Bangladesh: Christian killed, others attacked. Pak blasphemy law challenged

January 21, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Christian killed, others attacked by Islamists in Bangladesh

Elections for the Bangladeshi parliament took place on 5 January

Elections for the Bangladeshi parliament took place on 5 January

Bangladesh, January 15, 2014: A young Christian man was murdered and other Christians were attacked by Islamists in Bangladesh in violence related to the country’s general election.

Ovidio Marandy was killed on Saturday (11 January) in Gobindoganj, Gaibandha district. Islamists had previously torched his village to punish the Christian residents who had voted in the parliamentary elections, which were marred by controversy and violence, on 5 January.

After the fire, Ovidio organised a protest against Islamist violence; his family believe that this is why he was murdered.

Proshanto Gomes, a local church leader, told Asia News:

Ovidio was very brave, and was famous in his community. We are shocked by what happened. Christians have the right to vote. Why are Islamists attacking us?

Christians in the districts of Jamalpur and Sherpur were also attacked for taking part in the election.

The brother of a bishop was among the eight injured in Jamalpur; the victims were beaten and their houses vandalised. The assailants threatened to return, burn what was left of their property and seize their land.

Many Christians and others belonging to minority groups in Bangladesh did not vote because of threats from Islamist extremists.

The elections were boycotted by the country’s main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, (BNP) as well as other smaller parties. Prior to the poll, the BNP launched aggressive strikes, blocking roads, railways and waterways to cause disruption. At least 200 polling booths were torched, and on voting day, at least 26 people were killed.

The BNP boycotted the poll because it wanted a non-party caretaker government to oversee elections; this was a constitutional requirement until 2011, when the governing Awami League (AL) removed it.

The absence of the opposition in the general election gave AL a hollow landslide victory. The turnout was only around 20%.

Bangladesh has been rocked by political tensions for almost a year; Christians and other minorities have been targeted in associated violence.

Islamists, backed by the BNP, launched a violent uprising in February over war crimes trials of leading Islamists for their part in the country’s 1971 War of Independence. A number have been sentenced to death, each verdict triggering further unrest. The secular AL government has cracked down hard on protestors, escalating tensions further. Over 500 people were killed in political violence in 2013.

The clashes have resulted in the country becoming more and more polarised along Islamist and secularist lines. Islamists have become increasingly emboldened; they have been calling for Bangladesh, which is 90% Muslim, to become an Islamic state and for an anti-blasphemy law that carries a death sentence for those who insult Islam or Muhammad.

The BNP was expected to win the general election after routing the AL with Islamist support in mayoral elections in the summer.

– barnabas team

Blasphemy law in Pakistan Challenged

FSCPakistan, January 18, 2013: A five-judge larger bench, headed by Justice Fida Hussain, heard a contempt of court petition on Wednesday December 04, 2013 , filed by Advocate Hashmat Habib.

The following is being considered

  • Should blasphemy law,295 B and C of PPC applicable on Christians and other Non-Muhammadan?
  • Is the only death penality for 295 C of PPC is the right verdict of the FSC.
  • Are Pakistani Christians enjoying equal rights under these laws?
  • Are you agree with LEAD to file petition against this verdict of the FSC?
  • Would you agree that first should be defined what is blasphemy regarding 295 C of PPC.

Issuing its verdict, the court noted that in its ruling of 1990, the FSC had clarified that the mention of life imprisonment with death sentence should be removed from the blasphemy law under section 295 C PPC.

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