Eid ul-Fitr in Bangladesh has been dampened this year with a shocked nation still trying to get over its worst nightmare. In the deadliest terror attack ever in its history, 20 hostages were slaughtered after 7 heavily armed attackers stormed a restaurant on the night of July 1, in Dhaka’s upscale Gulshan neighbourhood. Security forces killed six of the attackers and freed 13 hostages in the rescue operation the following morning. The slain hostages included 9 Italians, 7 Japanese, an Indian and 3 students at American universities. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. The total death toll from the attack stood at 28, including 2 Bangladeshi police officers and 6 terrorists. It was the worst in a recent series of militant attacks in Bangladesh, and the escalating violence has raised global concerns about whether the predominantly Muslim nation is capable of coping with Islamist terrorism rearing its ugly head in its deadliest form. But what is most shocking about this terrible massacre and which the nation of some 162 million cannot easily get over, is that these attackers were not foreigners or poor but home-grown Muslim youth from well-to-do middle class families who attended elite educational institutions.
Well, to know about this and other related questions, we called Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB). The archbishop who is also president of the United Forum of Churches, Bangladesh (UFCB), talked to us on his mobile phone, analysing the situation in his country both from the Church’s point of view as well as a Bangladeshi citizen. On July 4, the second day of national mourning called by Prime Minister Sheik Hasina, he joined Apostolic Nuncio of Vatican ambassador to Bangladesh, Archbishop George Kocherry, at a memorial Mass for the victims in Dhaka. In his telephone interview, Archbishop D’Rozario tried to probe the religious as well as political motives behind the heinous act. He first expressed his feelings about the terror attack.