ASIA/INDIA " saffron colored corridor " to attack Christians: two Memorandum to the President of India
New Delhi (Agenzia Fides) - There is a real "saffron-colored corridor" - the color used by militants of the Hindu extremist groups - which extends from one side to the other side in India, on the western and the eastern side, with only one aim: to strike in all possible ways the Christian communities, with open or insidious and underground acts. It is the complaint in two memorandum presented to the highest authorities in India by the Christian communities, through ecumenical movements such as the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) and the "Catholic Secular Forum, organizations that both welcome the faithful of all confessions and build antennas on the Indian territory to protect the rights and freedom of believers in Christ.
Over the past three years it has become evident that more than a thousand anti-Christian incidents have occurred, as there is a "line of extremism" across the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat in central India, but also Andra Pradesh and Karnataka in the southern part of the country.
"There have been over 100 cases of true martyrdom of Christians, thousands of displaced persons, hundreds of churches, communities and institutions attacked," comments the Memorandum submitted to the President of India Pratibha Patil, the day after the hunger strike held in Orissa (see Fides 05/05/2011). Just Orissa is the "crossroads of hatred" and the attempt to "ethnic cleansing" against Christians, the text notes. The document said that "the name of a Hindu extremist leader, Indresh Kumran, already blamed for numerous terrorist attacks, appears among the organizers of the massacres of Khandamal (district of Orissa, the scene of violence in 2007-2008), carried out thanks to the support of military authorities. "
The massacre in Orissa, therefore, observes the GCIC, "is a test for the government about its real capacity to promote justice," it is a test on the function of criminal justice, but also a test of the government's effectiveness in ensuring the rights to Christians, like all other citizens. The Memorandum asks the National Detective Agency to investigate and prove the involvement of extremist leaders and senior military leaders, and to put an end to creeping boycott in Orissa imposed on Christians by Hindu militants of radical groups like the "Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
A second document on anti-Christian persecution that took place in Karnataka was submitted to the Indian President Pratibha Patil and Vice-President Mohammed Ansari. The memorandum, prepared by the "Catholic Secular Forum ", was delivered by the judge Michael Saldanha, drafter of a recent Report which restored the truth about anti-Christian violence in Karnataka which took place in 2008 (see Fides 24/2/2011).
The text expresses to the Indian authorities the increasing concern about the unsafe conditions, sometimes even terror, in which the Christian communities live, especially in the states of Karnataka and Orissa. Among the hot spots reported in the Memorandum: the rise of extremist militant Hindu; political support by the nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to extremist groups in many Indian states, the progressive weakening of the secular and tolerant character of the state; the delicate issues arising from the so-called "anti conversion law," measures that violate freedom of conscience, and false cases reported to attack Christians and the slowness of the state and the judicial institute on the protection of victims.
President Pratibha Patil said she was "shocked" to learn such cases of "authentic persecution," and she assured her personal support to promote in the Indian Union the protection of the rights of minority communities. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 05/09/2011)
ASIA/PAKISTAN-What does the future hold for Christians after "the Bin Laden era"?
Lahore (Fides Service) - "Bin Laden is dead but the crucial issue now is how many more Bin Laden`s are being born in Pakistan. Today the town is a hub for terrorists. In this situation there are disturbing questions about the involvement of institutions, and even the common people, in protecting the leader of Al Qaeda. So we ask ourselves: what will the future hold for Christians? "This is what Haroon Barkat Masih, Director of the Masihi Foundation says in an interview to Fides, a foundation that deals with the defense of religious minorities and in particular the protection of the Christians rights in Pakistan. The Foundation provides free legal assistance to Christian victims of violence and oppression. It currently provides, legal assistance to the Christian Asia Bibi (the first Pakistani woman sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy) and the protection of her family.
While the country is in a heated debate and there is a split in the Pakistani society (see Fides 05/07/2011), Haroon Masih talks about the political implications of "post Bin Laden:" On the political scene in Pakistan, there are several parties based on Islamic extremists or religious leaders or representatives close to the ideas of Bin Laden. I believe that the death of Bin Laden may generate the emergence of new leaders. We will see how the current leader of the extremist parties react. With regards to the government, there is now a coalition between the Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Q party based, in the past on rigid and fundamentalist positions. It is to be seen what fruits this alliance gives and how religious minorities will be treated, even thanks to the new Federal Minister for Harmony and Minorities. "
One key issue is the respect for human rights for all citizens: "The issue which regards respect for human rights is serious: violations starting from the denial of social rights, shortage of essential public services such as electricity and water are denied to large sections of the population. Or are evident in education or poverty conditions, " says Haroon Barkat Masih.
In this context, notes the Director, minorities suffering in particular: "In Pakistan, religious minorities - about 5% of the population - are victims of oppression by fundamentalist groups and their related political parties. The Hindu and Christian communities, but also the Ahmadi (considered a Muslim sect) are strongly discriminated. I would also like to mention the abuse of the blasphemy law, which - under the pretext of defending the name of the Prophet Mohammed or the Koran - has become a tool to target religious minorities. "
On the situation concerning the community of believers in Christ, Haroon Masih notes: "For Christians (about 2% of the population), the choice is: to suffer, leave the country or die. Today Christians are under constant threat of death, undergo forced conversion to Islam, forced Muslim marriages, forced Islamic education and unwarranted removal of assets and property. It must be said that those who suffer most are the poorest and most marginalized populations, and their social status and lack of proper education prevents economic, social and cultural development. " For this reason, claims Haroon Barkat Masih, "Pakistan after Bin Laden`s death has major challenges to face , and the international community can help keep attention focused on respect for human rights and religious freedom." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 05/10/2011)