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    » 02/28/2011, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Buddhists and Christians pray together for religious freedom in places where Buddha lived

    Kalpit Parajuli

    A two-day prayer gathering was held on 24-25 February. The event is set to go on the road to an additional 50 nations, including Myanmar, where slogans will be changed for security reasons.

    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of Buddhist religious leaders from around the world met in Nepal last Thursday and Friday. They were joined by Christian and Hindu religious leaders. The purpose of the event was to pray together for peace and greater religious freedom for minorities.

    The two-day meeting began at the Buddhist temple in Bauddhanath (Kathmandu) and ended in Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. Organised by the Buddhist World Peace Association, the initiative will go on the road to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, South Korea and other predominantly Buddhist nations. It will also travel to an additional 50 nations.

    According to Kenseng Lama, one of the organiser of the Nepali event, the prayer meeting is meant to counter rising conflicts and the repression of religious minorities.

    The initiative will be taken to countries where religious freedom is violated, like Myanmar. Slogans will change in such locations to avoid friction with the authorities.

    “We Nepalis prayed to see the right to freedom of religion enshrined in a new constitution,” Lama said.

    A number of Christian religious leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, joined Buddhist religious leaders in prayer vigils.

    “We support the event,” said Binod Thapa, a Protestant leader, “because like Buddhists we want more religious freedom.”

    “Under the new government, minority rights and the separation between state and religion are among the new founding principles of the new constitution,” he noted. Yet, Christians in Kathmandu and other Nepali cities still do not have a place to bury their dead, and are still threatened by Hindu extremists.

    Nepal became a secular state in 2006 after centuries of rule by an absolute Hindu monarchy. Religious minorities, especially Christians and Muslims, have only recently gained the right to build their own places of worship and conduct religious functions in public.

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    See also

    04/11/2011 NEPAL
    Christians on hunger strike, demanding a place to bury the dead
    The fast began on 2 November in the capital. Christians, Muslims and Kirati denounce the inaction of the government that forbids them to have cemeteries.

    15/07/2008 NEPAL
    Inter-faith prayer to honour the memory of Father Prakash, Nepali martyr
    The leaders of the country’s main religions condemn the murder of the Catholic priest, the first martyr of the Nepali Church. They urge the faithful to follow the path laid down by the missionary, working for the poor and promoting a dialogue among religions.

    16/12/2004 Turkey – EUROPEAN UNION
    Brussels to decide Turkish bid to join EU
    Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan says Europe should prove it is not a Christian club. France is in favour of Turkey's entry because it is in its interest but demands Turkey acknowledge Armenian genocide. European bishops state that the EU is forgetting Turkish violations of religious freedom.

    26/02/2009 NEPAL
    Former Nepalese king visits India: meetings with Hindu leaders scheduled
    For the first time since the end of the monarchy, Gyanendra has gone to New Delhi. It is possible that he will meet with Prime Minister Singh and members of the BJP. For the former Nepalese ambassador in India, the former monarch could ask for pressure on the Maoist government.

    25/02/2009 NEPAL
    Shivaratri, first Hindu festival under Maoist government
    More than 400,000 devotees at the temple of Pashupati. Extremely heavy security measures. Authorities outlaw use of marijuana. The faithful are still outraged over the dismissal of the Indian monks, ordered by the government in January.



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