Feature

Bangladesh: Hounding Hindus out of the country

Just 10 years ago, Hindus made up more than 9 percent of the population, but that proportion is falling.

Salah Uddin Shoaib ChoudhuryThe Lahore Times (Pakistan)

Hindus are still being driven out of Bangladesh, said Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. Many fled because of religious persecution decades ago, when the mostly Muslim country was still known as East Pakistan, but they are still the largest minority. Just 10 years ago, Hindus made up more than 9 percent of the population, but that proportion is falling. Newly released government statistics show that in a quarter of the country’s districts, Hindus have been “almost eliminated.” Some of the decline may have come from conversion to Islam—after all, there are hundreds of Islamic missionary groups that target Hindu youths. But most of the decline is from pure ethnic cleansing. Across the land, Hindus have been forced to sell their property at bargain prices and move to India. In many instances, those who tried to defend their homes found that “either their houses were set on fire or female members of those families were forcefully abducted as well as gang-raped.” Hindu families who remain often fear for their daughters’ safety and marry them off young. Even Muslims who have spoken up on behalf of their Hindu neighbors have been attacked. The government that came to power in 2009 promised to end repression of Hindus. When will it keep that promise?

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