Christian converts targeted by Islamic extremists in Bangladesh

March 12, 2021 by Christopher Summers in Persecution updates

In northern Bangladesh, Open Doors partners say a group of extremist Muslims have been going door to door, trying to force Christian converts to return to Islam.

 

It’s just another example of the extreme persecution Christians in places like Bangladesh can suffer. For Christians who have converted from Islam in Bangladesh (No. 31 on the 2021 World Watch List) the danger is even greater.

In this latest situation, a group of Maulana (Muslim religious leaders and scholars), in cooperation with local political and religious leaders, have been going from house to house, forcing them to renounce their faith in Jesus and return to Islam. “[The extremist group has] sent a message to all the local mosques and local leaders saying that it is their responsibility to let the Christians renounce their faith and go back to Islam,” Brother Abraham*, an Open Doors local partner shares. “They’ve also listed names and addresses of the Christians. And now, regularly, two times a day, they visit the believers’ homes and [try to] force them to renounce their faith in Jesus. When they refuse to renounce, they are threatened with violence. Because of fear of persecution and torture, around eight families have already renounced their faith in Jesus.”

Sadly, a former convert who has now denied his faith in Jesus and returned to Islam is helping the group identify the other converts to Christianity. “He was a pastor and evangelist of a church who led many people to Christ,” Abraham shares. “He has testified to that group about how Christians evangelize and convert people to Christianity. His testimony contains lots of false and negative statements about Christians, which then gives Muslims a very negative impression of Christians.”

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The believers have informed the local police about the issues, but no action has been taken yet. “When they informed the police, they were instead harassed and insulted,” Abraham says. “The police said ‘You should be shot to death! Why did you convert to Christianity and leave Islam?’ These believers really need your prayers.”

Since the group of extremists visits the Christian converts house to house, records their activities, and uploads these on social media, these believers live in fear. Brother Abraham also mentions that the Maulana’s actions are being supported by the Muslim community. “For such great religious work, they are being encouraged and supported by Muslims from all over the country.”

‘I don’t know what to do’

Many members of the Christian families have now gone into hiding because they are targeted and are pressured to deny Jesus. Additionally, they face social boycotts and intense pressure from the majority Muslim population of their area. “Now, the Christians cannot go to the marketplace, cannot buy and sell things, and cannot go to work,” Abraham says. “The Christians are not allowed to enter the market. The Maulana have been going from market to market, shop to shop, telling the Muslims not to sell things to the Christians.”

Anand*, one of the believers pressured to renounce his faith, shares his situation: “I have a shop at the local market, which is my only source of income. I am threatened by the Muslims to not go to my shop. I cannot go to my shop for weeks. I don’t know if my things are still in the shop or not, and I am suffering a food crisis. I am the only believer in my family, and my family members are pressuring me to renounce from my faith in Jesus. I don’t know what to do.”

Anand also says he and the other Christians have been given a deadline to deny Jesus. “We are given a time to renounce,” he explains. “If we do not renounce within a certain number of days, then they will take serious action against us. The local political leader has threatened us that if we do not renounce, then they will create an issue to attack us and kill us.”

According to leaders in the area, the Maulana might not stop with one group of Christian converts; they might also start visiting homes of MBBs in other places.

How you can pray

Open Doors partners have been able to help women like these with aid during the several crises that have hit Bangladesh over the last 18 months.

Open Doors partners in Bangladesh are praying and looking into how we can help the believers in this situation. As of now, there are around 132 Christian families who have chosen not to renounce their faith in Jesus and are being persecuted. Among them are 81 families who are going through a food shortage, as the men in their family are in hiding, and therefore could not continue with their work despite being the primary providers for their families.

“This morning we got the news that another 25 families have been added to the list [targeted by the radicals],” Abraham said on March 10. “Islamic leaders took Bibles and other books from two house churches and threatened those believers. Presently, all the men from every family are hiding themselves in different places but family members have a lack food.

“But praise the Lord, we have already distributed food items for 57 families, and another 24 families will collect their food items very early in the morning tomorrow.”

Prayer requests from Open Doors partners in Bangladesh:

  1. Pray for the families who are suffering, because they do not want to renounce their faith in Jesus. Pray for their protection and Our partners say: “We cannot protect them. The state’s law cannot protect them. Pray for God’s protection. Only He can protect them.”
  2. Pray for the former pastor and families who have already renounced their faith for the fear of persecution and affliction. Pray that God would speak to them and make them realize their wrongdoing.
  3. Pray for God to open the hearts of the Maulana group who are persecuting the Christians. Pray God would open their hearts and help them know the truth and love of Christ so that they will become a part God’s kingdom.
  4. Pray for the local political and religious leaders, that they will help Christians live in safety, in a community where they can practice their faith freely.

*Name changed to protect identity and security

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