» 09/30/2009, 00.00
Christian convert from Islam and family threatened with death
After Friday prayers a group of zealots attacked the house of William Gomes, a young Muslim who converted to Christianity and human rights activist. The police takes no steps to ensure his protection.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - William Gomes, a Catholic convert from Islam, is in mortal danger. For the past several days he has been the target of Muslim extremists who want to kill him because of his new faith. On 25 September he had to flee his home to escape from a group of Islamic militants who wanted to kill him and his family (wife and child), setting fire to their house. After Friday prayers at a mosque nearby, a group of fanatics had asked the leaders of their mosque to decide on the fate of the young man and the penalty to be inflicted on him.
A freelance journalist and human rights activist, married to a Catholic and father of a child, Gomes had recently received threats, but on September 25, his accusers passed from words to deeds. Led by Nazmi Mohammed Uddin Titu, a local leader of the Chatra League movement of young Muslims, a group marched on the house of the young man accused of apostasy.
The human rights activist sought police protection, but officers of the Police Commission in Jatrabri limited themselves to filing his complaint. Gomes said that the officer on duty guaranteed police intervention only after the fact happened saying he was not surprised at the anger of Muslims over his conversion.
Already September 23 there had been warning signs. Mohammed Mijan Bandari, the local leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), had assaulted Gomes’ cousin, Mohammed Farouk, who with his wife went to visit his relative and family. The human rights activist intervened in defence of his cousin, with the help of his mother and father, only to receive death threats from Bandari and the Islamist group of a hundred people. The crowd only dispersed after the arrival of the police to calm tensions.
The human rights activist, whose reports have been published by AsiaNews, has received the solidarity of Buni Yani, his Muslim friend and professor of the faculty of science and politics at the Muhammadiyah University in Jakarta. Yani has appealed to the authorities of Bangladesh to ensure the safety of Gomes and his family.
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