Imagine this scenario in a European country: A Bangladeshi migrant worker, a car mechanic, is charged with a premeditated murder, accused of slitting the throat of a European national with a hacksaw due to a disagreement concerning payment for work done on the victim's car. The murder outrages some local government officials, who claim Bangladeshi immigrants are behind the nation's growing crime problem and demand the deportation of more than 100,000 Bangladeshi laborers. For example, a member of parliament calls on the government to "put a timetable for the deportation of Bangladeshi laborers … after their repeated involvement in murders and other crimes." In response to this outcry, the interior minister announces, just three days after this incident, and as a result of it, that immigration permits will no longer be issued or renewed for Bangladeshis.
Can you imagine the hew and outrage that would result were a European country to take these steps?
But this exact scenario just took place, not in Europe, only in the Persian Gulf, in the emirate of Bahrain. And there has been hardly a sound of protest, either domestically or internationally, with the minor exception of small Bahraini contracting companies that depend on Bangladeshi labor and the Bangladesh government itself, whose embassy head meekly promised to "appeal to the government to reconsider this … we will ask them at least to delay implementing this restriction."
Comment: (1) Western ways differ very deeply, and on nearly every level, from those of the Middle East and the Muslim world. (2) In all likelihood, economic imperatives will wear down the interior minister's edict and plenty of Bangladeshis will continue to work in Bahrain. (May 28, 2008)