Religious minorities in Bangladesh, including the country’s small Christian population, have reported facing increased persecution since the 2014 national election. During that election, religious politics divided populations along religious lines and have had the unfortunate effect of increasing attacks and intolerance. If this trend is allowed to continue, where will that leave Bangladesh’s small and vulnerable Christian community?
05/17/2017 Bangladesh (Anglican News) – “Bangladesh’s religious minorities have been facing attacks since the 2014 national election. During the elections, minority-dominated villages were the worst attacked places, where individuals and groups associated with pro-Islamist parties looted and burned properties and residences owned by members of Hindu, Christian and Buddhist religions in different parts of the country. Some political parties deliberately used the religious sentiments of ordinary people to intensify communal and religious tensions and polarizations for political advantages,” a pastoral solidarity team of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) was told by representatives of different religious groups in Bangladesh.
The CCA organized a Pastoral Solidarity Visit last week to accompany the churches and communities facing religiously motivated violence in Bangladesh. During the four-day visit, the solidarity team engaged in interactions with various civil society organizations, representatives of minority religious groups, churches, ecumenical organizations and social and human rights activists in the country.
“In the last two years alone, at least eight secular bloggers, publishers and rights’ activists have been killed for writing about freedom of thought, religious harmony, communal tolerance and political accountability,” said civil society organization representatives.
Members of the solidarity team were told that minorities in Bangladesh live in the midst of terror and fear. Extremist violence has been a recurring problem in the country, where religious minorities are intimidated, threatened, assaulted and killed by Islamic extremists’ intent on silencing dissenting voices.
Out of the 169 million people in Bangladesh, 90 percent are Sunni Muslims; 9.5 percent of them belong to the Hindu religion; and all other faiths, including Christians, Theravada Buddhists, Shi’ite and Ahmadi Muslims, account for less than 1 percent of the total population.