Bangladeshi cleric convicted for spreading COVID-19 disinformation

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A popular preacher who claimed Israel was using COVID-19 vaccines to spy on the world’s population was on Monday convicted in Bangladesh over his controversial sermons.

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Kazi Ibrahim, 62, is the chief cleric of a mosque in downtown Dhaka and used his platform to make multiple spurious claims about coronavirus.

Several of his sermons went viral at the peak of the pandemic, including one in which he claimed to have found a mathematical formula that could be used to make a homemade vaccine.

Ibrahim was arrested for religious incitement in late 2021 under Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act, though police did not publicly disclose the specific sermon for which he was charged.

He pleaded guilty to the charge and a court on Monday sentenced him to time served, prosecutor Nazrul Islam told AFP.

As Bangladeshi health workers fought to bring the pandemic under control, Ibrahim made a number of public comments suggesting a sinister side to COVID-19 vaccinations.

He amplified suggestions by Brazil’s then-president Jair Bolsonaro that inoculation could lead to women growing beards and men speaking with effeminate voices.

Ibrahim also said Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates had teamed up with the Israeli government to implant microchips in vaccinated Bangladeshis as a tool of social control.

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