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ICC Note:

Christians in Nepal have submitted a petition to the country’s Prime Minister to remove the anti-conversion law that was added to the penal code last month. According to the law, to convert from one religion to another or to cause another person to convert from one religion to another was to be punished with up to five years in prison. Nepali Christians are hoping to have this law removed from the penal code and for full religious freedom to be respected in the country. 

11/07/2017 Nepal (Asia News) – Christian leaders have submitted a petition to the Prime Minister of Nepal yesterday calling on the Nepali government to remove the clause punishing conversions and implement immediately the principle of religious freedom envisaged by the new constitution. The request was made as the country prepares to hold federal and provincial elections in November and December.

“Christians have been cheated in the past with assurances that have never been put into practice,” said C.B. Gahatraj, president of the Christian Federation of Nepal, after submitting the petition.

“We are not just going to be used as vote banks as in the past,” he explained. “We demand an immediate amendment to the law to ensure freedom of conversion and choice. Everyone is free to choose their faith and practice it.”

Mr. Gahatraj also reiterated the total respect by Christians of other religions and the refusal to forced conversions. However, he fears that charges of forced conversions will be used to punish men and women religious for engaging in evangelization.

In a similar vein, Catholic Vicar General Fr. Shilas Bogati said, “We want respect as we respect other faith groups. The State cannot impose itself on the free practice of the Christian faith.”

“Some religious fundamentalists are spreading rumors in which they dream of a South Asia that is a Hindu region,” he added. “This is impossible. Religious freedom for all, including for Christians, has to be guaranteed not only in words but also in practice.”

“The Prime Minister has made a commitment to address the demands of the Christian community,” said Dinesh Bhattarai, advisor to the prime minister. “This will be immediately put into practice and everything will be settled before elections.”

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