Hindu-Muslim clashes leave religious minorities ready to leave the country
Since 13 October, sectarian violence has intensified and now minorities feel endangered. Catholic man sees no room for minorities, and is ready to leave to protect himself and his family. Investigations are ongoing into the clashes in Chandpur which caused seven deaths.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – After several recent attacks against Bangladesh’s Hindu community by Muslim radicals, many members of religious minorities feel insecure and want to leave the country.
“We have a secular country where people of every faith have always lived together in religious harmony but the recent violence against us has shown that we are no longer safe and the government has failed to protect us from Islamic radicals,” said Sujon Roy, a young Hindu.
Robin Costa, a 45-year-old Catholic, shares the same opinion. “I never thought of leaving Bangladesh; this is my homeland. Here I have my home and my roots, but recent attack against Hindus has shown that there is no place for minorities in this country.”
Speaking to AsiaNews, Costa explained that to protect him and his family, he is planning to go away to any Christian country, perhaps in Europe or Canada.
Whilst the costs of emigrating are quite prohibitive for him, at the moment he sees no other alternative. “Muslim radicals will continue to persecute us and will succeed. We will leave the country and they will grab our land,” he lamented.
The violence has escalated since 13 October when a group of Muslim extremists attacked a Hindu temple in the southern district of Chandpur after news of the profanation of a copy of the Holy Qurʼān spread.
Over the past week, clashes between the two groups have continued and seven people (two Hindus and five Muslims) have lost their lives. Special law enforcement units have joined the ongoing operations to investigate the incidents and arrest the perpetrators.
Yesterday the police arrested Iqbal Hossain, believed to be responsible for the profanation of the Qurʼān in the Hindu temple in Cumilla.
Police said the man was a local drifter, a claim Rana Dasgupta, secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, finds hard to swallow.
“A drifter would never do such a thing of his own free will,” he said. “There is someone behind this, someone who wants to undermine religious harmony. The authorities must do everything possible to stop and punish those who are truly responsible.”
Violence by Islamic extremists is on the rise and all minorities now feel under attack.
"On behalf of all Christians, we express our sympathy to Hindus for the attack against them," said Nirmol Rozario, president of the Bangladesh Christian Association.
“We are facing constant aggression against minorities and this undermines the foundations of religious harmony. At this point, we demand exemplary punishment for those involved in the violence.”
Ain or Salish Kendra, a Bangladeshi human rights organisation that documents attacks against minorities, estimates that 3,679 anti-Hindu attacks have taken place in the country since 2013. As a result of these attacks, 11 Hindus were killed and 862 were injured.