On Friday, November 11th, dozens of Bangladeshi Hindus demonstrated outside the United Nations to oppose violence against Hindus in their homeland, and to rally the community to further support President-elect Donald Trump. The demonstrations come after a new wave of violence against minority Hindus by Islamic radicals in Bangladesh, a nation which borders India to the northeast. In the past weeks, nearly 20 Hindu temples have been vandalized or destroyed and hundreds of Hindu homes and businesses set on fire,damaged or looted. The Islamist violence is allegedly in response to a facebook post which was stated to be "offensive to Islam". Many influential members of the Bangladeshi Hindu community living in America supported Donald Trump during his campaign, hoping he would curb Islamist violence in the region (see video above). Trump reached out to the Hindu community during his campaign, stating that under his administration "Hindus will have a true friend in the White House," In October, Trump attended a charity event to raise funds for Bengali Hindu victims of Islamic terrorism.
Violence against Hindus and other non-Muslims has a long and bloody history in Bangladesh and has become even more common with the influx of ISIS elements into the nation. During the 1971 Liberation War, Hindus were targeted for ethnic cleansing by competing regimes, leading to the systematic slaughter and exodus of millions. After the liberation war, Bangladesh made Islam the official state religion and began a campaign of seizures of Hindu lands under what were known as "Enemy Property Acts". Due to ongoing violence and institutional discrimination, it has been estimated that 49 million Hindus have gone "missing" from Bangladesh since 1971, reducing the Hindu population from 18% to 9%. Besides homegrown anti-Hindu terrorism, Bangladesh is also now dealing with a growing ISIS contingency which has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks on non-Muslims, including the murder of elderly Hindu and Buddhist priests, the hacking to death of a Hindu tailor and a Hindu teacher, the murder of two Christians outside a prayer meeting, and the targeted slaughter of two gay rights activists.
Due to the dire circumstances of their community back home, the Bangladeshi Hindu community has aligned with Donald Trump in significant numbers, especially in NYC where their numbers are most concentrated. Even though the number of Bengali Hindus is relatively small in comparison to their Indian counterparts, they are a particularly vocal and intellectual groups which makes them especially persuasive in the American Hindu political community. Donald Trump garnered support from Indians and Pakistani Hindus by identifying the Isamist regime of Pakistan as a nuclear threat; he may also find a groundswell of support if he should further elaborate on the plight of Hindus and other minorities living in Bangladesh, a nation which is quickly becoming a new haven for ISIS.