India Rises to No. 17 on Open Doors Global Persecution List 2015
CSF Documents Over 200 Major Incidents of Persecution & Hate Speech
Catholic Forum Documents Unprecedented Spike in Indian Christian Persecution
Maharashtra is Hindutva capital. MP is Rogue State No. 1 with Telengana and UP following
Minimum 7 Pastors Killed. 8,000 Victims. Women & Children Targeted. An Incident Per Day
Top 10 States include – Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan & Delhi
The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), the Mumbai based minority and human rights activist NGO has in its annual report for 2015 highlighted the quantum leap in persecution cases during the last year. Justice Michael Saldanha, retired judge of the Bombay and Karnataka High Courts released The CSF Indian Christian Persecution 2015 Report, brief info of which is as below.
Joseph Dias, CSF founder and general secretary, pointed out that USA and the European Union have placed embargoes on nations that failed to protect minorities and endangered religious liberty, while asking the following questions:
1. Is any other religion persecuted as much in India, as Christianity – which is the world’s largest religion?
2. Why is it that PM Modi’s government is unconcerned about world opinion & allows persecution?
3. What would be the reaction from other faith followers, if their community was treated as such?
Persecution Across Over 23 States
8 Believers Paid with Their Lives for Christ.
1 & 2. In Odisha, a Christian couple was killed by CRPF (July) after being branded as Maoists,
3. In Odisha again, Jeejo, a missionary was killed (August) by Maoists after complaints from other locals.
4. In Chhattisgarh, an Evangelist Sadavir of the Koya tribe was attacked & killed (January) for his faith by fundamentalists.
5. Pastor Krupaiah in Telengana was brutally assaulted died (July) of internal wounds, which finally proved fatal.
6. Pastor Martin Luther from Tamil Nadu was attacked (September) and killed, while his wife sustained serious injuries.
7. Pastor Saji Panikar in Maharashtra was found killed (September), with his wife saying he was murdered.
8. Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty was shot dead (October) in Jharkhand, reportedly for his evangelical activities in the area.
* Minimum 365 – An Incident per Day.
Reports from almost every state in the union have come in. In the last year we could highlight at least 200 major instances of being targeted for being Christian and an equal number is estimated to be unreported. There is agreement among all those working on Freedom of Faith or Religious Liberty issues that 2015 is the peak so far. The Secular & Minority NGOs, Persecution Christian Watchdogs like CSF, Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Clergy from all Denominations and Evangelical / Pentecostal / Independent Churches agree that freedom of religion has never been so much under threat, as presently in the country.
* Madhya Pradesh Tops as Rogue State.
The sheer numbers and all pervasive nature of anti-Christian violence reports coming in from almost all districts and across a wide spectrum of persecution categories as mentioned below, notoriously qualifies Madhya Pradesh for the most persecuting state top slot. The anti-conversion law was amended in spite of there being no issue arising out of religious conversions to warrant it. The punishment for forcible or fraudulent conversions was increased to more that one-year of rigorous imprisonment and also cash fines. This has served as a signal and pretext to the Hindutva foot-soldiers that the BJP state government wanted the needful to be done.
* Spike in Anti-Christian Violence Against Women.
The CSF had drawn world attention in March 2008 to the sad plight of nuns, whose social work is often labeled as conversion activity. It was when Sr. D’mello and others were targeted by Hindutva forces in rural Maharashtra and CSF had taken up the issue. Thereafter in August 2008, we witnessed rape of nuns and women during the Odisha riots. The widows and children left behind by those martyred for the faith tell heart-wrenching stories. 2015 saw at least 3 nuns raped or molested and many of women stripped, two of whom were pregnant and lost their babies, besides hundreds being beaten up brutally. The year had instances of their children not being spared either.
* Maharashtra – The Maximum Potential Hindutva Lab.
The state has emerged as the Hindutva capital of India. A pastor was reported killed. Even rationalists have not been spared and shot in cold-blood. In Pune over 2015 end, almost 1,60,000 Hindu hardliners, all dressed in khaki shorts, white shirts and black hats, put on a massive show of strength at an elaborate rally. VHP organized jagran (awareness) programs in 45 district capitals and places like Satara, Aheri in Gadchiroli, Amravati and Bhandara. In July 2015, a private member bill was admitted, seeking an anti-conversion law. The mover, BJP legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar said there were several places in Maharashtra, where conversions were being carried out forcibly or by offering bribes. Swami Narendra Maharaj claims to have recently re-converted around 1,800 tribal Christians back to Hinduism.
* Telangana & UP in Top 3 States where Christians are Persecuted.
A pregnant Telangana believer lost her 4 month old child, as she was beaten until she bled from her genital region and the state is noted for targeting Christian women. In UP churches have been desecrated with a dog’s chain put around one of the statues, while reports of reconversions continued. In both states there was a marked increase in violence, with Easter, Christmas and Sunday Worship services being targeted. Many pastors are known to have been beaten brutally and a cemetery near Meerut containing Briton graves was also not spared. Schools and institutions were also attacked, with complaints of the police acting on false complaints.
* Top 10 – Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Odisha & Delhi.
In Tamil Nadu, a pastor and his family was attacked by armed persons, resulting in his death and wife being hospitalized with grievous injuries. In Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, pastors and believers were killed too. In Haryana, a cleaner lost his job in a government primary health center, burial of a Christian was prevented and the Hisar Believer’s Church was demolished. In Delhi, churches were vandalized around the new year, 200 Christians including nuns and priests were arrested and pastors were assaulted. In Odisha, there was little hope of justice to 2007 / 08 riot victims and in the central India states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, Christians continued to held under anti-conversion laws and socially boycotted. In many places, Christian worship was not possible. In Rajasthan, Christian families had to flee villages, police participated in persecuting believers, Christians were forced to worship idols and Bibles / religious literature were confiscated.
* Ghar Wapsi Goes Underground. Bahu Lao, Beti Bachao.
Anti-Conversion Laws, Foreign Missionaries etc.The reconversion to Hinduism pogroms continued unabated, but without media glare as we received reports from states like AP, MP, Assam, Kerala, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, etc. In at least 5 districts of West Bengal, the VHP responded with a ‘Reverse Love Jihad’ where it promoted Hindu grooms getting married to Christian and minority women after conducting Shuddhikaran (purification) ceremonies. BJP MPs (Tarun Vijay – Rajya Sabha and Yogi Adityanath – Lok Sabha) are to place a private member’s anti-conversion bill, which has been supported by the BJP top brass. 7 Indian states have already passed such laws. Foreign missionaries who have spent several decades in service of the poor and sick are being denied visa extentions. There is also a possibility of a national anti cow-slaughter and uniform civil code legislation.
Christian Victims Profile
- 8 Killed. Minimum 8000 Victims
- 4000 Women with 2000 Children Involved
- 500 + Clergy & Community Leaders Targeted
Cross Section of Over 200 Major Incidents Spread
Hate Speech Samples
There was a motive behind the service Mother Teresa provided to the poor — to convert them to Christianity.
* Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief
The 1857 war of independence, a communal war fought for religion and similar wars would be waged, if Christians did not stop conversions. The allegations of communal overtones in the gang rape of an elderly nun were a conspiracy of the church and that sexual exploitation of nuns was a Christian culture and not that of Hindus. The Pope is so worried about rape of nuns that he is promoting gay sex to stop it.
* Surendra Jain, VHP joint secretary
The Narendra Modi-led NDA government should award and provide legal and administrative protection to Hindus who attack churches across the country. Churches are no longer places of worship but factories for conversion of Hindus into Christianity. We would give awards and protection for Hindu youths who attack churches and marry Muslim girls.
* Munna Kumar Shukla, general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha
Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So they would either be converted to Hinduism or be forced to run away from here. I will ensure that India is freed of Muslims and Christians by December 31, 2021. The enemies have tried many a time in the past to finish Hinduism. But every time, a Ram, Krishna and Chanakya came forward to finish them and restore the glory of Hinduism. I am also doing the same.
* Rajeshwar Singh, Dharma Jagran samiti, UP
The population of Muslims and Christians is growing day by day. To rein in this, Centre will have to impose emergency, and Muslims and Christians will have to be forced to undergo sterilization so that they can’t increase their numbers
* Sadhvi Deva Thakur, vice president, All India Hindu Mahasabha
Hindu population will soon reach 125 crore through meaningful ‘Gharwapsi’
* Sadhvi Saraswati from MP
Wait for some time, a law will be passed in Parliament in which anyone indulging in cow slaughter and conversion will be punished with the death sentence. A Hindu woman must have at least four children. Give one to the army, another to us religious leaders and teachers.
* Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MP from UP
The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was a British agent. India got freedom from the British rule not by spinning the charkha, but because of sacrifices made by brave sons like Veer Savarkar and Bhagat Singh. If Hindu women have four children, one can become an engineer, one can become a doctor, one can protect the borders and one can be devoted to the cause of social service.
* VHP leader, Sadhvi Prachi
The Hindu Mahasabha has ordered about five hundred Nathuram Godse (killer of Mahatma Gandhi) statues from artists in Jaipur and plans to install them in the premises of temples across India.
* Mahasabha leader to media
We will install Gauri-Ganesh statues in every mosque, if given permission.
* Yogi Adityanath, BJP MP from UP
The government wants to deliver double-quick on the Bhagwad Gita lessons in school education — right from Class I to Class XII.
* Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana CM
A mosque / church is not a religious place but is just a building that can be demolished any time. God does not live in mosques, but in temples.
* Subramanian Swamy, BJP leader
Reported 2015 attacks on Indian Christians are miniscule compared to the actual ground zero reality, where the CSF works. The reason is that activists fear the political resurgence of Hindutva forces that has made even mere mention of harassment, only worse. Most persecution goes unreported for various reasons. Often the police refuse to record it as such, as it would show them in bad light. For the media, it‟s not “news” and there are instances of the local media being biased or taking sides. Often, persecution goes unrecorded because the victims are too afraid to complain or a compromise is forced upon them by politicians. Persecution is also blamed on causes, other than religious – mental illness, drunkenness, economic, enmity, etc. The CSF has categorized the incidents as under:
C. Women Beaten/Molested/Raped
D. Church Broken/Ransacked/Demolished/Shut Down
E. House Broken/Car/Bike/Belongings Destroyed
F. Worship Meeting Disrupted/Stopped
G. Pastors/Christians Arrested/Jailed
H. Hate Speech/Threats/Abuses
I. Foreign Missionaries Targeted
J. Others – Ghar Whapsi, etc.
Steep Rise of Hindutva in 2015
The year saw the RSS consolidate itself in almost every sphere of activity, with the BJP – one of its 38 ideological affiliates – preparing to strengthen its hold on the country’s polity. The BJP recently became the world’s largest political organisation with 10 crore BJP membership. The current estimate of 1.5 crore RSS membership is largely through its digital forays. Online membership requests touched 7,000 a month in 2015 aggregating 85,000 last year. Shakhas are the smallest unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and it now has 51,330 RSS shakhas operating in 33,222 places. The Sangh Pariwar spread is near total with Kerala, having over 4,500 shakhas, the highest number in India, despite never having had a BJP government.
The RSS had many of its 700 mega rallies including one for Overseas Sanghites at Indore, with Lok Sabha (lower house in parliament) Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan inaugurating it. Over 750 delegates from 45 countries attended. The ‘NGO’ is very successful on social media too, with over 15 lakh ‘Likes’ on its Facebook page and 1.5 lakh followers on Twitter. “Their Facebook page has some of the best graphic designers,” says a youngster whose grandmother is with RSS. He says the organization has a network of WhatsApp groups and generates content for WhatsApp. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a major spawn of the RSS, is to construct temples in every village across the country. The target is to reach 1.25 lakh villages. It had been observing Ram Mahotsava has already reached 70,000-75,000 villages pan India. The RSS meetings also see the presence of prominent personalities from among police, media, science, judiciary, education, bureaucracy, armed forces, god-men and women, litterateurs etc.
* Presidential Order of 1950
* Anti-conversion Legislation
* Foreign Contributions Regulation Act
* Toothless and Non-Existent Minorities Commissions
* Various Sections of Indian Penal Code
* Schedule Tribal Benefits and Forest Act
* Finance and Government Schemes
* Bills and Commissions
* Land Allotment for Religious Needs
* Infringement of Minority Rights under Art 30
* Sabka Vikas, Sabka Saath
* Political Representation
* Economic Upliftment
* Holy Land Subsidy
* Odisha Justice
For more info, contact:
Justice Michael Saldanha (Retd)
Bombay & Karnataka High Courts
Joseph Dias, MA (Econ) +91 9769555657 [email protected]
Ex-Special Executive Magistrate, Govt of Maharashtra
Tirupati, October 31, 2014: Special teams were rushed to Hyderabad and Nuzvid on Wednesday, while Sudhir was found after midnight at his Nuzvid address, from where he was arrested under Section 3 of the AP Propagation of Other Religions in Places of Worship or Prayer (Prohibition) Act 2007.
In a swift move, the Tirupati Urban Police arrested Mondithoka Sudhir, founder director of the Hyderabad-based Emmanuel Baptist Ministry of India (IBMI), from his Puterala residence in Vissannapet mandal of Krishna district in the early hours of Thursday. He has been remanded to judicial custody.
For the record, Sudhir’s blasphemous video on Lord Venkateswara, shot during the Samaikyandhra agitation in September 2013, had gone viral. Pretending as gullible devotees, Sudhir and his team members surrendered a copy of The Bible and other missionary material to the security staff at Alipiri check point before proceeding to Tirumala along with a video camera.
Based on a complaint lodged by advocate Samanchi Srinivas, who is also the BJP district general secretary, and following a hue and cry from various quarters, police swung into action and registered a case (Crime No.100/14 at Tirumala Two Town Police Station). A similar case was registered at Alipiri Police Station based on a complaint by the TTD Assistant Vigilance and Security Officer.
Special teams were rushed to Hyderabad and Nuzvid on Wednesday, while Sudhir was found after midnight at his Nuzvid address, from where he was arrested under Section 3 of the AP Propagation of Other Religions in Places of Worship or Prayer (Prohibition) Act 2007. Police also seized his laptop, which was used to upload the video, and his four-wheeler on which he travelled to Tirumala. A manhunt has been launched to nab his younger brother Sukumar and pastors David, Joseph and Yesu Ratnam for complicity in the offence.
Speaking to the media, Sudhir confessed to the offence and termed it as “unfortunate”. A postgraduate from Acharya Nagarjuna University, he said his intention was to spread the message and not merely to raise funds from foreign missionaries. While indicating that it was his first “negative attempt” to portray a faith in bad light, Sudhir also promised that it would be his last.
- the hindu
Commitment to Egypt’s New Constitution Questioned After ‘Blasphemy’ Charge
Egypt, June 06, 2014: Kerolos Shouky Attallah, is accused of violating Article 98F of the Egyptian Penal Code for “liking” a Facebook page of Christian converts known as the Knights of the Cross. On January 14 and 15 of this year, a referendum was passed on a new constitution in Egypt. According to supporters, it ensures the basic rights of free speech and belief for Egyptians, but the existence of a blasphemy law in Egypt, is a violation of Egypt’s new constitution, which was supposed to take effect on January 18.
- Pray Egypt will commit to its new constitution
- Pray all accusations and charges against Attallah are dismissed
- Pray our merciful God will continue guiding and protecting our brothers and sisters in Egypt.
Arkansas Congressman Introduces Bill to Grant Meriam Permanent Legal Status in the U.S.
United States, June 10, 2014: In the latest development on Capitol Hill regarding the case of Meriam Ibrahim, Arkansas Congressman Tom Cotton has introduced a bill that would grant Meriam Ibrahim, as well as her two children, permanent resident status in the United States. Meriam was sentenced to death by hanging last month in Khartoum, Sudan, after refusing to give up her Christian faith. She is currently imprisoned with her 20-month-old son Martin and newborn daughter Maya in Khartoum. Cotton stated, “I am disappointed by the Obama administration’s inaction and urge them to grant Meriam permanent legal status.”
- Pray the Obama Administration will act on behalf of Meriam Ibrahim and her family
- Pray for the passage of legislation that would grant Meriam Ibrahim, as well as her two children, permanent resident status in the United States
- Pray for Meriam’s speedy and safe release
Boko Haram Abducts at Least 20 Women from Fulani Village Near Chibok
Nigeria, June 09, 2014: Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 20 young women in Nigeria, near Chibok where more than 200 schoolgirls were taken two months ago, local officials said. The suspected militants came into the village in broad daylight on Saturday, heavily armed and wearing military uniforms. The location of the women is still unknown and the kidnappers have not made contact with their families.
- Pray all the kidnapped women and girls are safely returned to their families
- Pray those who persecute God’s children, seek salvation in Christ Jesus
- Pray for the victory of all our brothers and sisters in Christ
BJP Vice Chairman Calls on Nepal to Immediately and Completely Ban Religious Conversions
Nepal, June 09, 2014: According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), BJP vice chairman Bhagat Singh Koshiyari called for a legal ban on conversions during his visit to Nepal. The timing of the call is sensitive as Nepal’s Constituent Assembly is in the process of drafting a new constitution. “Mr Koshiyari’s comments are of concern. They appear to be an attempt to persuade Nepal not to include freedom of religion in the new constitution and laws of Nepal,” said CSW’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas.
- Pray Nepal will disregard the request of Koshiyari and stand for their people
- Pray the new constitution will include freedom of religion and allow our brothers and sisters to worship and share God’s word
- Pray Nepal will receive the Word of our God and be saved in Christ’s name
North Korea Unleashes Crackdown on Christianity
North Korea continues to detain or repatriate its citizens with ties to the church in China. According to Daily NK, “personnel from a number of state organs, including the State Security Department, General Reconnaissance Bureau and diplomatic corps, have received additional orders on the matter.” One of the victims, South Korean missionary Kim Jung Wook, is currently serving a life sentence for “anti-state crimes.”
- Pray the enemy of of our Almighty God will not be successful in bringing persecution and injustice to Christians in North Korea
- Pray for the release of all imprisoned Christians in North Korea
- Pray for the renewing of strength and comfort of our brothers and sisters in North Korea
Kyrgyzstan Pastor Kept From Brother’s Funeral By Local Imam
Kyrgyzstan, June 06, 2014: In the village of Zherge-Tal, Imam Arstan stopped Protestant pastor Kapar Yusup uuly Abdukayimov from participating in the burial procession of his deceased 51-year old brother Japar Abdukayimov. “Imam Arstan insulted me with all kinds of unrepeatable words, calling me a traitor, and told people at the procession this will happen to anyone who leaves Islam and accepts Christianity or other religions,” Pastor Yusup uuly told Forum 18. Numerous Kyrgyz Christians in recent years were not allowed to be buried in their local villages, and several were buried in other cemeteries used by Russian Orthodox.
- Pray that in future cases like these, Christians will be able to bury their loved ones in their own villages
- Pray for the comfort of our Lord to come upon Pastor Yusup and his family through these dark times
- Pray Imam Arstan will receive the true Word of God and be saved
Bihar, June 11, 2014: The IET founded by Dr. P.G. Vergis pioneered the Gospel work in a remote village called Kaliyanganj in Bihar in 2010 ably assisted by Laxmi Prasad Yadav, the IET worker in Bihar. Responding to the preaching of the good news within a short time the entire village accepted Christ and now they have also constructed a prayer hall there.
The problem started when one of the elders died in 2012 due to illness, and the members of his extended family demanded for the body so that they could cremate the body as per Hindu rites. But this family which had come to the Lord stood their ground and did not permit it.
Consequent to that an altercation followed between the two groups and the Christians were thrashed by the Hindus. As a result, almost all the other believers in the village backslided, but this particular family stood firm and continued to follow Christ and his teachings. Sadanandan
Singh is the head of this bold family. On 25th of May, 2014, Dr. P.G. Vergis, went there for a meeting and had a blessed time. But unfortunately after his visit, the anti-Christian forces in the village went after Sadanand Singh’s family and beat up all the members of the family. They also blocked the road to his house by putting bamboos in the middle of the road. Though they went and complained about the incident to the local Panchayat chairman and the members, they did not get any justice from them.
Again a couple of days ago they came and beat up the family – even the little children and the young girls, asking them all to give up Christianity. But Sadanandan Singh and his family are very strong in their in the Lord and nobody seems to be able to shake them in their faith.
Kaliyanganj is 180 km from Siliguri and this family is putting up a bold fight for the Lord in their village. Please pray for this bold Christian family.
June 11, 2014: The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has asked parliament to declare a state of emergency after hundreds of insurgents seized control of the seat of the provincial government in Mosul, historically a Christian heartland of Iraq, forcing out the Iraqi army and the police.
Up to 500,000 of the city’s inhabitants have fled, including virtually all of the city’s remaining Christian population after the attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who are also known as ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Group).
“Ninety-nine percent of the Christians have left Mosul,” one Presbyterian pastor, Haitham Jazrawi, said.
Canon Andrew White, vicar of St George’s Anglican church in Baghdad, wrote today: “Iraq is now in its worst crisis since the 2003 war.” ISIL “does not even see Al Qaeda as extreme enough,” he said, and has … “destroyed all government departments. Allowed all prisoners out of the prisons. Killed countless numbers of people. There are bodies over the streets. The army and police have fled, so many of the military resources have been captured. Tankers, armed vehicles and even helicopters are now in the hands of ISIS.”
He added: “The Christian centre of Iraq has been totally ransacked. The tanks are moving into the Christian villages destroying them and causing total carnage. The ISIS militants are now moving towards Kirkuk … to the oil fields that provide the lifeblood of Iraq. We are faced with total war that all the Iraqi military have now retreated from.”
A Dominican priest in Mosul wrote: “What we are living and what we have seen over the last two days is horrible and catastrophic.” Fr Najeeb Michaeel said the ancient priory of Mar Behnam and other churches fell into the hands of the rebels yesterday morning, the US-based charity International Christian Concern reported. “We are now surrounded and threatened with death … pray for us.”
World Watch Monitor, which monitors Christian persecution, reported that up to a thousand Christian families have fled for safer areas.
The militia group now controls considerable territory in eastern Syria and western and central Iraq.
Governor Athel Nujafi in a televised appeal urged the people of Mosul and the province to organise themselves into self-defence groups to resist the ISIL attackers.
The Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, Amel Shamon Nona, and the other bishops of Mosul, launched an appeal to keep churches and mosques open to pray for peace, also inviting shopkeepers to ensure that people have access to food and basic foodstuffs. The west of the city, which is home to the city’s Chaldean cathedral, is now held by the insurgents.
Thousands of Mosul’s ancient Christian population have fled since 2003 because of the threat of violence. In 2008 Archbishop Nona’s predecessor, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, was kidnapped and murdered.
- the tablet
Kerala, May 20, 2014: The top body of Catholic bishops in India has congratulated National Democratic Alliance, led by BJP, on its thumping win in the general elections, hoping that the new government will uphold eternal values and secularism in making India a great nation.
“Let the new government led by BJP enable the India of Mahatma Gandhi stand tall among the world nations ensuring protection, security, welfare and sustained development of the people of all sections,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), said in a statement.
He hoped that the new government will continue to uphold the eternal values, secularism and principles of democracy to lead the nation on the path of development.
Reaffirming the Catholic Church’s support to the government’s activities in the process of nation building, he said that the new Government has the responsibility to ensure the security of the minorities and to show special consideration towards the weaker sections of the country.
The Catholic body advised Congress party to learn from experience and perform as a creative force in the opposition knowing the pulse of the public.
- press statement
Panaji, April 02, 2014: The Goa Church is a significant player in Goa’s socio-political space with its Catholic population pegged at nearly 27 percent.
The Goa BJP is using Catholic legislators in the party as a “mask” to openly criticize the Church in Goa for hyping the secularism versus communalism debate ahead of general elections, the NCP Tuesday alleged.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) vice president Trajano D’Mello also told a press conference here that the drug mafia had shifted its allegiance to the present government, which was why a legislative committee report on drug trade in Goa was not being adopted by the BJP-led coalition government.
“Why are BJP’s Hindu MLAs not coming forward to criticise the Goa Church for starting a debate on secularism and communalism? Why are only Christian MLAs being used as a mask by the BJP?” D’Mello said, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to start in-fighting within the minority community in Goa.
Goa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza of the BJP and other Catholic legislators, who are either members of the saffron party or are part of the ruling coalition, have been openly criticising the Church as well as the Roman Catholic priests in Goa for the last one week.
While D’Souza blamed the Church for trying to create a secularism versus communalism divide, Benaulim legislator Caitu Silva accused Catholic priests of supporting the Congress.
“I want to know why the priests do not tell the people two months in advance to support the Congress. Why do they tell us to support the Congress only on the eve of election,” Caitu told reporters Sunday.
The criticism of the Church and one of its social organisations by the ruling Catholic MLAs follows attempts by the former to kindle a secularism versus communalism debate ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, much to the displeasure of the BJP, which has insisted on development as the agenda for the general elections.
A circular and a voters’ pledge issued by the Church and its satellite organisations was also obliquely critical of exclusionary and corrupt governance methods adopted by both BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
The Goa Church is a significant player in Goa’s socio-political space with its Catholic population pegged at nearly 27 percent.
D’Mello also said the delay by the BJP-led Goa government to act on a crucial legislative committee report on the police-politician drug mafia in Goa, could mean that the drug mafia had switched loyalties to the incumbent government. The report, which was tabled last year, has not been adopted by the government yet.
“When was the report tabled? Why is the government not adopting it? BJP MLAs themselves are on record in the assembly as saying that minor children are slowly being addicted to drugs. Does the government want to encourage this?” D’Mello said.
Incidentally, D’Mello’s NCP is backing Congress candidate Ravi Naik for the North Goa parliamentary seat. Naik and his son Roy find themselves indicted in the very same report for their links to Goa’s drug mafia.
Uganda, April 01, 2014: A young woman in Uganda had to flee from her Muslim family when her father, a sheikh, tried to kill her after finding out about her conversion to Christianity.
Wenene Nuru (23) of Iki-Iki township in Pallisa district gave her life to Christ following a series of events that started with her listening to a Christian-Muslim radio debate about the Sonship of Jesus.
She subsequently had a dream in which she was praying in a church. Wenene then visited a Christian girl, who on 2 March took her to a birthday party, where a pastor spoke about Jesus being born in a person’s heart. “There and then I gave my life to Christ,” Wenene told Morning Star News.
Knowing that her father was likely to react angrily, she kept her new faith a secret. But the following day, a neighbour who had attended the same party told Wenene’s father about her conversion.
On the evening of 4 March, he attacked her. She recounted the ordeal:
My father began beating me with clubs and blows, and I started screaming in great pain. While I was down on the floor bleeding, my father went looking for a knife to kill me. A neighbour … helped me escape.
After receiving treatment in hospital for a week, Wenene was taken in by a church elder in Pallisa.
It can be extremely costly, even dangerous, for a Muslim to leave Islam (apostasy), in some contexts more than others. Tensions have been rising in Uganda over religious conversions.
On Christmas Eve 2011, Pastor Umar Mulinde, a convert from Islam, had acid thrown in his face by Islamic extremists. Doctors have since been able to save his sight and hearing, and he has undergone multiple facial reconstruction operations. Barnabas Fund has assisted with his medical costs.
Uganda is around 75% Christian, but Muslims form a majority in some areas, and Christians there live in a hostile context. Two church buildings, one in Budaka, the other in Butaleja, both predominantly Muslim districts, were burnt down by Islamic extremists in February. They also torched the home of Bishop James Kinyewa on 2 March. He said:
They were shouting “Allahu Akhbar” (“Allah is great”). Now the same militant group is hunting for my life. My family and I are now hiding ourselves, homeless and waiting for God’s intervention.
- morning star news
Lao, March 28, 2013: HRWLRF activists denounce that Christians were under considerable pressures to abandon their faith . For the authorities, they left the village of their “own free will”. Now they have rebuilt a small community in a new, safer area, with full freedom of worship.
Six Lao Christian families victims of constant pressure have had to leave their native Buddhist majority village in the south of the country; residents wanted to force them to abandon their religion and convert.
This is denounced by Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (Hrwlrf), an NGO based in the United States, according to which members of the minority were “threatened with eviction”, if the “did not renounce their faith”. However according to officials of the province of Savannakhet, the families left Natahall village, Phin district, of their “own free will” to “avoid confrontation” with the other inhabitants.
In early March (but the story only recently emerged) some Christian families fled the village of Natahall, building new housing in an area about ten kilometers distant. In the past, the group had converted to Christianity, and this choice, over time, created growing discontent and impatience between the Buddhist majority and the group, in particular, village elders and heads. This year was marked by a continuing escalation of tension, which resulted in the decision to flee.
According to the Hrwlrf report , members of the Christian minority were the victims of persecution and abuse. In December, the leaders of Natahall village, with the support of the police, issued an eviction order against them, but the group resisted and refused, at first, to flee or convert. The authorities “acted to ban the Christian faith from the village and expel the inhabitants who continued to profess Christianity”.
The last episode was on 11 March when, during a public meeting community leaders offended the Christians, calling them followers of a “foreign American religion” and forcing them to convert to Buddhism. The families decided to abandon their homes, starting a new life in a safer area .
Since the Communists came to power in 1975, and the resulting expulsion of foreign missionaries, the Christian minority in Laos has been under strict controls, its right to worship limited.
In a country of six million people, most people (67 per cent) are Buddhist. Christians make up about 2 per cent of the total, 0.7 per cent Catholic.
Protestant communities have suffered the most from religious persecution, a situation AsiaNews documented in the past. Cases include peasants deprived of food for their faith and clergymen arrested by the authorities.
Since April 2011, tighter controls have been imposed, following a violent crackdown against protests led by some groups within the country’s Hmong ethnic minority.