Christians, Other Religious Minority Groups Protest the Establishment of Islam as Bangladesh's State Religion
Christians joined other religious minority groups in Bangladesh recently as part of the annual "Black Day" protest against the 1988 constitutional amendments that establish Islam as the official state religion.
Religious minority groups say the establishment of the amendments has led to persecution against non-Muslims in the country. The march was held on June 9.
"With the amendment, the seed of sectarian politics has been planted," said Nirmol Rozario, a Christian leader who was part of the march. "In a country where Hindus, Buddhists and Christians also live, a single religion cannot proclaim itself as the state religion. We do not agree."
According to The Christian Post, there are about 1.6 million Christians in Bangladesh, which amounts to about 1 percent of the country’s population.
"In its Constitution, Bangladesh declares itself a secular country. But at the same time, it says that the state religion is Islam," Rozario said. "This is a clear contradiction. And if this state of affairs continues, Islamic fundamentalism and religious hatred will end up creating serious problems."
Christian Freedom International says police often allow violence and discrimination against non-Muslims, and many religious minorities worship in secret to avoid "retaliation."
"Churches, especially house churches where Muslim-background believers meet, prefer not to display any Christian symbols in order to avoid being recognized," a report from the Christian persecution watchdog ministry Open Doors U.K. previously stated. "Sometimes, even historic or mainline churches face opposition and restrictions in putting up a cross or other religious symbols."
The secretary-general of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Rana Dasgupta, has asked that the country create a minority ministry and a commission for religious communities.
In early 2020, Muslim men attacked a Christian community in Bangladesh. The area was home to thousands of refugees who fled Myanmar. At least 22 Rohingya Christian families were attacked, and a Christian pastor and his 14-year-old daughter were abducted.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Natanael Ginting
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.