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    » 04/04/2007, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Concern over death threats against Dalai Lama

    Prakash Dubey

    Indian news agencies report that an Islamic extremist group has made threats against the life of the Buddhist leader. In Nepal monks and lay people are praying for his safety as believers from all communities organise a joint prayer meeting. In India the authorities have beefed up security arrangements around the religious leader.

    Lumbini (AsiaNews) – Nepal’s three million Buddhists are alarmed over death threats made against the Dalai Lama, allegedly by Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Toiba. In Lumbini, Buddha’s birth place in southern Nepal, monks and lay people are praying for him.

    A local monk, Bhante Jaydeo, told AsiaNews that the Dalai Lama “is an apostle of non violence and peace. In spite of being a victim of Chinese Communist violence he has never preached for a violent uprising in Tibet and has always called for reconciliation” with Beijing. “Here in town monks and the faithful have prepared special prayers for his safety.”

    When an Indian paper reported the threat on April 1, police in Dharamsala (India) where the Dalai Lama lives in exile stepped up security arrangements.

    Lashkar-e-Toiba is based in Pakistani-held Kashmir and is among the most powerful Islamic terrorist groups in South Asia. It is thought to be tied to al-Qaeda and it has been held responsible for many attacks in India.

    For experts, the threat made against the Buddhist leader is probably connected to a recent statement attributed to Osama bin Laden against all religions other than Islam, including “pagan Buddhism.”

    The Dalai Lama’s secretary Tanzin Tekla has refused any comment.

    The report has raised eyebrows because the Dalai Lama has never had any problems with Muslims.

    Abdul Dewan, a Muslim member of the Nepali Forum on Inter-faith Dialogue, is surprised that a believer in Allah would “want to kill a religious person without any faults like the Dalai Lama”.

    Shambhu Dewan, a Hindu from the Tharu tribe and also a member of the Forum, told AsiaNews that the report is reason for concern to believers of all religions, including Muslims.

    The Forum itself has decided to organise “a moment of inter-faith prayer for the life of the Tibetan spiritual leader and calls on the Nepali government to intervene with Pakistan to get this group to abandon this odious crime.”

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