At a seminar for Interreligious Dialogue, organized by the Commission for Dialogue and Ecumenism at St. Michael’s Church, Chalna parish of Bangladesh and attended by representatives from three different religions, an Islamic leader promised protection to Christians and Hindus.
“I invite everyone to consult me at all times, if they hear news of persecution against Christians and Hindus. I will go on the site and will stop it”, said Alhaj Nazrul Islam Molla, Chairman of the Ulama League Dakop, sub-district of Khulna (south-western Bangladesh). The Islamic leader spoke at the workshop which brought together 65 representatives: Catholics, Hindus and Muslims, all engaged in the creation of a society of peace and harmony.
Inaugurating the event the bishop, Msgr. James Romen Boiragi, explained the reasons for such an initiative. “We want to promote the understanding between members of different religious groups- he said – we all need to know each other in depth. “This is because”, he stressed, “the lack of mutual understanding brings misunderstanding and conflict between the various faiths.”
According to Msgr. Boiragi, often “political leaders are working only for their own benefit, and not to build peace. If the religious leaders work together, they could achieve peace in the easiest way through discussions and proposals “.
For his part, Alhaj Molla Nazrul Islam said that “Islam is a religion of peace. Our Prophet Muhammad has suffered much in his lifetime to establish peace. We must do the same.” Then the Muslim leader, who is very influential in his community, invited everyone to report episodes of violence or discrimination committed against minorities. “If you see that someone is trying to create problems in your groups in the name of Islam, inform me. I will address the problem and help you to solve it.”
The Hindu leader Madon Mohon Roy said that the Hindu tradition maintains peace: “The god Krishna came to earth to establish peace. Respect for the religion of others is the only way to create a peaceful world “.
Fr. Pietanza Dominico Mimmo, director of the Center for Interreligious Dialogue of Khulna and one of the organizers, believes that “these kind of seminars bring very positive results, with friendly relations between the members of various faiths.”
“Given that we Christians are a minority – he said – we should organize more similar opportunities to reduce religious fanaticism in Bangladesh”.
In Bangladesh, Christians are about 0.6% of a total of over 160 million inhabitants. Among Christians, the largest community is Roman Catholic, with almost 600 thousand faithful.