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Bangladesh

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Barnabas Fund provides food parcels for needy Christians in Bangladesh

Believers in Bangladesh have been afforded greater religious freedom than their Christian brothers and sisters in most other Muslim-majority contexts. But last year an intensifying Islamist campaign began to threaten the position of the country’s Christians.

Violent protests by Islamists erupted in February 2013 following trials of Islamist leaders relating to war crimes connected with the 1971 War of Independence. The protestors demanded that Bangladesh become an Islamic state, and massive rallies were staged calling for the introduction of “blasphemy laws”. Similar legislation in Pakistan causes much suffering amongst the Christian community.

Anti-Christian violence by Islamists emboldened by the protests followed; Christian homes were torched and churches threatened. On 6 June, a mob of around 60 Islamic extremists raided a predominantly Christian village before moving on to a nearby seminary, where they battered down the doors and severely beat the rector and a number of students.

Although the secular government continued to affirm the country’s secular character and commitment to religious freedom, Islamists also made significant political gains in 2013. Mayoral elections in five cities were won by the opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), with support from Islamists. The BNP was expected to go on to win the general election of 5 January 2014, but they boycotted the poll, resulting in a hollow landslide victory for the sitting Awami League. Voting was marred by controversy and violence; a Christian man was killed, his village having previously been torched by Islamists to punish Christians for taking part in the election.  

Christians have a low social status in Bangladesh, where they make up just 1% of a population that is 90% Muslim, and so they are easy targets for attack by Islamic extremists. Several (including some evangelists) have been martyred in recent years. They wield little political power, and police can sometimes be slow to assist them. They may also experience discrimination in education and employment, and as a result, many Christian families are very poor.

 

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    • Praise God that local police in the village of Tehsil Summodri, Faisalabad District, Pakistan acted to withdraw false allegations of blasphemy against 31 Christians and 23 other villagers. The allegations under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (which carries a mandatory death sentence) were made on 2 September when Christians were ploughing a piece of land given to them for free by its Muslim owner to extend the local Christian cemetery. A group of Muslims accused them of desecrating Muslim graves. The police investigation revealed that the land had been a Muslim cemetery many years earlier but the graves had been moved elsewhere. They changed the charges to the lesser ones under Section 297 (which carries a maximum prison sentence of one year or a fine). It is very unusual for the Pakistani police to defend the rights of Christians in this way. Pray that others will follow their example. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 13 hours ago

    • School text-books in Turkey are still teaching that the Armenians and most other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire a century ago were agents of enemy foreign powers such as Britain and Russia. This, the books say, was the reason for what they call the “necessary deportation” of the Christians. Turkey still does not accept blame for the deaths of at least 1.5 million Armenian and Assyrian Christians, many massacred or dying of deprivation as they were force-marched out of their homeland. Next year, 2015, is the 100th anniversary of the worst year of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide. Please pray that the innocent suffering of these faithful believers will be recognised by every country and that the world will resolve never to let such a genocide happen again. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Pray for 27 Christians, believed to be from various Asian countries, who were detained overnight by the Saudi authorities on 5 September for worshipping at a private home in Khafji. The home had been under surveillance since a neighbour had reported suspicious activities there. Pray that the Lord will protect His people in Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal to practise a non-Islamic religion in public but supposedly permissible to do so in private. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Wao, a predominantly Christian town on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, is protesting against its inclusion in the new semi-independent Islamic region of Bangsamoro. Wao’s mayor, Elvino Balicao, is seeking exemption from the Bangsamoro government and its Islamic law and has asked that the town remain under the central government. He said that the town is 83% Christian and that local churches support exemption from Bangsamoro. Wao is in the centre of the Muslim-majority province of Lanao del Sur. Pray that the Lord will protect His people and that Wao will gain exemption from the Bangsamoro government. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Our Father in Heaven, we lift up our brothers and sisters serving sentences in labour camps in North Korea, whether foreigners like Kenneth Bae from the USA, or the far greater number of North Korean believers whose names we do not know but You do. Please pour out Your grace into their lives as they suffer hunger, exhaustion, pain and imprisonment for the sake of Christ. May they continue steadfast in their faith, loving their enemies and praying for their persecutors. May their Christ-like lives draw other North Koreans to You. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Nov 2014 00:00

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