In Bangladesh, converts to Christianity face the most severe restrictions, discrimination and attacks. Individual communities may be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or animist/tribal, but converts to Christianity face significant difficulties in any of these places. Religious beliefs are tied to the identity of the community, so turning from the locally dominant faith to following Jesus can result in accusations of betrayal. Bangladeshi converts often gather in small house churches due to the risk of attack. Any churches that work and evangelize among the Muslim majority face persecution—but even historical denominations like the Roman Catholic Church are increasingly targeted by death threats and attacks.
Tribal Christians face an increasing double vulnerability since they belong to both an ethnic and religious minority. These believers struggle with people taking their land and face violence. The killings of eight tribal Christians in April 2023 in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region (in southeast Bangladesh) was a rare but not new occurrence of violence leading to deaths in the country.
Christians among the Muslim-majority Rohingya, who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, face harassment and strong pressure from their community. Believers who live in the Rohingya refugee camps can encounter persecution even as they live in displacement.
Throughout Bangladesh, the most vulnerable Christians are those who converted out of their area's majority religion. The April 2023 attacks were a dark reminder that ethnoreligious hostilities are active. But the country's northern region, home to many ethnic minorities, is an overlooked hotspot for rights violations against Christians.
Persecution has risen in the refugee camps where the Rohingya live, as more than a million refugees from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh. The Rohingya people are mostly Muslim, so converts to Christianity living in the camps can face significant pressure and even violence, but have no means to escape or find justice—especially as the influence of radical Islamic groups is growing in the camps.
“Teachers always said bad things about the Christians, and all the Muslim students laughed and enjoyed mocking us. I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t protest. I had no place to complain. Nobody listened to me."Shakib, a teenager in Bangladesh.
What has changed this year?
Daily life pressure fell for Christians in Bangladesh—but violence against Christians and Christian properties rose. Multiple reports of attacks against Christians, including children and women, were recorded during the 2024 World Watch List reporting period. The violent clashes in April 2023 resulted in the deaths of eight tribal Christians. The Christian minority, in general, continues to face discrimination, neglect and violence, and for converts from other faiths, this reality can be even more pronounced. During the campaign for January 2024 elections, Christians and other minorities have come under more pressure to conform to the surrounding culture.
Open Doors works through local church partners to strengthen persecuted believers in Bangladesh through biblical training, Bible distribution, literacy programs and socio-economic development projects, as well as emergency relief aid.
How can you pray for Bangladesh?
- Pray for healing for Bangladeshi Christians who have been attacked or physically abused for their faith. Ask God to bind up their wounds, both physical and emotional.
- Ask God to give perseverance to Christians who endure pressure from their communities. Pray they would have the supernatural courage to stand for Jesus, no matter what.
- Pray that people who persecute Jesus will come to realize the truth of His love and grace.
Dear God, we ask that You will be with Your people in Bangladesh, especially those who came to know You out of a different faith. We thank You for being a God who calls each of us by name, and we ask You to remember Your children in Bangladesh. We also pray for the families of the tribal Christians who were killed this year—please be with them and help them heal as they mourn. Finally, we pray for our brothers and sisters among the Rohingya refugees—please protect and help them to find fellowship even in a refugee camp. We ask these things in the name of Jesus, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. In Jesus' name, Amen.