Non-Muslim Minorities in Bangladesh: Victim of Bloody Religious Persecution

At last the Department of State of the Government of USA has admitted through a circular issued on September 14, 2007, that the religious minorities, e.g. the Christians, Buddhists and the Hindus, are being persecuted brutally in Bangladesh by the Muslims. According to a press report appeared in the 17th September edition of the Kolkata based Bengali daily Bartaman, the circular says that the entire non-Muslim population, belonging to religious communities of Hinduism, Buddhism etc are victims of violent religious discrimination and torture by the Muslims, the majority religious group. The circular also says that, though Dhaka speaks of religious tolerance and freedom of religion, the attack on religious minorities has recently assumed a extremely savage and fierce. These unfortunate people are targeted for all kinds brutal and barbaric atrocities.

The report says that, as a result of this inhuman religious discrimination, minorities are losing their lives and properties. After the formation of independent Bangladesh in 1971, the Government grabbed Hindu land with the help of the so called “Vested Property Act”. Though the said black Act was repealed later on, the minorities did not get back their land snatched away by the Government. By a verdict in 2001, the Bangladeshi Supreme Court had directed the government to return the land, grabbed with the help of the said black Act, to the real owner. In spite of that, few Hindus could get back their land. According to a Professor of the University of Dhaka, nearly 2 million Hindu families have, so far, lost about 40,000 acres of agricultural fertile land. Many are convinced that this is only a tiny tip of an iceberg. In fact, land grabbing is a enshrined policy of jihad against the kafirs as ordained by Allah in Koran. Prophet Mohammad had taught this lesson in his life time by driving away the Jews of Medina, belonging to the Beni Nazir and Beni Kanuika clan and slaughtering the Jews of Beni Koreiza en-masse and acquiring their land and property.

It is difficult for an ordinary individual to guess the social condition of non-Muslim kafirs in an Islamic State. Koran does not consider these kafirs as human beings. Allah has condemned them as godless beasts and has empowered the Muslims to heap any kind of atrocity and torture on them. Not only that, he is alluring such oppressors of rewards in the Paradise. So, an Islamic court in an Islamic Country does not consider such atrocities even a crime at all. And the reality is that, in such a country, judiciary is heavily influenced by the religion of Islam and cannot play neutral in giving verdicts.

That is why the US circular has said that in Bangladesh, the government and its machineries are heavily influenced by religion and hence they cannot do much to stop all such religious discriminations. Not to speak of Hindus and Buddhists, even the Ahmadiyas, a sect of Islam, have declared non-Muslims and turning victims of similar religious discriminations.

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Arrested for Carrying Bible (Algeria)

An Algerian Christian detained five days for carrying a Bible and personal Bible study books was handed a 300-euro (US$460) fine and a one-year suspended prison sentence last week, an Algerian church leader said.

Last Tuesday (April 29) a court in Djilfa, 150 miles south of Algiers, charged the 33-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity with “printing, storing and distributing” illegal religious material. A written copy of the verdict has yet to be issued.

The Protestant, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told fellow Christians in his home city of Tiaret that police pressured him to return to Islam while in custody.

The conviction is the latest in a wave of detentions and court cases against Algeria’s Protestants and Catholics. Since January police and provincial officials have ordered the closure of up to half of the country’s 50 estimated Protestant congregations.

Officials in several instances have cited a February 2006 law governing the worship of non-Muslims. Clarified by subsequent decrees in 2007, the law restricts most religious meetings to approved places of worship and forbids any attempt to “shake the faith of a Muslim.”

On the morning of April 25, the Tiaret resident and eight-year convert to Christianity was stopped at a police roadblock in the vicinity of Djilfa while riding in a shared taxi. Officials took the convert into custody upon finding a Bible and several religious study books in his luggage.

A Christian from Tiaret told Compass that Djilfa police appeared to have previous knowledge of the Protestant’s Christian connections. Officers refused to let the convert call friends to let them know of his detention, naming a church member in Tiaret whom they claimed he would contact.

“We will call your family for you,” the officials said, according to the Christian source from Tiaret.

According to one Algerian human rights lawyer, police violated the convert’s rights by refusing him the telephone call.

“Any detained person has the right to call his family,” said the lawyer, who requested anonymity.

A leader from the Protestant Church of Algeria, an umbrella association for mainline and evangelical congregations, said that Christians remained unaware of the detainee’s location for several days.

Precarious Position

The Christian source in Tiaret said that Djilfa police verbally attacked the convert because of his faith during his five-day detention at city’s police station.

“They did not hit him, but they tried to convert him back to Islam,” he said.

Under Algerian law, police can detain a suspect up to 48 hours before bringing him before a state prosecutor, the human rights lawyer told Compass.

“It is not legal for them to hold him for five days,” said the lawyer, who clarified that any detention between 24 and 48 hours had to be approved by a state prosecutor.

After five days in Djilfa’s main police station, the Christian was brought before a state prosecutor and then a Djilfa judge. According to the convert, the judge convicted him of “printing, storing and distributing” illegal religious literature, though the charge remains uncertain until a written verdict is issued.

Before releasing him, the judge told the convert he would be given a 300 euro fine and a one-year suspended sentence.

According to the Tiaret Christian, the convert received the “printing” charge because he was traveling with a computer printer in his possession. The convert has yet to receive a written copy of the verdict, though observers said this was common in Algeria, as court verdicts are normally sent by mail following a ruling.

Because the sentence is suspended, the convert will only have to do jail time if convicted of another crime. But the Tiaret Christian said that the verdict constituted an ongoing threat to the Christian.

“A policeman could bring false accusations against him, that he gave one of them a Bible, and he would be thrown in jail,” the friend said.

Christians in Tiaret reported two separate instances in which undercover police officers pretended to be interested in Christianity and then detained Protestants for giving them Bibles.

Charges were thrown out for the first incident in March. In the second case a Tiaret court handed a Christian a two-year suspended sentence and a 100,000-dinar (US$1,540) fine on April 2. The written verdict was delivered on April 9.

At least five Christians from Tiaret have been detained or tried for Christian activities since January 2008.

According to unconfirmed reports, Tiaret police detained six more Christians today.

Christians constitute a tiny minority of Algeria’s population of 33 million. Catholics count several thousand congregants, mostly expatriates, while numbers for Protestants are less certain.

Conservative estimates place the number of Protestants at 10,000, though evangelism via satellite TV has reportedly led to a large number of isolated conversions unaccounted for in church attendance figures.

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