Bangladesh

As the real threat of militant Islamism in Bangladesh grows, so do the violent attacks on Christians.

Bangladesh

World Watch List Rank World Watch List Score
26 63/100
Leader Population
President Abdul Hamid 164,828,000 (866,000 Christians)
Main Religion Government
Islam Parliamentary democracy
Source of Persecution Persecution Level
Islamic extremism High Persecution

Four Christians were murdered in 2016 amidst a string of killings of religious minorities, secularists and political activists by Islamist militants - some with links to so-called Islamic State. Converts from Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism come under pressure from their families and communities to reconvert. Some experience unemployment, divorce, threats and even violence - such as rape - when their faith becomes known.

PERSECUTION IN BANGLADESH

In July 2016, a number of Christian shop, restaurant, hotels and other business owners were threatened with death by radical Islamic groups if they did not comply with a list of eight rules. The rules included removing paintings or images of their own religion, only playing Islamic music, banning women not wearing a hijab or burka from working there, and inscribing the invocation 'Bismillah Rahman Rahim' (which can be translated as: 'in the name of Allah, the Clement, the Merciful') over the business entrances.

Next to its internal power struggles, Bangladesh faces a very real and serious threat from militant Islamist groups. The largest of these groups, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen (JMB) and the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), have claimed responsibility for a number of politically and religiously targeted killings, and have also made links with the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Though Bangladesh has a secular government and its secularism is laid down in the country's constitution, at the same time the consitution declares that Islam is the state religion.Religious conversion is not forbidden by law, but pressure to recant the Christian faith is exerted by family, friends and neighbours. There have been several reports of Christians having to give up their shops or businesses due to the pressure by the Muslim majority. Converts themselves are isolated from their family frequently, and registration of converts' children is problematical as in most cases they are automatically registered as Muslims.

Churches, especially house churches where believers from a Muslim background meet, prefer not to display any Christian symbols in order to avoid being recognised. Sometimes, even historic or mainline churches face opposition and restrictions in putting up a cross or other religious symbols.

HOW WE HELP

Christians in Bangladesh contend with the reality of persecution every day. Open Doors works together with local churches to supports persecuted believers through:

  • Equipping and training Christian believers, with special emphasis on emerging leadership and believers from a Muslim background
  • Providing Bibles (including study Bibles for graduates) and other Christian literature
  • Providing assistance through literacy and socio-economic development
  • Providing advocacy and immediate relief to victims of persecution
  • Preparing believers to deal with persecution through Standing Strong Through the Storm seminars.

PRAYER POINTS FOR BANGLADESH

  • For Christians who have left their communities because of pressure to reconvert, and for Open Doors workers providing assistance and relief to believers
  • That Christians who are mentally and physically abused would know God's healing and stand firm in their faith
  • That the ruling coalition government, the Awami League (AL), will govern the country with wisdom and justice.
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TAKE ACTION

  • Pray for those that are suffering by reading the latest prayer requests from persecuted Christians around the world.
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  • Advocate for persecuted Christians by signing the Hope for Middle East Petition.
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  • Consider donating your resources to Open Doors.
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