ASIA/BANGLADESH - Christians are discriminated against in society but play a valuable role

Monday, 22 January 2018


Dhaka (Agenzia Fides) - Christians in Bangladesh, a small minority in a country with a Muslim majority, often face discrimination: says to Agenzia Fides Catholic priest Fr. David Bipul Das, of the Church of Our Lady of Guidance in the diocese of Barisal. "Christians live among Muslim neighbors in many parts of the country. Prejudices towards Christians persist on the basis of socio-religious and economic lines", reports to Agenzia Fides Fr. David Bipul Das, who is a missionary of the Holy Cross (CSC).
Moreover, there are cases in which "Muslim extremists continue to harass Christians, with pretentious reasons, to foment a quarrel and to incite religious hatred in society", confirms Fr. Das to Fides. Another phenomenon to be highlighted is "land grabbing", which is the practice with which some Muslims steal the land of Christians with violence, through threats and intimidation. "This is a serious problem for Christians", he says.
Within the framework of these social challenges, the Church of Our Lady of Guidance "is committed to accompanying the lives of the faithful Catholics to maintain peace and harmony with Muslims in society", observes Fr. Das, who leads a parish with about 250 Catholic families, on a territory of about 10,000 inhabitants.
The Christian community in Bangladesh represents 0.2% in a country that has 162 million inhabitants. However, its positive impact goes beyond the numerical dimension. The Christian community, the priest points out, "is considered as a community that loves peace, and is bearer of a high sense of moral and spiritual values, very visible in the witness of life". The people of Bangladesh and its government appreciate this presence and have a generally positive attitude towards Christians.
The nation recognizes the contribution and sacrifices that Bangladeshi Christians have made especially during the period of the liberation struggle, in 1971 and, in the years following independence, for the reconstruction of the country. The contribution of the Catholic Church in the field of education, health, social development, charitable works, and the socio-economic growth of the population is still widely recognized and appreciated. The Christian community manages some of the country's best educational institutions that have generated highly competent and skilled citizens, many of whom now hold leadership roles in the country and in government offices.
The Catholic Church and other Christian communities point out and present some questions to the institutions: the need to grant visas to missionaries coming from abroad; the need to allow some exceptions to public regulations, for educational institutions run by Christians, as well as the provisions regulating donations from abroad; some cases of injustice and violence against religious minorities. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 22/1/2018)