11/24/2011, 00.00
INDIA

Kashmir life of the Anglican clergyman who christened 7 young Muslims at risk

Nirmala Carvalho
The son of Mani Khanna warns of the deteriorating health of his father, arrested on November Chander 19 on charges of forced conversion. A video spreads hatred against Christians. On Youtube and Facebook Muslims vow to burn buildings, churches and Christian schools.
Srinagar (AsiaNews) - "My father is seriously ill, suffering from diabetes and needs constant care. We fear for his life. " This is what Nathan Khanna, 28, told AsiaNews, son of Chander Mani Khanna, pastor of All Saints Anglican Church in Kashmir, accused by the Grand Mufti of the region of having forced the conversion of young Muslims in exchange for money. The pastor was arrested on November 19 last after a complaint filed by a local Islamic court. As proof, the Muslims have shown a video, posted on Yuotube and Facebook, showing the pastor baptizing seven young Muslims.

"The accusations against him are false - says Nathan Khanna - the images show only a ceremony it is not an attempt at forced conversion." The rapid spread of the video on Internet has triggered a witch hunt against Christian, likely to provoke clashes between Christian and Muslim communities. On Facebook, several hate-filled comments have appeared regarding the Pastor: "We swear to kill all Christian missionaries and burn their buildings, churches and schools, I offer myself volunteer to find this man, this priest should burn .. etc". Nathan says this happens in the total indifference of the authorities, who have no intention to remove the video. "I have no doubt that my phone and my mother’s phone are under control - he says - it is clear that someone is trying to provoke Muslims against my father in the name of religion." Despite the charges, the young man is proud to be the son Chander Mani Khanna, a man strong in faith and in his mission to witness to the truth.

The offending ceremony took place on 1 August and was filmed with a cell phone. The video appeared on the Internet after the refusal by Chander Mani Khanna to give an acquaintance of the Grand Mufti a place at the prestigious Christian school, the same Mufti who 12 days later issued a fatwa against the Pastor.

Kanta Khanna, wife of an Anglican pastor, said that the accusation of forced conversion was false. "My husband - she says - has appeared before the Islamic court even if it is only for Muslims. When he entered the room all present shouted Allah Akbar. " She said that young Muslims attended a course for a year to prepare for baptism, who had asked for it without any constriction after witnessing some of the activities of the Christian community.
"In these years – she adds - my husband has participated in the rehabilitation of earthquake victims working with the NGO Help Age. He moved with the approval of the local administration to coordinate the rehabilitation of people affected by the earthquake and this had nothing to do with church activities. "

To date Khanna is still in prison. Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state of India and has no anti-conversion laws. Police arrested the pastor according to art. 153A (people who promote disharmony, enmity or hatred based on religion, race, residence, language or caste) and 295A (people who offend the religious feelings of any class, with deliberate and malicious acts).

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