Japanese Kunio Hoshi converted to Islam three months before murder, locals claim

Japanese citizen Kunio Hoshi, who was gunned down on Saturday allegedly by Islamic State militants, had converted to Islam three months ago, locals claim.

Ashik Hossainand Shahjada Mia Azad, from Rangpurbdnews24.com
Published : 4 Oct 2015, 06:15 PM
Updated : 4 Oct 2015, 07:04 PM

Several people and an Imam of a mosque in the locality in Munshiparha where Kunio lived said this to bdnews24.com.
 
To back the claim, they showed a photograph of the 66-year old in a scalp cap, usually worn when offering prayers at a mosque.
 
Munshiparha mosque’s Imam Siddik Hossain told bdnews24.com: “I converted him to Islam during the last Ramadan in presence of a group of local Muslims. He had offered Jumma prayers at this mosque several times since then.”
 
Kunio was shot dead by masked assailants riding motorcycles when he was going to his grass farm at Kaunia.
 
The killing was similar to that of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka on Sep 28.
 
IS has reportedly claimed responsibility for both killings, but the government has ruled out the presence of the radical group in Bangladesh.
 
Munshiparha resident Riazul Islam Rintu told bdnews24.com that Kunio converted to Islam on the 27th day of Ramadan this year and took the name ‘Golam Kibria’.
 
“I was present when he converted,” he said, adding, “He offered Jumma prayers at this mosque near his house and attended the Eid-ul-Azha prayers at the Munshiparha Eidgah.”
 
Another resident of the area, Mizanur Rahman Ripu, echoed Rintu. “I’ve seen him offer Jumma prayers several times.”
 
Kunio was the tenant of one Zakaria Bala, whose two brothers live in Japan.
 
Bala said the Japanese man lived alone as a tenant in his house and worked on the grass farm at Alutari village at Kaunia.
 
No enemies
 
Locals at Alutari remember Kunio as a soft-spoken, cheerful man.
 
People living near his farm say he used to speak with them in Bangla, though he had little command over the language.

“He came here almost every day and spoke with us in broken Bangla,” Aziz Mia, a local farmer, told bdnews24.com. “He was quite jolly and exchanged ‘Salam’ with people.”
“No one from our village understands why a good man like him had to be killed this way.”
Another person, Abdul Haque, said, “He used to come with a man named Hira by rickshaw every day. But after the Eid, he had been travelling alone.”
‘Hira’, Zakaria Bala’s brother-in-law, is currently in police custody along with five others. Bala is also among those detained so far.
Rangpur’s Additional Superintendent of Police Saifur Rahman said, “We are interrogating the detainees. They will be accused in the case if we find proof of their involvement in the murder.”
Aziz Mia said Kunio was growing a new type of grass that is not known in this region.
“Kunio once told me that this type grass grew to 5-6 feet in Japan. He was very happy that it grew as high as almost 10-12 feet here.”
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher