(Vatican Radio) The so-called Islamic State have warned that last Friday’s attack at a café in Bangladesh was just a glimpse of what is to come.
In recent weeks, Bangladesh has experienced a rise in extremist violence, with a string of targeted killings on secular bloggers and religious minorities, with the most deadly attack taking place on July 1st, which saw 20 civilians of different nationalities murdered. However the Bangladeshi government has discredited claims that the so-called Islamic State carried out the attacks, instead blaming homegrown local militant groups.
A spokesperson for the South Asia Team for Christian Solidarity Worldwide spoke to Georgia Gogarty, about the current situation in Bangladesh and what needs to be done to stop this rise in violent extremism.
People in Bangladesh are extremely fearful and there is a sense of insecurity and instability according to CSW’s spokesperson. When asked why there has been such a rise in violent extremism, they said that we must “look back to the history and the political context” of Bangladesh, which separated from Pakistan following the War of Liberation in 1971.
Our spokesperson explained that Bangladesh is 89% Muslim and much of the population feel that Hindus, as well as foreigners are “trying to dilute the Islamic feeling in the country”. What started out as the murders of secular bloggers has now “expanded towards local people, also targeting religious minorities”, which include Hindus and Christians, as well as those who are outspoken about fundamentalism.
When asked which measures can be taken to curb this onslaught of violent extremism, the CSW spokesperson stressed that the government has to be more honest about who is responsible for these killings. “This outright denial that ISIS or al-Qaeda or some external extremist groups is not helping the situation”, they said.
Despite the fact that the so-called Islamic State actually claimed responsibility for the July 1st attack, CSW’s spokesperson went on to say that the “Awami League are using the situation to extract the political advantage by actually blaming the opposition party”. They stressed that the government and police need to act in a much clearer manner to find the people responsible.
Pope Francis offered his prayers and condolences for the families of those killed in Friday’s attack. With a population of 160 million of which 0,5% is Christian, the CSW spokesperson expressed that people still look towards the Pope’s spiritual leadership and “take heed” of his advice. His words provide a “statement of reassurance” and solidarity during a time of trauma and fear.