Syro-Malabar Synod: 'love jihad' forced conversions damage social peace
by Nirmala Carvalho

The bishops cite official police reports that several converted Christians have joined ISIS. The police must "treat the issue as a problem of public order and not religious".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The practice of forced conversions with "love jihad" is a "reality in Kerala and endangers social peace and religious harmony": says the Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church [one of the three rites of the Indian Catholic Church, ed.] in an official statement released yesterday. The bishops express concern and urge the faithful to be attentive. "These practices - they add - represent a serious threat to the secular fabric of the state".

For a week the bishops have been meeting in Kakkanad, on the outskirts of Kochi, on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly. For the first time, a body of the Indian Church has raised the alarm about the increase in cases of Christian girls converted to Islam and "used for terrorist activities".

According to activists, particularly right wing nationalists, "love jihad" and "Romeo jihad" is a euphemism for Muslim organizations seducing girls of different religions with false declarations of love. The goal would be to convert them to Islam or radicalize them.

The bishops cite police reports that half of 21 Kerala Indians who joined the Islamic State in recent years are converted Christians. According to the Synod, presided over by Card. George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, "it is serious that the official data do not report [the existence] of many people converted and used in terrorist actions. These statistics show that 'love jihad' is not imaginary. "

The bishops stress that the practice of converting Christian girls "has nothing to do with friendship between religions". Finally, they urge "the government to treat the issue as a problem of public order and not religious".