The persecution of Christians continues in Bangladesh. I wish I could say that when the children trafficked to Islamic training centers (madrassas) were rescued, that the persecution of Christians in that region simply ended. That, however, would simply not be true.
When it was discovered last July that poor Christian children were targeted for trafficking to radical Islamic training centers many joined together to rescue them. “The children were abused and forced to convert to Islam,” said ICC’s partner. “They even changed their Christian names to Muslim ones so when they were searched for they could not be found,” the partner continued. “We believe the children were destined to be used in suicide squads for Jihad.”
Rescuers Accused of Forcibly Converting the Children to Christianity
When the Muslim leaders forcibly converted the Christian children to Islam in the madrassas, they came to believe that the children were now legally Muslims. Since the children have been rescued, they are now free to worship Jesus as Christians-the faith the children identify themselves as being. The madrassa leaders, and other radical Muslims are not happy. They are now accusing the rescuers of forcefully converting the children from Islam to Christianity. The absurdity of it all would be laughable, if the accusations were not so dangerous.
The accusations, another form of persecution of Christians comes in the wake of violence and pressure from the radical Islamic groups, Hefazat-e-Islam who has been protesting in the streets of Dhaka. They have beaten and killed many while demanding a strict blasphemy law-as well as claiming that missionaries are offering money to the poor in order to forcibly convert them to Christianity. Our partner has said to us, “The political situation and the brutal activities of the opposition parties including the Islamic religious extremists groups are getting stronger and stronger.”
In what is being seen by many as lies and propaganda, Nizampuri of Hefazat-e-Islam is using this as fodder for the fight to bring anti-blasphemy laws to Bangladesh. “Most Christian missionaries are converting people by offering money among the poor people to give them a leg-up,” he said. “Once the poor people take money, the missionaries put pressure on them to be converted. That is why we are protesting – to stop missionaries converting [people],” reports World Watch Monitor.
“Christian missionaries are not converting people forcibly,” Rev. Karmoker, who is general secretary of the National Christian Fellowship of Bangladesh, told World Watch Monitor. “It is Hefazat propaganda. Conversion is not an event in which missionaries give money and people are converted.”
“We Are Scared for Our Safety”
Now, those who rescued the children are concerned for their safety saying, “the madrassa leaders came to know about the involvement of Christians in the rescue. They know about our involvement. I am scared and trying to be careful. We are not forcibly converting the children to Christianity,” they told us. In reality, these children were Christians taken advantage of by radical Muslims and if anything, are now free from abuse and hope to practice their Christian religion without fear of reprisal. While we would hope that the persecution of Christians, specifically these children, their caretakers at the safe house and their rescuers, would end that is simply not the case right now.
Let us pray that the government stays strong in rejecting a blasphemy law, and protects both the children targeted for trafficking because of their faith and their rescuers. It is time for propaganda and lies to be silenced and for the children, now free, to heal from their traumatic experiences in the madrassas in peace. Despite the threats, and the ever present threat of continued persecution of Christians, those who care for the children press on ever forward saying, “this is our life and we have to do whatever is possible under this circumstance.”
Please join us in praying for the truth to come to light-that the accusations of angry Muslims would not stick and would do no harm to anyone involved with helping the children. Pray that in the midst of the persecution of Christians those affected would stand strong in their faith, sensing the comforting touch of the Lord. Pray for safety and protection for the children, their rescuers and their caretakers. If you would like to help care for the children, please click HERE to find out how.