Relaymedia

Bangladesh & Sri Lanka Christians Face Persecution Threat

As Muslim fundamentalism rises in Bangladesh , church leaders report that Christians in the country are facing a growing threat.
( [email protected] ) Aug 29, 2005 09:31 AM EDT

As Muslim fundamentalism rises in Bangladesh , church leaders report that Christians in the country are facing a growing threat. Two church group workers have been hacked to death by fundamentalists after being warned to stop evangelistic work in the village of Dhupapara.

Tapan Kumar Roy and Liplal Marandi were killed for showing a film about Jesus even though they received permission from villagers, said Sunil Adhikari, director of Christian Life Bangladesh.

In a series of bomb explosions across the country last week, two people were killed and 100 wounded. The Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen group left leaflets with messages on the bomb sites, calling for Islamic rule in Bangladesh. The message also warned the US and Britain against occupation of Muslim nations.

The attacks were ¡§a clear indication of a growing Islamic fundamentalism¡¨, said Augustine Dipak Karmakar, general secretary of the Church of Bangladesh. According to Ecumenical News International, he said that the ¡§secular space in the country is shrinking¡¨ and that the murder of the two Christian workers proved the lack of religious freedom. ¡§We are free under law to preach our faith. But, in reality we do not have much freedom.¡¨

Karmakar accused the government of sheltering the culprits saying that no arrests have been made and are not likely to be made even though Christians have marched in protest in Dhaka. He said that the Islamic fundamentalist lobby has spread into the government machinery as the administration is presently headed by a coalition in which the Bangladesh Nationalist Party shares power with the Jamat-e-Islami party.

The non-Muslim population has shrunk in Bangladesh since it broke away from Pakistan in 1971. Only 400,000 of the population of 144 million are Christians, which is less than one percent; 83 percent are Muslim. The first CLB worker was murdered in 2003. Since then four Christians in Bangladesh have been murdered. Baptist minister Bonnie Rozario who had converted from Islam, was killed while preaching in 2004.

Also in south Asia region, Christians in Sri Lanka are also facing persecution as they were ordered by police to stop worshipping at a church. They have been threatened for two consecutive weeks by police in Horana, Kalutara District, to stop meeting for worship at the Foursquare Gospel Church.

As extremists carry out a campaign to throw Christians out from the mainly Buddhist area, the Sri Lankan government is considering bypassing an anti-conversion law to prevent the gospel from spreading.