(Morning Star News) – Two pastors in northwestern Bangladesh could face two years in prison if convicted for “hurting religious sentiments.”
Police on Nov. 9 arrested the pastors and 41 people, including Muslims, who were listening to proclamation of Christ at a rented house in Nabinagar village in Lalmonirhat District, 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Dhaka, after at least 100 Islamists disrupted the meeting and began “jabbing” at the church leaders’ faces, sources said.
The 41 people who were detained along with their children were released that night; the pastors of Faith Bible Church of God were not released on bail until Nov. 17, charged with “hurting religious sentiments” and luring Muslims to convert by offering money. The church leaders deny both charges.
“We did not tell anything to anyone that might hurt religious sensibility,” one of the released pastors, Arif Mondol, told Morning Star News. “We did not offer any money to anyone to be converted to Christianity.”
An area source told Morning Star News on condition of anonymity that the incident caused a sweeping furor among local Muslims.
“More than 100 Muslims headed by local Jamaat-e-Islami party members and Muslim clerics gathered at the house and started barking questions at the pastors – why did they propagate Christianity in the locality and convert some of them,” the source said.
The Islamist leaders asked the pastors who had given them permission to spread Christianity in the area.
“The pastors replied that it did not take any permission from any authority to propagate any religion and convert people to any religion,” the source said. “Suddenly the Muslims became apoplectic with rage, tried to pick a fight and started jabbing the pastors’ faces.”
Police arrived and detained all 41 people, along with their children, and the two pastors, and took them to the Lalmonirhat police station at noon.
Local imams filed a case against the pastors the following day. Police told Morning Star News they were investigating.
Nazrul Islam Mukul, an attorney who helped the two church leaders to obtain bail, told Morning Star News that the pastors told those in attendance that Jesus Christ was alive and would return, and that as the living one everyone should come to Him for salvation.
“If the allegations of the case are proved and if they are found guilty, they will be put in jail for maximum of two years according to Article 295/A,” Mukul said. “People of the locality were very angry with the pastors. If police had not come timely, they would have faced severe consequences.”
A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.
Nirmol Rozario, secretary general of Bangladesh Christian Association, told Morning Star News that the charges went against the spirit of the country’s constitution.
“I demand that the case against the pastors should be dismissed, since the grounds of the case are contradictory to our constitution,” Rozario said. “This is the act of the communal and religious fanatics.”
Sunni Muslims constitute 90 percent of Bangladesh’s population, according to the 2011 census, with Hindu making up 9.5 percent of the total population, which the U.S. government estimates at 163.7 million people . The remainder of the population is Christian (mostly Roman Catholic) and Theravada-Hinayana Buddhist. There are also small numbers of Shia Muslims, Bahais, animists, and Ahmadiyya Muslims.
A massive attack by armed men on a Catholic convent in Bangladesh happened on July 7, reports Aid to the Church in Need.
The attack, by 50 to 60 men, was the first such instance of violence against a Catholic institution in Bangladesh. Authorities have arrested 12 Muslims in connection with the incident.
“It’s unprecedented because nuns are highly respected in Bangladesh,” said Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur. He reported that the pastor was robbed and the nuns were brutally beaten and there were instances of attempted rape. He claimed the violence only ended when police arrived.
The attackers came to loot the mission.. They may also have been looking for land-ownership deeds, which poor and illiterate members of the community may have left to be kept safely at the mission. According to the Bishop the Diocese of Dinajpur had already been the scene of a number of attacks against Christian villages last year.
The Bishop said,
“It’s unprecedented because nuns are highly respected in Bangladesh. The attack is obviously a targeted and planned attempt at intimidation.”
“Nuns and priests are being attacked because they stand up for the disadvantaged and minorities.”
“The police are now investigating the case. They have promised to clear it up.”
He also relayed the the priests(45) and nuns(100) working in the diocese, and they now live in fear.
An annual survey reported cases of Christians killed for their faith around the world doubled in 2013 from the previous year. Syria had the highest number of deaths, more than the entire global total in 2012. In the list of killings, Syria was followed by Nigeria with 612 cases last year after 791 in 2012. Pakistan was third with 88, up from 15 in 2012. Egypt ranked fourth with 83 deaths after 19 the previous year.
“This is a very minimal count based on what has been reported in the media and we can confirm,” said Frans Veerman, head of research for Open Doors. Estimates by other groups put the figure as high as 8,000.
Christianity is the largest religion in the world with 2.2 billion followers, or 32 percent of the world population, according to a survey by the U.S.-based Pew Forum on religion and Public Life. But they are also the most persecuted.
Open Doors published the 2014 World Watch List of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution. You can view the list here. Woefully, persecution is increasing in many of the countries on the list.
For the twelfth consecutive time, North Korea retained they’re spot as the most difficult country in the world to be a Christian. Christians found with Bibles or Christian related material are at risk of execution or life in the prison camps. Many have been separated from their loved ones never to be heard from again. Solely for their faith in Jesus Christ, up to 70,000 Christians have been imprisoned.
Somalia ranks behind North Korea and is now #2 on the list. Converts are policed and for fear of persecution, must secretly worship ‘undergound’ keeping their faith hidden. They are also under attack by extremists of al-Shabaab, a terrorists group trying to force Sharia law in the country.
Violence against Christians in Syria has seriously increased moving them from #36 in 2012 to #3 on this year’s list. The report claims more Christians have been martyred(at least 1213) in Syria than any other country.
The cause of persecution against Christians in 36 of the 50 countries on the list, is said to be from Islamic extremism.
This year, Central African Republic #16, Sri Lanka #29 and Bangladesh #48 have all been added to the list. Violence in these nations surged against Christians. Extremism and the advancement of Sharia law again relating to the increase.
Open Doors says,
Though these facts and figures are absolutely devestating, we know that our hope is in Christ and that He his faithful to hear the prayers of His people, says.
Islamist extremism is the worst persecutor of the worldwide church.
Your prayers and VOICE for persecuted Christians are needed more than ever. Inform others, ask you pastor to pray weekly with the church for our Christian family suffering for their faith in Christ.
Thank you for your prayers and interest in those being persecuted!
(FoxNews) A staggering 100,000 Christians are killed annually because of their faith, according to the Vatican — and several human rights groups claim such anti-Christian violence is on the rise in countries like Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt.
On Tuesday, Vatican spokesman Monsieur Silvano Maria Tomassi said in a radio address to the United Nations Human Rights Council,
“Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year.”
“Other Christians and other believers are subjected to forced displacement, to the destruction of their places of worship, to rape and to the abduction of their leaders, as it recently happened in the case of Bishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, in Aleppo [Syria],” Tomassi said.
While several human rights groups could not comment specifically on the Vatican’s number, organizations like Persecution.Org said the persecutions of Christians have been on the rise in places like Africa and the Middle East over the last decade.
“Two-hundred million Christians currently live under persecution. It’s absolutely on the rise,” Jeff King, the group’s president, told FoxNews.com.
“It’s easing in the old Communist world and it’s rising in the Islamic world,” King said, noting in particular countries like Egypt, Pakistan and Nigeria. King said that the first major killing spree in recent years happened between 1998 and 2003, when he claims 10,000 Christians were murdered in Indonesia,” Credible research has reached the shocking conclusion that an estimate of more than 100,000 Christians are violently killed because of some relation to their faith every year,” alone during those years.
Last March, a Nigerian Christian leader was killed when suspected Muslim militants burst into his home and shot him. Two members of Islamic militant group Boko Haram shot Faye Pama Mysa, a Pentecostal pastor and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, in his home Wednesday, according to multiple reports. The killing happened just after President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency because of ongoing attacks in Africa’s most populous nation.
King spoke of another example in which young Christian girls were forced into sex slavery in Bangladesh. More than 140 children were rescued from Islamic training centers over the last year — with the majority of girls being targeted because of their religion, according to King.
John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, has raised grave concerns over what he calls “religious cleansing” in Syria.
“Religious minorities are under constant threat in Syria,” Eibner told FoxNews.com. “If things continue as they have been for the past two years in Syria, with an increase in religious cleansing, it’s reasonable to think that there will be no more Christian communities or other religious minorities in the near future.”
“Anti-Christian violence is on the increase throughout the world, especially throughout North Africa and the Middle East,” he added. “It’s hard for me to say with precision what the numbers are, but without doubt anti-Christian violence is on the increase.”
Dinah Pokempner, general counsel for Human Rights Watch, was not able to independently verify the Vatican’s figure, but said, “I think there’s little doubt that every week, every day, someone in the world is being persecuted – even to the point of losing their life – based on their religion.”
“Persecution is a daily event on the basis of religion,” Pokempner said. “This persecution affects Christians just as it does Muslims, Jews, Bahá’ís and people of other faiths.”
A spokesman with the Vatican could not be immediately reached for comment.
Jane Zimmerman, the U.S. State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, said in a statement that: “While I’m unfamiliar with the methodology that was used to reach that number, we have certainly followed numerous cases in recent years in which Christians and others of many faiths have been attacked or killed on account of their religious beliefs.”
“Whatever the numbers, no one should die for professing or practicing their faith, whatever that faith is,” Zimmerman told FoxNews.com. “The United States firmly supports the freedom to profess and practice one’s faith, to believe or not to believe, and to change one’s beliefs. As Secretary Kerry said on May 20, religious freedom ‘is a birthright of every human being.”
God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians and yet did, or do nothing to intervene.