Akram from Bangladesh has been released from prison after 81 days – thank you for your prayers for him and his family.
Akram* from Bangladesh has been released from prison after 81 days and is grateful for your prayers.
A believer from a Muslim background, he was arrested on 16 November 2023 when his relatives and members of the community made false accusations against him. He was freed on bail on 7 January 2024 after 81 days in a local prison in northern Bangladesh.
When he returned home to his family, he spoke to Open Doors partners to express his thanks for their – and your – support.
“Because of your support, my wife was able to protect and carry our family burdens - thank you very much” Akram
“I am thankful to all of you for continuously praying for me and for supporting my family in my absence,” he said. “You supported my wife with encouragement and prayers and supported my family with food. Because of your support, my wife was able to protect and carry our family burdens. Thank you very much for whatever you have been doing for us.”
His family are very happy about his return; his children couldn’t stop hugging him and holding his hand. Now Akram hopes to spend time recovering mentally and physically from his ordeal. He also asks for continued prayer for them, and that they would be able to forgive those who falsely accused him.
4 December 2023
When Akram* went to the police, it was to file a complaint against the neighbours who had violently attacked his wife and his young children – including his daughter Sephali*, who is only four years old. Instead, he ended up in prison himself.
Like many of Bangladesh’s small number of Christians, Akram and his family converted from a Muslim background. This enraged Akram’s extended family and his community, and they have faced continued persecution and pressure to renounce their faith. But they have remained strong in their faith, determinedly following Jesus.
A few weeks ago, his wife and young family were physically assaulted by Muslim neighbours in their community, a remote part of northern Bangladesh. They ended up being hospitalised, so severe was the beating. It’s shocking to see a child as young as Sephali caught up in this sort of violence. On the same day as the attack, Akram went to the police – he knew who the attackers were, since they all live in the same community. Some were even his relatives. But the police didn’t take any action against the persecutors.
These same persecutors then retaliated: they filed two false accusations against Akram. He was accused of being involved with opposition political parties and undertaking anti-government activities, and he was also accused of forcibly converting Muslims to Christianity and slandering the prophet Muhammad. These are extremely serious crimes in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. False accusations are often used as a way of intimidating Christian communities, and getting police on the case of believers – though imprisonment is relatively rare.
A week after the violent attack, Akram was arrested at around 4pm from a local market. In the early hours of the next morning, he was sent to jail. He remains there at present.
Akram’s local church leader is looking for a neutral lawyer who will fight for him, because he does not want to hire a Muslim lawyer because he fears there might be bias. Since his arrest, Akram’s family have been fearful and panicked that there will be further violence. Often at night people throw stones on their roof and frighten the family while they’re sleeping. Even now, with Akram behind bars, the scare tactics still occur.
Since Akram is the only person earning an income and is the head of the family, his family is also suffering from a lack of food and safety. “The children are crying and asking every day to bring their father back home,” shares his wife. “The are doing exams and they cannot concentrate on their studies. We are living without food. Because of the tension and fear, we could not eat and sleep. I do not know what to do, or where to go to bring my husband back home.”
Open Doors local partners are sending support for emergency needs, and have visited the family to offer encouragement and prayer. They are also finding ways to aid in legal assistance to help Akram be released on bail.
*Names changed for security reasons
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