11/05/2011, 00.00
INDIA
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Karnataka, church of St. Alphonsus desecrated. Indian bishop: a cowardly act

by Nirmala Carvalho
Some young people destroyed a statue of Christ, religious objects and ruined a Bible. One of the vandals even dressed up in the religious vestments. For Mgr. Mukkuzhy the incident has "hurt the sensibilities of the faithful." Christian activist points finger at the state government, which covers up extremist violence.
Delhi (AsiaNews) - For the bishop of Belthangady, Msgr. Lawrence Mukkuzhy, it was a "vile" gesture that has "hurt the feelings" of all the faithful. The Christian activist Sajan K George points his finger at the government, which since the violence in Mangalore in 2008 has done nothing to stop fundamentalist. Leaders of the Christian community unanimously condemn the latest attack against a place of worship in India, where Hindu extremists are targeting buildings and symbols belonging to religious minorities with increasing frequency.

The latest case occurred at 8:30 pm on November 3 last in Kankanady, a resort town near Mangalore, a port city of Karnataka state in south-west of India. Three young men arrived at the Syro-Malabar Church of Saint Alphonsa, causing damage to property and desecrating sacred vestments. In particular, the 24 year old Shibu Maniraj entered the place of Catholic worship and destroyed a statue of Jesus Christ, preserved in the sacristy, desecrated a Bible was, ruined a stole and finally took off his own clothes and put on the sacred vestments, which he was still wearing when he left the church.

The Christian community condemns the latest episode of violence and desecration of a sacred place, in addition to recent cases of attacks on schools of St. Teresa and the Padua chapel. Msgr. Lawrence Mukkuzhy (pictured), bishop of Belthangady in Southern Kannada (Karnataka), points out that in 23 years of history, the St. Alphonsus had never been victim of damage or vandalism. The attack on November 3 "is a cowardly act" and "events of this type should not happen in any place of worship." The bishop thanked the police for their cooperation, but adds that, the reasons for the attack that "hurt the sensibilities of the faithful are not yet clear".

The words of the bishop are echoed by Sajan K George, activist and president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who speaks of the "38th anti-Christian attack in Karnataka ", where the BJP government - movement linked to the Hindu wing extremist - does not guarantee safety for religious minorities. He denounces the "complicity of the authorities" and the ease with which extremists flee from the shackles of law. And the sense of impunity, says Sajan K George, is confirmed by the derisory penalties imposed on perpetrators of violence against churches in Mangalore in 2008: all this has ensured a sense of impunity, which "allows fundamentalists to perpetuate their reign of terror and sectarian violence. "

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