06/07/2021, 16.28
INDIA
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Fake Sonia Gandhi picture fuels anti-Christian hatred over conversions

by Nirmala Carvalho

A picture of the president of the Congress Party, which was doctored to include a book titled ‘How to convert India into a Christian nation’, has gone viral on social media. For Sajan K. George (Global Council of Indian Christians), extremists are using conversions “to divert attention from the horrifying” COVID-19 disaster.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A picture showing Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi with a book titled "How to convert India into a Christian nation" has caused a stir on social media.

The fake picture was posted on twitter by an account called "No Conversion", which has over 200,000 followers. The tweet, which has since been deleted, is part of the latest anti-Christian campaign by Hindu nationalist groups.

In the picture, Ms Gandhi stands in front of a bookshelf that contains the offending book, a Bible and a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The tweet’s caption reads “‘Who reads all these books?”

In another tweet, the user accuses the Congress Party of “rampant conversion appeasement, and brainwashing of young generation”.

While the fake picture was circulating on social media, its original source was identified. It is actually a screenshot from a YouTube video that was published by the Indian National Congress in October 2020. Neither the book (with the rather unlikely title) nor the Bible or the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus appear on the background shelf.

"This morphed image shows how far the hatred spread by false propaganda can go. Sonia Gandhi is constantly in the crosshairs for her Italian origins, which are linked to the Christian faith,” said Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) speaking to AsiaNews.

The goal is “to make life difficult and suppress the religious freedom of 26 million Christians in India by raising false conversion allegations. The government’s census statistics show a decline in India’s Christian population which is 2.3 per cent.”

Today, however, “the bogey of conversions is raised to divert attention from the horrifying record death rate figures and breakdown in healthcare infrastructure during the second wave of COVID-19. This is politicisation of religion by vested interests.”

For George, "Ever since Sonia Gandhi became Congress president in 1998,” she has been “accused of being a tool of the CIA or the Italian Mafia.” Such “claims now are made against her son Rahul.

“There is no evidence for any of these conspiracy theories, but they remain in circulation to offer justification for hating Sonia because she is not a natural-born Indian.”

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