Bangladesh Jails Christian Evangelist; Appeal Planned

Friday, March 25, 2011

DHAKA, BANGLADESH (Worthy News)-- A young Christian evangelist has been sentenced to one year imprisonment for "creating chaos” by selling and distributing Christian books and other literature near a major Muslim gathering north of the capital Dhaka, trial observers said Thursday, March 24.

Biplob Marandi, 25, was reportedly sentenced by a magistrate court in Gazipur district on February 28 afterhe was detained in January near a gathering of the massive 'Bishwa Ijtema', or World Muslim Congregation,on the banks of the Turag River near the town of Tongi.

Marandi's lawyer has appealed the decision saying the defendant's religious activities were protected by the religious freedom provisions of the Bangladesh constitution.

There was no immediate response from authorities and a date for an appear hearing was not yet known. Every year, several million Sufi Muslims take part in Bishwa Ijtema to pray and listen to Islamic theologians from around the world.

Thousands of foreigners from over 100 countries attend the event, but most of the worshipers are from upcountry, news reports said.


Bangladesh compares the annual event with the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, commentators say.

The detention of Marandi, a tribal Christian, comes amid international concerns about attacks against Christians and other religious minorities in the mainly Islamic nation of nearly 160 million people.

In a recent report on religious freedom, the United States State Department said that "Although the government publicly supported freedom of religion, attacks on religious and ethnic minorities continuedto be a problem during the reporting period."

It said "religious minorities are often at the bottom of thesocial hierarchy and, therefore, have the least political recourse."