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V. Conclusion

Bangladeshi law states that “every citizen has the right to profess, practice or propagate any religion,” and that “every religious community or denomination has the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.”181 The failure of the prime minister and many other leaders to invoke these provisions and denounce religiously partisan threats and assaults on Ahmadis is explained at least in part by the reality of Bangladeshi political arithmetic. As noted above, the ruling BNP government holds power as part of a four party coalition. The BNP holds 191 seats, the J.I. has eighteen seats, the IOJ has two seats, and the Jatiya party has four seats. In the most recent election in 2001, the BNP-led coalition won by a very close margin of 46 percent to 42 percent over the Awami League. The J.I.-IOJ alliance with the BNP determines if the BNP remains in power, and consequently, the BNP appears to be conceding to the pressure of the anti-Ahmadiyya while attempting to minimize bloodshed.

If the BNP’s political strategy is to give in to some extremist demands, thereby retaining J.I. and IOJ support, while simultaneously working to maintain the greater peace, the policy is not only dangerous, it appears to be failing. The Bogra and Satkhira incidents and other cases documented in this report indicate that anti-Ahmadiyya activity continues and that conflicting signals from the government are emboldening extremists.

While the Amadiyya Community in Bangladesh numbers only some one hundred thousand, many of those Human Rights Watch spoke with believe the government’s failure to act decisively against anti-Ahmadi movements is indicative of a larger problem in Bangladesh. While the BNP claims it is not a communal party that is instigating attacks on minorities, it has failed to demand that its coalition partners desist from any role in aiding or abetting attacks and restrictions on religious minorities, it has not aggressively punished perpetrators, and it has not revoked the ill-considered ban on Ahmadiyya publications.

[181] The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Bangladesh Law, April 30, 1996 [online],, article 41 (1972) (retrieved May 25, 2005).

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