Death threats issued to pastors in Bangladesh
The persecution of Christians, Hindus, and even random attacks on foreigners have all dramatically increased in Bangladesh this past year, instigated by Islamic extremists.
One newspaper reported that over 20 pastors have recently received death threats via text messages and letters. Here is a sampling of SMS death threats from several different sources:
- "Eat whatever you like the most. Only five days of your life are left. Not more than that." A follow up text sent the next day read, "One day has gone by. Let us know if we have to arrange your burial as well. Or...will your family take care of your body?"
- "You, the Christian leaders, will have to bid goodbye to this world very soon."
- "We are going to finish off all, one by one, who are spreading Christianity in Bangladesh."
According to Barnabas Fund, these threats have been sent by Islamic extremists.
"Those sending the threats claim they are part of Islamist groups Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Islamic State. Their agenda is clear: "This country will be ruled only by the (Islamic) Sharia law," read the letter sent to [one pastor]. Although Bangladesh is a secular country and its legal system makes it one of the most tolerant Muslim-majority countries in the world, there are Islamist groups lobbying for the Islamisation of the country. The situation has become increasingly volatile in recent months, and Bangladeshi Christians, who make up just 1% of a population that is 90% Muslim, are vulnerable targets."
Mission Network News reported that the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning: "...three attacks since September [that were] claimed by Islamic State.... Anyone traveling to Bangladesh [needs] to exercise more caution than normal."
These have not been idle threats. Christian leaders and others have been beaten, shot, and attacked with knives. Victims reported incidents during in-country travel, while at church, even in their own homes.
But these courageous men and women continue to persevere—in part because Bangladeshi Christians consider a certain level of persecution to be a normal part of being a Christ-follower. Even so, fears are rising, bringing a deeper sense of insecurity among Christians.
The Daily Star quoted a pastor near Dhaka: "I always remain afraid that somebody is following me to kill."
Another Christian leader summarized: "Due to the ISIS crisis, Christians here are now really in panic and in anxiety. Please uphold us in prayers for our protection."
The Call to Prayer
Here is a message from a friend of ours in Bangladesh:
"Greetings from Bangladesh! I am thankful to you for your concern towards Bangladesh. The day before yesterday, relatives of our office lady staff were attacked by the fundamental group; they shot three of them. All of them are now admitted to the hospital. One person took a bullet in the side the stomach and another person might lose his hand. The third person is seriously injured. Please pray for us."
Thank you for standing with and continuing to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ across Asia.
This phenomenon is occurring not only in Bangladesh, but also in many places across Asia. The dramatic increase in the interest in Christ and the growth in the Church in places is a contributing factor, matched by a corresponding increase in extremist fundamentalist violence and persecution. Asian Access board member David Bennett has pointed out these two things are happening in tandem, as has been the case in past Christian history.
Let us persevere in prayer.
- Sponsor a Persecuted Pastor:http://www.asianaccess.org/persecutedpastor
- Photo credits: Bangladeshi flag graphic courtesy FMI; ISIS photo courtesy Wikipedia; screenshot courtesy Mission Network News.
- Source articles:
- Islamist groups send death threats to Bangladeshi Christian workers (Barnabas Fund) — December 3, 2015
- Bangladeshi Christians cautious amid terror strike (Mission Network News) — December 11, 2015
- A dozen priests get death threat (Daily Star) — November 20, 2015
- UPDATE: On December 17, 2015 Reuters published a story that Bangladesh joins a new Saudi-led Islamic alliance to fight terrorism: Saudi Arabia announces 34-state Islamic military alliance against terrorism: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-security-idUSKBN0TX2PG20151215