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Difference between Rohingyas and Bengalis

Difference between Rohingyas and Bengalis

Rohingyas – an ethnic group compactly residing in Rakhine State (also known as Arakan) in Myanmar (also known as Burma). Ethnically and linguistically they are related, unlike the other peoples of Myanmar, to the people of India and Bangladesh, especially to Bengalis.

The term “Rohingyas” was appeared in the 50s of the 20th century to refer to the ethnic group formed on the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh. According to the UN, they are one of the most persecuted and discriminated national minorities in the world.

According to many historians, such as Leider (2013), Tonkin (2014), Andrew (2003) etc., Rohingyas migrated to Myanmar during the British rule. However Rohingyas consider themselves as an indigenous population of Rakhine State of modern Myanmar.

Racial type – Indo-Mediterranean race

Religion – Muslim Sunni.

Language – Rohingyas: refers to the Indo-Aryan languages of the Indo-European family

Population – ‎1.0-1.3 million. Many Rohingyas live in refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh, as well as areas along the Thai-Myanmar border.

The main problems that Rohingya people face:

1. Discrimination and human rights violation:

As a Muslim minority in a Buddhist country, they have been repeatedly discriminated. The military Government of Myanmar refuse to recognize them as citizens of the country.  They are considered as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Thus, Rohingya people have been deprived of civil rights. The Law on Citizenship of Myanmar denies  Rohingyas’ civil rights to education, public services and freedom of movement. In addition, the law allowed arbitrary confiscation of their property. They are not allowed to marry, do not have the right to own land and their children cannot be admitted to school.

2. persecution, violence and ethnic cleansing

According to the website of the Muslims of Myanmar Myanmarmuslims.org, violence against the Rohingya Muslims in the west of Myanmar has been gradually spread to other areas of the country. Now Muslims are attacked even in areas where they have civil rights. Their villages, schools and mosques have been attacked by Buddhist groups, supported by the state security forces of the country.

3. forced migration

Over the past few years, as a result of the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, more than 5,000 of them escaped from the discriminatory policy of the Buddhist government and left Myanmar by boats through the Bay of Bengal.

The main countries with Rohingya refugees:

  • In 2016 about 70,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh, like many other neighboring countries, does not want to accept refugees. Despite the ban of the authorities of Bangladesh at the entrance of Rohingyas to the territory of the country, tens of thousands of people cross the border.
  • Malaysia is a Muslim country which is in need of unskilled workers. In this regard, in recent years, this country has become the main destination of Muslim Rohingya refugees. Malaysia announced that in recent years, it has taken 45,000 Rohingya refugees. But it can no longer allow refugees to migrate to their country.
  • Indonesia: After Malaysia and Indonesia became the next destination for Rohingya Muslims, the government of Indonesia is placing military ships in its coastal waters and blocks the adoption of these refugees.
  • Thailand is another destination of Rohignya refugees where they face many problems, including human trafficking.

Difference between Rohingyas and Bengalis-1


Bengalis –  constituting the main population in Bangladesh and the states of West Bengal & Tripura in India.

Racial type – Indo-Mediterranean race

Religion – Islam (60%) and Hinduism (40%)

Language – Bengali, refers to the Indo-Aryan languages of the Indo-European family.

Population – Over 250 million.  Bangladesh – 152 million; India – about 100 million (mainly in the north-east of the country, in the Ganges delta and Brahmaputra).

Other countries of resettlement – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, Malaysia, USA, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Myanmar. Out of these countries only in Saudi Arabia, the number of Bengalis exceeds to 1 million.

Bengalis in Bangladesh: Bengalis in Bangladesh are predominantly Sunni Muslims. Bengali Hindu community is a minority.

Modern Bengali culture was formed under the influence of periodic influx of immigrants of various origins. At the same time, it should be noted that racism, as a phenomenon, is practically absent in the social sphere of Bangladesh.

Discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth is prohibited by the Constitution, and all citizens are guaranteed comprehensive civil and political rights and equality before the law. Bangladesh subsequently joined a wide range of international human rights instruments, including ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.

On the other hand, many segments of the population are marginalized because of poverty, and the government is implementing a policy of affirmative action in favor of disadvantaged groups.

Bengalis in India: On the contrary to Bangladesh, in India majority of Bengalis are Hindus, and the supporters of Sunni Islam and Christians are minorities.

India is a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional and pluralistic country. It allows each community to live in accordance with its own views and values. Most of the rights specified in the international declaration of human rights of 1948 are guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

Racial type Language Religion Population State
Rohingyas Indo-Mediterranean Rohingyas Muslim Sunni 1-1.3 million stateless
Bengalis Indo-Mediterranean Bengali Islam (60%) Hinduism (40%). 250 million Bangladesh,


Rohingyas vs. Bengalis

  • In contrast to Bengalis, Rohingyas are considered stateless people.
  • In contrast to Bengalis, Rohingyas face ethnic cleansing, forced migration, discrimination, persecution and etc.
  • Both of these groups speak different language.
  • Bengalis population is larger than Rohingyas.
  • In contrast to Rohingyas, who are Sunni Muslim, Bengalis have representative of Hindus, Christians, and other religions.

Despite these clarifications of the differences, ethnically and linguistically they are very related. Then, it is not surprising that the Rohingyas and Bengalis have been often considered as the same ethnic group.

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  1. Both are different, bengali are people who live in region of bengal be it in bangladesh or in India…but rohingya are people who migrated from bangladesh illegally and now stay in Myanmar previously known as burma

    • Read Dr.Buchanan’s research on Rooinga( later Rohingya) vocabulary.
      Don’t Rohingyas as Bengalis and migrated into Burma. They had been staying there for centuries , very much centuries well before British colonized lower-part Burma, Present border of Burma was formed between Brahmadesh ( later Burma by British ) and Hindustan ( later India after British colonized it) after 1900.

    • Rohingya’s writing is based on Arabic script and from Right to Left.

      Bengali, Bama (Burmese) languages are based on Indian’ scripts and from Left to Right.

      Rohingya has its own Unicode-compliant standard font which is different with Burmese and Bengali fonts.

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References :

[0]Leider, J.P. (2013) Rohingya, Rakhaing and the Recent Outbreak of violence – A note 2013

[1]Andrew, S. (2003) Burma’s Muslims: Terrorists or Terrorised? Australia: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University.

[2]Tonkin, D. (2014) The 'Rohingya' Identity - British experience in Arakan 1826-1948. The Irrawaddy http://narinjara.com/the-rohingya-identity-british-experience-in-arakan-1826-1948/



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