Bangladesh failed to protect Christians and other minorities from violence, report finds

The government of Bangladesh has failed to protect its Christian citizens and other members of the minority from the increasing violence in the country, according to a report by Minority Rights Group International (MRGI).

(Reuters/Andrew Biraj)People walk under a massive national flag of Bangladesh as they attend a mass demonstration at Shahbagh intersection, demanding capital punishment for Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami senior leader Abdul Quader Mollah, after a war crimes tribunal sentenced him to life in prison.

In a 25-page report titled "Under Threat: The Challenges Facing Religious Minorities in Bangladesh," MRGI found that Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, gay activists, atheists, and other members of the minority population have been targeted increasingly in attacks by Islamic extremists connected with Al-Qaeda. The report also notes that the Bangladeshi government has denied the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the country despite the group's claim of responsibility for many attacks there, Christian Today relays.

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently gave a speech at a conference emphasizing the importance of "taking care" of members of the religious minority. She said this is one of the responsibilities of the citizens of the Muslim majority country, the Independent relays.

The prime minister also condemned the ISIS attacks against religious minority communities in the past months. However, MRGI says the government has consistently failed in the responsibility that Hasina talked about.

"The authorities have not only shown a consistent failure to protect minorities but also to bring many of the perpetrators to justice," the MRGI report says.

In addition, the report found "clear signs of wider support among some Bangladeshis" for extremist activities and widespread religious intolerance to those belonging to non-Muslim faith.

Among the instances of violence cited in the report are the murder of two Christian converts by ISIS and that of two other believers earlier this year. The militant group revealed that the deadly stabbing of the second convert in March was meant to be a "lesson to others."

Moreover, the report notes that Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu women were often targeted with sexual violence to intimidate the minorities. Some are abducted and subjected to forced marriage.