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Pope Francis Prays Alongside Rohingya Muslim Refugees During Trip To Bangladesh

Pope Francis Prays Alongside Rohingya Muslim Refugees During Trip To Bangladesh

Francis is due to meet a group of Rohingya refugees in Dhaka on Friday.

Calvin Harris has answered DJ Snake's call to donate money to the Rohingya refugee crisis by generousluy donating $20,000 to the campaign.

He apologized for the "indifference of the world" to their plight and then pronounced the name of their ethnic group to a gathering of Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian leaders.

Pope Francis has ended a diplomatically tricky trip to Asia, seeking the forgiveness of Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh after his controversial decision to not directly refer to their plight when he visited their homeland, Myanmar. The military denies the accusations.

A violent crackdown on Rohingya insurgents in Myanmar's Rakhine state by Myanmar's military, security forces and local vigilantes has forced thousands to flee.

Rights activists are disappointed that the pope did not stand up for the long-persecuted Rohingya, who many Myanmese consider illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh despite having lived in the country for generations. (Christians are being persecuted in two Burmese states, but not almost as harshly as the Rohingya.) The Burmese authorities refer to the "Rohingya" as "Bengali", an effort to bolster the claim that the Rohingya migrated illegally to the country from Bangladesh.

In a speech before Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid, government officials and ambassadors from around the world, Francis praised Bangladesh's sacrifice and generosity in welcoming in so many refugees "before the eyes of the whole world".

One of the Rohingya introduced to Francis was Mohammed Ayub, 32. The women who approached him pushed aside their headscarves so they could speak, offering their hands out for him to hold.

Max Rossi  Reuters
A group of Rohingya refugees arrive at the archbishop's residence during a visit by Pope Francis in Dhaka Bangladesh on Dec. 1
Max Rossi Reuters A group of Rohingya refugees arrive at the archbishop's residence during a visit by Pope Francis in Dhaka Bangladesh on Dec. 1

Asked about the pope's avoidance of the term "Rohingya", U Aye Lwin said he thought the pope had just dropped it to avoid controversy.

Pope Francis writes in a book at the presidential palace in Dhaka, Bangladesh November 30, 2017.

And as soon as he got to Bangladesh, Pope Francis did what he declined to do before: He called the Rohingya by their name, and asked their forgiveness for "the world's indifference".

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an accord last week on terms for the return of Rohingya, though rights groups are sceptical Myanmar will follow through on the deal and have called for independent observers for any repatriation.

Francis' encounter with the refugees was the highlight of his day that began with a Mass to ordain 16 new priests.

The pope was in Myanmar for a four-day visit this week, becoming the first pontiff to tour the Buddhist-majority country where only 1 percent of the 42 million population is Roman Catholic. Despite its small size, the Catholic Church runs a network of schools, orphanages and clinics and has enjoyed relative freedom in its work, though Christian missionaries say they have received letters threatening dire consequences if they continue to spread Christianity.

More than 100,000 people attended the Mass in Dhaka's Suhrawardy Udyan Park, site of a memorial and museum of Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan in 1971, where Francis arrived in an open popemobile.

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