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ICC Note:

Chairman of Christian group sends letter to National Commission for Minorities requesting a constitutional review of state laws after an increase in the amount of persecution against Christians.

AsiaNews (07/06/06) – In a letter to Jenab Mohammad Hamid Ansari, chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, a copy of which was also sent to the Union minority affairs minister, John Dayal, head of the All India Catholic Union (the largest organisation of Catholic lay people), said that the campaign of hatred and persecution launched by Hindu fundamentalists against Christians in Andhra Pradesh must be stopped because it is based on false charges and wrong premises and is terrorising a community that has always shown respect for everyone’s faith.

“There have been several incidents in the state in the last six months. Nuns and pastors have particularly been victimized and targeted,” Dayal said in his letter, especially in the Tirumala Hills, where one of the most revered Hindu temples is located.

These incidents are symptomatic of a dangerous scenario because the attacks are carried out for the purpose of inciting the population to inter-religious hatred. But as Dayal writes, “we [Christians] have absolute respect for the sense of reverence of our fellow citizens of all faiths. . . . We instinctively obey, in a sense of the honouring the Holy, exclusivity that may occur or be enforced by certain sects for their places of worship which are barred to others. . . . [But] there cannot, of course, be any question of public places, such as bus stops, railway stations, and in fact inside buses, being barred to Indian citizens of any and all faiths.”

The Christian activist is referring here to claims by Hindu extremists that given the proximity of such public places to the holiest Hindu places of worship Christians desecrate their religion even from that distance.

“Christians and their places of worship exist in such holy cities as Panipat, Kurukshetra, Amritsar , Ajmer . . . . [But here] there never has been trouble or harassment,” he said.

The June 25 attack against sisters of Mother Teresa during a visit to a local hospital is thus symptomatic of this widespread malaise.

For this reason, Mr Dayal wants a constitutional review of state laws that ban “citizens’ movement, profession and charity and social work”. Such laws discriminate against minorities.