Bangladesh (MNN) — What began as peaceful protests is spiraling out of control in Bangladesh.
One person was killed in the latest clash between police and Jama’at-e-Islami activists, bringing the total number of protest-related deaths to 98. Another 15 people were injured after police fired live rounds into a crowd of 500 protestors.
Reports say officials only opened fire after protestors lobbed home-made bombs at them. Violence has been ramping up in Bangladesh since early February.
Sarla, Overseas Director of South Asia for Christian Aid Mission, explains, “This is really a fight between the very radical Islamist groups with some liberal political parties.”
Unrest grew after Bangladesh’s war tribunal handed a leader of the country’s majority Islamist party, Jama’at-e-Islami, a life sentence in prison for his participation in 1971 war crimes.
The March 25, 1971 attack against Dhaka University is one example of such war crimes. Pakistani soldiers, intent on suppressing the “opposition,” began a killing spree on campus. Hundreds of students were killed, and squads then moved into the streets, slaughtering thousands more.
Thus began the bloody murder of untold thousands as Bangladeshis divorced Pakistan.
In the fight for freedom, lines were drawn between Islamist militia who opposed Bangladesh breaking away from Pakistan, and groups like Awami who favored independence. Current conflict is driving those divides even deeper.
Now, Muslims are now calling for anti-blasphemy laws.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to happen any time soon, but having said that, there is a lot of pressure from the more radical Islamist nations to turn Bangladesh into a radical country,” says Sarla.
Though fighting hasn’t interfered with ministry yet, “It does indirectly affect our ministries because of the transportation; there’s been power outages, there’s been power cut-offs,” states Sarla.
Christian Aid sends support to Bangladeshi missionaries to provide for evangelistic outreaches, Bibles work projects, and education and housing for kids at the mission center. Children are a big focus of Christian Aid-supported missionaries, and 25 kids are currently receiving the Gospel, a safe place to stay, and education.
Meanwhile, if the proposed anti-blasphemy law is passed, it might get harder to share the Gospel. Pray for peace to be restored quickly.
“Pray that these people have wisdom; pray that these people will have courage,” Sarla requests. “Pray that these people have enough resources.”