Christians are a tiny minority in Bangladesh – in the country’s population of 168 million, just 938,000 are believers (0.5%).
In Bangladesh, the severest persecution is reserved for those who come from Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or tribal backgrounds.
Bangladeshi society remains patriarchal, despite the country being led by female politicians for many years. Christian women and girls are highly vulnerable to persecution from their family and local community, particularly if these Christians are converts, who are deemed to have ‘betrayed’ their culture and religion. This persecution can include harassment, sexual, physical and emotional abuse, forced marriage or divorce, house arrest and abduction.
Many Christian men are attacked for converting from Islam, which is the majority religion in Bangladesh. The wider communal pressure – including from Muslim leaders – forces some men to flee their homes. Men can also be falsely accused of bribing people into becoming Christians and even drug dealing as a way of getting the police on their case. Church leaders especially are at risk of arrest, although imprisonment is rare. Protestant churches that are engaged in outreach among Muslim communities can also face persecution. The arrest of church leaders can destabilise Christian communities and make them feel afraid to gather for worship.
Even other denominations which have historically faced less persecution in Bangladesh, such as those affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, are increasingly facing attacks and death threats.
“I have the right to choose and practise my faith. I will not forsake my faith in Jesus Christ.” Jashim, who was brutally attacked for his faith by a mob of more than 50 people
Jashim (25) from Bangladesh was at home when family members began attacking him to force him to renounce his new faith in Jesus – but he bravely refused.
This further angered his persecutors, who numbered 50-60 people. They stabbed and beat him, and even tried to strangle him. Jashim miraculously escaped. On returning home, Jashim was greeted by police who blamed him for the attack because it revolved around his conversion from Islam to Christianity. When the police left, Jashim was attacked even more violently than before.
Jashim had a short spell in hospital before returning home to recover. His three children were traumatised by their father's ordeal. Jashim’s story reflects how the church in Bangladesh is growing – but also how costly it can be to follow Jesus, with persecution often coming from those closest to home.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Bangladesh. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works through local church partners to strengthen persecuted believers in Bangladesh through biblical training, Bible distribution, literacy and socio-economic development projects, and emergency relief aid.
Lord Jesus, thank You that, despite the persecution many Christians in Bangladesh face, many people are coming to know You in the country. We pray for more of this, and ask that even those who are causing persecution will have life-changing encounters with You. Strengthen, encourage and protect Your people in the face of such challenges. Pour fresh hope into their hearts and give them fresh revelations of Your love. Heal all those who remain affected by attacks. Give them strength to persevere and a glimpse into the ways in which You are using their difficult experiences for good. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.