11/24/2008, 00.00
INDIA
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Kerala, procession for Christ the King, prayers for end to anti-Christian violence

Thousands of faithful have marched through the streets of the city, calling for religious freedom in India and greater protection for the Christian community. In Chennai, 28 women's movements have organized a demonstration calling for justice for Sister Meena, the nun raped by Hindu fundamentalists.

Kollam (AsiaNews/Agencies) - On November 23, thousands of faithful of the diocese of Kollam, in Kerala, participated in the traditional Kristhu Raj rally - the procession for Christ the King - to call for an end to the violence against Christians in India.

The procession is a traditional event for the diocese of Kollam, one of the oldest in the country; yesterday's observance (in the photo) also became an opportunity to call for religious freedom in India, demonstrating solidarity with the Christian community of Orissa, and to call for greater protection for Christians, the victims of crimes that often go unpunished.

Faithful from 102 parishes participated in the demonstration: it began at the school of St. Aloysius, and ended at the Saint Joseph Convent Girls High School, where the religious leaders held a public meeting. During the procession, many of the faithful chanted slogans and sang songs, accompanied by a crowd of curious people, many of them non-Christians, who always follow the procession of Christ the King.

Stanley Roman, the bishop of Kollam, said that "religious harmony used to be the hallmark of Kerala. But now the state is passing through a phase besieged with problems, he said. We are compelled to admit that something is wrong. We should not allow them to fester. We should identify the problems. The failure to seek the truth is the prime cause for problems in society. The community should uphold love, justice and truth."

On November 22 in Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, more than 2,000 people - many of them women and non-Christian faithful - attended a second protest march against anti-Christian violence in Orissa. The demonstration was organized by 28 women's groups of the Women’s Initiative for Secular India, and brought actors, writers, sisters, and ordinary people, who braved the driving rain to march through the streets of the city. The demonstrators asked the justice system for thorough investigations to punish those responsible for the rape of Sister Meena Barwa.

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