01/15/2007, 00.00
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Muslim leader defends Himachal Pradesh Christians

by Nirmala Carvalho
In an open letter to Sonia Gandhi, Syed Shahabuddin, a former lawman and president of the All India Muslim Union, wants the state’s proposed anti-conversion bill dropped because it is unnecessary and dangerous to the whole Union.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – In an open letter to Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi, former lawman and leader of the Majlis-e-Mushawarat (All India Muslim Union) Syed Shahabuddin said that the adoption of anti-conversion law in Himachal Pradesh will have negative repercussions throughout the country and cannot be justified on any objective bases given the small size and excellent behaviour of the local Christian community.

In his letter, Shahabuddin stressed that adopting an anti-conversion law in a state where there are no forced conversions and where Christians are “only 8,000” creates a dangerous precedent. Even if they may have been justified for historical reasons in states like Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, such laws make no sense and have no excuse in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat, which are just waiting in the wings to adopt similarly dangerous legislation.

Ultimately, the Muslim leader said Ms Gandhi should “advise the government of Himachal Pradesh not to submit the bill to the governor for signature and let it die a natural death”.

Abraham Mathai, general secretary of the India Christian Council, also wrote to Sonia Gandhi. In his letter, he said that “it is necessary to intervene against a law that extinguishes the spirit of freedom among Indian citizens”.

He pointed out that anti-conversion laws have been adopted in states run by the Bharatya Janata Party, the largest Hindu nationalist party.

In the message, he praised Ms Gandhi “as an icon of sacrifice and service in a political atmosphere that is plagued with selfishness and self-aggrandizement.”

Furthermore, he wrote that “the people of this country have great hope in you to lead the nation to greater heights of prosperity without compromising the ideals of our founding fathers.”

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