The Stream

How can Bangladesh protect its Hindu community?

On Thursday, October 28 at 19:30 GMT:
Bangladesh is on edge following one of the worst spates of anti-Hindu violence in its history. Activists continue to demonstrate in the streets to demand justice, after at least six people were killed and hundreds injured in mob violence around the country. The trouble began with inflammatory social media posts that showed a copy of the Quran being desecrated at a Hindu temple.

Muslims protested against the apparent disrespect of their holy book, and since then, hundreds of Hindu-owned homes and shops have been set on fire and several religious sites vandalised. Police have arrested scores of people as the government pledges to do more to protect the Hindu community.

Hindus comprise about 9 percent of Bangladesh’s Muslim-majority country. Their numbers have been shrinking since the country gained its independence from Pakistan in the 1970s, as more Hindus move to neighbouring India.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League has vowed to uphold the country’s secular principles since becoming Bangladesh’s ruling party in 2009. But Hindu activists say there is often little justice for victims. According to Ain o Salish Kendraone (ASK), a Bangladeshi human rights organisation, there have been over 3,600 attacks targeting Hindus since 2013.

Speaking to DW this month, ASK Director Nina Goswami said: “Regardless of whichever political party has been in power in Bangladesh, the Hindu community has never received the protection it deserves. Rather parties tried to use the community for their political interest.”

In this episode of The Stream we ask, what should Bangladesh do to protect its minority Hindu population? Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Tanvir Chowdhury, @tanvirbengal
Correspondent, Al Jazeera English

Shafi Md Mostofa, @ShafiMostafa
Assistant Professor, Dhaka University

Nina Goswami, @askbd_org
Director, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)