Honor in Tragedy: Sheikha Hasina, the Rohingya Refugees, and the U.N. Trump Affair

Sheikh Hasina, Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Sheikh Hasina, Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh

There are many in the international community that believe the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikha Hasina Wazed, has made history. Few will argue the profound nature of what took place at the United Nations between she and the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.
To understand the gravity of the brief meeting, basic knowledge of Bangladesh is essential. Bangladesh is a country that borders Myanmar and India. It is an extremely poor country and poverty is widespread. Thirty-five percent of the population live below the national poverty level which is equivalent to a mere U.S. $2 per day. There are approximately 163 million Bengalis in a country that remains in the category of ‘third world’. Despite grave socio-economic challenges, education and health care have seen some improvement in the past 10 years although there is still a long way to go.
Bangladesh recently came to the attention of the world community due to the horrific plight of the Rohingya and the genocide they are fighting to escape from in neighboring Myanmar. As a result of the vicious and evil attacks by Buddhist terrorist and the Myanmar military, there are about 500,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. An overwhelming amount are living in camps in deplorable conditions and are dependent on aid organizations for food and basic supplies.
The United Nations General Assembly recently convened in New York City where Sheikha Hasina came face to face with President Donald Trump who asked her, “How is Bangladesh?” She replied to him that Bangladesh was doing very well, and that the only problem they had was the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. The U.S. president did not reply to her comment.
Advocates for the Rohingya, politicians, media and human rights supporters, wanted to know why Sheikha Hasina did not specifically speak to the president of the United States about obtaining help and assistance for the Rohingya crisis. Sheikha Hasina’s response to these queries was and is profound, and a reminder for people of faith. She stated:
“He already declared his mind. We know how his mind is, so why should I ask? If he doesn’t feel that these people are distressed people – they are living in distress. They need assistance. If he doesn’t feel then I cannot ask any assistance. Well, yes, Bangladesh is not a rich country. It is true. We are 160 million people in a small geographical land, but if we can feed 160 million people, another 500 or 700,000 people – we can do it, we can share our food. We are ready to do it, and our people are already doing it.”
Truly, this is an example of inspiring leadership in the face of a humanitarian disaster. Such uncaring and disdain displayed by the leader of the free world when there are children, women, and men running from slaughter, rape and being burned alive is an unholy view into what degradation our nation and its politics have sunk. It is also a vehicle for introspection and a catalyst for renewed faith.
Bengalis that are already suffering in poverty, living without many comforts and earning very little money have set aside their own difficulties and challenges to assist their Muslim brothers and sisters who are in a far worse condition. Despite the wealth and capabilities of the United States and other financially stable countries, Sheikha Hasina and the people of Bangladesh refuse to beg for assistance from those who have displayed total indifference.
Almighty Allah is the Protector and Sustainer. He is Most Gracious and Most Merciful and indeed He knows all of our conditions. There is a famous Hadith (teaching of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) that was narrated by Bukhari & Muslim. “Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no day on which the people get up and two angels come down and one of them says, “Oh Allah, give in compensations to the one who spends (in charity),’ and the other says, “Oh Allah, destroy the one who withholds”.
May the Almighty Creator protect the Rohingya and grant them ease, and may He bless the people of Bangladesh and reward them tenfold for their sacrifice.