The man’s name was Ali Hossain Sarkar and he was 68 years old. In 1999 he converted to Christianity. He was a highly respected health worker and had defended the country in the war for independence from Pakistan. His attackers are unknown, but police fear it is a murder with a religious background. Bangladesh is among the most repressive countries towards Christians.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - This morning three still unknown criminals brutally murdered a man who had converted to Christianity in the town of Kurigram, in the north of Bangladesh. The victim's name was Ali Hossain Sarkar and he was 68 years old. He was a member of Isa Fellowship Church (Protestant), which includes several faithful converts from Islam.
Hossain had fought in the war for independence from Pakistan in 1971 and was a retired respected health care workerin the local Health Office. Nirmal Rozario, general secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, told AsiaNews: "The killing of Ali Hossain Sarkar, a convert to Christianity, is unacceptable and painful. We condemn his murder and we demand that justice is done. "
The attack took place this morning around 6:55 (local time). The man had left the house to do gymnastics when he was approached by three people on a motorcycle. The attackers stabbed him with ferocity and left his lifeless body lying on the ground.
The three also threatened to kill a man who rushed to the spot, and as they left they detonated a hand grenade.
The victim's son Azad Ali, reported that his father had no enemies: "We do not know who could have committed this act”. Local police chief, Tobarok Ulla, confirmed the killing and added: "We believe it is a premeditated murder". The official did not rule out that it is "the work a militant group".
The Christian had converted to Islam in 1999. His murder is the latest in a long series of episodes of violence against the Christian minority in the country.
Christians in Bangladesh account for 0.4% of 160 million inhabitants, of which over 90% professes the Islamic religion. According to the list compiled by Open Doors UK, which monitors incidents of Islamic extremism and religious nationalism, Bangladesh is ranked 35th place among the most oppressive countries toward Christians.
The Christian community is often the victim of aggression. Last November, Islamic radicals have tried to shoot dead Fr. Piero Parolari, PIME priest (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions); in December several religious received death threats; in February some criminals vandalized a convent and beat the nuns living there.
A Muslim convert to Christianity, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told AsiaNews. "I always live in fear because I converted. I pray that Jesus will keep me safe".