Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepal's
religious leaders and political leaders have joined forces to counter the
country's political crisis and rising Hindu extremism, which are jeopardising
the secular nature of the state established in 2007. They did so at a meeting organised
a few days ago in the capital by the Freedom for All Nepal (FAN), an
association that favours interfaith dialogue. Representatives from the Protestant
and Muslim communities as well as members of the dissolved constituent assembly
instability, economic crisis and the lack of a permanent constitution have
rekindled support for the Hindu monarchy that was abolished in 2007 after 11
years of civil war and thousands of dead. However, at present, only the
transitional constitution of 2007 guarantees the separation of state and
recent months, former King Gyanendra has been organising rallies across the
country, offering to lead the country again. This has set off alarm bells among
supporters of secular democracy who fear a coup by the former king and Hindu
recent weeks, students linked to rightwing parties have attacked dozens of
foreign schools in Kathmandu and other areas, inducing the government to have
these educational facilities change their name to local languages and cut tuition
the former speaker of the constituent assembly, Subas Chandra Nembang, the
separation of state and religion "is a fact beyond discussion, a concept no one
can erase for it has become rooted in much of the population, and this despite
the dissolution of the (constituent) assembly."
to CB Gahatraj, a Protestant and a former of the constituent assembly, the
government must guarantee security and respect for religious freedom.
the past few years, police have not adequately dealt with Hindu extremists responsible
for a number of attacks against the Christian community, including the bombing
of Kathmandu's Catholic cathedral in 2009.
enforcement authorities have also shown little interest in pursuing the
investigation into the murders of Faizan Ahmad, a prominent Muslim leader, and Narayan
Pokhrel, a moderate Hindu leader.
the past, Nepal's monarchy did not allow any religion other than Hinduism. When
King Tribhuvan came back to the throne in 1951, the Nepali state was
transformed into a constitutional monarchy. Jesuit missionaries were allowed
into the country to establish schools for the local aristocracy and rich
bourgeois. However, freedom of worship came into effect only
When Gyanendra Shah became king, restrictions
on religion were reintroduced. In 2005, he
proclaimed a state of emergency to fight Maoist insurgents, disbanding parliament
and suppressing a number of fundamental rights guaranteed in the 1990
constitution, like freedom of expression and freedom of worship.
Those who participated in the aforementioned meeting agreed
to take the message of secular values and opportunities to the country's 75
districts, a message that was agreed by both conservative-leaning Congress
Party and representatives of the ruling Maoist government.