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Religious minorities targeted by growing radical groups: Report

ICC Note

In South Asia , religious minorities including Christians are facing increasing persecution from radical groups.

By Dibin Samuel

07/02/2010 India (Christian Today)-In its South Asia chapter, the report criticizes India for human rights violations against minorities, indigenous communities and Dalits despite strong constitutional guarantees on minority..According to a leading minority rights organization, religious minorities in South Asia, including India are facing increased incidents of targeted attacks and persecution “as states are turning a blind eye to the rise of nationalist and radical groups that are responsible for such acts.”

The London-based Minority Rights Group International, in its 2010 report, calls religious intolerance the “new racism” and says it is one of the main causes of persecution of minorities.

In its South Asia chapter, the report criticizes India for human rights violations against minorities, indigenous communities and Dalits despite strong constitutional guarantees on minority protection.

The report accused Hindu nationalist extremists for continuing to “threaten Christians and Muslims, particularly among the poorest and most marginalized sections of society, such as the Dalits.”

Says Shobha Das, MRG’s Head of Programmes, “In some South Asian states, national or regional governments are actively supporting extremist groups, while in other cases states are turning a blind eye to their increasing influence.”

In its report, MRG said the 2008 violence against Christians and the climate of impunity towards violations of religious rights was the chief reason for the USCIRF to put India on the watch-list of countries. This, it said, had been a major blow to India ’s reputation for fostering religious pluralism.

It continued that Christians in India face threats and intimidation and are forcibly made to convert to Hinduism. “According to national newspaper reports in February 2009, 18 Catholic families were forcibly taken to a Hindu temple, where they were made to convert and perform Hindu rituals, as well as then sign statements that they had voluntarily converted.”

“Across South Asia, irrespective of the religious community you belong to, simply being in the minority puts you under increased threat of attack and persecution,” says Farah Mihlar, author of the South Asia chapter.

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