Thursday, August 4, 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center
DHAKA, BANGLADESH (BosNewsLife) -- Two Christian men of a non-governmental organization in Bangladesh have been "hacked to death" and officials believe Islamic extremists were "likely" responsible for the murders, news reports said Thursday, August 4.
News of the murder came shortly after human rights and aid group Christian Freedom International (CFI) warned that "serious attacks on converts to Christianity by Islamic extremists are increasing." But "the Bangladesh government is doing nothing to stop the persecution of these Christians," claimed CFI President Jim Jacobson.
Christian news agency Compass Direct said it learned that Tapan Kumar Roy, 30, and Liplal Marandi, 35, were killed Friday, July 29, in Dhopapara village in Boalmari, Faridpur district, about 150 kilometers (about 94 miles) from the capital, Dhaka.
Both men worked for Christian Life Bangladesh (CLB). Along with educational films on arsenic poisoning, mother-and-child health care and AIDS prevention, often showed the "Jesus Film" about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, at the invitation of local villagers, Compass quoted local Christian leaders as saying.
"An official at a local madrassa (Islamic school) had threatened the men verbally prior to the murders," said Swapon Bose, who the news agency described as "a well-known Christian leader" in the area. some villagers had also threatened to kill Roy and Marandi if they continued to show the “Jesus Film,” CLB supervisor Peter Bose reportedly said.
ATTACKED WHILE SLEEPING
Bangladesh media have reported that the victims were asleep in their home when assailants knocked on the door. When the victims answered the knock, they were apparently attacked and stabbed with sharp weapons.
The killers had also chained the doors of nearby houses to prevent neighbors from rushing to the scene, Compass Direct reported. Hearing the victims’ cries, however, neighbors managed to enter the house and the two severely wounded men were rushed to the nearby Boalmari Health complex in a van. Roy died in transit, and Marandi died immediately after reaching the hospital.
Police have arrested at least one suspect, identified as Monir Hossain in connection with the murders, news reports said. The landlord of the house they rented, Bipul Kumar Bagchi, told reporters "Muslim extremists" were angered by the showing of the “Jesus Film” in their district.
Nanok Kumar Biswas, general secretary of the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Welfare Front of Boalmari, said he believed followers of an Islamic fundamentalist group were responsible for the murders, Compass Direct said. Police were still investigating the double murder, Thursday July 4.
Bangladesh is facing an overall deterioration in human rights, both for the Muslims who form an estimated 86 percent of the population and for religious minorities, human rights activists say. CFI said however that Christians and those converting to Christianity are especially persecuted.
In a recent message to BosNewsLife News Center CFI said one convert it knows, Shahanaz Alam, cannot return to her home. "She has received death threats from neighbors and is desperately seeking a permanent, safe place to live." Local police have allegedly refused to intervene.
In addition Peter A. Khaleque, a former Bangladeshi police officer who converted to Christianity and is now working as a pastor, was facing a possible prison sentence on what CFI called "trumped-up charges" apparently because he shared his faith with a Muslim driver.
"He is concerned that if he is sentenced to prison his unprotected 12 year old Christian daughter will be abducted, raped, beaten, and forced to marry and convert to Islam," CFI said. The developments are part of what human rights groups say is growing pressure in Muslims-turned-Christians in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The House of Lords in the UK Parliament held a special debate on June 29 to discuss the harassment and oppression of religious minorities. Analysts say Bangladesh had enjoyed a reputation for secularism and democracy until 2001, when Khaleda Zia replaced secularism in the constitution with the "sovereignty of Allah."
Encouraged by this change, a junior coalition partner began calling for the imposition of Sharia, or Islamic law, supporting Islamic militias in both Bangladesh and Pakistan. It has also encouraged the development of some 64,000 madrassas, or Islamic schools, across the country, Compass Direct reported.
Indian intelligence officials have reportedly said that the leader of another BNP coalition partner, Mufti Fazlul Haq Amini, maintains ties with Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, a banned Islamic militia which in turn is linked with Al-Qaeda.
Taskforce against Torture, another non-governmental organization, has documented more than 500 cases of torture and intimidation by Islamic extremists. This is regarded as key evidence that Hindus, Christians and Buddhists are regular targets of Islamic extremists, along with members of the minority Ahmadiyya Muslim sect. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Bangladesh).
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