Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Dangers of Bangladesh

I have received many emails from concerned friends and families lately about this whole mess involving a video insulting Islamic people and the subsequent violence that has occurred in various places around the world. I have repeatedly gotten to inform them that I'm not in any danger that I'm aware of. Below is a map of Dhaka. On this map, the red line is my biking route to and from work. I live at the green dot and work at the blue dot. That distance is about 6.5 miles for perspective purposes. The purple dot in the upper right-hand corner is the American Embassy. The orange dots are where I have heard of protests happening or where protests frequently occur. The yellow dots are where protests can happen on occasion but are rare and quickly contained. As you can see, there is only one dot that intersects with my route home and I've only ever heard of something happening there a couple of times in my 4 years here.

The normal protesting times are roughly 10am (agitators are slow to get out of bed) to 3:30 pm while I'm in the office working hard. Rarely are protests still occurring by the time I leave work. Also keep in mind that Dhaka is a city of roughly 16 million people in a country were protests are very frequent due to issues of corruption, injustice, and politics in general. The police here are extremely used to dealing with protests of a very large nature. That said, any protests against the US Embassy here since the violence in Libya have been so small that they haven't even made the news here. Quite literally, the only place I've read about a protest here was on a foreign news website. That article spoke of a couple hundred people protesting and burning American flags but the pictures they included were down where those orange dots are. What I'm trying to point out here is that they were so small and so far away (probably over 8 miles away) from anything relevant that I haven't even bothered to be even slightly concerned about them. The Bangladesh government has outright condemned the video and has blocked youtube as a protest to the situation. At the same time, the government here is not tolerant of extremest positions either. They harass them themselves because they fear being labeled as a terrorist state. Other than that, it is just life as usual here.

One thing this has lead to is that I have had to explain to many of my coworkers and our landlord (came into the office for other business) why the American government did not just take down the article. It is hard to explain how things like hate speech are allowed by our constitution and that even if the government did take it down, someone would challenge that in the courts and it would be overturned. I have explained that the government has publicly condemned the video and asked the company to voluntarily take it down but has no right to force them to do so. They have explained back to me that this is an extremely hurtful thing for someone to have done and they are greatly aggrieved.

In the end, it is actually far more likely that I'll get hit while I ride my bike on the road than face any trouble from one of these protests and that is the real danger of Bangladesh.

1 comment:

Donny said...

I love the map! Thanks for letting us know how the reaction in Dhaka is over this topic. I figured as much that they were more concerned with their own issues.