Bangladesh Villagers Beat Christian for Defending Girls

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Muslim villagers beat a
22-year-old Christian man last month for defending Christian girls
against routine harassment and bullying, sources said.

Mondol was beaten on April 20 while returning to his native village of
Nittanandapur from Gangni, Meherpur district, some 200 kilometers (120
miles) west of the capital city of Dhaka, his father said. On April 15,
at a cultural event to celebrate the Bengali New Year, Poresh Mondol
said his son had defended Christian girls against the slurs of a group
of young Muslim men in an exchange that led to a gang fight.

were making some suggestive remarks to our girls at the program,”
Mondol said. “Some Christian boys, including my son, protested against
it. A brawl between Muslim boys and the Christian boys followed the
protest. They tried to drag my son to their village by getting hold of
his shirt collar.”

The Mondol family informed the young
Muslim men’s parents, and village elders assured the Christians that
they would resolve the long-standing problem, telling them that such
harassment would not happen again, he said.

“After the
complaint, though, those Muslim boys became more predatory,” he said.
“They beat my son on his way home from Gangni town on the evening of
April 20. He was severely beaten. He was treated in the hospital for one
day and released on April 21.”

The father of the young man
told Compass that Christians were regularly shocked by the coarse
language of their young Muslim neighbors at religious and cultural

“To tease our girls, they use such filthy words
in their speech that it leaves us feeling absolutely shattered,” the
elder Mondol said. “We suffer shame in front of our family members.”

case was filed against seven young Muslim men at nearby Titla village,
asserting that they constantly harass Christian girls at Christian

Lok Mondol, general secretary of the Church of
Bangladesh in Meherpur district, told Compass that harassment of
Christian girls at social and religious gatherings was a perennial

“Previously we took several initiatives with the
neighboring Muslim villagers to resolve this problem, but to no avail,”
he said. “This time, we resorted to the law by filing a case, because
the problem was becoming more unbearable each day; we got our backs
against the wall.”

Mikha Mollick, a Christian belonging to a
local Church of Bangladesh congregation, told Compass that continuous
bullying of the Christian girls was an effort to gradually weaken
Christians’ social standing.

“Sometimes we are made to
think we are not part of this society because of their misbehavior,”
Mollick said. “We live in a predominantly Muslim society here that is
totally bankrupt of respect for Christians. We have nowhere to complain
against them. Local political leaders care for us only for votes, but
they do not like us at heart.”

The indecency of the Muslim
villagers, mainly the young men, is a constant source of irritation, but
usually Christians refrain from objecting or filing complaints in order
to avoid further troubles, Mollick said.

Gangni Police
Inspector Motiur Rahman told Compass that authorities were taking “the
proper steps” in response to the Christians’ complaint but had so far
arrested only one of the seven Muslim suspects – for harassing the
girls, not for the assault.

“A case was filed against
seven Muslim boys for bullying the Christian girls, mainly at the
religious gatherings,” he said. “But this case was filed following a
beating of a Christian boy for his protest against bullying by Muslim
boys of Christian girls at a cultural program. Both the Christian boys
and Muslim boys quarrelled with each other on that day.”

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