Christianity Growing in Bangladesh, Despite Increased Persecution
“In the past six years, it is estimated that 91,000 Muslims from across the country have become Christians. This may account for the huge increase in persecution.”
Bangladesh, with a population of approximately 170,000,000, is a nation in turmoil. Christian persecution is on the increase.
The nation is overwhelmingly Muslim (90 percent of the population). Minority Christians comprise less than one percent and are facing growing persecution.
Christians are at risk in Bangladesh, particularly in rural areas where they face pressure from families, local mosques, and Muslim religious leaders. Violence against Christians is increasing. Converts to Christianity are routinely killed for their faith, and the names of church leaders appear on lists with death threats. Pastors are particularly targeted for death especially in the rural areas where police provide no protection to Christians.
Bangladesh’s constitution declares that Islam is the state religion, though in theory it is a secular country that is supposed to allow the practice of religious freedom.
Christianity Growing, Despite Persecution
CFI coworkers in Dhaka are facing threats and increasing harassment and have to take more and more precautions to carry out their work.
CFI operates a center for disabled converts to Christianity and provides aid, food, and medicine to the poor. CFI also assists a network of house churches throughout the country.
Bangladeshi Christians are very secretive of their activities because they fear “retaliations” for their faith. Persecution often comes from community pressure, such as refusing to share a village water well with Christians, or refusing to hire them. Employment discrimination against Christians is common and results in extreme poverty for Christians.
Most of the attacks against Christians occur in the rural areas and the murders are seldom reported and receive no media attention. Police provide no protection to minority Christians.
In spite of the persecution, more and more Muslims are converting to Christianity. In the past six years, it is estimated that 91,000 Muslims from across the country have become Christians. This may account for the huge increase in persecution.
Police Turn a Blind Eye
Christians, other religious minorities, and even atheist bloggers are facing extreme violence as Islamic death squads run rampant while police turn a blind eye. Islamist militants have targeted Christians, atheist bloggers, academics, religious minorities. and foreign aid workers in a series of killings that dates back to February 2015 and has claimed at least 20 lives.
On April 30, three Muslim assailants sped up to a Bangladeshi tailor’s shop by motorcycle, dragged out the Hindu owner and hacked him to death, police said, in an attack claimed by Islamic State. No arrests were made.
Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the killing, saying the tailor had blasphemed the Prophet Mohammad.
The attack came days after a Bangladeshi U.S. AID aid worker and his friend were killed in a similar manner in a Dhaka apartment. No arrests were made.
On April 23, an English professor, 58-year-old Rezaul Karim Siddique, was hacked to death and beheaded at a bus stop. No arrests were made.
In February, a top Hindu priest was beheaded by militants inside a temple in northern Bangladesh. IS claimed responsibility for his death. No arrests were made.
Last September, an Italian aid worker, working for a Christian charity was killed by unidentified assailants in Dhaka, the nation’s capital. Just days later, a Japanese national was murdered in northern Bangladesh. IS claimed responsibility for both killings. No arrests were made.
International human rights groups say a climate of intolerance in Bangladeshi politics has both motivated and provided cover for perpetrators of crimes of religious hatred.