The Church of Bangladesh is calling for peace and wisdom for the leaders of all political parties.
As the country goes to the polls on 5 January, the majority-Muslim population will choose between the ruling Awami League – whose founding principles include ‘democracy, socialism, secularism and nationalism’ – and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has described itself as the ‘Islamic consciousness of the people’.
In recent weeks, the BNP claimed the Awami League is planning to rig the elections and called on its supporters to undertake a national strike.
Throughout the year, there has been sporadic violence in the country, with supporters of rival parties – including the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party – clashing with each other and the police.
Further violence has followed the recent government-sanctioned hanging of militant Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Molla for war crimes dating back to 1971.
‘The country has been disrupted massively. Violence is an everyday occurrence and supplies in some areas are becoming low.
‘Please pray that the violence, beatings and killings will stop, and the parties will get around a table to discuss the country’s future.’
‘It is a very difficult and tense time in Bangladesh, and we should keep the country and its people in our hearts, minds and prayers.
‘There is particular concern about the vulnerability of the Christian community at a time of heightened tensions, especially in light of the shocking bombing of All Saints Church, Peshawar, in Pakistan in September.’
According to the Bangla2000 website: ‘About 80 per cent of Bangladeshis are Muslims. Most Bangladeshi Muslims are Sunnis, but there is a small Shia community. Hinduism constitutes about 12 per cent of the population.’