A Christian leader expressed alarm this week at the arrest of two extremists in Bangladesh. The militants were tracking Christian converts from Islam to kill them.
“I am afraid, not for myself but for my children,” the leader wrote, “If I would be killed by Islamic militants, what would happen to them?”
The arrests took place days after Christian Freedom International hosted a Bible seminar for Christian leaders and teachers. Around 100 people — nearly all converts — spent 3 days asking questions and learning more deeply about the Bible.
An elite anti-terrorism squad of the Bangladesh police captured the two militants, along with machetes and extremist literature. One, an expert in bomb-making, confessed he was planning to murder Muslims who converted to Christianity, reported the Dhaka Tribune.
He “had targeted a man to murder. He has been following that man regularly,” an official said. The terrorist drove a rickshaw — given to him by the militant group — to spy on Christian converts from Islam.
The police are looking for more accomplices.
The extremists are members of a banned group that has committed a series of coordinated attacks. It took responsibility for over 400 simultaneous bombs blasts in 300 locations in one day in 2005. After the government executed the top leaders, members formed another group that continued the violent attacks, including a 12-hour siege on a café popular with foreigners, killing 20 hostages, most with sharp weapons.
Despite persecution, Christianity is growing in Bangladesh. Converts from Islam, Hindu, and tribal or ethnic-background face the greatest threat of persecution. They are rejected by their families, their land seized by neighbors, and restricted from expressing or exercising their beliefs by local religious and government officials .
Christians make up 1% of the population, and Muslims 90% in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, Christian Freedom International supports pastors with house churches in rural areas, Sunday School classes for children, and a Center for Blind and Disabled in Dhaka.