Bangladesh | 04 December 2018

Bangladesh: Fears of coming violence as elections loom

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National elections are set to take place on 30 December 2018, as reported by La Croix International on 13 November 2018. It had previously been announced that elections would take place on 23 December 2018. Thomas Muller, persecution analyst at World Watch Research, comments: "Despite the move away from 23 December, Christians are still unhappy with the election date as it falls in the Christmas holiday season, a time where many from the Christian community are travelling and visiting family. Given that Bangladesh has an unfortunate history of violence occurring during the campaigning period and beyond, there may be little peace this Christmas. More violence than usual can be expected from all sides since the opposition party BNP (together with a coalition of many other parties) has vowed to take part in the elections for the first time in ten years. The clashes between BNP supporters and the police which erupted close to the BNP headquarters in Dhaka may be just a taster of what is to come in the run-up to the polling day (Benar News, 14 November 2018)." Thomas Muller continues: "In a possible sign of growing nervousness, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appeared to be wooing conservative Islamic circles in her speech at a gathering of madrassas in November, by stating: "˜Anyone who pronounces offensive comments against [Islam] or against the Prophet Muhammad, will be prosecuted according to the law", and by pointing out that the religion of the country is Islam (Asia News, 5 November 2018). Such words do not bode well for religious minorities. At the same meeting, however, she also stated that there is no room for Islamic militancy in Bangladesh."


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