ASIA/BANGLADESH - Long trail of targeted killings: "Christians continue their pastoral and social activities"

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 local churches   violence   islam   terrorism  


Dhaka (Agenzia Fides) - "We are aware, concerned but not alarmed. Fanatical groups are spreading death, but we hope that the government can control them. The pastoral and social activities of the Church continues": says to Fides Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Dhaka, now a professor at the Major Seminary in Dhaka, His Exc. Mgr. Theotonius Gomes, while in recent days two new targeted killings were reported in the country.
Victims of the attacks by Islamic fundamentalist groups in Bangladesh are Xulhaz Mannan, 35, journalist-editor of the magazine "Roobpaan" – who in the country deals with problems and rights of homosexuals and transgenders - killed in Dhaka with a friend; and University Professor Rezaul Karim Siddiquee, assassinated in Rajshahi.
The police followed the trail of an attack by Islamic militants, similar to what occurred in the past against bloggers and secular intellectuals. One person was arrested regarding the murder of the professor: Hafizur Rahman, leader of ''Islami Chhatra Shiibir", student wing of the radical Jamaat-e-Islami Islamist party. The murder of the professor was claimed by the Islamic State.
"The situation is complex, there are local Islamic extremist groups who are inspired by IS" explains the Bishop to Fides. With regards to the situation of Christians who in the country are, on the whole, about 1% of the population (1.6 million faithful out of 160 million people), he says: "We proceed cautiously and carefully, we are aware of the situation, but our pastoral, educational, social activities continue". The small Catholic Church in Bangladesh, which has about 300 thousand faithful (0.2% of the population), continues its mission, living in prayer and faith in God", he explains.
Last week IS also claimed the responsibility for the murder of a Pastor in northern Bangladesh, 65 year-old, Hossain Ali, who had converted from Islam to Christianity in 1999. In February, a Hindu priest was killed in the Northwest of the country. Last year four bloggers were killed labeled "atheists" because supporters of a secular, democratic state. Also in 2015, the Italian missionary Piero Parolari was injured while italian aid worker Cesare Tavella and a Japanese were killed. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 26/04/2016)