Three Bangladesh Protestant pastors were attacked and beaten and an inter-church member meeting was disrupted by local muslim politicians in Bangladesh over a dispute over ownership of a nearby pond, UCA News reported.

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), a leading independent Catholic news source in Asia, said that on Jan. 20, during the annual volunteers’ conference at the St. Mothurnath Assemblies of God (AG) Church in the Bangladesh Gopalganj district, the Christian pastors were assaulted with sticks and were punched. Their tent was also pillaged.

Attack on the Christian pastors

The Christian pastors were out fishing at the pond, which is adjacent to their church when five Muslim men showed up and assaulted them, leaving the pastors injured with bruises and cuts. UCAN reported that the pond ownership dispute has been on-going between the St. Mothurnath Assemblies of God Church and the local Muslim officials from the ruling Muslim Awami League party since 2014.

Pastor Biswas informed UCA News that the church has always been the rightful and legal owner of that property, including the pond, and that they have the legal documents to prove it. He also said that since 2014, local Muslim politicians have been trying to take that property away from them.

He added that they have complained against the assaults in the strongest of terms possible. Although the assaults were reported to the local police, no arrests have been made yet. Moreover, a senior local government official confirmed that the pond was the legal property of the church. Regional Dir. of Campus Crusade for Christ International (CRU) in the U.S., Jipu Barikdar, posted on his Facebook page and confirmed to me that the assailants were indeed Muslim, saying, “Raise your voice for voiceless.

Christians are attacked during a big revival meeting in Bangladesh… we are not safe here anymore.”

Christians facing increased restrictions and persecution

Catholic Priest, Mintu Boiragi of the Catholic Barisal Diocese told UCA News that what happened over the disputed pond and property is not new and has been going on for some time now.

He said that Christians in the south part of Bangladesh have been facing on-going pressure by Muslim locals who have a lot of influence due to the fact that many churches own property in several areas. Boiragi went on to say that since Christians are a minority, they have little power against the assailants, and are very vulnerable to violence.

Open Doors USA, an organization of Christians who support those who are persecuted for their beliefs in more than sixty countries, reported that in Bangladesh, increasing statistics of Christians who convert from Islam are confronting escalating limitations and discrimination. Militant Islamic Muslim factions, local religious leaders, and families all take part in this mistreatment.

Fatwas (specific versions of Islamic law) command everyday living all over the country, particularly in provincial areas. Open Doors USA also reported that there is a push to establish Sharia law in Bangladesh and abominations by ISIS (Islamic State) are also on the increase, frequently focusing on those who reject or are skeptical of religious doctrine, those who convert, and other minority religious groups, including Christians.