Kashmir: Minister criticised for saying "conversions are unconstitutional"
by Nirmala Carvalho
Farooq Abdullah, the current Minister of Renewable Energy, has supported the verdict of expulsion against Christian missionaries, issued by an Islamic court of Kashmir. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) has sent an official letter to the Prime Minister to request his removal from the government cabinet.
Srinagar (AsiaNews) - The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) asked the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to expel Farooq Abdullah (pictured), current Minister of Renewable Energy, from the Council of ministers for "anti-constitutional statements." Presented yesterday, the official letter refers to the ambiguous statements made by the Minister to journalists. Commenting on the verdict of expulsion decreed by an Islamic court against five Christian missionaries in Kashmir, Abdullah said: "The promotion of activities of conversion is unconstitutional. We must respect the other's religion. " According to the GCIC, such statements are "a disgrace to the entire government" and "humiliation for the country."
Among the personalities involved in the Shariah court's ruling, are the Anglican pastor CM Khanna and Fr Jim Borst, accused of proselytism and forced conversions by the Grand Mufti of Kashmir. The Pastor’s alleged crime – for which he spent 10 days in jail - is that he baptized 7 young Muslims. They, despite pressure from the police, have always declared that they had converted in full autonomy and freedom. From some time Fr. Borst, Dutch Mill Hill missionary who has spent 49 years in the State, has been accused of proselytism because of his prestigious schools. According to some, the jealousy and envy of Islamic intellectuals are in fact behind the accusations.
In his letter to Singh, the GCIC states: "In supporting the action of an Islamic court, a federal minister has drooped down to the lowest level to endorse the unconstitutional action of self styled Sharia court of expulsion of Indian citizens from the sovereign democratic Republic of India. " According to the Christian organization, " the statement of Janab Abdulla and unilateral decision by the Mufti Azam and his sharia court can lead to the by now universally known “Fatwa,”. What could be the possible consequences, if the religious heads of different religions in a secular country like India begin to issue the orders in the days ahead like the one issued by the Muslim clergyman in Srinagar, to the members of other religions? ".
Considering the composition of his family, however, the statements of Farooq Abdullah are even more surprising. The minister's wife, Molly, is a Christian from London. One daughter is married to Sachin Pilot, Hindu and current Minister of Communications. Another daughter is engaged to a South African Christian. Finally, he himself - as his son Omar Abdullah, the current chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir - studied at the Burn Hall School, a Catholic missionary institute of Fr. Jim Borst.
According to Joseph Dhar, a Brahmin Hindu convert to Christianity, "the statements of Abdullah should not upset me. When it comes to Islam, even a moderate Muslim will not go against their religion. " Perhaps, he stresses, "the Christian leadership in Kashmir should be stronger and defend the missionaries and priests affected by similar accusations. Article 25 of our Constitution guarantees the right to worship, prayer and spreading of religion. This clearly establishes the legality of conversions. "