09/16/2010, 00.00
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Indian Muslim leaders slam anti-Christian attacks in Kashmir and Punjab

by Santosh Digal
Attacks against believers or desecrating places of worship are “despicable and uncivilised” acts. Muslim leaders call for legal against the culprits and urge fellow Muslims to express their dissent peacefully. The AICC slams the ‘Burn-the-Qur‘an’ campaign. Indian priest says the media should not give space to people sick in the mind.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Desecrating a sacred text is a “despicable and uncivilised” act. The desecration of churches in Punjab and Kashmir must also be condemned, Muslim leaders in India said. For them, the proposal of a US clergyman to burn the Qur‘an and the attack against Christian places of worship in India are both disgraceful.

“The desecration of any sacred text,” Muslim leaders said, “the vilification of any religious personality, or the attack against places of worship, anywhere in the world, . . . are despicable and uncivilised acts,” All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat President Syed Shahabuddin, Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Chief Asaduddin Owaisi and Milli Gazette Editor Zafarul Islam Khan said in a written statement. They were referring to anti-Christian attacks in Kashmir and in Maler Kotla, Punjab.

“Islam specifically prohibits such acts and behaviour,” they noted. “We urge the authorities concerned to take stern legal action against the culprits.”

“Whatever the provocation,” they added. “Muslims should limit their disapproval and protest against such incidents to peaceful demonstrations, press statements and memoranda to the authorities concerned.”

Meanwhile, the chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab have called for greater security for Christian communities in the areas affected by the violence.

The All India Christian Council (AICC) also spoke out on the ‘Burn-the-Qur‘an’ issue to slam the initiative as the herald of more violence.

“The best way to remember the innocent victims [. . .] is to renounce violence, especially if it is motivated by violence,” it said.

At the same time, the AICC has called for the arrest of those responsible for the attacks against Christian schools and churches, as well as respect for the rights of Christian minorities.

Fr Pushpa Augustine, Islam expert and executive secretary for Ecumenism at the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India-Latin Rite, harshly criticised US clergyman Terry Jones for his campaign, which has led to violence in Asia.

“It is totally against the spirit of Christianity and the teachings of Christ. It goes against the nature of human respect and human dignity. Such people should be just ignored in the future and the media should prevent itself from entertaining such persons who have a sick mind,” he said.

Card Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, also spoke on behalf of the organisation.

“I am glad that the Vatican denounced the Qur‘an-burning campaign. Various Christian leaders across the globe too joined hands in decrying such anti-Muslim actions,” he added.

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