12/20/2016, 13.25
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Police deployed to protect 62 Dhaka churches

by Sumon Corraya

Christians fear violence by Islamic extremists. Christian Leaders ask for tighter security at Christmas. Home Affairs minister reassures them that more checks will be provided across the country.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Some Christian leaders in have met with Bangladesh’s Home Affairs minister to ask him for greater security during the Christmas period. The minister assured them that police protection would be provided to 62 churches in the capital.

The meeting between the minister and 25 representatives from the Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA) took place yesterday at the minister’s office in Dhaka.

"We brought the minister greetings from the whole Christian community, and we asked him to deploy police to protect churches on Christmas night," BCA president Nirmol Rozario told AsiaNews.

Christian concerns stem from a climate of widespread intolerance in the country against foreigners, priests, Christian and Hindu minorities, bloggers branded as atheists, freethinkers, and gay rights activists.

Rozario said that he asked the Home minister "to ensure the constant supply of electricity, so that prayers and the Christmas Mass are not interrupted by power cuts".

For his part, Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that more security measures would be taken across the country, both on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

"We are concerned about the protection of Christians,” he noted. “Our police will monitor all events planned in churches for Christmas."

In the capital, the minister said that 62 churches would provided with security. He added that CCTV cameras would be installed across the country. Traffic around Christian places of worship would be diverted. At the same time, the government asked Christians not to celebrate with fireworks.

Bangladesh’s Christians are a small minority, about 0.6 per cent in a population of more than 160 million people. Roman Catholics are the largest group with almost 600,000 faithful.

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