Dhaka (AsiaNews) - "We want to see the pope in our midst, we will be blessed to see him in Bangladesh, his presence will bring peace and happiness to the nation, I wish and pray his long life.” This is the wish that the venerable Dhirbangsha Bikkhu, a Buddhist monk of the international monastery in Dhaka, has sent to Benedict XVI on the occasion of his 82nd birthday.
In Europe, the direct attacks on the pope continue, not least among them the official protest presented to the Holy See by the Belgian parliament, because of "the unacceptable stance taken by the pope on the occasion of his trip to Africa." But the messages coming from Bangladesh, which has an overwhelming Muslim majority population (more than 88% of the 144 million inhabitants), instead express respect and closeness to the pope.
The venerable Dhirbangsha Bikkhu tells AsiaNews that "Benedict XVI is the father of peace, he works for peace and a religion of peace." Together with the wishes from the Buddhist monk, there are others from Muslims like Ubaidur Rahman Khan Nadwi, assistant editor of the newspaper Daily Inqilab: "We appreciate his firm work for interreligious peace and harmony. We especially appreciate his deep concern over states declaring war, propagating evil policies and oppressing the Muslims. We need his voice of truth and peace. We pray for his long life."
Among the Hindus as well, there is no lack of those who have taken Benedict XVI's birthday as an opportunity to express their closeness to him. B K Sreekanto of the Brahma Kumari Institute in Daka recalls that "the pope is holy, and wherever he will go in the world he will bring success. He works for the well-being of the people. We pray for his long life and ministry."
In addition to the various religions of Bangladesh, birthday greetings have also been expressed by a small Catholic community in the country, 1.1% of the population. Msgr. Kurian Matthew Vayalunkal of the Holy See embassy in Bangladesh explains that the faithful are preparing to celebrate the anniversary of Benedict XVI's election, which will be commemorated in the whole country on Sunday, May 19.