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    » 09/30/2009, 00.00

    BANGLADESH

    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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    See also

    05/08/2009 BANGLADESH
    Dhaka, death threats against the family of a Christian convert from Islam
    A year ago, Rashidul Khandaker, who was in Australia for business, converted to Christianity. Since then his family in Bangladesh has been marginalised and now it has received threats from an extremist group. Experts say such dangers should not be underestimated.

    21/06/2011 BANGLADESH
    Christian human rights activist abducted and tortured in Bangladesh
    A group of men, perhaps from military intelligence, threatened him. They also accused him that he had been corrupted by Pakistani intelligence and the opposition to discredit the government and the military. William Gomes, a Muslim convert to Christianity, works for Asian Human Rights Commission. He also runs a humanitarian organisation called Christian Development Alternative.

    26/10/2009 BANGLADESH
    Pressure on Catholic family to rob them of house and property
    Muslim groups have shot at the house and have built a wall to expropriate the land, while the police fails to intervene. "Allah Akbar" in place of the cross. Other Christian families have had to leave the area.

    26/07/2011 NEPAL - BANGLADESH
    AsiaNews correspondent fleeing from Bangladesh seized by the authorities in Nepal
    Since May 27 the police in Nepal have held William Gomes in custody for no reason. The activist was trying to reach Hong Kong via Nepal after being tortured and threatened by the authorities of Dhaka for his activities on behalf of Christians. Spokesman of the main opposition party accuses the government of Nepal of serious violations of human rights and calls on the Prime Minister to resign.

    16/04/2011 PAKISTAN
    Punjab, Muslims attack a Christian village
    The attack took place this morning in Khokarki, near the city of Gujranwala. Hundreds of Christians forced to flee their homes. Attack sparked by quarrel with Christian, his son and some Muslims, over false accusation of blasphemy. The two Christians held at the local police station.



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