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Christians demand justice after attack on Bangladeshi church

Bangladesh, Emmanuel Church, Lalmonirhat

Christian leaders have expressed frustration and demanded justice after a church in northern Bangladesh was allegedly vandalized and looted by Muslims.

On Feb. 10, four Muslims who came by motorbike attacked the Emmanuel Church of Bangladesh at Aditmari in Lalmonirhat district, according to a complaint submitted to the district police chief on Feb. 14.

The attackers destroyed the church signboard, cut down trees, entered the church after breaking the lock and left with 30 chairs and two floor mats worth 14,000 taka (US$167), the letter said.

The plaintiff, Pastor Lovlu S. Levy, said he lodged a complaint with the local police station but the police did not take action to investigate and arrest the culprits. Instead, under the influence of local Muslim leaders, the church has been accused of conversion.

Pastor Levy said the violence was caused by incitement against Christians by a locally organized waz mahfil (Islamic gathering) where hate speeches were delivered.

He said it was not the first time he and the church had come under attack and threats. He added that the church has 46 members and all are living in fear since the violence.

Police described the incident as a land dispute and denied the presence of any church.

The Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA) dismissed the police refusal to acknowledge the church.

“We know the church and the pastor well. Last year we provided blankets and some money for the church members before Christmas celebrations,” told BCA president Nirmol Rozario.

“The incident is a result of the predominance of Islamic fundamentalists who want to intimidate Christians. The government must take proper action to stop such violence.” 

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