A senior pastor, Khaza Somiruddin (aged 75), was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists on 6 January in Jenaidah, Bangladesh. Before his death, Pastor Khaza had reported receiving several threats from Islamic extremists because of his conversion and evangelistic work. Pastor Khaza came to Christ in 2001, started pastoring the One Way Church of Bangladesh in 2014, and throughout his ministry he has ministered to over 250 believers in the area.
Islamic State (IS) later claimed responsibility for the murder.
A Christian burial for Pastor Khaza’s was objected to by the local police and community. Despite the One Way Church testifying that he was a Christian leader, the pastor’s body was still handed to his family who denied his conversion from Islam. The burial was eventually performed in a Muslim ritual.
IS has claimed responsibility for a series of killings of foreigners, death threats and attacks against Christian leaders in Bangladesh in the last few months. However, the government has denied the presence of IS in Bangladesh and instead blames Islamist political opponents or home-grown militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen for the violence.
“We are in fear now as the IS claimed responsibility of Pastor Khaza’s murder. They are observing all of our activities,” said General Secretary of Bangladesh Christian Association Jenaidah, Mr Pikul Mahduri.
Persecution for Bangladeshi Christians has increased in all spheres of life, according to the 2016 Open Doors World Watch List, which ranks the countries in which Christians suffer most severely for their faith. Bangladesh rose from number 43 in the 2015 World Watch List to number 35 in 2016. Persecution is particularly acute for Christian converts, many of whom face danger and discrimination from their communities and from Islamic extremists.
Source: Open Doors
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