Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims and Hindus visit the crib in Sirajganj (photos)
Sirajganj (AsiaNews) – Fr Carlo Buzzi, a missionary priest with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) opened the doors to his parish in Sirajganj, in the diocese of Rajshahi, to all the faithful – Christians, Muslims and Hindus – to an enthusiastic response from the community, despite the atmosphere of religious and political intolerance that has recently descended upon the country.
This "shows that Muslims are not upset at seeing the crib ,” he told AsiaNews. “Indeed, thousands of Muslims and Hindus visit my house each day to admire it.” In fact, “I was forced to ask the police for help to maintain order, but ten officers are not enough to contain the enthusiastic crowd."
As a PIME missionary, Fr Buzzi has been in Bangladesh since 1975. From the beginning of his mission, he decided to live among Muslims, who have accepted him and appreciated his work. His success is such that "even the police can’t manage to contain the enthusiasm of the people I invite."
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Charles said that "we invite each other to our respective festivities.” Indeed, neighbours “get offended if I don’t invite them for Christmas to see the crib and offer them some sweets;” this in a country like "Bangladesh that is a predominantly Muslim with Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian minorities" who recently endured attacks and received threats from Islamic radicals.
In the last few months, Islamic fundamentalists have targeted religious minorities as well as “secular” intellectuals.
Likewise, some bloggers and secular thinkers were hacked to death whilst others received threatening letters wishing them a "just death".
Yet, more than 3,500 Muslims and Hindus, some 20 at a time, take their turn to visit Fr Buzzi’s parish church every day just to see the nativity scene (pictured). In view of the situation, local authorities had to deploy the police to maintain order.
"The idea that Muslims might be upset to see the crib is just the result of uninformed imagination,” Fr Charles said. “Everyone knows that others have different ideas and beliefs, and that we can all enjoy variety."