Freedom of religion in Bangladesh

The main religion in Bangladesh is Islam (89.7%), but a significant percentage of the population adheres to Hinduism (9.2%).[1] Other religious groups include Buddhists (0.7%, mostly Theravada), Christians (0.3%, mostly Roman Catholics), and Animists (0.1%). Bangladesh was founded as a secular state, but Islam was made the state religion in the 1980s. But in 2010, the High Court held up the secular principles of the 1972 constitution.[2] The High Court also strengthened its stance against punishments by Islamic edict (fatwa), following complaints of brutal sentences carried out against women by extra-legal village courts.[3]

Status of religious freedom

Legal and policy framework

The Constitution establishes Islam as the state religion but also states that other religions can be practiced in harmony.[4] Islamic law plays a role in civil matters pertaining to the Muslim community; however, there is no formal implementation of Islamic law, and it is not imposed on non-Muslims. Family law has separate provisions for Muslims, Hindus, and Christians. Family laws concerning marriage, divorce, and adoption differ depending on the religious beliefs of the people involved. For example, under the Muslim family ordinance females inherit less and have fewer divorce rights than men.[5] The jail code makes allowances for the observance of religious festivals by prisoners, including access to extra food for feast days or permission for religious fasting.[5] In 2010, the High Court held up the secular principles of the 1972 constitution.[2][6] The High Court also strengthened its stance against punishments by Islamic edict (fatwa), following complaints of brutal sentences carried out against women by extra-legal village courts.[3]

In 2011, the government passed the Religious Welfare Trust (Amendment) Act, which provides funding for the newly formed Christian Religious Welfare Trust as per the Christian Religious Welfare Trust Ordinance of 1983.[7] In 2011 the government also passed the Vested Property Return Act, which enables the potential return for property seized from the country’s Hindu population.[8] In 2012, the government passed the Hindu Marriage Registration Act, which provides the option for Hindus to register their marriages with the government. The aim of this bill was to protect the rights of Hindu women, whose rights are not protected under religious marriage.[9] In 2013, Supreme Court deregistered the Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist political party, for violating the constitution, thereby banning it from participating in elections. However, the ban was not enforced in practice.[10]


Religious studies are compulsory and part of the curriculum in all government schools. Students attend classes in which their own religious beliefs are taught. Schools with few students from minority religious groups are generally allowed to make arrangements with local churches or temples to hold religious studies classes outside of school hours.[11]

The government operates training academies for imams, and monitors the content of religious education in Islamic religious schools, or madrassahs, and announced its intention to make changes to the curriculum, including modernizing and mainstreaming the content of religious education.[11]

There are tens of thousands of madrassahs, some of which are funded by the Government. However, there were two types of madrassahs in the country: Qaumi and Alia. Qaumi madrassahs operated outside of the government's purview. Therefore, Alia madrassahs received support and curriculum oversight from the government whereas Qaumi madrassahs did not.[11]

=Persecution of Hindus

In 2016 violence over blasphemy accusations lead to the destruction of 15 temples and 100 homes though authorities suggest only 8 temples and 22 houses were damaged. [12]

Persecution of Ahmadis

Ahmadis have been targeted by various protests and acts of violence, and fundamentalist Islamic groups have demanded that Ahmadis be officially declared kafirs (infidels).[13][14][15]

Persecution of atheists

Several Bangladeshi atheists have been assassinated, and a "hit list" exists issued by the Bangladeshi Islamic organization, the Ansarullah Bangla Team. Activist atheist bloggers are leaving Bangladesh under threat of assassination.[16][17][18]

See also


  1. "Bangladesh Buruae of Educational Information and Statistics". Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  2. 1 2 Verdict paves way for secular democracy. The Daily Star. 30 July 2010. Retrieved on 22 August 2010.
  3. 1 2 Andrew Buncombe (11 July 2010). "Bangladeshi court outlaws fatwa punishments". The Independent. London. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
  4. "Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh" (PDF). University of Minnesota. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Bangladesh". US State Department Report on Religion Freedom. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  6. "Bangladesh SC declares illegal amendment allowing religion in politics". The Hindu.
  7. "Christian welfare trust fund raised,". BD News.
  8. "Bangladesh". US State Department Religious Freedom Report 2011.
  9. "Hindu marriage registration law passed". /
  10. "Bangladesh". US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2013.
  11. 1 2 3 "Bangladesh". US State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2013.
  13. Rahman, Waliur. "Violent Dhaka rally against sect". BBC News. 23 December 2005.
  14. "Bangladesh: The Ahmadiyya Community - their rights must be protected". Amnesty International. 22 April 2004.
  15. Bangladesh: Bomber Attacks a Mosque, New York Times, 26 December 2015
  16. Writer, Staff (30 May 2015). "'You'll be next': Bangladeshi blogger gets death threat on Facebook". Times of India. Kolkata: The times of India.
  17. "Al-Qaeda branch claims responsibility for murder of writer-blogger Avijit Roy: Rab, police doubt reported claim". The Daily Star. Transcom Group. 4 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  18. Kieran Corcoran; Sam Matthew (27 February 2015). "Prominent American blogger hacked to death on Bangladeshi street". Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
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