DHAKA – A prominent poet was arrested in Bangladesh on Tuesday accused of hurting the religious feelings of the country’s minority Christian community, police said.
Henry Sawpon, a Christian himself, was detained in Barisal in the southwest after a priest filed a case against him for a series of comments on Facebook against the community.
“The fathers of churches accused him of hurting their religious sentiment,” Barisal Metropolitan Police commissioner Shahabuddin Khan told EFE.
“On behalf of the Christian community a father filed a case under digital security act today (Tuesday) and we arrested him afterward.”
In a public status on his Facebook account on April 23, Sawpon criticized the bishop of Barisal Catholic Diocese Lawrence Subrata Howlader for holding a cultural program after an attack on the Christian community in Sri Lanka.
“When Rome was burning emperor Nero played the fiddle,” he wrote.
He added that “when the whole world was mourning at the death of hundreds of people” in suicide attacks in churches in the Sri Lanka capital Colombo, Howlader “was holding a cultural program in church premises.”
Police said Sawpon had recently posted “many comments” on Facebook that left the local Christian community aggrieved.
The 54-year-old, whose poems have been published in leading Bangladesh newspapers and magazines, was sent to jail after a court rejected his bail application.
He faces a maximum of 14 years in jail if found guilty under the digital security law enacted in September, which has been criticized by journalists and activists as a crackdown on freedom of expression.
Around 90 percent of Bangladeshis are Muslims, less than one percent of the population is Christian and 384,000 of them Catholics.