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For Immediate Release

Radical Islam Infiltrating Bangladesh Government,

Christians & Democracy in Danger

You are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address Contact Jeff King President, 301-989-1708, [email protected]

(June 14, 2006) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Bangladesh’s ruling party (the BNP) is becoming ideologically allied with fundamentalist Islamic elements within the country and is maneuvering to steal the upcoming election. If this effort succeeds it will have disastrous results for democracy and for Christians alike.

Bangladesh ’s two major parties have been rattling sabers as the country continues to face turmoil from radical Islamist attacks and wage disputes in its enormous garment-production industry. The ruling party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has alliances with fundamentalist Islamic groups, and the more secular opposition party, the Awami League (AL), have been unable to reach agreement on an interim government and protocol for elections in early 2007.

The AL refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the current Election Commission, an independent government agency responsible for compiling a voter list and conducting the elections, because of irregularities in its development of the voter list and concern over the neutrality of the commissioner. In addition, the AL refuses to engage in dialogue over electoral reforms with the BNP until they expel their Islamic fundamentalist coalition member, Jamaat-e-Islami, from the talks. At least one major daily newspaper in Bangladesh has suggested that Jamaat-e-Islami is behind recent terrorist attacks in Bangladesh .

ICC is especially concerned that the inclusion of Islamic fundamentalist parties in the government threatens to undermine this country’s democratic process and commitment to human rights, especially religious freedom. It is extremely disconcerting that the current ruling party’s senior joint secretary-general recently proclaimed at a Jamaat meeting that, “We are members of the same family.”

If the BNP is truly in bed with Islamic fundamentalists, it is no wonder that Islamic militants have been so successful in carrying out terrorist attacks in recent months. Within the past year more than 30 have died and 150 have been wounded in terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists, including two Christian health workers who were hacked to death on July 29, 2005.

ICC calls on the international community to put the spotlight on the situation in Bangladesh and urge the ruling party to come clean on its involvement with radical Muslim groups. If we do not act to protect democracy in Bangladesh , it will degenerate into anarchy and be a hotbed for the growth of Islamic terrorist groups with a resulting dramatic rise in the persecution of Christians as well as all non-Muslims.

The Honourable Prime Minister

Mme Begum Khaleda Zia

Peoples Republic of Bangladesh

Dacca , Bangladesh

Fax: + 880-2-8113244 (or + 880-2-8111015 or + 880-2-8113243)

Email: [email protected]

Shamsher M. Chowdhury

Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC
3510, International Drive NW
Washington , DC 20008, USA

Telephone: (202)-244-0183; Fax: (202)-244-5366

Email: [email protected]

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ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441. To be removed from this press release list, please reply with “remove from PR list” in the subject line.