Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Some 200 people, from different faith groups, gathered in protest in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka, to demand justice for Fr Piero Parolari, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) who was badly wounded in an attack last Wednesday and is now recuperating in a military hospital in the capital.
Christians, Muslims and Hindus came together for the event. “Today I am very sad,” said Rana Dasgupta, a Hindu community leader who is also an International Crimes Tribunal Prosecutor.
“A priest who dedicated his whole life to charity was hurt by extremists,” he said. “It is a shame for us to be Bangladeshi.”
“I also heard that 12 other pastors received death threats,” he added. “If this situation goes on, democracy in our country will be destroyed soon."
The protest was organised by the Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA) and other Christian groups. Some protesters carried banners saying ‘Do not kill for religion’, and ‘Foreigners are our friends’.
"We are persecuted more and more,” said BCA general secretary Nirmal Rozario. “The government is not paying attention to our situation. This emboldens the criminals who attack us.”
In fact, this is part of a broader problem. “Christians have been victims many times in the past. Yet, none of them has seen any justice. We want justice in Fr Piero’s case now!” the BCA secretary insisted.
And Catholics are not alone. A dozen Protestant clergymen received death threats via text messages in the last two weeks, Rozario noted.
“I don’t go out after I got this threat,” said one clergyman who chose not to give his name. “Eat whatever you like the most. Only five days are left. Not more than that,” said another citing a message he received. Dhaka Police is investigating the situation.
“PIME missionaries and many other clergymen selflessly serve the people. They do humanitarian work for people of every religion, but they are often victimised and persecuted,” said Benedict Alo D'Rozario, executive director of Caritas Bangladesh, who took part in the protest.
“We love and respect PIME missionaries for their charity and good work,” he added. “We are sad that some extremists are trying to harm them. Today we have come to demand justice and security for the priests."