Islamic groups in Bangladesh have protested against economist Muhammad Yunus for having publicly supported gay and lesbian equality.
Professor Yunus, a 73-year-old Bangladeshi banker and economist, shared the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his work in improving economic and social development in the country.
In 2012 he joined fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureates – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Iranian democracy activist Shirin Ebadi and American anti-landmine campaigner Professor Jody Williams – in condemning Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill in a public statement.
According to Sapa-AFP, the religious groups urged imams across the country to take to the streets in planned protests in 600 towns on Tuesday.
“Yunus must apologise for supporting homosexuality or he must be prosecuted for standing against the Koran and Islam,” one of the organisers, Maolana Moniruzzaman Rabbani, told AFP on Monday.
According to a follow up report by AFP, a number of peaceful street protests did take place in some towns “but the rallies attracted only small numbers”.
Critics have suggested that the campaign is politically motivated and backed by the government, which has repeatedly attempted to discredit Yunus.
Homosexuality is illegal in Bangladesh with penalties including fines and life imprisonment.
In their 2012 statement, the four Nobel Laureates stated that “The criminalisation of adult, consensual homosexuality in any form is unacceptable.”