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Christmas death threats for clergy in Bangladesh

DHAKA (AsiaNews): Bishop Bejoy D’Cruze and Bishop Paul Panen Kubi in Bangladesh both reported that they received death threats on their mobile phones in the run up to Christmas last year.

The bishops from Shylet and Mymenshing said that they believe that the death threats came from Islamist radicals. 

Six other members of the Bangladesh Christian Association, including its general secretary, Nirmal Rozario, reported being intimidated in a similar fashion.

“These incidents are very unpleasant and go against the spirit of equal rights and freedom of thought,” Rozario said.

He explained that the Christian community has increasingly been living in fear, as for months, Islamist radicals have been sending death threats to members of the association.

Since October, 37 Christian leaders have been the subjected to threats against their lives. The terrorists use mobile phones to send menacing messages and spread fear.

Bishop Bejoy said that someone by the name of Zaman Mozumder, claiming to be the coordinator of some group calling itself the IGMB sent him a text message, saying, “Fulfil your last dream because your life is in its last stage. Very soon you are going to be killed by us.”

The same individual texted Rozario from the same telephone number. One message read, “There will be arrangements for you during Christmas.” Another said, “Let us know whether we will arrange your funeral or allow your family to do so.”

The bishop said, “It is really very sad what is happening to me. I work to serve others, but I get death threats from Islamic radicals. Since Christians are a minority, their life is very vulnerable.”

Father Boniface Subrata Tolentino, from Sreemangal, Father Ujjal Rozario, from Dinajpur; and Brother Binoy, from Dhaka; as well as the executive director of the Catholic newspaper, Samabarta, Aldrick Biswas; together with Reverend Edward Jagadish, from Uttara in Dhaka, also received the threatening messages.

In recent months, two Christian clergy survived separate attacks. Three people were later arrested along with two accomplices, when they attacked Reverend Luke Sarkar whilst he was at home in the Pabna District.

In late November, Father Piero Parolari, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was seriously injured when he was shot.

“Christians are very much afraid,” Reverend Aniruddha Das, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Bangladesh, commented.

He added, “We must remember that we are children of this land and we cannot give in to threats. Most people are with us.”


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