Pope Francis is no doubt on his way to Dhaka now to explain to these jihad murderers that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”
“‘I escaped death by reciting from the Koran,'” by Linda Pressly, BBC News, January 12, 2017:
When five armed Islamist militants stormed a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 1 July 2016, 29 people lost their lives. Emerging from the appalling, bloody debris are stories of immense courage. There are also unanswered questions about what happened to some of those who died.
It was about 20:45 on a Friday evening just before the Islamic festival of Eid. The restaurant – the Holey Artisan Bakery and O’Kitchen in Gulshan, Dhaka’s leafiest, most exclusive area – was filling up, mostly with Japanese and Italian customers.
Suddenly, the five young militants burst in shooting and began hacking at the diners with sharp weapons.
Shishir Sarker, one of the Holey Artisan’s chefs, was coming out of the refrigerated chiller room with a plate of pasta when he heard shouting.
“Then I saw one of the attackers – in one hand he had a sword or machete, and a gun was slung across his chest,” Sarker recalls.
As a Hindu, he had good reason to be afraid – if the Islamist militants found out his religion, it would be a death sentence.
“At that moment, a Japanese man shouted to me: ‘Help me!’,” he says. “I turned and went back inside the chiller, and helped him in too.”
There was no latch to lock the chiller from the inside, so the two men pulled on the door to keep it shut.
“The Japanese guy asked me who those men were. I said I didn’t know, but don’t worry, the police are coming.”
For nearly two hours the men stayed quietly inside.
“It was really cold. We did some exercise to try and keep warm – sit-ups holding the door pulled shut,” Sarker says.
Then came a terrifying moment – one of the attackers tried to open the chiller door.
“We held on to it very hard and he failed. He went away, but now they knew someone was inside.”
And 10 or 15 minutes later the militant came back.
“We were so cold, we were losing our strength,” Sarker says. The attacker hauled the door open.
“He told me to come out. I was so frightened I immediately fell on to the ground and lay there. I thought if I was standing, he might chop me with his machete. I was repeatedly saying: ‘For Allah’s sake, don’t kill me.'”
Assuming he was Muslim, and therefore not a target, the gunman told him to go and join his colleagues on the other side of the restaurant.
“I crawled on my hands and knees over dead bodies and blood. Then suddenly I heard two shots. The Japanese man with me in the chiller was dead.”
Sarker sat at a table with other members of staff, all of them with their heads down. After 02:00, one of the militants asked who the chef was. His colleagues pointed at Sarker. He was taken to the kitchen.
“They asked me what food we had – if we had sea bass and shrimps. I said, yes we had. They told me to fry it, and decorate it nicely on a plate.”
“He asked me what my name was. I just said my name was Shishir – I didn’t tell him my second name because that would have revealed that I’m Hindu.”
Perhaps the militant was suspicious. He asked Sarker to recite from the Koran.
Sarker calmly carried on frying sea bass. And he recited Koranic verses.
“All my life I’ve had Muslim friends, so I knew some Surah [chapters of the Koran]. But I was so frightened. I was thinking – would I satisfy him?”
In keeping with Islamic tradition during Ramadan, the food was served before dawn to the Muslim hostages and to the staff.
“I was so scared, when I ate I couldn’t swallow the food. But I thought if I didn’t eat, they would think I wasn’t going to fast the following day, and then they would guess I wasn’t Muslim,” says Sarker….