09/01/2004, 00.00
NEPAL - IRAQ
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Following attacks on mosques, churches risk being targeted also in Nepal

Catholic parish priest in Kathmandu: "Demonstrators are blaming the U.S. and Christians for the death of the 12 hostages"

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - "Christians too are becoming the target of public demonstrations.  Authorities have ordered us to not leave the parish, because of risks.  People are blaming the U.S. for the death of the 12 hostages.  Americans are considered Christian by the Nepalese:  we too are therefore at risk".  These are the alarming words of Father Justin, Nepalese priest of the Our Lady of the Assumption parish, in Kathmandu, in a telephone interview with AsiaNews.

In the capital of Nepal, demonstrations and public protests have begun against the government whom demonstrators are holding responsible for not having saved the 12 hostages.  A mosque has been attacked and now Christian churches are under threat.

Yesterday, the Internet site of a group of Islamic terrorists posted the news of the death of the 12 Nepalese workers who had been abducted last August 20th.  In a video of the killing, the Islamic militants claim to have killed the 12 Nepalese because  they "came from their country to fight the Muslims and to serve the Jews and the Christians...believing in Buddha as their God".

Out of a population of 23 milion (75% Hindu, 8% Buddist, 4% Muslim), there are some 500,000 Christians in Nepal, of which 7,000 are Catholic.

The following is Fr. Justin Lapcha's interview with AsiaNews:

 

Father Justin, how do things stand for you at the moment?

We are not going outside the parish, the authorities told us it is dangerous to do so.  Last night, many people surrounded the buildings of the parish.  Even various Protestant churches (Editor's note -- about 20 in Kathmandu) were surrounded by demonstrators.

What is the reason for these threats against Christians?

The demonstrators accuse the United States of being responsible for the death of the hostages because they were working for the Americans in Iraq.  In Nepal, the United States is seen as a Christian nation: for this reason, people are blaming the Christians for what has happened to the hostages.

What do you think of the killings in Iraq?

We are all Nepalese, whether Catholics or people of other faiths.  We all share in the pain of the families of those killed.  We protest against the brutality of the inhumane act.  Religion has nothing to do with what happened. (LF)

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