Bangladesh: Grass Roots Hositility but a Hopeful Response

General July 4, 2007

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 436 | Wed 04 Jul 2007


On 12 June, 42 local new Christian converts from Islam were
baptised in a river in Nilphamari district, north-west Bangladesh.
The Compass Direct (CD) report went on to say mosque authorities in
the village of Durbachari Bhatiapara then banned Christians from
using the village well, the area's only source of potable water.
The new believers were repeatedly questioned as to why they had
converted and whether they had received money or gifts. Then on
Tuesday 26 June Muslims there and in nearby Laksmirdanga bound and
beat ten local Christians so severely several were hospitalised.
The next day Muslims told the Christians to pack up and leave
within 24 hours or their homes would be torched. When Rev. Hirak
Adhikari and two companions took a complaint to the police they
were arrested for 'inducing Muslims to convert to the Christian
faith'.

One Bangladesh observer comments that such violence against
Christians, especially converts from Islam, is not new but is
common and widespread. Please pray for the Church in Bangladesh. As
radical Islam spreads and grows, these attacks are likely to become
even more common and severe, especially in the current climate of
unrest and political paralysis.

Action taken by human rights advocates in Bangladesh and the
response by police and government authorities is however very
encouraging. CD reports that after getting no help from the police,
local advocates contacted James Hilton, 'a retired government
official, who in turn contacted the senior police commissioner in
Dhaka and his subordinate in Rajshahi Division'. An investigation
was quickly launched and Hirak Adhikari and his companions were
released on Friday 29 June. A temporary police camp will be
stationed in the area for the next three months. Muslims falsely
claimed to the media that the Christians were converting by
allurement, a charge the Christians and converts flatly deny. CD
reports a senior constable called a meeting on 2 July between
Christians and Muslims in Durbachari. Stressing the need for
religious tolerance he reminded everyone that all Bangladeshis have
religious liberty and promised to take action against persecutors.
Though peace has been restored, the Christians are separated from
the community and their children can no longer attend the
madrassah, the only school in the area.

Praise the Lord for this positive result brought about as he used
the spreading of news and the action taken by courageous and
committed advocates. 'Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from
the Lord that a man gets justice.' (Proverbs 29:26 ESV) We pray
now, with the blessing of security, for Muslim hearts to soften and
open to the gospel, and for God to meet the needs of the Christians
so they will not only be sustained but can share his good news.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO:

* pour out his Spirit on Durbachari Bhatiapara and Laksmirdanga
(north-west Bangladesh), softening hearts (Ezekiel 36:26,27),
turning hearts from anger and suspicion to peace (Proverbs
21:1), and opening hearts to receive the gospel (Acts 16:14,15).

'And they will do these things [persecute you] because they have
not known the Father, nor me.' (Jesus - John 16:3)

* protect, strengthen and bless all the Church in Bangladesh, at
present particularly the believers in Durbachari Bhatiapara and
Laksmirdanga; may he supply all their spiritual and earthly
needs, especially education for their children.

* profoundly affect by his special blessing all those locals who
are advocating for and protecting the Christian community.

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SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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GRASS ROOTS HOSTILITY IN BANGLADESH, BUT A HOPEFUL RESPONSE

Muslims in neighbouring villages in north-west Bangladesh recently
reacted violently to the baptism of 42 new Christian converts from
Islam. On 26 June Muslims attacked, bound and beat ten Christians
so severely several were hospitalised. The next day they gave the
Christians 24 hours to pack up and leave or their homes would be
torched. After getting no action from the police, local human
rights advocates appealed to a retired government official. He used
his contacts to get an investigation launched and security
restored. Police are now stationed in the area and a senior
constable met with Muslims and Christians to promote religious
tolerance and liberty. Grass roots Muslim hostility remains so we
ask God to protect his children, bless his servants, and soften and
open Muslim hearts to his wonderful gospel.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.