Christians and other minorities in Bangladesh face a “daunting election” at the end of the year, warns the Bangladeshi Bureau Chief of Catholic news agency UCAN.
“Elections and violence go hand-in-hand in Bangladesh and minorities often face the brunt of this amid a tug-of-war between political parties jockeying for power,” writes Rock Ronald Rozario. “… Things will probably get worse for them before they get better”.
Religious minorities face “sporadic outbursts of political violence, often from hard-line Islamist parties,” says Rozario, because of their “broad support for the Awami League”, Bangladesh’s ruling party.
However, Rozario says their loyalty is misplaced as, while the Awami League considers them a useful “vote bank”, it does little to empower them or bring them justice for being on the receiving end of violent attacks.
Moreover, the attacks on Christians in 2016 “drew support from local Awami League parliamentarians”, Rozario says.
In 2016 World Watch Monitor reviewed the report, Under threat: the challenges facing religious minorities in Bangladesh, by Minority Rights Group International, which claimed that the government of Bangladesh has “singularly failed” to protect its Christian and other minority populations, even denying the presence in the country of the Islamic State group, which has claimed responsibility for many attacks.
In March Bangladesh security forces arrested two Muslim extremists planning to kill Christian converts. They were both members of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, an extremist organisation said to have “regrouped” after surviving the execution of its ringleaders by the Bangladesh government.