• Thursday, Dec 09, 2021
  • Last Update : 07:38 pm

Christians in Bangladesh living peacefully, community leader says

  • Published at 12:09 am December 28th, 2019
Christians attend morning mass at St Mary’s Cathedral Church in Kakrail Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The 450,000-strong Christian community faces no obstacle in performing their religious activities, says Bishop Gomes

Christians in Bangladesh, who celebrated Christmas on Wednesday in a befitting manner, are leading a normal life without any discrimination and threat from the government as well as the people from other major religions, according to members of the community and a top bishop.

They also said Christians in the country can perform their religious activities without any obstacles, barring few rare insignificant incidents.

While the Christians are not discriminated against due to their religion, there are some Muslims and Hindus, the two major religious groups in the country, who “see them differently,” some of the Christians said.

They also clarified that this attitude cannot be attributed to any malice; it is rather due to the lack of education and knowledge about the religion with the largest following in the world.

Shorot Francis Gomes, the auxiliary bishop of Dhaka, told Dhaka Tribune unequivocally that his community, involving about 450,000 people, receives the necessary cooperation from the individuals of other major religions as well as the government, whenever needed.

Unfortunately, the Hindu and Buddhist citizens face some problems on a very few occasions, but any intimidation or harassment on the Christian community is extremely rare, said a senior Ministry of Home Affairs official.  

“I do not get discriminated by the people or the government for being a Christian. Yes, sometimes, I find myself a bit different among people for being a Christian. And, this is the way of life,” Jacob Sarker, who works for an international NGO, told this correspondent.

“But I can tell you, we never face any state-patronized discrimination or oppression. The same applies to my family too,” said the father of two.

“No, I do not face any problem because of my religion... Neither from the government nor from people of other religions,” said Joseph Surjamoni Tripura, an official at the Bangladesh chapter of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Quite a few Christians echoed the same sentiment while talking to Dhaka Tribune, expressing happiness for being able to live peacefully and practising their religion without any fear.

Some of them, however, observed that the level of respect Christians used to command earlier from others has gone down.   

“Any untoward incident involving people of our community is very rare. Our people are able to live peacefully and practise their religion without any trouble,” said Bishop Gomes.

Referring to Christmas celebrated on Wednesday, he said: “I have not heard of any problem faced by our people in celebrating the most important day of Christianity.”

Gomes expressed satisfaction over the cooperation his community receives from the people of other major religions and the government. “On many occasions, we have gotten more than we wanted,” he added. 

About the lack of respect among people for the Christians, he said: “Yes, it is true to a significant extent. We have probably deviated from the morals and values that Christianity teaches us.”

Placing great emphasis on inter-faith harmony for the betterment of the country, the religious leader dismissed the allegation of converting people into Christianity against their will.

“It is not true at all. If you look at the number of Christians in Bangladesh, you will see it has not increased abnormally over the last decade,” he said. “I cannot provide you with the exact number right now.

“Only those who really want to be Christians are converted. This is applicable to all religions. For example, many convert to Islam after being influenced by its morals and values,” he said.

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