05/23/2013, 00.00
NEPAL

Catholics, Muslims and Hindus remember the attack on Kathmandu cathedral

Kalpit Parajuli
Hundreds of people attended today's Mass in the Church of the Assumption. "Extremist threats do not scare us," clergyman says. "We shall pursue our mission even more." Muslims and Hindus express their solidarity.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of people gathered this morning at the Church of the Assumption in Kathmandu to remember the terrible attack that took place on 23 May 2009 that claimed the lives of two people and injured 13. "We are not afraid to continue our service in the name of God," said Fr Robin Rai, parish priest at the Cathedral, which today was packed not only with Catholics, but also with Hindus and Muslims.

"Extremist threats, he added, "do not scare us. We shall pursue our mission even more." The priest pointed out that "Catholics are not for revenge, but always for the good of man and society, in solidarity with all other religious faiths."

The families of the victims and survivors of the attack took part in the ceremony. Shyam Rai, who was seriously injured by the blast caused by a bomb placed by Hindu extremists, told AsiaNews that his dramatic experience "increased his faith in God. Now I am ready to face any adversity in his name."

Kathmandu's small Catholic community prayed together with Muslim and Hindu representatives, who in recent years have shown on more than one occasion their solidarity with Christians.

"The attack has nothing to do with our religion. No believer has the right to take such action using the pretext of faith," said Damodar Gautam, a senior Hindu leader with the Interfaith Dialogue Council. "Unfortunately," he added, "Hinduism has been used by extremists to commit violence in the name of religion."

In recent years, several murders and attacks against religious minorities have occurred in Nepal, usually at the hands of Hindu extremists.

The Nepal Defence Army (NDA), the group responsible for the bombing of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu, is also responsible for the attack on the Birantnagar mosque in 2010 and the death of Fr John Prakash in 2008. Many of its leaders are currently in jail.

Despite threats and attacks, Nepal's Catholic community has grown in recent years. Today it has more than 7,000 members, representing approximately 0.45 per cent of the population.

Its activities, especially in the field of education, are known and respected throughout the country.

In 2011, the government declared Christmas a national holiday, allowing Christian processions and events in which hundreds of people of other faiths participate each year.

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