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Open Letter to President Obama for Prof. Muhammad Yunus

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An Open Letter to President Barack Obama 
                            for Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus
Dear President Obama:

We know you are very passionate about individual rights, freedom of speech, and human rights.

You named Prof. Yunus as the recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. America’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom was awarded to him by you for making an especially meritorious contribution to the world peace and a significant private endeavor.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus is a global leader in anti-poverty efforts, and has pioneered the use of "micro-loans" to provide credit to poor individuals without collateral. Dr. Yunus, an economist by training, founded the Grameen Bank in 1983 in his native Bangladesh to provide small, low-interest loans to the poor to help better their livelihood and communities. Grameen Bank has spread its successful model throughout the world. Dr. Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work.

We are citizens/residents of USA and friends of Bangladesh who are very concerned about the shameless orchestrated personal attacks on Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus to undermine his tremendous contributions to Bangladesh and the rest of the world. Prof.

Yunus is well known around the world for his simple life style, honesty and transparency. He is a visionary individual who constantly and passionately thinks about the problems of the humanity especially the extreme poor.

The father of "Microcredit" Nobel Laureate Prof. Muhammad Yunus has been the darling of the world due to the tremendous success of his microcredit idea. Over one hundred and fifty countries are successfully using his microcredit idea and making significant positive differences. Of course, there are exceptions, where a few unscrupulous people have tried to take advantage of the idea for their personal gain. Prof. Yunus himself acknowledged the fact in his January 4, 2011 article in New York Times.

In the recent months, attacks on "microcredit" is certainly justified to some extent and Prof. Yunus himself cited cases in Mexico and India, where a few individuals and organizations are misusing the microcredit concept for personal gains. What is not justified is giving a blanket bad name to microcredit that has helped millions of people all over the world. It is even more unjustified, when the founder of the idea, Prof. Muhammad Yunus is being blamed for the malpractices of few or a few isolated cases of failures and wrongdoing.

Prof. Yunus is the only Bangladeshi Nobel Prize Winner, who has brought prestige and honor for Bangladesh from the rest of the world. It is very unfortunate that instead of giving him his well deserved honor, politicians in Bangladesh are trying to undermine him for their personal gains. It is also unfortunate that we have to write this petition to you to defend one of the most illustrious citizens of the world Prof. Yunus.

It is a well known fact that some of the political leaders in Bangladesh have been very uncomfortable with Prof. Yunus since the day he called politicians as "heartless money grabbers" and declared his intention to form a new political party. Although he later made it clear that he would not enter Bangladeshi politics, but the Bangladeshi politicians remained very skeptical about him. That was the starting point when politicians started witch-hunting on Prof. Yunus to undermine his credibility. The shameless orchestrated personal attack on Prof. Yunus reached its peak starting December 2010 with the baseless partial Norwegian TV Documentary that was part of a smear campaign against Prof. Yunus. So far, all the stories against Prof. Yunus that have been reported were later founded either false or baseless.

Initially, people in Bangladesh and around the world were confused about the controversy in Bangladesh surrounding Prof. Yunus and Grameen Bank. However, as most of the comments by the politicians and news media were directed to Prof. Yunus personally, it soon became clear to the people of Bangladesh and rest of the world that the entire episode was politically motivated. Even one of the most illustrious heroes of Bangladeshi independence, Tiger Kader Siddiqi came out very strong in support of the only Bangladeshi Nobel Prize Winner Prof. Muhammad Yunus. So far, no one could question the impeccable personal honesty and integrity of Prof. Yunus. Even the jealous intellectuals who were attacking him did make sure to clarify that personally Prof. Yunus was an honest man.

We all love Prof Yunus and would like to urge you to make a very strong public statement and send a clear signal to the Government of Bangladesh that the United States of America will not tolerate such abuse of freedom of speech and human rights violations in Bangladesh.


Dr. Mohammad Bhuiyan Shamima Amin-Methu


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