Mumbai (AsiaNews) - In mid-March, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, said that all existing churches in the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed. Reacting to this the All India Christian Council (AICC) organization has condemned this statement as "bigoted" and "dangerous" for the many Christians who live in Arab states.
The All India Christian Council (AICC) condemns the statement of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, who claims it is "necessary to destroy all the churches in the region."
According to Joseph D'Souza, president of the AICC, the muftis' controversial demand endangers the Christian Churches throughout the Arabian Peninsula, and could have repercussions for religious minorities in other countries.
John Dayal, AICC General Secretary, calls on the Government of India and other civilized countries to ensure that the nations of the Arabian Peninsula clearly reject the Wahhabi imam's bigoted statement, and ensure security and protection to the churches in Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and UAE. Christianity is already banned in Saudi Arabia, there are no churches.
Local media reported the controversial statement together with the proposal of the Parliamentary Assembly of Kuwait, calling for the "removal" of the churches in his country.
Kuwait's parliament recently proposed to introduce laws on the removal of Christian churches from the country and imposition of strict laws inspired by sharia. Later, it clarified that the law was not talking about removing the churches, but forbade the construction of new churches and Christian places of worship in the Islamic country. The Grand Mufti stressed that Kuwait, as a State of the Arabian Peninsula, should destroy all the churches on its territory. There are many Christians living in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, many of whom come from India and the Philippines: More than 3.5 million in total, of which at least 800 thousand just in Saudi Arabia.
The All India Christian Council has been following the developments in the region for some time with growing alarm and concern, given that Christians continue to suffer violence and discrimination. The situation is particularly disturbing, because India has many of its citizens - mostly workers, but also businessmen, engineers and medical personnel - in the region. A large number of migrants from the southern states of India are Christian.
The All India Christian Council reiterates that the declaration of the Grand Mufti is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on religion or belief.