11/11/2015, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Dinajpur, new attacks on Christians: family flees burning home

by Sumon Corraya
A group of Muslims attempted to burn an entire Christian family, accused of witchcraft. A victim: "We lost everything, we live in absolute poverty. If we do not withdraw the complaint the consequences will be worse". In recent weeks many attacks on Christian-owned properties: the real intent is land expropriation.

Panchagarh (AsiaNews) - A group of 6 or 7 Muslims attempted to burn members of a Christian family in their home in the village of Kamarpara, in the district of Panchagarh, in the north of the country accusing them of "witchcraft".

The incident happened on November 5, in a house in the parish of Ruhea. Ramni Das, one of the victims, said: "It was midnight when we heard the noise of the fire and the smell of smoke. Luckily we managed to escape from the house. We lost everything, there is nothing left in our house, everything was burned. Now - he adds in tears - we are in absolute poverty”.

It is not the first time that such incidents happen in Kamarpara. A year ago, an Islamist group accused Christians of carrying out magic rites and endangering people. This is why some Christian homes were attacked. According Ramni Das, the real reason for attacks against Christians is an attempt to take possession of their lands. In fact, in recent weeks, attacks on Christian families that have forced them to flee their homes have increased in Bangladesh.

After the attack, says Ramni, "we asked for justice, but now we live in the police station, threatened because we made a complaint. Being a Christian leaves us weak and vulnerable". The complaint is against seven people, but the police have not made any arrests.

Usually, the victims of the attacks are very poor families. "We live in fear - says the man - and we believe that unless we withdraw the charge of arson against the Muslims, we will face even more dire consequences. We want to sit down with the Muslims and find a peaceful solution".

Fr. Anthony Sen, pastor of Ruhea, declares: "I am shocked by the brutal attack on peaceful people. The Muslims wanted to burn them! This is a serious offense. I would like a peaceful solution and security for my people".

Abul Hossain, head of the local government, says he wants to "sit down with the two groups soon and I hope that the situation will return to normal." He added that he does not want to resolve the issue through trial, so that Christians, Muslims and even Hindus can live in peace in the future, without consequences.

About 6 thousand Catholics live in the parish of Ruhea and 300 live in the village of Kamarpara.
Bangladesh has a population of 152 million inhabitants and isMuslim majority (89.8%). The Christian community (0.2% of the population) and Hindu (9.1%) are subject to numerous attacks and to expropriation of land. Experts point out that the reason is not so much religious as economic.

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