MUMBAI, India – A rumor of a planned “Christian State” using parts of Bangladesh has been called “surprising” by the south Asian country’s archbishop.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned the alleged plot last week.

“Like East Timor … they will carve out a Christian country taking parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar with a base in the Bay of Bengal,” she told politicians on May 23.

Bangladesh has population of nearly 170 million people and borders India to the north, west, and east, and Myanmar to the southeast. However, it is over 90 percent Muslim, with a Christian population of less than one percent – just under 500,000 people.

“Hearing the above mentioned news, we the Christians of Bangladesh and their leaders, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh and United Forum of Churches got surprised and worried. In today’s globalized and secularized world any State be called ‘Christian State’ is absurd,” said a statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh signed by Archbishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze of Dhaka.

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“It is not supportable and acceptable. At the response of the above-mentioned conspiracy, we agree with the statement of the honorable Prime Minister, Seikh Hasina. We support your efforts to safeguard the sovereignty of Bangladesh. We also pray that you continue doing this,” the archbishop added.

“At the Statement of the Prime Minister some opportunists may take chance to destroy the existing harmony therefore I draw the attention of the Authority to see that the Christian Community may not face any difficulty or insecurity if need be protection should be given to the Christian Community,” D’Cruze said.

“We promise to pray for the good health and God’s blessings upon our Prime Minister and the good of the country and all of its people,” he concluded.

Speaking to Crux, D’Cruze said Bangladesh “is a moderate Muslim country and the Christians are living peacefully and in harmony with everyone.”

“The government is good to us,” the archbishop said.

“This rumor has been in the air for some time, that there is a ‘conspiracy’ to carve out some parts of Chittagong hill tracts and part of Myanmar to make it a Christian State,” he explained.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts border Myanmar and have a smaller Muslim population – just 42 percent. Christians still only account for 3 percent of the area, with 44 percent being Buddhist.

D’Cruze told Crux that since the prime minister hinted of a Christian state, “we wanted to clarify and responded that we have no connection absolutely – with any political party or separatists groups.”

“We serve our beloved country Bangladesh in fields of education, health, and human development – without discrimination of caste or creed and through our apostolates our religious personnel serve tirelessly and selflessly toward the nations building,” the archbishop said.

“The government is good to our community and whenever we approach the government for any issues – for example, education – it is resolved through dialogue,” he told Crux.