”How reckless a government has to become to leave one of the most important decisions of one of the most severe public health crisis humanity is ever to encounter in the mercy of the Islamist zealots who have no ties with science, public health or medicine?.”

‘’At one point it comes down to a simple concept, it’s about leadership – the experience, the wisdom, the capacity to do the job. Not just think about it, not just talk about it, not just Tweet about it; Do the job.’’

That’s Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, responding to CNN news anchor and his brother Chris Cuomo, regarding the havoc caused by the spread of COVID-19. The interview went viral as he has been hailed as one of the most inspirational leaders to emerge during this period of unprecedented crisis.

Having that in mind, here’s is a message for our public servants: This is not a time for petty politics, move to the front row, show some leadership and put an interdiction to all types of religious assembly. Allow me to be more precise: Stop appeasing the ignorant clerics and close the mosques completely.

Even at this moment of turmoil, playing into the hands of the Islamist religious lobby may still cowardly seem beneficial to some of you but, as with the current lack of global cooperation and certainty of zero help from the outside world, the consequences of a COVID – 19 outbreak in Bangladesh would be so devastating that it might cause ‘an end’ to your political aspirations as well as your own life or the loved ones’ (Forgive me for saying that).

Your actions so far are no good news – neither for you nor for the nation – as with every passing day it is becoming more and more clear to us that our public servants are not capable of rising above petty political interests or of leadership even when a disaster is looming over the country.

If it helps, let’s here briefly revise a few facts, in case you have failed to pay attention.

Religious ignorance and congregations have already been identified as one of the predominant causes for the uncontrollable spread of the virus in affected countries given the expert call of action were to strictly follow the measures summed up under the term ‘’Social distancing.’’

Political leaders around the globe, even in the Islamic world, have been listening and complying with strict scientific measures. In a bid to contain the outbreak, Malaysia has shut down mosques and prohibited mass prayers; The holiest site of Islam, the Kaba, and other sacred mosques have been closed down by Saudi Arabia; Clerics from the Al Azhar university decreed a fatwa urging Muslims not to open the mosque doors.

News also has arrived from the neighbouring Pakistan and India that religious assemblies have turned into hubs from which mass infection of coronavirus escalated.

But unfortunately, none of those examples seemed good enough for Bangladesh to act decisively and responsibly in the public interest.

Instead, the Islamic clerics – those who were, and still many are, openly trying to make people believe that coronavirus is a punishment for the infidels and Muslims are immune to it–, apparently, were given the responsibility of deciding.

‘’Mosques couldn’t be closed under any circumstances,’’ they, predictably, responded in a meeting organised by the Islamic Foundation.

I just cannot help asking, since when in public service, it has become so easy to brush off responsibility?

And, how reckless a government has to become to leave one of the most important decisions of one of the most severe public health crisis humanity is ever to encounter in the mercy of the zealots who have no ties with science, public health or medicine?

Health experts have already expressed fear about the inadequate and indecisive measures taken by the government concerning that the number of COVID-19 cases can anytime increase exponentially in Bangladesh in the coming weeks.

To make things even worse, Bangladesh, due to our economic reality, has an unequipped and poorly managed health care system. With an outbreak, there is no way we could cope. That’s, exactly, why we need to use every preventive measure, at any cost. This is no time for games, cowardices or incompetency.

While time is running out for Bangladesh, this also is an opportunity for a leader to prevail.

Because in a country where most of the people are inadequately educated and pawn to the ignorant faith, capable statesmen with vision, wisdom and courage to make difficult-unpopular decisions make the difference.

Last but not least, let’s not forget, for a leader, failure to act is the greatest above all failures.