The State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Shahriar Alam has said that the recently published report of the US government on religious freedom does not reflect the ground reality in the country. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Bangladesh after a meeting between US ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R. Miller and the state Minister Shahriar Alam in Dhaka on Monday, the minister said that the government is making its best efforts to ensure communal harmony and religious non-discrimination in the country. He cited the Vested Property Return (Amendment) act 2011 and Chittagong Hill Tracts peace treaty of 1997 as examples of the steps the government has taken in this direction. He said the Bangladesh government has taken action on the incidents mentioned in the report of the US government.
The US government in its 2020 report on International Religious Freedom released earlier this week had listed several incidents against the minority communities and others in the name of religion. It cited example of a Sufi Muslim follower who was stalked and killed in July outside a Sufi shrine in Ghazipur. In another incident in July last year, the body of an infant was exhumed from a Muslim burial place and dumped on the road in Brahmanbaria district as the parents of the infant were followers of Ahmadiya sect. In January, unknown persons attacked several Rohingya Christian families at Kutupalong Maga Refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. The refugees claimed the attack was due to intolerance against the Christian faith.
In November Hindu homes were vandalised and set on fire in Cumilla district based on the rumour that they supported Charlie Hebdo’s publication of the caricature of Prophet Muhammad. The report quotes the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBUC) that communal violence against minorities continued throughout the year. It counted 17 deaths in religious and ethnic minority communities between March and September last year due to such incidents. The US government report cited a statement by the World Hindu Federation which detailed incidents of temple vandalism, forced conversion, rapes and abduction of Hindu girsl and women in Bangladesh.