10/12/2007, 00.00
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Church condemns attack against Sufi shrine in Ajmer

by Nirmala Carvalho
The bishop of Jaipur-Ajmer will visit this afternoon people wounded in yesterday’s attack against the Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi Shrine, one of the most venerated in the country. For Mgr Menezes, hatred runs against religious teachings and only causes destruction.

Ajmer (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church “condemns this horrendous act of violence on this holy Sufi shrine in the strongest terms possible. Whilst I condemn the blast, the Church offers her prayerful sympathies to the bereaved families,” said Mgr Ignatius Menezes, bishop of Jaipur-Ajmer (in the eastern state of Rajasthan), as he spoke to AsiaNews about the terrorist attack against India’s best known Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi which left three people dead and 17 wounded, one seriously.

Initial police investigations indicate that a bomb was placed right by the tomb of the Sufi saint.

The Catholic prelate will visit this afternoon the Nehru Hospital where many of the victims are being treated. He urged all the churches in his dioceses to pray for their healing next Sunday.

As the local bishop “I am anguished and agonising over the communal mistrust and disharmony such a cowardly act brings about. The perpetrators of such terror acts and their deeds are evil. [. . .] Whilst it is not clear who is behind this horrendous act, such violence against a holy and religious place of worship and innocent civilians can only be described as an act of terrorism.”

For Monsignor Menezes “the timing of the bomb blast was sad coming during times of festivities for both Muslims and Hindus. The end of the holy month of Ramadan is to be celebrated in a few days and the bomb went off just a few minutes before our Muslim brothers and sisters broke their fast. And for Hindus, too, these are days of the Navrati (nine days of festivities) before the important Daseera festival.”

In concluding the bishop mentioned the examples of “great Indians like the Mahatma Gandhi, who preached non-violence.”

“We know,” he said, “that violence, especially terrorism which strikes blindly and claims countless innocent victims, is incapable of resolving conflicts and leads only to a deadly chain of destructive hatred. As a Church we have always tried to promote dialogue and social interaction but incidents like this are hard on our work.”

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