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Authors: Wiprud, Allegra
Advisors: Katz, Stan
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: This thesis is a study of communal violence in Bangladesh in the period 2001-2014. Bangladesh is 88% Muslim today and religious minorities have been a steadily shrinking portion of its population for nearly a century. The decline in the number of religious minorities in Bangladesh–Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, non-Sunni Muslim, and indigenous- can be attributed to the migration waves of Partition in 1947 and 1971 as well as religious violence and discrimination. Although Bangladesh had been relatively quiet for communal violence after independence, the period 2001-2014 has held significantly more communal violence.Although previous episodes of communal violence had followed typical patterns, instigated by local political capitalization on communal tensions or by communal violence in India, since 2001 communal violence has also been sparked by seemingly unrelated political events in Bangladesh. In this thesis, I seek to answer the question of what caused religious violence in 2001; why it was so widespread and long-lasting; and why violence has continued to the present day, despite advocacy from domestic and international human rights NGOs. I find that religious violence can be attributed to the union of Bangladeshi nationalism with Islamic identity. Elections, court rulings, and legislation that affects Islamic national identity or powerful Islamic organizations produces a backlash in violence against religious minorities. In this, communal violence in Bangladesh in the study period is different from the pattern established for communal violence in India in Brass, Wilkinson, and Varshney: although violence is led by local riot systems, it occurs in response to national-level events.National-level political trends thus have major significance for religious freedom and security in Bangladesh. International interventions in Bangladeshi politics to date have not been effective in producing amity or accountability, nor has civil society advocacy for communal harmony.
Extent: 127 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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