10/19/2011, 00.00
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Kerala: U.S. evangelical pastor William Lee expelled

by Nirmala Carvalho
It will happen late this afternoon. The judge also ruled a fine of 10 thousand rupees, because he attended a religious festival. The U.S. citizen can no longer return to India. Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Police connivance with ultra-nationalist Hindu forces is shameful in the eyes of the international community."
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The American evangelical pastor William Lee will be expelled from India today for violating the rules governing the tourist visa, having participated in a religious festival. Christians criticize the decision and point out that the tourists who visit Hindu temples, do not undergo the same treatment. The expulsion was decided by Judge A. Ijas, of the court of Ernakulam (Kerala). In addition to deportation, Lee will have to pay a fine of 10 thousand rupees (about $ 205) and can no longer set foot in India.

Arrested on the night of October 14 last, the U.S. has spent four days in jail for participating in the Musical Splash 2011, a religious music festival (see AsiaNews, 10/17/2011, " Kerala, U.S. evangelical pastor arrested for taking part in prayer festival "). Under the laws of Kerala, foreigners holding tourist visa can not take part in religious meetings. Together with William Lee, the police also arrested Daniel Mathew, Roy Daniels and James, on the same charges.

For Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), "the humiliation of having handcuffs put on Pastor Lee, like a criminal and without evidence, implies that only Christians are victims of a blatant persecution, the selective morals of police and ethnic violence. " In addition, the activist complains, "the connivance of the police forces with the ultra-nationalist Hindus is an embarrassment for secular India before the international community".

Sajan George notes that the Lee case is not an isolated incident. Also in Kerala, in the past, American tourists were targeted by Hindu extremists and expelled from the country. It happened in Alappuzha, last June, to three Americans. Still, in February 2006: David Terrell, Carl Michael Van Meter and their bodyguard David Lee Taylor, invited by the Church of South India to a conference, have been expelled.

"But - says the president of the GCIC -, foreigners visiting the ashrams (places of Hindu meditation) of Kerala, like Amma or Sivananda, are not affected. Why treat the Christians with such contempt and discrimination? Moreover, this attitude is shameful for the spirit of hospitality in India, which many Hindu texts promote. "

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