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    » 05/10/2013, 00.00

    INDIA

    Christian missionaries must leave Kashmir or suffer the consequences, says Islamic extremist

    Nirmala Carvalho

    A militant from an armed group, the United Jihad Council, accuses priests of converting the poor in exchange for money. The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) slams the rise of religious intolerance against Christians. Two South Koreans were beaten and arrested for handing out Bibles in the street.

    Srinagar (AsiaNews) - "All Christian missionaries must immediately leave the Kashmir Valley. If they do not, they will suffer the consequences," warned Sadagat Hussain Syed, spokesman for the United Jihad Council, an umbrella organisation for Jammu and Kashmir jihadist groups. The words of the Islamic fundamentalist, "show the gravity of the situation in which Christians live in the only Indian state with a Muslim majority," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), as he spoke to AsiaNews.

    Recently, Sadagat issued a press release in which he accused Christian missionaries who live in Kashmir of "exploiting the poor and needy, offering them economic aid to convert them to Christianity."

    According to the Islamic extremist, this attitude is "highly regrettable" because "Islam is a religion of peace and harmony, which protects minorities. However," he warned, "anti-Islamic activities cannot be tolerated."

    Created in 1994, the United Jihad Council and its armed militants have been fighting for the independence of Jammu and Kashmir from India.

    According to the GCIC president, such statements lead to discrimination against the Christian minority. One of the latest examples of religious intolerance occurred on Monday in Lasjan, a village near Srinagar (the state capital).

    Two South Koreans were distributing Bibles and other Christian materials to passers-by, who could freely take them or not. When a mob gathered and beat up the two Christians, police arrived to arrest the two who are now in a safe place receiving medical care.

    For Sajan George, this "is a clear case of discrimination against the Christian faith and shows the double standards with which our minority is treated."

    In India, he noted, "it is very common to encounter foreigners wearing saffron-coloured clothes," which symbolises Hinduism, "distributing the Bhagavad Gita," the Hindu Sacred Book," at train stations. They enjoy full religious freedom, as enshrined in our Constitution, and no policeman will arrest them, ever."

    By contrast, in Jammu and Kashmir, Islamic militants will often go after foreign Christians and missionaries. In January for example, a group of foreign tourists was almost lynched after the publication of a few posts on Facebook.

    A similar case occurred in 2011, when Rev Chander Mani Khanna, a pastor with the All Saints Anglican Church, was arrested for baptising seven Muslims and then charged by an Islamic court (which has no legal authority in the state, nor elsewhere in India) for proselytising and forced conversions.

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    See also

    13/02/2012 INDIA
    High Court in Kashmir stays proceedings against Rev Khanna, but his life is in danger
    The authorities had laid charges against the Anglican clergyman after an Islamic court accused him proselytising and forced conversions. For Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the life of the Anglican pastor “is still in danger”. Three of the seven converts Rev Khanna had baptised have gone back to Islam after the Sharia court issued threats against them.

    22/11/2006 INDIA
    Jammu: Christian convert killed by Islamic militants

    Bashir Ahmad Tantray left  Islam around 10 years ago. Very active in social projects and evangelization, he was murdered by two strangers in broad daylight.



    31/10/2012 INDIA
    Jammu and Kashmir: husband does not have absolute power in divorce
    Established by the High Court of the State, in a marriage case. According to the court, reciting Talaq (Islamic formula) three times is only a "last resort" to be used only after attempting reconciliation. In Jammu and Kashmir nearly 2,500 cases are pending.

    26/09/2012 INDIA
    More than 50 village chiefs resign in Indian Kashmir following threats from Muslim extremists
    The decision comes after terrorist groups kill two local officials. Extremists fear losing support among the local populace. After last year's first democratic elections in 30 years, various administrations have opened new schools, health clinics and roads, making people freer and better educated.

    24/02/2011 INDIA
    Kashmir: a Christian school burnt down in Srinagar. Islamic militants suspected
    The attack, preceded by threatening phone calls, took place Feb. 19. The damage amounted to 60 million rupees. The Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar: "The political unease has added to unresolved issues and tensions grow. In this tense political landscape, we Christians are the victims. "



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