USCIRF Troubled by Violent Attacks on Durga Puja Procession in Bangladesh

Oct 20, 2021

USCIRF Troubled by Violent Attacks on Durga Puja Procession in Bangladesh

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed its deep concern about the attacks this week on Durga Puja festivities, and the ongoing communal violence in Bangladesh.

 “USCIRF is gravely troubled about the recent wave of violence against Hindus that has erupted in Bangladesh. We applaud Prime Minister Shiekh Hassina’s response to the heinous crimes by sending paramilitary forces to contain violence. However, we continue to urge the Bangladeshi government to crackdown on extremist elements that fan anti-Hindu sentiments in the country,” USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza said.

Images circulated on social media catalyzed violent protests and incidents of vandalism at Hindu temples across Bangladesh. 

We are especially disturbed by the widespread attacks and desecration of Hindu places of worship,” stated USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava. “The communal violence has left hundreds injured and a few reportedly killed. USCIRF urges the Bangladeshi government to safeguard the rights and security of Hindus and all religious communities in the country and hold the perpetrators of these gruesome attacks responsible.

Despite constitutional protections for religious freedom, the country’s religious minorities, including Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians, have continued to face various challenges to their freedom of religion or belief. Among them are the introduction and enforcement of the Digital Security Act with provisions that criminalize blasphemy; ongoing problems with the legacy of the Vested Property Act; and challenges posed by the rise of religious extremism and local law enforcement.

USCIRF’s December 2020 report on the enforcement of blasphemy laws worldwide found that Bangladesh had the second highest number of incidents of mob violence surrounding allegations of blasphemy during the study period.

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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@uscirf.gov.