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  • » 10/07/2011, 00.00

    INDIA – MALDIVES

    Indian Catholic jailed in the Maldives over a Bible and a rosary

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Shijo Kokkattu, a 30-year-old teacher, was betrayed by his colleagues because he accidentally left a picture of Our Lady and some Marian songs on a school computer. Islam is state religion in the Maldives, where there is no freedom of worship. For Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, religious intolerance and injustice are the “worst form of persecution”.
    Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Shijo Kokkattu, an Indian Catholic from Kerala, has been languishing in a Maldives prison for more than a week because he had a Bible and a rosary at his home. Both items are banned on the archipelago.

    “The lack of justice and the degree of religious intolerance” on the islands “are reflected by the actions of the Maldives government,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). “This is the worst form of religious persecution. The Indian government should demand an apology for the shabby treatment inflicted on one of its citizens.”

    Islam is state religion in the Maldives. There is no freedom of worship. In 2008, a constitutional amendment denied non-Muslims the right to obtain Maldivian citizenship.

    Shijo, 30, has taught at Raafainu School on Raa Atoll for the past two years. Recently, whilst transferring some data from his pen drive to the school laptop, he accidentally copied Marian songs and a picture of Mother Mary into the system. Some teachers reported the matter to the police who raided his home and found a Bible and a rosary in his possession.

    Shijo Kokkattu’s case shows the paradox of the Maldives, a nation that “claims to be a major tourist destination, yet arrests innocent people,” George said. “This shows its intolerance and discrimination towards non-Muslims as well as its restrictions on freedom of conscience and religion.”

    “Religious freedom remains a taboo on the archipelago,” the GCIC president explained. “Muslims refuse all other forms of worship other than the one approved by the state. Doing the opposite means arrest. Kneeling, folding one’s hands or using religious symbols like crosses, candles, pictures or statues can lead to government action.”

    For George, “All this is a clear violation of universal human rights. If Muslims living in non-Muslim countries can enjoy religious rights, the spirit of reciprocity should apply to countries like the Maldives and Saudi Arabia.”
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    See also

    20/11/2013 INDIA - UNITED STATES
    Christian leader: religious freedom is central to the dialogue between Washington and New Delhi
    The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) backs a bipartisan US resolution concerning relations between the two countries. The United States is "concerned" about the violations of freedom of religion. India's political parties and religious organisations must "publicly oppose the exploitation of religious differences and denounce harassment and violence against religious minorities, especially in the run-up to India's general elections in 2014."

    16/12/2009 INDIA
    New attack against a church in Karnataka, the fourth in four days
    Stones are thrown at the Grotto of Saint Anthony in the village of Kolaigiri. It is the 66th act of violence against the Christian community in Karnataka. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, the authorities in BJP-run States ignore “a rising culture of violence and terror against minority Christian communities.”

    11/02/2012 INDIA
    Karnataka: Jesuits and schools targeted by Hindu nationalists
    Three attacks since 2011 at St. Joseph's PU College, Anekal. The religious are accused of not having displayed the national flag on Republic Day, but the president has always denied this. Silence of police and authorities. Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Their aim is to terrorize the Christian community."

    24/01/2017 15:14:00 INDIA
    The ecumenism of blood, tortured clergyman, and vocations in Odisha

    A clergyman was arrested in Telangana as he handed out copies of the Bible. He is now in hospital in serious condition. Sajan K George cites the murder of an Australian clergyman, Graham Staines, as a prelude to the anti-Christian pogrom of 2008. He says to pray for the clergyman: “May the blood of the martyrs be the seed of future Christians and of ecumenical unity."



    07/06/2011 INDIA
    Karnataka: police arrest Pentecostal pastor on false charges
    The incident happened in Bangalore on June 5. Hindu radicals campaign against the law intended by the government to curb sectarian violence. The President of the Global Council of Indian Christians: "We are treated like second class citizens."



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