12/28/2015, 00.00
BANGLADESH

Fear at Christmas in Bangladesh as two bishops receive death threats

by Sumon Corraya
​Mgr Bejoy D'Cruze, bishop of Shylet, and Mgr Paul Panen Kubi, bishop of Mymenshing, received threatening text messages. Since October, 37 Christian leaders have received threats, including Nirmal Rozario, secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association. "Since Christians are a minority, their life is very vulnerable,” he said.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Islamic radicals have texted death threats ahead of Christmas to Mgr Bejoy D'Cruze, bishop of Shylet, and Mgr Paul Panen Kubi, bishop of the diocese of Mymenshing.

Six other members of the Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA), including its general secretary Nirmal Rozario, were the victims of similar acts of intimidation.

"These incidents are very unpleasant and go against the spirit of equal rights and freedom of thought,” Mr Rozario told AsiaNews.

Increasingly, the Christian community has been living in fear, the Catholic leader noted. For months, Islamic radicals have been sending death threats to some of its members.

Since October, 37 Christian leaders have been the subject of threats to their lives, the BCA has reported. Extremists are using mobile phones as a means of sending menacing messages and spreading fear.

Mgr Bejoy said that someone by the name of Zaman Mozumder, claiming to be the coordinator of IGMB, sent him a text message, saying, “Fulfil your last dream because your life is in [its] last stage. Very soon you are going to be killed by us”.

The same individual using the same telephone number texted Nirmal Rozario. One message read, “There will be arrangements for you during Christmas.”  Another said, “Let us know whether we will arrange your funeral or allow your family to do so”.

"It is really very sad what is happening to me,” he told AsiaNews. “I work to serve others, but I get death threats from Islamic radicals. Since Christians are a minority, their life is very vulnerable."

Six other BCA members received similar threats: Fr Boniface Subrata Tolentino of Sreemangal, Fr Ujjal Rozario of Dinajpur, Brother Binoy of Dhaka, Catholic newspaper Samabarta executive director Aldrick Biswas, and Rev Edward Jagadish of Uttara, a district in the capital.

In recent months, two Christian clergymen survived separate attacks. Three criminals, later arrested along with two accomplices, attacked Rev Luke Sarkar whilst he was at home, in Pabna District.

In late November, Fr Piero Parolari, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), was seriously injured in an assault.

"Christians are very much afraid,” said Rev Aniruddha Das, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Bangladesh.

However, “we must remember that we are children of this land and we cannot give in to threats. Most people are with us."

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