02/25/2023, 17.57
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Bible and Christian literature at Dhaka book fair

by Sumon Corraya

This year’s edition of the Ekusha Boi Mela (21-28 February) at the Bangla Academy includes Christian stands. Some Muslim visitors have had negative comments, while others have taken the opportunity to buy the Bible and learn about the life of Jesus. Members of the Bangladesh Christian Writers Forum are present.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The annual Ekusha Boi Mela national book fair is underway at the Bangla Academy in Dhaka until 28 February.

Opened by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last Tuesday, the event includes Christian exhibition stands to bear witness to the Gospel, promote Christian literature and reach out to Muslims, despite the few who shun them, proffer the occasional insult, or warn their children, “Don’t touch the Bible”.

More than 800 exhibitors are present at the 2023 edition, including the Bangladesh Bible Society (BBS), at the stall 789.

For Shuvro Falia, head of BBS marketing, the atmosphere is generally positive even though "Some Muslims have expressed negative comments about Christians, some saying not to touch the books, even to children.”

The book fair, which is dedicated to the martyrs of the Bengali Language Movement who were killed on 21 February 1952, provides an  opportunity to “spread the word of God and faith among people, many of them non-Christians, who come to us and buy copies of the Bible,” Falia, a Protestant woman, told AsiaNews.

“We bear witness to Jesus Christ with our presence and remember the British missionary William Carey, who first translated the Bible into the local language.”

This year, for the first time, the Bangladesh Christian Writers Forum (BCWF) set up its own exhibition stand, with the aim of "sharing our literature with others" as its chairman, Khokon Corraya, put it.

Their presence at the fair has favoured sales, with thousands of Christian books and magazines sold to readers who otherwise would not have learnt about this kind of literature.

Even among Muslims, some "welcome the presence of a stand dedicated to the Bible,” Falia said.

One of them, Hassan Mahamud, told AsiaNews that he bought a copy despite being Muslim to "learn more about Christianity" and its sacred texts.

Rev James Jipu Roy, of the House Church of Bangladesh community, says he is a deep admirer of the initiative and hopes to see other Christian publishers at the forum, so that "our values find greater echo.

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