Biplob Marandi, a 25-year-old tribal Christian was sentenced on Feb 28 to one year in prison for “creating chaos” by selling and distributing Christian books and other literature at a religious gathering near Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka. The Rev. Sailence Marandi, pastor at Church of Nazarene International and older brother of Biplob Marandi, told Compass that there was no altercation between his brother and area Muslims.” Likewise, the court verdict makes no mention of any confrontation. “In the verdict copy it is written that my brother admitted his offense in the court,” Pastor Marandi said. “I suspect that his confession statement might have been taken under duress.”
Every year several million male Muslims – women are not allowed – attend the large event to pray and listen to Islamic scholars from around the world. Some 9,000 foreigners from 108 countries reportedly attended but most of the worshippers are rural Bangladeshis. Pastor Marandi said his brother was selling Christian books on a street near the event to supplement his livelihood as an evangelist. He added that he was surprised that Marandi was convicted and sentenced so quickly. “My brother did not get the chance for self-defense in court,” he said. “Without opportunity for self-defense, sentencing him for one year for evangelical activities was a travesty of justice. It cannot be accepted in a democratic country.”
The family has since hired a Christian attorney who told Compass that he filed an appeal on Mar 21 as Marandi’s religious activities were protected by the religious freedom provisions of the country’s constitution. “I appealed to the court for his bail and also appealed for his release from the one-year punishment,” said Gomes, the family attorney. “I hope that the honorable court will consider his case, because he is an innocent man and a victim of circumstances.”
Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest Muslim-majority nation, with Muslims making up 89 percent of its population of 164.4 million, according to Operation World. Christians are less than 1 percent of the total, and Hindus 9 percent.
Father God, keep Marandi strong while in prison, knowing that his perseverance is not in vain. Give him hope that his appeal will result in his release…but until then may he be just like the apostle Paul and fearlessly share the Gospel with cellmates and prison guards. Shelter him under Your wings and richly provide for all of his needs at this time. Amen
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