12/15/2017, 12.53
BANGLADESH
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Government thankful for pope's visit, churches to be protected at Christmas

by Sumon Corraya

Important leaders of the Christian minority met the Home Affairs Minister. The pontiff's pastoral visit took place in security. The country’s places of worship are placed under tight security.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh’s Christian leaders have thanked the government for the support provided during Pope Francis’s visit (30 November-2 December), which took place in complete security.

On Wednesday, a delegation of 30 Christian representatives met with Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, bringing the tributes of the entire minority community.

For his part, the minister said that the authorities will boost security measures at the country's churches during the Christmas celebrations.

"In the city of Dhaka there are 75 churches, which will be guarded by five thousand policemen during the holiday season,” said the minister at the meeting. “Tight security measures will be provided for all Christian places of worship in Bangladesh."

The government's pledge to protect churches during the Christmas period comes at a time when the country is in danger of renewed tensions between religious communities after Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Many Bangladeshi imams have expressed their opposition to the move.

Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country. More than 90 per cent of its population of 163 million follow the teachings of the Qurʾān. Christians are a small minority: about 600,000 (380,000 Catholics), or about 0.3 per cent. Christians often suffer discrimination and violence, mostly related to land ownership.

In light of this, the success of the pontiff's visit is that more important. The Holy Father was able to meet believers, young people, leaders of various religions, consecrated people and Catholic seminarians and pray with them for peace and harmony.

Nirmal Rozario, president of the Bangladesh Christian Association, is among those who met the minister.

"We sincerely thank the government through the Home Affairs Minister for providing security at all events,” he said.

“Catholics and other believers took part in the Mass, interreligious programme and so on. We want to express our immense gratitude."

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