05/27/2024, 14.00
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Sheikh Hasina alleges Christian plot, Dhaka Archbishop says the idea is absurd

by Sumon Corraya

The Bangladeshi prime minister claims that Christians want to "carve out a Christian state” on the border with Myanmar. Archbishop Bejoy N. D'Cruze, head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh, calls the idea absurd. In a statement, he defends “the sovereignty of Bangladesh”.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is accusing Christians and foreign interests of hatching a plot to "carve out a Christian state” like East Timor between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Ms Hasina made the allegations during a meeting with the leaders of the 14 parties that are part of the ruling alliance.

The prime minister, who heads the Awami League, said that in January, before the election, she was offered a safe re-election if she allowed a foreign country to establish an air base in Bangladesh.

Hasina did not reveal more details but was probably referring to Saint Martin Island, the southernmost part of the country.

In the past, she had accused the opposition, represented by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, of planning to cede the coral island to the United States, a claim the latter has always denied.

Hasina vowed to resist any attempt to destroy regional stability, saying that she was determined to fight such conspiracies. Without giving any further information, she said “the offer came from a white man”.

Yesterday, Archbishop Bejoy N. D'Cruze of Dhaka, chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh, issued a press release in which he expressed surprise and concern at the prime minister’s accusation.

“The renowned daughter of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu, the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, tirelessly works to safeguard our nation's freedom and development. “She has been playing a steady and courageous role in protecting the sovereignty of Bangladesh. We, the Christians of Bangladesh, gratefully recognize and support her efforts,” the archbishop’s statement reads.

“We, the Christians of Bangladesh and our leaders, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh and the United Forum of Churches, are surprised and worried by this news. In today's globalized and secular world, the notion of a 'Christian state' is absurd,” the press release went on to say.

Archbishop Bejoy, who also heads the United Forum of Churches in Bangladesh, adds: “We agree with the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and support her efforts to safeguard the sovereignty of Bangladesh. We also pray for her continued success in this regard.”

The prelate also spoke of the possibility that some people will exploit the prime minister's statement to undermine communal harmony; for this reason, he calls on the authorities to ensure the safety of the Christian community.

Such a view is echoed by Christians in Bangladesh. “We Christians in Bangladesh live peacefully and maintain brotherhood. We oppose any foreign intervention in our country,” said Sukumar Gomes, an NGO worker.

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