Hundreds of Islamist Extremists Mob a Christian School
Hundreds of extremist attacked a Christian school in Bangladesh, one that welcomes children of all faiths, in response to outrage among locals over false rumors claiming the school was forcing Muslim children to convert to Christianity.
On the morning of November 5, an Islamist mob nearly 200 strong attacked the South Korean funded Steve Kim Mission School located in Konabari town. No students were physically injured, but 12 of the 14 staff members were beaten. Sumitra Kunda, a 25 year old female teacher, sustained a serious head injury. Another teacher, John Prokash Sarker, managed to run away from six madrasa students, armed with knives and machetes, after being forced out of his classroom.
The attack appeared to have arisen from several local madrasas (Arabic schools), some with links to militant Islam. The mob’s “most wanted” was Michael Robin Mondol, who is in charge of both the mission school and church. They were shouting his name, but the staff managed to hide him.
The attackers vandalized classrooms, destroyed the bakery and stole several items including computers and projectors. They also torched the library and burned Bibles, hymnals and chairs. Before leaving, they cut the electricity lines to the school and destroyed a generator.
Mondol told World Watch Monitor that during the approximately one and half hours that the vandalism lasted, “A wave of panic swept through the school and traumatized everyone. Many students became sick in the following days.”
“Some madrasa teachers wanted us to stop our education program, but we are helping the poor children. We teach the students what other schools teach in the area, except madrasas. We do not teach them Christian religion in the classes,” said Mondol.
The recently opened Steve Kim Mission School is situated in Gazipur district, a sprawling industrial area of garment factories, around 30 miles north of the capital city Dhaka. Since its opening on April 1 of this year, the school has enrolled around 200 Muslim students. The staff provides mainstream education from the first to fourth grade. One of the school’s ambitions has been to provide for local impoverished children, whose parents are mostly garment factory workers, by offering free education, school uniforms, books, pencils and meals.
Teachers of two local madrasas sparked the violent uprising by going door to door, stating that the school was converting the impoverished Muslim students to Christianity. They distributed leaflets stating that those who allowed their children to study at Steve Kim Mission School are not good citizens, and condemned them to eternal damnation.
Gazipur district administrative chief, Deputy Commissioner Nurul Islam confirmed to World Watch Monitor that the allegation of converting the Muslim students to Christianity in the school was false and senseless.
Mondol told World Watch Monitor that some of the rumors included claims that members of the school “putting the Quran, Islam’s holy book, under the children’s feet”, and that all of the “food we provided has pork in it.”
“Many guardians of the students asked several times if we are converting them to Christianity,” he said, and madrasas threatened the parents of the Muslim students to remove their children from our school.”
According to Asia News, despite 90% of students coming from other religious backgrounds, Christian schools and colleges are considered the best option in Bangladesh. The Catholic Church has about 600 institutions (from primary school to high school), 10 colleges and a university.
Source: World Watch Monitor
Father, thank You for the compassionate work of the Steve Kim Mission School in helping the many poor children in their community who might not otherwise have access to education. We pray that the light of Christ will continue to shine through them as they live out the gospel through acts of mercy and godly integrity. Protect them, Father, from further attack. Aid the local authorities in controlling future violence and in dispelling the rumors. While Satan would use these rumors and this violence to destroy Your church there, we pray with confidence that You will use it to cause Your church to grow and flourish in order for the name of Jesus to be lifted high. It is in His mighty name we pray, Amen.