Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina said:
“Anyone who pronounces offensive comments against it [Islam], or against the Prophet Muhammad, will be prosecuted according to the law.”
The Prime Minister also said:
“There is no place for Islamic militancy, terrorism and corruption. Bangladesh wants to show that Islam is a religion of peace and wants to be a peaceful, prosperous and developed country.”
She was speaking at a gathering of madrassas in Dhaka.
Bangladesh has seen a rise in violence against Christians over the past years which some fear will increase with the upcoming elections at Christmas. Elections in Bangladesh are frequently marred by acts of violence and persecution against minorities.
Christians are also said to be worried over the inclusion of radical Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, in a cross-party coalition hoping to unseat the current prime minister, who has been in power since 2009.
Thomas Muller, persecution analyst at Open Doors International, said:
“The inclusion of this radical Islamic party is making minorities, including Christians, nervous.”
Bangladesh is number 41 on the Open Doors World Watch List. Radical Islamic groups, local religious leaders and families put intense pressure on Christians. They face increased restrictions as more Islamic laws are introduced, especially in rural areas.
Many prominent Christians received threats against their lives at the end of 2015. Since then violence has worsened with monthly attacks by extremist groups taking place against minorities – including religious, atheist and secular targets.
Open Doors works with local churches in Bangladesh to provide relief to victims of persecution as well as training and socio-economic development to help Christians stand strong in the face of persecution.