From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Bangladesh Christians Face Problems

Date 06 May 1996 06:12:13

Canon James M. Rosenthal, Director of Communications
Anglican Communion News Service
157 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UT, England
Tel. 44 0171 620-1110
Fax 44 0171 620-1071

#723  ACC 

29 September 1995 

(ENI- Ecumenical News International) On 17 September a publishing
house in Dhaka released a book giving extensive accounts of the
problems facing the Christians of Bangladesh.

The next day the publishing house was bombed by a fundamentalist,
Islamist organisation.

Other Islamic fundamentalists have called for a ban on the book,
Press matter:  Are the Christians in Bangladesh oppressed? which
contains articles by Anglican, Baptist and Roman Catholic leaders.

The book describes the sufferings of Christian communities in
various parts of Bangladesh. The book is seen by some as
controversial particularly because it describes the killing - in
1971, during the emergence of the state of Bangladesh - of  5700
Christians, and the rape, allegedly by the Pakistani army, of 1500
Christian women.

The book also contains hundreds of stories from towns and villages
in Bangladesh where Christian churches, hospitals and villages have
been burned down by fundamentalist Islamic groups.

Tensions over actions of the army and of the government - which many
see as illegitimate - is high and still rising in Bangladesh.
Christians are often the victims of violence. The book reports
several recent rape cases against Christian women in various parts
of the country and the book claims that the police did not bother to
investigate all reported cases.

It also claims that Christians have been murdered by Islamist
terrorists. Recently, according to the book, a Roman Catholic
priest, Abraham Gomes, was attacked and seriously wounded while he
was praying in his church at Savar, near Dhaka.

The book also claims that 85 per cent of land in some regions
belonging to indigenous people who are members of Christian 
churches has been occupied by Islamic fundamentalist settlers.

The Bangladesh Government has also been criticised recently for
failing to give visas to foreign Christian missionaries. At the same
time the authorities are using laws applying to non-governmental
organisations to control church services. Mosques, however, are not
affected by the laws.

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