Christian lives matter: The Guardian reports Catholic murder in Bangladesh -- NY Times shrugs

Bangladesh, with its new wave of atrocities over the last half-week, has gotten fresh attention -- but not balanced attention.

"Christian murdered in latest Bangladesh attack," says The Guardian of the Catholic grocer who was hacked to death outside his store.

And the New York Times reports the throat-slashing murder of a Hindu priest in Bangladesh on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, the two stories are not equally good. The Guardian ran the better one, for its sweep and for connecting religious and political facets.  

The narrative of the death of Sunil Gomes is as brutally efficiently as the crime itself:

A Christian was knifed to death after Sunday prayers near a church in northwest Bangladesh in an attack claimed by Islamic State.
Police said unidentified attackers murdered the 65-year-old in the village of Bonpara, home to one of the oldest Christian communities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. "Sunil Gomes was hacked to death at his grocery store just near a church at Bonpara village," said Shafiqul Islam, deputy police chief of Natore district.

And the paper doesn't just stop with the police-blotter facts. It interviews Father Bikash Hubert Rebeiro of the Bonpara Catholic church. He says Gomes attended Sunday prayers, used to work as a gardener at the church and was "known for his humility."

"I can’t imagine how anyone can kill such an innocent man," the priest says.

We also learn of other recent victims in Bangladesh. One was Mahmuda Begum,  stabbed and shot in the head in front of her young son -- apparently because her husband is a police commissioner who has helped track down terrorists. The others are a Hindu trader and a Buddhist monk, both killed last week. 

Even further back: The Guardian counts more than 40 victims of jihadis in three years -- 10 just in the last 10 weeks. They include not only religious minorities but writers and secular activists. Authorities reject the idea that ISIS did it, but they do blame homegrown branches of Al-Qaida.

Now for the Times. After its masterful, 5,300-word story in December on attacks against secular Bangladeshis, I frankly expected better. But the savage murder of Sunil Gomes seemed to fall far down on the newspaper's list.

But the murder of the Hindu priest yesterday sounds chillingly familiar:

The priest, Anando Gopal Ganguly, 68, was riding a bicycle in an isolated rural area not far from his home when he was attacked by three men on a motorcycle who came up from behind him, said Gopinath Kanjilal, an assistant superintendent of the police for the Jhenaidah district. He said Mr. Ganguly had been on his way to conduct a prayer service.

Kanjilal added that Ganguly’s throat was slit, and he was "almost beheaded."

The Times also cites the murder of Begum, as well as a gunfight in Dhaka that killed two members of the militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahedeen. Police said one helped bomb a Hindu temple, and the other was involved in attack on a Shiite mosque.

In a separate incident, the article says an Islamist confessed to an attack last December on a "mosque of the tiny Ahmadiyya Muslim community. And it links to several Times stories on those incidents.

What of Gomes? Just this: "Also on Sunday, in the country’s north, a Christian grocer was hacked to death." No name. No link. No interest in details.

It's not like the paper sat out the other killings. It did report the murder of Mahmuda Begum, the wife of the police commissioner. 

The Times did carry a brief on a Bangladeshi convert to Christianity, Hossain Ali, who was stabbed to death in March. But that story came from Reuters, not the Times' newsroom.

You may have also noticed a few religious "ghosts" in the story.  One is: What's the Ahmadiyya community?  Instead of saying, the Times simply links to a previous story, which in turn links back to 2005, to a story that calls the Ahmadis a "sect of some 100,000 Muslims who believe that Muhammad was not the last prophet." That's it.

The Ahmadis' own website says their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, claimed to be the Messiah, or religious leader, and the Mahdi, or worldly leader. Ahmad even "claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus," the site says.  Some of that would have helped the story.

And why was a Shiite mosque attacked? Well, one reason is the murder of Ali and his son Hussein in the seventh century. The Times could have plugged this hole with a link to its own January backgrounder on Sunni-Shia differences.

Now, I'm not asking for privileged treatment of Christians. If someone kills someone just for their religious beliefs this person may well kill others for theirs. We just need some interest, and coverage, of all such victims.

Other media, like The Blaze and the Herald Malaysia, managed to name both Gomes and Ganguli in their coverage. Couldn't the pre-eminent American newspaper have done the same?

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