01/13/2012, 00.00
INDIA
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Kashmir Islamic court charges Rev. Khanna and Fr. Jim Borst with proselytizing

by Nirmala Carvalho
Final sentence within days. Grand Mufti of the region claims the two men are guilty of forced conversions. Rev. Khanna: "I fear for my life." John Dayal of the All Indian Christian Council (AICC): "Islamic Court has no authority, India is a secular and democratic state".
Srinagar (AsiaNews) - "I fear for my life. I am in danger”, is the cry of alarm launched by Rev. CM Khanna (pictured), pastor of All Saints Anglican Church to AsiaNews after his was indicted by a Islamic court in Kashmir for proselytism and forced conversions to Christianity. With him, the Shariah court (which has no legal authority in the State, ed) has also indicted Fr. Jim Borst, the Dutch Catholic Mill Hill missionary on the same charges. The Grand Mufti Muhammad Nasir region-ul-Islam said that the court will announce the sentence "as soon as possible."

In November 2011, the Islamic court had summoned the Rev.. Khanna, charging him with having led 7 young Muslims to baptism in exchange for money. To these accusations - always strongly rejected by the pastor and the converted themselves – led to the man being arrested and only released after a week. A similar fate for Fr. Jim Borst: the missionary had to respond to allegations of proselytizing before the Shariah court of Kashmir state in which he has lived for 49 years.

According to the Grand Mufti, Rev. Khanna allegedly confessed that he "lured" the young people to convert to Christianity. "The situation in Kashmir - said the Islamic leader - is going through a critical phase. If we do not immediately stop such things as these, they will have a negative impact on society. It is shocking and surprising that the Government tolerates such activities. "

"When I was called - said the rev. Khanna AsiaNews - I was alone, surrounded by 30 people. The tension was high and everybody was shouting insults and false accusations against me. The only confession that I made, was to admit the baptism. Those young adults have come into my church, they have expressed a desire to be baptized and follow a path of catechesis. Then, I told them of my commitment after the 2005 earthquake. I coordinated the rebuilding of many homes and no person has converted to Christianity. " At the end of the interrogation the pastor reveals, "I was forced to sign a document in urdu, I do not know what was written. I was terrified. "

"The Church - insists John Dayal, secretary general of the All Indian Christian Council (AICC) - does not accept any conversion by force or fraud. Throughout the region of Kashmir, the Christian community has only 400 people and has always lived in peace with its Muslim neighbours. We can not accept a verdict of the Islamic court or any other religion in India, because we are the largest democratic secular state in the world. "
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