11/18/2010, 00.00
INDIA
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Attacked by a mob, Indian Protestant clergyman is arrested by police

by Nirmala Carvalho
Anti-Christian attacks are up in India. George Sajan, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, tells AsiaNews that the problem is not only a grim reality for Christians but also for secular India as a whole.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The increasing number of attacks against Christians are undermining India’s secular credentials, this according to George Sajan, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who spoke to AsiaNews about the problem. His statement was prompted by the recent arrest of Rev Peter Paul Muthyalan, in Islampura, not far from central Bangalore (Karnataka). Police acted after Muslim fanatics accused the Protestant clergyman of “forced conversions”. The latter also barged into his home, damaged some household items and tore up a number of Bibles.

Rev Muthyalan is an English teacher at the Sunshine English School, Mr Sajan said. Most students at the school are Muslim. The Protestant minister has also led worship services for about 30 people over the past five years at a local church.

One day, a colleague from Bible College gave him a few Urdu-language Bibles and gospel material. Some students saw this material and asked to see it. The pastor obliged and gave some brochures to students who asked for them.

On 26 October, a mob of some 300 Muslims descended upon his house. They accused him of converting Muslims. They physically assaulted him, broke into his house where they damaged furniture and other household items.

Rev Muthyalan told AsiaNews, “They beat me for almost an hour in front of my wife and my children. They ransacked the place, took away the DVD player and mobile phone and dragged me to the school, hitting me on the way. At the school, they complained to the principal about my activities.”

In the afternoon, police agents from the city of Nelamangala came to arrest him and his brother, charging them of violating Section 295 (A), which bans “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”.

The reverend was eventually released on bail on 30 October. He and his family were later moved to a safe place with the assistance of the GCIC because of death threats.

“This is a serious matter,” George Sajan told AsiaNews, “not only for the Christian community but also for the secular credentials of India. Karnataka’s vulnerable Christians are being regularly attacked with impunity. Whilst it is true that most attacks are from the Saffron brigade (Hindu extremists); increasing attacks against Christians in Iraq, Egypt and Algeria have emboldened (Muslim) radicals in Karnataka.”

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