Western non-governmental organizations are operating in all parts of the world. Many are doing great work in alleviating poverty and helping with development efforts. Unfortunately, some have hidden agendas. Presently Bangladesh has the NGO density of 3.5 foreign NGOs per square mile. Most of the foreign NGOs, under the banner of "development partner", are working to remove poverty and to bring education, and progress to the country. Their failure to do so has instead brought about an increase in tensions and social problems in Bangladesh.
Their hidden agenda is now evident. Their activities can best be described as 'the revived form of imperialism' and 'neo-colonialism,' a great threat to the entire nation and its majority Muslim population, estimated at 86%.
These organizations bring billions of dollars to help the poor people, but only 5% goes to the target group. The rest of money is spent to materialize their hidden agendas; to convert the indigenous population to Christianity.
In the 190 years of colonial rule in united Bengal, only 111,426 people were converted to Christianity. Out of this converts, about 50 thousand were citizens of Bangladesh. The number of Christians in the territory had risen by 400% from about 50,000 in 1947 to 200,000 in 1971. According to one estimate, in the period between 1971 and 1991, the number of Christian converts in Bangladesh has risen from 200,000 to 400,000.
Christian sources tend to underplay their numbers, but it is reported that their goal is to increase the Christian population to 10-12 million in the next 20 years.
The methods used by these NGOs are corruption, seduction and conversion. The policy of the most Christian NGOs is to employ Muslims last and to favor those who convert. The idea is to create an economically and educationally influential community of converts who would, in due course, like in many parts of Africa, control all the key sectors of power: education, economy, social policy, bureaucracy and military.
Apart from missionary activities, NGOs are increasingly assuming the role of invisible government having little regards to the history, culture, customs of people and rules and regulations of the government. They run a very powerful parallel government and they can undo any order of the government any time they like. The government in Bangladesh is now in a state of utter helplessness. They cannot overlook the volatile situation created by the NGOs nor can they take any action against NGOs involved in the activities incompatible with the national interest and the sovereignty of the state.
When the NGO Bureau of the government took action against two powerful NGOs -ADAB (Association of Development Agencies of Bangladesh) and SEBA (Society for Economic and Basic Administration) by canceling their registration on the ground of defalcation of funds and receiving money from a foreign embassy without prior permission or even the knowledge of the government, the foreign embassies allegedly compelled the government to withdraw the cancellation order within three hours of the issuance. After that incident, the government of Bangladesh has refrained from taking action against any NGOs and their executives, even when they become involved in undesirable activities including violating government rules and indulging in political activities.
NGOS make Bible reading compulsory for their staff, including the Muslims. One big missionary NGO employed only Christian teachers in its schools and a student had to be Christian before given board and lodging in its hostels.
While Bangladeshi students are only taught his or her religion in both private and public schools, the study of Christianity is compulsory for all students in most missionary schools.
In one case when the District Education Officer pointed out this irregularity, he was told the NGO was not obliged to provide an explanation.
The NGOs are also active in political campaigning, a strict violation of government rule. In many cases, they actively participate in the election, financed them and ran massive political campaigns for them.
What is the reaction of Muslim countries to the grave situation in a Muslim country? Are other Muslim countries or their embassies in Dhaka aware that a Muslim nation is transforming into a Christian dominant state like Lebanon or into another nation riddled with civil strife like the Sudan? Have they ever noted the mounting pressure from the Dhaka based Western Embassies to allow the NGOs to Christianize the country freely in an unfettered way in exchange of much needed capital for the industrialization of the country or providing electricity to the villages?
It appears that no country or Islamic organization has expressed concern over the increasing evangelization through NGO networks. It may be that the Muslim countries are not aware of the NGOs and their dangerous activities in Bangladesh. The extensive effort to evangelize Bangladesh is the part of an old dream of the Christian world and hence the web of neo-colonization.
It would be a positive factor in the quest for a solution to the vexing problem if the Muslims of Bangladesh and their friends abroad kept in mind that the pernicious efforts of the Christian world can only be halted by efforts of similar magnitude.
The Muslim Ummah owes great responsibility to safeguard the Muslims of Bangladesh against the plots, conspiracies and attacks of the Christian fundamentalists and the Christian NGOs on our custom, culture and ideology. If timely action is not taken by all concerned and NGO bombs are allowed to explode, a Lebanon-like situation will fast emerge in this country to the bewilderment of everybody. The Muslim NGOs working in Bangladesh are very insignificant. The situation demands from us to set up more and more Muslim NGOs to combat this great aggression of western imperialism.
Saidul Islam is a graduate of the International Islamic University of Malaysia and is currently doing his Masters in Sociology at York University in Toronto. Much of the author's statistics were based on published reports, including "A study on the role of NGOs in the abnormal growth of Christian Population in Bangladesh," Dhaka, 1993.