Fair, C. Christine; Hamza, Ali & Heller, Rebecca

Who Supports Islamist Militancy in Bangladesh : What the Data Say ?



Bangladesh, one of the world's largest Muslim countries, is generally viewed as a success story with a strong tradition of secular democracy. Unfortunately, this assertion rests on a weak empirical foundation. Since becoming independent from Pakistan in 1971, democracy and secularism have been consistently undermined. Moreover, since 2005 Bangladesh has experienced dozens of major attacks by Islamist militant groups many of which enjoy close linkages to Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist political party, as well as the Bangladesh National Party, a mainstream political party. More recently, the Islamic State and Al Qaeda Indian Subcontinent have perpetrated gruesome attacks upon religious and ethnic minorities as well as secular and liberal activists. While these turns of events are alarming, Islamist militancy in Bangladesh remains understudied. In this paper, we address this lacuna by undertaking regression analysis of recent Pew survey data to exposit the determinants of popular support of Islamist terrorism. We find that high levels of support for suicide bombing. Respondents who support literal interpretations of the Quran are more likely to support suicide terrorism whereas respondents who support traditional roles of Muslim leaders are less likely to do so. Males and those who view themselves as economically well-off are more supportive of suicide attacks, whereas those who are better educated are less supportive.