India: A Christmas of peace in a year of persecution

world | Dec 23, 2011 | By Asia News

Mumbai - "The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) prays that the birth of Christ can bring peace in Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and all those places in India where Christians are persecuted for their faith." The hope of Sajan K George, president of the GCIC, comes in the wake of a statement by Hindu fundamentalists in Kandhamal (Orissa), intent on a lockout of the district from now until December 27, to prevent the celebration of Christmas for local Christians.

In terms of religious freedom, this year’s balance is dramatic: in 2011 in fact, the Christian minority has suffered 170 attacks at the hands of Hindu nationalists. Karnataka is the state with the highest number of 45 incidents. Followed by Orissa, 25 cases; Madhya Pradesh, 15, Kerala 10, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharastra with 6 each. Then there are isolated incidents and assaults that go unreported.

According to data collected by the GCIC, the attacks are systematic and of all kinds: assassinations, maiming, injury to the eyes and ears, often with permanent damage; churches, Bibles, crucifixes and other religious artefacts destroyed or desecrated, burned, cars, motorcycles and bikes, forced expropriation of land and houses, desecrated garves.

"The attacks - specifies Sajan George - are all based on religion and do not respect even the philosophical precepts of the Bhagavad Gita (sacred text of Hinduism, ed), that teaches all Indians love and respect for believers of all religions ".

The president of the GCIC also underlines "the powerful social message of Christmas, as it appears in the manger." According to Sajan George, the manger where Jesus was born is the houses of all persons who "are likely to be vandalized or destroyed by Hindu ultra-nationalist forces, which enjoy the protection of politicians and police."

"The crib - he continues - evokes powerful images: it teaches us that social class and education are insignificant and that all men are brothers. The family, the cornerstone of society is crumbling, and the tenderness shown by the crib is the ideal to which Christian families should aspire: a mother and a father in prayer, watching their son, his innocence. Joseph, who is committed to protect him, Mary, who adores him. But in Karnataka, Hindu radicals break the intimacy of Christian homes, they destroy what they find, attack and beat even the women faithful. These Hindu forces are not only destroying the sanctity of the home, but the moral fibre of society itself. "

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