Assembly resolution on the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. The first of the strategy’s four pillars calls for the need to address “conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism,” such as “prolonged unresolved conflicts, dehumanization of victims of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, lack of rule of law and violations of human rights, ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalization, and lack of good governance.”

Let the record show that the travel & tourism industry has said/done nothing to address any of these underlying issues. Both the UN World Tourism Organisation and the World Travel & Tourism Council have issued the ritual statements “condemning” terrorism. Following the attack at Istanbul airport, the International Air Transport Association has noted the need to install more security equipment on the landside of airports.

Prof Yunus’ statement presents a clear window of opportunity for a deeper and more introspective travel & tourism examination of terrorism and its root causes, in line with the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

The full text of his statement is reproduced below (Source: http://www.muhammadyunus.org/):

I am shocked by the barbarity of the terrorist attack on innocent people in Dhaka on July 1 evening. I express my heartfelt condolences to those, far and near, who have lost their loved ones. and wish their souls to rest in peace.

I cannot think of such attacks taking place in Bangladesh. I always believed Bangladesh to be a tolerant liberal country. We must do soul searching on how this breeding of violence began in our country. We want to create a society peacefully shared by everyone,with everyone having their space, having the right for all to express their views freely, without fear or social or official constraints. We want to be part of an emergent new world of equality and dignity.

We also want to promote the same values internationally. I appeal to all nations to work to bring lasting peace in Middle East. Violence, military or terrorist, can no longer be can contained in one country or region. We are seeing this everyday, and must wake up to the fact that violence in one place breeds violence even in remotest places of the world. I plead to the powerful nations please overcome differences among yourselves to bring peace in the Middle East so we have better chances of peace in our cities and communities around the world. I urge the civil society leaders to bring pressure on relevant parties and super-powers to stop violence and to go to the negotiating tables to bring immediate peace in the Middle East.