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    » 04/30/2014, 00.00

    NEPAL

    Some Nepalis to be asked to "reconsider their faith" to get their ID papers

    Christopher Sharma

    The Nepali government wants the country's religious minorities to submit to such a request. For Christian rights activist, "the government is trying to discourage us and those who wish to convert. This is against the law, democracy and civil rights".

    Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - The Nepali government announced that all Nepali citizens will be provided with a national Identity Card. However, members of religious minorities will have to submit to greater scrutiny to obtain their papers.

    The government plan also calls for Christians, Christian converts and Muslims to "reconsider their faith" before applying for their Identity Card (ID). Members of religious minorities will be asked in fact to reiterate their faith before registering for their ID papers. In case no religious affiliation is expressed, they will be registered as Hindus.

    For Christian rights activist CB Gahatraj, "By discriminating on the basis of the national identity card, the government is trying to discourage us and those who wish to convert. This is against the law, democracy and civil rights. Hence, I think the government should change and rectify its position."

    However, for Krishna Hari Baskota, secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister, "It is not about discrimination" because "Everyone will be able to obtain the papers." As he sees it, the problem is that "It takes a few days to fill out the forms with all the details, including religion".

    Ultimately, "We cannot deliver all the documents at once," he explained, because "It takes time to register all the data." At the same time, "We ask all Christians and members of other faiths to reconsider their own beliefs and join Hinduism."

    This comes as thousands of Hindus have converted without compulsion to Christianity over the past few years.

    Indeed, "No one is forced to embrace the Catholic faith," said Catholic Bishop Mgr Anthony Sharma, "but when someone is blessed by God's grace, we cannot deny him or her our support."

    For Rev Isu Karki, a Christian pastor, no one should judge and offend the faith of others. Instead, the government should provide all minority groups the same national identity card using the same procedures. All citizens are equal and there is no place for biases based on religion.

    Nurul Hassan, a member of the Muslim community, agrees. "We respect the Hindu majority in this country, but we cannot tolerate any discrimination against us and our beliefs. Every citizen has the right to choose freely their religion."

    As all religious minorities join in solidarity the fight against all forms of government discrimination, they call on the authorities to rectify immediately the recently announced procedures.

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    See also

    28/10/2008 NEPAL
    Minorities accuse Nepalese government of favoring Hinduism
    With the beginning of the feast of Tihar, ethnic minorities in the country are raising their voices against the Maoist government of Prachanda. They are criticizing the favorable treatment shown toward Hindus, accusing: "In Nepal, secularism is only a declaration of intent."

    29/01/2009 NEPAL
    Nepalese immigrants converting to Islam in order to work in Arab countries
    The charge has been made by the Nepalese workers' union: 2,000 cases in Qatar, 4,000 in the Arab emirates and Malaysia. The foreign minister has asked his embassies to verify these cases, and stop conversions made by force or external pressure.

    20/02/2012 NEPAL
    Nepali widow burned alive, accused of witchcraft
    Thegani Devi Yadav, 40, supported two children and in-laws with her work. The government provides compensation and punishes the culprits. A famous healer and magician, tied her and set her on fire with the help of some villagers. Human rights activists explain that "it is a very common practice" and the legacy of a society "dominated by Hinduism."

    27/02/2006 NEPAL
    Whites not allowed inside famous Hindu temple
    White foreigners are not allowed to visit Kathmandu's Pashupatinath Temple even though it is promoted as a tourist destination.  High caste Hindus are said to be behind the exclusionary policy.

    06/08/2015 NEPAL
    Nepalese Dalit politicians demand equality: charged and beaten by police
    At least 26 people hospitalized, some seriously injured. The Joint Dalit Political Committee demands the new constitution guarantee the rights of the lowest caste, discriminated against and considered inferior.



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