Among foreign economists and civil society activists, the Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus is an icon for extending microloans to those too poor to access conventional banks. But at home, in Bangladesh, he has been increasingly vilified—and now faces time in prison.
Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s prime minister, has routinely torn into Yunus, calling him a “bloodsucker” of the poor for coercing loan repayments, and even blaming him for the World Bank’s 2012 decision to withdraw from a crucial bridge project. Most recently, Yunus and his associates at Grameen Telecom—separate from Grameen Bank, his pioneering microfinance institution—have been put on trial in a labor law violations case.
Ten days ago, Bangladesh’s highest court turned down an appeal from Yunus, which will allow the case against him to proceed.