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Posted: Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:08 pm
Muslims in Bangladesh Beat, Deprive Christians of Work
Nov. 02 2010
The Christian Post

LOS ANGELES (Compass Direct News) – Muslim villagers last month beat a
63-year-old Christian convert and his youngest son because they
refused to return to Islam, the father told Compass.

The next day, another Christian in a nearby village was beaten and
robbed in related violence in southwestern Bangladesh.

Aynal Haque, 63, a volunteer for Christian organization Way of Life
Trust, told Compass that his brothers and relatives along with Muslim
villagers beat him and his son, 22-year-old Lal Miah, on Oct. 9 when
they refused to recant Christianity. The family lives at Sadhu Hati
Panta Para village in Jhenaidah district, some 250 kilometers (155
miles) southwest of the capital city, Dhaka. It is in the jurisdiction
of Sadar police station.

Haque’s relatives and villagers said that he had become Christian by
eating pork and by disrespecting the Quran, he said.

“I embraced Christianity by my own will and understanding, but I have
due respect for other religions,” Haque said. “How can I be a
righteous man by disrespecting other religions? Whatever rumors the
villagers are spreading are false.”

At a meeting to which Haque was summoned on Oct. 9, about 500 men and
women from several villages gathered, including local and Maoist party

“They tried to force me and my son to admit that we had eaten pork and
trampled on the Quran to become Christian,” Haque said. “They tried to
force us to be apologetic for our blunder of accepting Christianity
and also tried to compel us to go back to Islam. I told them, ‘While
there is breath left in our bodies, we will not reject Christianity.’

“When we denied their allegation and demand, they beat us severely.
They ordered us not to mix with other Muslim villagers. They confined
us in our house for five days.”

Haque has worked on his neighbors’ land for survival to supplement the
meager income he earns selling seeds in local markets, but the
villagers have now refused to give him work, he said.

“Every day I earn around 50 taka to 100 taka [70 cents to US$1.40]
from the seed business,” he said. “Some days I cannot earn any money.
So, I need to work villagers’ land for extra money to maintain my

His youngest son also worked in neighbors’ fields as a day-laborer,
besides attending school.

“We cannot live if we do not get farming work on other people’s land,”
Haque said.

Haque, his wife and youngest son received Christ three years ago, and
since then they have faced harassment and threats from Muslim
neighbors. His other grown son and two daughters, as well as a son-in-
law, also follow Christ but have yet to be baptized. There are around
25 people in his village who came to Christ under Haque’s influence;
most of them remain low-profile to avoid harassment from the
villagers, he said.

The weekly worship service in Haque’s shanty house has been hampered
as some have been too fearful to attend, and the 25 members of the
church fear the consequences of continuing to meet, Haque said.

Officials of Way of Life Trust tried to visit the area to investigate
the beating of Haque and his son but were unable due to security
risks, said Jatish Biswas, the organization’s executive director. They
informed the district police chief, who instantly sent forces to
provide safety for the Christians, Biswas said.

Villagers thought that if they were able to get Haque to renounce
Christianity, then the other Christians would quickly return to Islam,
according to Biswas.


Hearing of the incident in Sadhu Hati Panta Para the next day (Oct.
10), Muslims in Kola village about five kilometers (nearly three
miles) away beat a Christian friend of Haque’s and robbed his seed

Tokkel Ali, 40, an evangelist in one of the house churches that Way of
Life Trust has established, told Compass that around 20 people arrived
at his shop at about 11 a.m. and told him to go with them to Haque’s

“The presence of so many people, most of whom I did not know, and the
way they were talking, seemed ominous to me, and I refused to go with
them,” Ali said. “I said, ‘If he wants me to go to his house, he could
call me on my mobile.’”

One person in the crowd pointed toward Ali, saying that he was a
Christian and had made otherwise innocent people Christians by them
feeding pork and letting them disrespect the Quran, said Ali. Islam
strictly prohibits eating pork.

“That rumor spread like wildfire among other Muslims,” Ali said. “All
of a sudden, a huge crowd overran me and started beating me, throwing
my seeds here and there.”

Ali said he lost consciousness, and someone took him to a nearby three-
storey house. When he came to, he scrambled back to his shop to find
his seeds scattered, and 24,580 taka (US$342) for buying seed had been
stolen, along with his bicycle.

Accustomed to earning just enough each day to survive, Ali said it
would be impossible for him to recover and rebuild his business. He
had received loans of 20,000 taka (US$278) from Grameen Bank (Nobel
Peach Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus’ micro-finance entity), 15,000
taka (US$209) from the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee and
11,000 taka (US$153) from Way of Life Trust to establish the business.
Ali ran a similar seed business in Dakbangla market in Kola village.

“How can I pay back a weekly installment of 1,150 taka [US$160] to the
micro-credit lending NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations]?” he said.
“I have already become delinquent in paying back some installments
after the looting of my money and shop. I’ve ended up in deep debt,
which has become a noose around my neck.”
Ali said he has not dared filed any charges.

“If I file any case or complain against them, they will kill me, as
this area is very dangerous because of the Maoists,” he said,
referring to a banned group of armed rebels with whom the villagers
have links. “Even the local administration and the law enforcement
agencies are afraid of them.”

Ali has planted 25 house churches under Way of Life Trust serving 144
people in weekly worship. Baptized in 2007, he has been following
Christ for more than 10 years.

“Whenever I go to bazaar, people fling insults at me about that
beating,” he said. “Everyone says that nothing would have happened if
I had not accepted Christianity, an abhorrent religion to them. People
also say that I should hang myself with a rope for renouncing Islam.”

Since the beating, he has become an alien in his own village, he said.

“Whatever insinuation and rumors they spout against me and other
believers, there is no language to squash it,” he said. “I have to
remain tight-lipped, otherwise they will kill me.”

He can no longer cross the land of one of his neighbors in order to
bathe in a nearby river, he said.

“After that incident, my neighbor warned me not to go through his
land,” he said. “Now I take a bath in my home from an old and
dysfunctional tube-well. My neighbors say, ‘Christians are the enemy
of Muslims, so don’t go through my land.’ It seems that I am nobody in
this village.”

Biswas of Way of Life Trust told Compass that Christians in remote
villages lack the freedoms guaranteed in the Bangladeshi constitution
to practice their faith without any interference.

“Where is religious liberty for Haque and Ali?” Biswas said. “Like
them, many Christians in remote villages are in the throes of
persecution, though our constitution enshrined full liberty for
religious minorities.”

Way of Life Trust has aided in the establishment of some 500 house
churches in Bangladesh, which is nearly 90 percent Muslim. Hinduism is
the second largest religion at 9.2 percent of the 153.5 million
people, and Buddhists and Christians make up less than 1 percent of
the population.
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