Islamic ” State ” beheads, crucifies in push for Syria’s east

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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iraqSyria, August 11, 2014: Islamic State has crushed a pocket of resistance to its control in eastern Syria, crucifying two people and executing 23 others in the past five days, a monitoring group said on Monday.

The insurgents, who are also making rapid advances in Iraq, are tightening their grip inSyria, of which they now control roughly a third, mostly rural areas in the north and east.

Fighters from the al-Sheitaat tribe in eastern Deir al-Zor had tried to resist Islamic State’s advance this month, according to residents near the area and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring organization.

In al-Shaafa, a town on the banks of the Euphrates river, Islamic State beheaded two men from the al-Sheitaat clan on Sunday, the Observatory said, and gave residents a 12-hour deadline on Monday to hand over members of the tribe.

In other parts of Deir al-Zor province, the militants crucified two men for the crime of “dealing with apostates” in the city of Mayadin, and two others were beheaded for blasphemy in the nearby town of al-Bulel, the Observatory said.

Islamic State, which has fought the Syrian army, Kurdish militias and Sunni Muslim tribal forces, has made rapid gains in Syria since it seized northern Iraq’s largest city, Mosul, on June 10, and declared an Islamic caliphate.

The Observatory said a further 19 men from the al-Sheitaat tribe were executed on Thursday, 18 shot dead and one beheaded, on the outskirts of Deir al-Zor city. It said the men worked at an oil installation.

“No one will now dare from the other tribes to move against Islamic State after the defeat of the al-Sheitaat,” said Ahmad Ziyada al-Qaissi, an Islamic State sympathizer contacted by Skype from Mayadin.

Tribal sources say the conflict between Islamic State and the al-Sheitaat tribe, who number about 70,000, flared after Islamic State took over of two oil fields in July.

One of those, al-Omar, is the biggest oil and gas field in Deir al-Zor and has been a lucrative source of funds for rebel groups.

The head of the al-Sheitaat tribe, Sheikh Rafaa Aakla al-Raju, called in a video message for other tribes to join the fight against Islamic State.

“We appeal to the other tribes to stand by us because it will be their turn next … If (Islamic State) are done with us the other tribes will targeted after al-Sheitaat. They are the next target,” he said in the video, posted on YouTube on Sunday.

WINNING RESPECT

A Syrian human rights activist from Deir al-Zor who fled for Turkey last year said rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad had retreated to al-Sheitaat tribal areas from which they had been trying to mount resistance to Islamic State.

He said, on condition of anonymity, that the resistance had been crushed in the last few days. “The situation is very bad, but the people can’t repel them,” he said.

He said that, in tandem with their violent campaign, Islamic State was distributing gas, electricity, fuel and food to garner local support.

“It is a poor area. They are winning support this way. They won a lot of support this way. They are halting theft and punishing thieves. This is also giving them credibility.”

Another resident of Deir al-Zor, Abdullah al-Noami, said that four al-Sheitaat towns had fallen.

“These areas have fallen into the hands of Islamic State after the withdrawal of the (al-Sheitaat) fighters. The youths who were found were executed or their heads were cut off on the grounds that they fought against Islamic State,” he said.

More than 170,000 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war, which pits overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels against Assad, a member of the Shi’ite-derived Alawite minority, backed by Shi’ite militias from Iraq and Lebanon.

The insurgency is split between competing factions, with Islamic State emerging as the most powerful.

In Raqqa, Islamic State’s power base in Syria, its hold appears to be growing only firmer even as Syrian government forces intensify air strikes on territory held by the group.

One Syrian living in an area of Islamic State control near Raqqa said the number of its fighters in the streets had grown dramatically in the last few weeks, particularly since it captured the army’s 17th Division at the end of July.

The group has levied a tax on non-Muslims, and settled foreign fighters in confiscated homes, said the resident, who asked for anonymity due to security concerns.

But despite that, as in Deir al-Zor, it has won a degree of respect among locals by curbing crime using their version law of and order. For youths without work, salaries offered by Islamic State are one of the few sources of income.

“The (Islamic) State has respect and standing and its voice is heard,” said the resident, speaking by Skype.

- reuters

Secular forces in Gujarat, Bangalore and Thane speak against persecution

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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GUCFHR special prayers in all Christian churches of Gujarat for peace in Iraq & the Middle East

Iraqi Christians at prayerAt a meeting of the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights (GUCFHR) held at Bishop’s House, Mirzapur held, Bishops, Church Elders and representatives of the Christian Community in Gujarat decided that:“Special prayers for peace in Iraq & the Middle East will be held in all Churches all over Gujarat on Saturday, 16th & Sunday 17th August 2014”.

The GUCFHR unequivocally condemned the attacks on the Palestinians  in Gaza and also the brutal killings and attacks by the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq & Syria) on Christians and other minorities in Iraq.  Further, the GUCHFR re-echoed the words and appeals from the World Council of Churches, the Vatican and of His Holiness Pope Francis that, ‘You cannot make war in the name of God’, and have urged the perpetrators to shun these inhuman acts of violence immediately.

The GUCFHR have also called upon all world leaders and all men & women of goodwill to do all they can to ensure lasting peace in these zones of conflict. Finally, the GUCFHR expressed  sympathy, solidarity and support to all victims of these violent conflicts. A circular will  be read out at all services in all Churches of Gujarat on August 16th & 17th.2014.

For GUCFHR
Archbishop S. Fernandes sj (Catholic Archdiocese of Gandhinagar)
Dr. Geevarghese Mar Yulios (Syrian Orthodox Church)
Bishop Silvans Christian (CNI Diocese of Gujarat)
Bishop Thomas Macwan (Catholic Diocese of Ahmedabad)
The Church of North India (Gujarat Diocese)
Catholic Archdiocese of Gandhinagar
Catholic Diocese of Ahmedabad
Catholic Diocese of Baroda
Catholic Diocese of Rajkot
The Gujarat Regional Conference of the Methodist Church in India
Salvation Army Indian (Western)
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Mar Thoma Syrian Church
Seventh Day Adventist Church (Gujarat Conference)
Syrian Orthodox Church
Christian Missionary Alliance of India (Gujarat Synod)
and many more…

Secular forces in Bangalore speak against persecution

BangaloreThe Indian Social Institute in collaboration with Karnataka Komu Souhardika Vedike (KKSV) – Karnataka Communal Harmony Forum – and other individuals, civil society organizations, faith based organizations etc is organising a public demonstration on 17th August (Sunday), 2014 at Town Hall, Bangalore from 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm.

The KKSV is holding its consultative meeting in ISI on 16th and 17th August, 2014. Girish Karnad, Ram Punyani, Irfan Engineer, Teesta Setalwad, Anand Teltumbde etc are expected to be present. On 17th evening a public demonstration is being organized at Town Hall highlighting our solidarity for the following issues:
1)      The Victims of War in Gaza;
2)      The Victims of Communal Violence in Kandhamal;
3)      The Victims of Violence against Women;
4)      Demand for Greater Democratic Space.

We can all gather under the banner of KKSV and / or others can bring their own banner and or placards. Let us be present and also mobilize lots of youth who are willing to be part of these efforts and express their solidarity.

- Prakash Louis

Kandhamal Day in Thane, Maharashtra

Anti-Christian Violence in Kandhamal25th August marks the sixth year of the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008. Six years after the violence, the perpetrators are still at large, and justice and peace for most of the survivors remain illusive. Justice and Peace Commission (Mumbai), Sanjeevan Kendra (Thane) and Archdiocesan Women’s Commission are organizing a public meeting to observe Kandhamal Day – by way of extending solidarity to the victims and survivors, and their brave struggle for justice and citizenship rights. The meeting will also discuss the importance of peace, justice and accountability for a secular democracy in India. You are cordially invited to participate in the meeting and discussion.

Venue:  The Pavilion, St. John the Baptist, Jambli Naka, Thane (West)

Date and Time:   23 August 2014, Saturday, 6.00 pm-8.00 pm

The following is the schedule of the program, remembering our affected sisters and brothers :
a. Film Screening: Indomitable Women Survivors of Kandhamal (duration: 25 mins)

b. Kandhamal Violence: Repercussions on a Secular India
- Irfan Engineer (Peace activist and Director, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)

c. Breaking the Shackled Silence: Unheard Voices of Women from Kandhamal
- Saumya Uma (Researcher & activist – human rights, gender and the law)

d. Impact of Communal Violence on Minority Rights, Women’s Rights & a Secular Democracy
- Vahida Nainar (Independent researcher – women’s rights & human rights)

e. Questions and Answers / Discussion

Note: Kindly confirm your participation by 20th August 2014 by email to drtc@vsnl.com

- allwyn  d’silva

St. Xavier’s did not withdraw invitation: Dalit activist

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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Sheetal Sathe Mumbai, August 15, 2014: Dalit singer and activist Sheetal Sathe has denied media reports that Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College withdrew an invitation to her to attend its annual festival under pressure from Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

Sathe sent a statement on Thursday clarifying that she stayed away only because she did not want to jeopardize the Aug. 14-17 college festival, the Hindu newspaper reported.

She was initially invited to be part of a panel discussion called “Invisibility of Caste” during the festival but the BJP’s student wing opposed the move saying she is under police watch for anti-national activities.

Sathe’s statement said the college principal, Father Frazer Mascarenhas, had merely warned them of the threat and not told them not to attend.

ABVP protest began days before the festival saying Sathe is part of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), which supports anti-national activities such as backing naxal (Maoist) ideology.

Sathe was arrested in April 2013 on charges of supporting naxal activities. She was released on bail two months later.

“The only reason she is not on stage is not out of fear but out of deep appreciation for the courage and integrity of St. Xavier’s College,” said documentary film-maker Anand Patwardhan, on her behalf, according to the Hindu report.

Several leading social activists have decried the ABVP protest.

The moderator of the panel discussion, S. Anand, founder of the Navayana publishing house, said preventing Sathe from attending the event was a collective shame.

Kancha Ilaiah, former head of political science at Osmania University, said the increase in communal atrocities by the organizations affiliated to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh shows that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had no control over them.

- the hindu

Karnataka: Four Christian arrested in Pulittadi

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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Persecution in karnatakaKarnataka, August, 13, 2014: Four Christians were arrested yesterday in Pulittadi, in Karnataka, on the basis of false accusations of forced conversions. Some locals reported the women after seeing them visit a family in the village, belonging to another religion. According to the crowd who rushed to the scene, the four tried to “influence the family to convert, laying siege to the house.”

The accused are Shirley, Mini, Leelamma and Shubha. Suresh Atramajalu, a member of the local administration, told police he had seen them handing out leaflets about Christianity and trying to convince people they met to convert. The police took them into custody and questioned them for two hours before releasing them.

Sajan George – president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) – considers the charges against the four Christian “a matter of serious concern, because not only did they target innocent faithful, but are likely to tear the fabric of society. The Hindu nationalist forces want to spread a feeling of suspicion towards Christians. “

Conversions to Christianity, he recalls, “are valid only if freely undertaken by the individual. Yet, the accusations were false, saying that the women were putting pressure on people, and with the complicity of the authorities they were arrested”.

- asianews

VoM : Pray for Iraq, Nepal pastor and Sudanese Meriam family

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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IRAQ: Suffering Overflows as Militants Displace Thousands

iraqi christiansHorror and chaos continue to abound in Iraq, as armed jihadists of the militant group “Islamic State” (IS, also referred to as ISIS) took over the country’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, and nearby Christian settlements early on August 7th. Qaraqosh, a city of about 50,000 people in Nineveh Province, sits between Mosul and Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region. IS took over Mosul in July, and many of the city’s remaining Christians fled eastward to Qaraqosh, sometimes called the Christian capital of Iraq.

Tens of thousands have fled from Qaraqosh and surrounding areas, with many seeking refuge in Kurdish-controlled parts of the country. The militants now occupying Qaraqosh’s churches have removed crosses and destroyed thousands of valuable manuscripts. “There are 100,000 displaced Christians who have fled with nothing but their clothes, some of them on foot, to reach the Kurdistan region,” a Chaldean Patriarch explained. However, those who make it to Kurdistan often find themselves without shelter or even water in the blistering heat. Thousands of other minority groups have also been targeted by IS, including ethnic Yazidis.

Since their offensive attacks began in June, IS has ordered followers of Christianity residing in captured towns to either convert to Islam, pay a tax to remain in these communities as Christians, leave, or ultimately die. Unfortunately, believers apprehended by the militants have been ruthlessly attacked or killed.

NEPAL: Pastor Released from Detention

Pastor Chhedar Bhote LhomiAfter receiving a 12-year prison sentence, a pastor in a remote part of Nepal was released from detention on July 17th. Pastor Chhedar Bhote Lhomi, 37, who ministered among the Tibetan people and established a church that met regularly, was handed the lengthy prison sentence for eating beef. Although he served in an area of Nepal where this practice is permissible, in other areas of the country local Hindus do not eat beef because cattle and oxen are considered sacred.

In October of 2012, local villagers discovered that Pastor Chhedar and his family had consumed this “forbidden meat.” In an uproar, they accused him of killing the “sacred” animal himself, justifying the destruction of his home and everything he owned. The angered locals then handed the pastor over to a Hindu committee that got the police involved and prompted his arrest. While Pastor Chhedar was detained, his family struggled without him. Adding to the couple’s heartache, their three children — ages ten, eight and seven — were teased and mocked by their peers. Thankfully, a court recently declared Pastor Chhedar not guilty of the charge.

SUDAN: Continued Prayers for Religious Freedom

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim with husband Daniel WaniMeriam Ibrahim, the courageous woman who refused to deny her Christian faith — even at the risk of execution — finally arrived in the United States with her family on July 31st. It was reported in one of VOMC’s previous prayer alerts that Meriam, her husband Daniel, and their two children had left Sudan for Italy on July 24th after negotiations had been made between the two countries. The family has now settled in New Hampshire, where extended family members are willing to assist them in the rebuilding of their lives. (For more information on Meriam and her family, you can read this past prayer alert.)

Meanwhile, Faiza Abdalla, 37, a Christian woman arrested in Sudan on April 2nd under similar circumstances, remains in prison due to accusations of adultery for marrying a South Sudanese Christian and apostasy because of her Muslim name. Faiza was arrested after Immigration/Citizenship officials questioned her right to a Christian identity on the grounds that Abdalla is a Muslim name. On April 8th, a court annulled Faiza’s marriage to a South Sudanese believer who fled the country two years ago because of persecution. The Christian woman’s parents converted before she was born, meaning they too might be accused of apostasy.

- vom

Beijing “calls” back to Seoul Chinese priests & blocks 80 young people leaving for Ayd

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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Chinese priestsKorea, August 14, 2014: “At least a dozen priests have been contacted by the Chinese government, which has them warned of ‘problems’ to return home if they had waited until the apostolic visit of Francis in the peninsula. ” A delegation of 100 young people present in Daejeon for the Asian Youth Day, but about 80 were stopped before departure. “At least half” of those seminarians are back home in Beijing, who in recent weeks have refused to obey an excommunicated bishop. Su Xinhua not a word about the pope in Korea.

The Beijing government has banned about 80 young people to participate in the Asian Youth Day being held in Daejeon, despite the enthusiasm aroused by the permission given to the papal flight to fly over the airspace of China. According to sources of AsiaNews , about 40 young people prevented is composed of seminarians in Beijing, in July 2014 refused to attend the final Mass of the year celebrated by some illicit bishops . According to the spokesman of the organizing committee of the Pope’s visit in Korea , Heo Young-yeop, China’s decision arose from “problematic situations within”; Another source speaks of possible arrests.

In addition, the government has decided to recall some Communist Chinese priests residing in Korea before the arrival of Pope Francis in the Korean peninsula. This is confirmed by some local sources for AsiaNews : “The priests were called to the telephone by officials from the Religious Affairs Bureau, which threatened them with ‘problems’ if they were not immediately returned home.”

The threats related to “problems” on returning home are a common means to control the priests and religious overseas Chinese. In addition to the withdrawal of the passport, visa and cancellation of any generic grits bureaucracy, the executive and especially the Religious Affairs Bureau arrived on several occasions to threaten the families left at home of Catholics abroad.

Although there are no official figures, the Chinese community in South Korea has hundreds of thousands of people. Of these, at least 50 thousand are Catholic (baptized or catechumens) groups, mostly based in Seoul and Incheon, followed mainly by priests of their own nationality. Similarly, there are many Korean priests who serve in China, especially the Korean community residing there.

To avoid embarrassing moments, Beijing has decided to call these people and to impose themselves to prevent their contact with Francis.

Yesterday at the inaugural Mass of the Asian Youth Day in Daejeon Chinese flags were not visible, even though he was waiting for a delegation of young people from mainland China. However, invariably indicate the sources of AsiaNews , a group of about 100 young people managed to get on the Korean peninsula: it is the boys from the capital and the province of Hebei.

There will be time to evaluate these signals that China sends to the Vatican. For the moment it seems that Beijing, which considers a modern state, could not help but give the Ok to the papal flight crossing the skies of China, but on land the state wants to continue to monitor the Catholics. As well as the information: Xinhua today there is not even a news story on the Pope in Korea, while stand out titles on the Korean actress who participates in a charity dinner (VFP)

- asianews

Count your blessings

August 15, 2014 by admin  
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Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.

Crosses of Life

Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.

Joy

Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.

Smile

Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Deeds

Count your health instead of your wealth;
Love your neighbor as much as yourself.

Love

- fwd: valliamannill mathews

Republican congressman sends Bibles to his fellow legislators

August 13, 2014 by admin  
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BibleWashington, August 06, 2014: A Mississippi Congressman who belongs to the Republican House Whip leadership has sent copies of the Holy Bible to all members of the United States Congress.

Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi sent the Good Book to his peers last week, along with a note including the official Congress letterhead.

“On a daily basis, we contemplate policy decisions that impact America’s future. Our staffs provide us with policy memos, statistics and recommendations that help us make informed decisions,” wrote Palazzo in the letter.

“However, I find that the best advice comes through meditating on God’s Word. Please find a copy of the Holy Bible to help guide you in your decision-making.”

The Reverend Rob Schenck, head of the Washington, DC – based group Faith and Action, told The Christian Post that he supported Palazzo’s Bible distribution.

“Rep. Palazzo is to be commended for sending Bibles to his members of Congress. For a Christian, sharing a Bible is one of the most meaningful things one can do for somebody you care about. So, it’s meaningful and generous,” said Schenck.

“Good for the Congressman. I’ll pray that his actions have a salutary effect on the thinking and actions of Congress as a whole. We need more of his kind of thing in Washington.”

Schenck also told CP that the Bibles were more likely to reach their intended audience because it was a peer like Palazzo sending them rather than an outside group.

“Bibles have been delivered to members by various groups and it’s always worth doing, but many times Bibles from the outside, so to speak, are intercepted by staff or diverted somewhere else,” said Schenck.

“When a Bible comes directly from a colleague, it’s far more likely it will land in the hands if it’s intended recipient.”

Palazzo’s gift went to all members of Congress, including those who do not consider themselves Christian, according to Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo.

“Palazzo’s letter was treated as a gesture of good will, including by non-Christian members of Congress who also received a copy of the Bible,”wrote Kapur.

“The first Muslim elected to Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), wrote back with a thank-you note. His office and other offices wouldn’t discuss the letter on the record.”

Not everyone was supportive of the move. The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, spoke with concern about elected officials using the Bible as a pretext for public policy.

“When a politician calls for using the Bible as the basis for public policy, what he or she is really saying is, ‘Let’s use the Bible as I interpret it as the basis for public policy’,” said Lynn, according to TPM.

“Rather than look to the Bible or any other religious book to craft our nation’s public policy, we would do well to examine another source instead, one that was actually created to guide governance. It’s called the Constitution.”

Geoff Earle of the New York Post noted that Palazzo’s gift of a Bible to each member of Congress may be a timely act.

“Lawmakers will have plenty of time to study the Bible’s discourses on avarice, sloth, vanity and depravity. The letter went out Tuesday — right before the start of a month long congressional recess,” wrote Earle.

- christian post

Indian PM donates Nepal temple 2500 Kgs sandal wood

August 13, 2014 by admin  
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Modi’s puja at a temple in NepalNew Delhi, August 05, 2014: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s puja at a temple in Nepal has sparked a row that led to an adjournment in the Lok Sabha Tuesday.

Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who raised the issue, said the PM should have also wished people on Eid last week.

“The Prime Minister offered Puja at a temple in Nepal. We appreciate that. He must also communicate ‘Eid Mubarak,” Bandyopadhyay said to loud protests by BJP lawmakers, NDTV reported.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu responded, “We believe in sarva dharma sambhava (all religions are equal)… PM had greeted the nation on Eid also.”

The PM prayed at the famous Pashupatinath temple near Kathmandu on Monday during his two-day trip to Nepal. He sanctioned 250 million rupees for a ‘dharamshala’ at the Hindu landmark and also offered 2,500 kg of sandalwood at for the temple.

Background

Raids on five locations in Keral’s state capital city

In one of the biggest seizures of recent times, over 400 kg of sandalwood was seized in raids by the Forest Department from the capital city on Monday.

Simultaneous raids were conducted on five locations. The seized sandalwood, mostly in the form of idols, is estimated at Rs.7 crore.

One person has been arrested, while a hunt is on for three others who fled the spot.

T. Uma, Divisional Forest Officer, Thiruvananthapuram, who led the raids, said an anonymous letter had tipped off the department on artisans engaged in the illegal manufacture of sandalwood idols, primarily in the Eenchakkal and Muttathara areas. Forest officials kept the area under surveillance for nearly a month before Monday’s raids, which lasted for four hours from 10.30 a.m.

Over 20 idols, 10 of them ranging from 4 feet to 6 feet in size, all of them in various stages of completion, were seized. Sandalwood billets of various sizes were also recovered from the five locations, mostly residences that were covertly used as workshops.

Officials said the sandalwood was suspected to have been smuggled in from Tamil Nadu via Aryankavu and other routes on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, mostly on private inter-State bus services. The finished products were ferried in the same manner, predominantly to Kumta in Karnataka, which was believed to be the hub of the trade.

The idol traders were suspected to have international links, the officials said. Investigation so far had revealed that some of the idols were custom-made, taking several months in the making, they said

- ndtv

India’s Christians face continued terror under BJP rule

August 13, 2014 by admin  
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Christians against BJPUP, August 05, 2014: As feared by many religious minorities in India, intimidations and attacks from the Sangh Parivar (Hindu nationalist movement) have escalated under the Bharathiya Janatha Party’s (BJP) rule. Hindu radicals are now outright targeting Christians all across the country as a direct consequence of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) assuming power. It won’t be too long until this dangerous situation, made evident by the violent and widespread strategy of the Sangh Parivar, moves closer to the ultimate goal of the Sangh Parivar, India becoming a Hindu nation.

The right wing political party BJP, backed by the Sangh Parivar, achieved a landslide victory in India’s recent general elections that concluded two months ago. Since their rise to power, attacks on religious minorities across India has increased.

Included in this wave of religious violence, a church in Uttar Pradesh (UP) was rampaged when a mob of Hindu radicals belonging to the Bajrangdal, a Hindu nationalist group, spitefully attacked the Christians. The attack took place while the Christians were having the Bible study on July 16 at around 2:30 p.m. in Sahakarinagar village in UP. A group of 25 Hindu radicals led by Hemanth Singh stormed into the church and beat Rev. R. C. Paul and other Christians gathered for the Bible study. The radicals gave no reason for their assault on the Christians during the attack.

The assailants used wooden lathies (clubs) and fists to beat the Christians, causing internal injuries. After attacking the Christians gathered at the church, they went up to the church’s roof and desecrated the cross. After desecrating the cross, the group installed a saffron flag in place of cross. They also destroyed the church’s musical instruments and pulpit as well as tearing apart Bibles and other Christian literature they found in the church.

Rev. Dinesh Sohil, another pastor who came to the aid of attacked Christians, was badly beaten and was taken to a local hospital for immediate treatment.

Rev. R. C. Paul who has been in charge of the church since 1991 said, “We were shaken and are very scared of the situation in the area. We are concerned of our safety, even going alone outside looks very dangerous at the moment. But,” he continued, “We are encouraged by receiving so many phone calls and visits by [our] Christian brethren.” He added, “If God is for us who can be against us.”

Later, when Rev. R. C. Paul filed a complaint at the police station, the police arrested 12 suspected members of the group who attacked the church. Later, two more Bajrangdal leaders were arrested and were sent to jail for their involvement in the attack. Following the arrests, Bajrangdal activists staged a protest demanding the release of the people who led the attack on Christians.

In another incident in UP, the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported that on July 7 a church in a village called Saraiya was also attacked by members of Shiv Sena, another Hindu nationalist group, and BJP. The local BJP leader, Harendra Pratap Singh, and the leader of the local Shiv Sena, Acche Lal Tiwari, were spotted leading this attack. When the local Christians of Saraiya attempted to report the incident to the police, the police took the pastor and 11 other Christians into custody.

Chhattisgarh, one of India’s eastern states, has also recently seen cases of violations of Christians’ right to religious freedom. An aggressive campaign led by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), yet another Hindu nationalist group, has led to a ban on the entry of and propagation of any non-Hindu religion by non-Hindu missionaries, especially Christians, in more than 50 villages of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region in the last six months.

According to Suresh Yadav, Bastar District President of the VHP, “Over 50 gram panchayats (village councils) in Bastar have passed orders under Section 129 (G) of the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act banning all ‘non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in the villages.’”

Since BJP’s rise to power, many Hindu nationalist groups have made clear their Hindutva agenda in both word and deed. The influence these groups have on the BJP-led government will likely continue to make Hindu radicals more aggressive, terrorizing India’s minorities, particularly Christians. Will the pluralistic and secular fabric of India fraying under this wave of religious violence, many Christians in India are wondering how long until they see a ‘Hindu India.’

- christian today

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