World Watch List: 38
Leader: President Abdul Hamid
Population: 168 million
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Parliamentary Democracy
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the church in Bangladesh through:
- Equipping and training of believers
- Bible and Christian literature distribution
- Socio-economic development
- Literacy classes
- Emergency relief
“One day in the morning, many people along with my siblings came to my house, and asked me to renounce Christianity or leave the village immediately; otherwise, they will kill me. I left the village, but did not renounce my faith in Christ Jesus. Now, I openly declare my faith and say I am Christian.”
– Habibullah, a Bangladeshi Christian
Source of persecution: Islamic oppression / Religious nationalism
Attacks from radical Islamic groups
Home to almost 150 million Muslims, Bangladesh had until recently managed to stay clear of the kind of radicalism that has plagued other parts of the world. That’s changing.
There has been a spate of attacks by radical Islamic groups on religious minorities like Christians and Hindus. International groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State have taken credit for some of the attacks, but the Bangladeshi government is denying that. Instead they blame home-grown groups which are in fact, attacking Christians too. Whichever groups are responsible, there is a high level of fear among Christians, causing them act and live out their faith with utmost caution.
New believers from various backgrounds
There are Christian converts from Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or ethnic/tribal backgrounds in Bangladesh. Most converts would prefer to hide their faith. But those who have been discovered suffer the most severe persecution. Their families or communities find it hard to accept their betrayal and would cut all ties with them. Out of fear of attacks, believers gather in small house churches or secret groups. Their children suffer along with them at school, where teachers scold them and other students mock them for their faith. Many children refuse to go to school because of what they have to go through there.
Christians who are active in evangelism also face monitoring, harassment and threats from Islamic militant groups.
Tribal and foreign believers too
Tribal Christians such as the Santal endure pressure on both ethnic and religious grounds, and struggle with land-grabbing issues and violence. Christians among the Muslim Rohingya, who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, are facing harassment and strong pressure from their community as well.
- For the Christian children who do not want to go to school because of the bullying they face there.
- For the Bangladeshi church to live out their faith and fulfil God’s mission for them courageously in spite of the atmosphere of fear that is around them.
- That the government will not succumb to the demands of Islamic groups, but will also defend the rights of minorities like Christians.