Catalyst of Religious Extremism in Rohingya Refugee Camps: A Qualitative Analysis

Catalyst of Religious Extremism in Rohingya Refugee Camps: A Qualitative Analysis

Md. Nasir Uddin (A Department of the Prime Minister's Office, Dhaka, Bangladesh) and Md. Musfikur Rahman (International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6960-3.ch015
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The most vulnerable and forcibly displaced Rohingya people are living in 32 refugee camps in Bangladesh. It was a cross-sectional study. The study was conducted through qualitative approach from 25 October to 24 November 2019. The chapter has tried to explore the process of religious radicalization in refugee camps. The existing social structure, some foreign humanitarian organizations, transnational/national terror outfits are exploiting the helpless situation of these people to enhance their organizational ability. The findings of the study will help the policymakers to take pragmatic initiatives to counter the process of religious extremism in the camps which will act as a key catalyst to fight against terrorism both in Bangladesh and globally.
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The Rohingya constitute the largest Muslim minority group in Myanmar. Over the last decades, discrimination and oppression have resulted in the mass displacement of Rohingya from and within Myanmar, with substantial numbers fleeing to neighboring countries and beyond, including Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Thailand, and Indonesia. Since late August, 2017, the exacerbation of violence and military operations in the northern townships of Rakhine State, where the majority of Rohingya resided, has led to more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing across the border into Bangladesh (Tay et al., 2018). These tormented humans are living in a most severe vulnerable situation for religious extremism. The radicalization process in Rohingya refugee camps are attached with the complex web of multiple homegrown as well as transnational radical outfits in which these outfits are trying to abuse the vulnerable socio-cultural structure of the refugees.

This huge influx of refugees and their concentration in Cox’s Bazar district has raised security threat to violent extremism. This concerns lies with the radicalization of the Rohingyas who have suffered unprecedented deprivations, religious persecution and other inhuman atrocities (The Hunger Project Bangladesh, 2019). Based on the field investigation, interviews with the persecuted people, we have identified four important factors of Rohingya people that might fuel them to be radicalized for violent extremism. The factors are divided into two sects (i.e., internal and external factors). These are given below in Table 1.

Table 1.
Vulnerable factors for radicalization
Serial #Internal FactorsExternal Factors
1Torture in Myanmar makes the Rohingyas most disaffected and vulnerableSolid sense of Muslim Ummah due to religious oppression
2Deprivation of basic needs and rights and inhuman treatmentCall for Jihad by domestic and transnational radical groups
3Vision of a Free Arakan StatePrejudice against non-Muslims
4Social structure of refugee campsFavorable Geography

(The Hunger Project Bangladesh, 2019).

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