03/14/2018, 09.57
INDIA
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Tamil Nadu’s Lenten passion: four Pentecostal prayer centres attacked

by Nirmala Carvalho

The places of worship are all located in the Madurai district. Pastors and faithful verbally assaulted with obscene language. Hindu radicals threaten to attack the homes of Christians.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Four Pentecostal places of worship have been attacked in Tamil Nadu, reports Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).  The activist has condemned "growing intolerance against the Christian faith and violating the constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship and practicing [one's own faith]".

In India, violence against the Christian minority does not even stop during Lent. The Christian leader complains that in Madurai the prayer centres "were threatened to stop all activities [related to Christian worship]. In the secular India, right-wing groups are encouraged by the absence of the administration's willingness to keep these common elements under control that carry forward their reign of terror against the tiny, vulnerable and often very poor Christian community ".

On March 11th a prayer centre of the Pentecostal church of Sikkandar Chavadi, in the district of Madurai, was vandalized and copies of the Bible were burned by members of radical Hindu groups. The Rev. M. Ravi Jacob, a pastor belonging to the Rhema Church was attacked by more than 10 people, including one who was escorted by a bodyguard. "These men used offensive language against me and my wife," he reports, adding that the attackers have took Bibles, his cell phone and other personal items and burned them in the middle of the road.

The same criminals later went to three other Pentecostal liturgical centres in the nearby areas and insulted the pastors and the faithful and threatened to target the homes of the Christians if they failed to obey the order to close the churches within a week.

Rev. Jerome Jegatheesan, pastor of Bethesda Varthaiyin Jeba Veedu Prayer Home to Koodal Pudur, reports that the attack took place about two hours after the first episode in Sikkandar Chavadi. "They verbally assaulted us with obscene words - he says - and asked us to stop our activities".

Rev. Sasi Sugathiya, a pastor of the Living God Church, said that two other prayer houses were attacked and threatened in the district of Koodal Puthur. The video of the assault on one of these was posted on Facebook by a group of self-styled Hindu Munnani members and went round the web. N. Manivannan, superintendent of the Madurai police, has registered the case against unknown persons following Rev. Jacob’s filing a complaint against 10 exponents of the movement. "We have identified three people - he says - but we have not yet arrested anyone".

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