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A citizen is a citizen

  • Published at 08:13 pm February 5th, 2017
  • Last updated at 08:16 pm February 5th, 2017
A citizen is a citizen

It does not bode well for any country to label a group of people as “second-class” citizens.

The new law would do just that, by imposing restrictions on citizens born abroad, as well as on dual citizens.

While it makes sense for the government to subject candidates to a thorough assessment before granting citizenship, there should not, in principle, be any difference in the rights and responsibilities from one individual to another.

Some of the restrictions that have been cited include being ineligible to contest parliamentary elections, being ineligible to be president, being ineligible for local government positions, and being ineligible even to join a political party.

Even more baffling is the provision that a person could lose their citizenship because of the actions of their parents.

A child cannot be held responsible for being born to those considered “alien enemies,” and it is our solemn duty to protect the rights of those in that situation.

It is quite grim to think that an innocent child could be rendered stateless if their parents have renounced Bangladeshi citizenship, or if their parents have been found engaged in anti-Bangladesh activities.

This is not the way forward -- not for economy, and not for human rights.

Bangladesh has always been enriched by the contributions of foreign-born Bangladeshis, as well as through the achievements of Bangladeshi-born citizens of other countries.

We should be breaking down barriers and making citizenship easier, not going in the opposite direction.

In a dismaying world of an isolationist United States, and a post-Brexit UK, Bangladesh, though a significantly less powerful nation, has the chance to do the right thing.

A step towards that would be to show that a citizen is a citizen, and no human being is “second-class.”