EVERY now an then something happens to remind us of how very thin the restraining veneer of civilisation can be; of how close the modern world still is to the oldest, darkest superstitions and fears of the not so long ago long ago.
Bangladesh, population 165m, is building a bridge on the River Padma, a major tributary of the Ganges. It is thoroughly modern project and an admirable feat of engineering and social development that will contribute greatly to that country’s future.
Yet, against that backdrop eight people have been killed by mobs of vigilantes over social media rumours that children are being kidnapped and sacrificed as offerings for the construction of a mega-bridge. The victims — including two women — were targeted by angry mobs over dishonest Facebook claims that human heads were required for the massive $3bn project. More than 30 other people have been attacked in connection with the rumours.
Why, 50 years after man reached the moon, are people so afraid? So terribly gullible and so very dangerous?