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    » 06/06/2011, 00.00

    NEPAL

    New criminal code to stop conversions to Christianity

    Kalpit Parajuli

    Changes to the criminal code are currently under review. Anyone preaching or trying to persuade others to change religion could get up to five years in prison and almost US$ 700 in fines. Christians fear new code could restrict religious freedom and be used by Hindu extremists.
    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal plans to reform its criminal code and ban proselytising in order to stop conversions to Christianity and religions other than Hinduism and Buddhism. According to Article 160 of the new code, anyone who preaches or tries to persuade others to change religion could get up to five years in prison and receive a fine of 50,000 Nepali rupees (US$ 865). This has raised fear and anger among Christians who are concerned about restrictions on religious freedom in the country. Presented on 15 May, the new code needs the approval of parliament and President Ram Baran Yadav.

    “The law is not against Christians who do great work in the service of the country,” Nepali Justice Minister Prabhu Sah told AsiaNews, “but is against the imposition of Christianity.”

    Sah said that Hindus and Buddhists have complained about conversions by aggressive proselytising by Protestant communities. “These charges do not apply to Catholics,” the minister said.

    Isu Jang Karki, head of the Nepal Christian Society, a Protestant group, slams the government proposal, saying that the charges about forced conversions are false.

    Religious minorities are not represented in parliament and the new code could be adopted without Christian input. Moreover, it could be used by Hindu extremists.

    Nepal became a secular state in 2007 after centuries of Hindu absolutist monarchy. According to the transitional constitution, adopted under the aegis of the United Nations, proselytising is banned, but all Nepali citizens are free to express their faith, including through missionary and charity work.

    According to some Church officials, thousands of Hindus have converted to Christianity after the fall of the monarchy. Each Sunday, more than 200 non-Christians attend Mass in Kathmandu’s Catholic cathedral.

    However, recent political and economic instability caused by a power struggle among secular parties has strengthened Hindu movements, which seek the restoration of the monarchy and want to end conversions at all cost.

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    See also

    25/08/2011 NEPAL
    New anti-conversion law causing fears, forcing Church to stop catechism course
    Classes for new catechumens from other religions are postponed to further notice. Nepal’s Catholic Church was not officially represented at World Youth Day in Madrid because of the country’s tense situation.

    01/10/2015 NEPAL
    For apostolic vicar, the new constitution threatens freedom of conscience
    Section 26 of the new constitutional charter is the offending clause. Hindu and government leaders say it will affect only forced conversions. Yet, after last week’s triple church arson attack, Hindu extremists continue to threaten Christian missionaries. For apostolic vicar, so far no real threat has yet materialised. Hence, “We shall continue our work and meet the needs of the people."

    04/04/2016 15:05:00 NEPAL
    Nepal cancels Christmas as a public holiday; Christians retort that Hindus have 83

    Nepal’s Home Affairs Minister justifies the decision by the need to reduce the number of religious feast days. Christians see the influence of "anti-Christian tendencies”. Christmas was declared a public holiday eight years ago, when Nepal became a secular state. Christian leaders also slam Article 156, which bans conversions.



    23/08/2011 NEPAL
    Catholic Church in Nepal: anti-conversion laws are unconstitutional
    Sections of the new penal code that violate religious freedom translated into English. The purpose is to stir up public opinion to pressure the government. International standards on Civil and Political Rights signed by the authorities after the fall of the Hindu monarchy, violated.

    17/08/2011 NEPAL
    Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Baha’is launch appeal against anti-conversion proposal
    Under an amended criminal code, heavy sentences could be imposed on anyone inducing others to convert or not to respect Hindu traditions. Killing cattle for the meat would be outlawed. Non-Hindu religious leaders want separate legislation and a commission to protect religious minorities.



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