09/09/2006, 00.00
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Card.Toppo: "Condemn violence and cling to hope of better future"

by Nirmala Carvalho

The cardinal, president of the Indian Bishops' Conference, condemned yesterday's attack against the Muslim community in India and urged people to keep hoping, and to look to Gandhi's message as the key to the future of the country and all mankind.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – The blasts in Malegaon "must be condemned in the strongest terms" because they are a "tragedy that has infused terror in the minds and hearts of our people, terror that we share. The time has come for all to turn their eyes again to God".

With this call to hope, Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi and president of the Indian Bishops' Conference, gave his reaction to AsiaNews about yesterday's attack outside a mosque in Malegaon in Nasik district (western state of Maharashtra).

The bombs, which may have been hidden in a parking lot, killed 37 people and injured at least 100 others. Children were among the victims. Investigators have not yet pointed to any suspects but it seems the attack was sparked by sectarian motivations.

The victims had gathered in the town to celebrate the feast of Shab-e-Barat [night of blessings ndr], a time when Muslims pray for their dead in mosques during the night and ask pardon for their sins.

"This is a moment of crisis, the effects of which are evident in people's lives. As President of the Indian Bishops' Conference, I feel called to speak words of hope and encouragement in these times of fear," said Cardinal Toppo.

"I want to encourage people not to give in and to keep hoping. India has a rich tradition of tolerance and respect for religion, so we should hope for a better future – a future of mutual respect, peace and harmony."

He continued: "Hope sustains our capacity to live with danger without being overwhelmed by it; hope is the will to struggle against obstacles even when they appear insurmountable. It is time to re-orient our lives to God: all of us, of different religious beliefs, are called to turn our eyes to God."

Cardinal Toppo urged one and all to look at faith as "the main teaching, which shows us that our hope rests in the God who gave us life and sustains the world by his power. It is he who has called us to revere the lives of every person and all peoples."

"In this context, the message of Gandhi's non-violence is most relevant and perennial," added the cardinal. "The attack came just two days before the centenary of the 'Satyagraha' [non-violent movement] and this prompts us to remember the teaching of the father of the nation, who influenced the whole world. The future of India and humanity lies in the direction Gandhi showed us."

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See also
Delhi, letter to Singh: Muslims not terrorists, respect their community"
Mumbai Muslims and Hindus unite to slam terrorism after bombings
Varanasi: Fatwa against those who attack holy places of all faiths
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