World Watch List Challenge – #48 Bangladesh

December 11, 2014 by Janelle P in Asia

Bangladesh became independent in 1971 after a long and brutal war of independence with Pakistan. Until today, the atrocities of this war are still present in the minds of the Bangladeshi people, and alleged war criminals are sentenced to long-term prison or even death. Most of the convicted belong to the opposition party. Politics has been a family business since the country`s independence. Both main parties, the now ruling Awami league and the opposition Bangladesh National Party, are led by women who despise and even hate each other. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has led the Awami League since 1981, after her father was killed. Khaleda Zia, head of the opposition party also started her active career in politics in 1981 and headed the country as Prime Minister from 1991-1996. Both women have been fierce opponents for more than 30 years. 

The much debated elections on January 5, 2014 did not help to calm down the political tense situation at all. As the main opposition party called for a boycott, the voter turnout was a meager 22 percent and 154 seats were uncontested. The winning Awami League made clear that they would not accept questions on legitimacy and that their leader Sheikh Hasina would stay in power until 2019. As the crackdown on opposition party leaders and Islamist leaders continued unabated, most likely fights and general strikes, the so called “hartals” will continue as well. 

Christianity came to the area currently known as Bangladesh in the late 16th and early 17th century when Portuguese traders and missionaries reached its shores. 

Today, around 88 percent of the country is Muslim, around 10% is Hindu, around 0.7% is Buddhist and the remaining around 1% is Christian. The majority of Christians are Catholic while Protestants are split into a variety of denominations, including a number of Muslim Background Believers. 

Churches in rural areas lack resources to provide Christians with Bibles and other Christian materials in order to help them become mature Christians- that is why Open Doors helps with these materials, but also with training on how to deal with persecution and to respond to it in a God-honoring way.

*Names, photographs and other information have been changed for security purposes