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Indian Christians Stage Protest in front of Pakistan High Commission

Christian leaders in front of Pakistan High Commission.(Christian Today)
Christian leaders in front of Pakistan High Commission.(Christian Today)

NEW DELHI: Lending voices of support for their brethren in Pakistan, Christians on Friday held a protest rally before the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, requisitioning “strong action” against the perpetrators of violence in a memorandum addressed to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari

Called in the wake of recent violence on a Christian neighborhood in Pakistan’s Gojra city, the protest expressed “anguish at the brutal burning alive of nine Christians and destruction of 200 houses in arson” over a rumor of Koran desecration August 1 and pressed for the repeal of all blasphemy laws.

The protest was organised by the National United Christian Forum, alongside the All India Christian Council, Global Council of Indian Christians and other groups.

“The Christian community in India joins with the peace-loving people across the world and supports the demand by Pakistan Civil Society and the Minority communities, specially the Christians, for strong action to bring the guilty to book and to create an environment of peace,” the memorandum, signed by NUCF president Archbishop Vincent M Concessao, read.

Submitted through the Pakistan High Commission, the statement called for the repeal of blasphemy laws “that was repeatedly being misused and had now caused the death of nine innocent Christians.” Fortunately, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani had last week agreed to review “laws that were detrimental to religious harmony”.

A Bangalore-based Christian advocacy group said it was aghast at the violence on the microscopic Christian community in Pakistan and expressed anguish over the “systematic oppression against non Muslims.”

Clamoring for justice, Global Council of Indian Christians voiced that the case of Christians who are generally impoverished and marginalized were being trivialized by the Pakistan administration.

GCIC president Dr Sajan George demanded the elimination of blasphemy laws that he said was in “violation of basic fundamental rights and against universal declaration of human rights.”

“”No incident of blasphemy of Koranic verses occurred in Gojra and no Christian could ever think of doing this even in their wildest dreams. The so-called champions of Islam are wrecking havoc with the religious minorities and are further defaming Pakistan and Islam in the world,” he said.

Christians who make up less than five percent of Pakistan’s 175 million people have been recently through many testing times that have caused both physical and mental travail.

A month before the Gojra incident, an entire Christian colony in one of the oldest cities in Pakistan was pounced upon by marauding mobs that even spared no children and women.

The incident at Kasur in Bahmniwala district occurred over a trivial dispute and the violence that ensued led to the fleeing of about 700 Christians. Their houses were burned with petrol-bombs even amid the presence of police.

But, the Gojra incident amplified the clamor for peace and justice even as Pope and the World Council of Churches condemned the “burning alive of Christians” and called for the ban on blasphemy laws.

“We believe that it is the responsibility of the State to provide security to all its citizens in the country, particularly in a region where communal tensions and chances for violence run a high risk,” WCC general secretary Rev Dr Samuel Kobia wrote to Zardari.

In a telegram last Monday, the Pope expressed “deep sorrow” over the violence and urged Christians to remain calm and continue its efforts in building a community of “peace” and “mutual respect”.

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Naz Foundation and Faith Based Organisations Debate Homosexuality

SC-Homosexuality-India-Article-377

NEW DELHI: For the first time after it won the eight-year-long battle seeking the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the non-governmental Naz Foundation (India) came face to face with Christian and other faith based organisations in an enthralling debate on Saturday.

Coming close on the heels of Delhi High Court judgement legalising homosexuality among consenting adults by reading down Section 377 of 150-year-old Indian Penal Code (IPC), the open debate at the capital was held to hash over the decision and the hazards or its aftereffects on the society.

Organised by the Commission on Policy, Governance and Public Witness of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), the polemical argumentation contained Anuradha Mukherji of NAZ India; Mujtaba Farooq, secretary of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind; Very Rev. MS Sakariah Ramban of the Indian Orthodox Church; Rev. Christopher Rajkumar of the NCCI and others.

Giving the welcome address, Anjna Masih of NCCI said the debate will help in “avoiding the escalation of arguments on homosexuality through awareness and dialogue” and will take a “holistic view keeping the concern of all sections of the society.”

Indeed inarguably the religious leaders keeping all differences apart seemed united as one against the gay ruling, terming it “immoral”, “dangerous” and “unacceptable” to the Indian society and religious communities.

Expressing his views, Mujtaba Farooq minced no words in his condemnation against the Delhi High Court allowing plea of gay rights activists July 2. “Same-sex unions will derange the society and will completely destroy the family order. It is unnatural and it bars procreation,” he said.

While he did praise the Naz Foundation for fighting against discrimination, he vociferously questions “there have been calls for prostitution to be legalised in India, can we do it?” adding “before talking about violations of human rights one must understand the true meaning of ‘freedom’ and where and when it can be applied.”

“Those who are sick we should serve, but those who are going to be sick we should stop and protect. We should not approve this ruling that can cause a disorder in the society and create problems,” he added.

Agreeing with much of it was Rev. Sakariah who touched all religion, social and health aspects and said the “ancient and traditional Orthodox Church is very much against the controversial gay ruling.”

“Religion is to make a healthy society. It is a custodian of morality and has a responsibility of protecting and building a meaningful culture in par with the Indian society and not the West,” he said, asking, “Sadists derive pleasure from cruelty and may be few thieves from stealing, so can we approve this too?”

Facing staunch disapproval of religious leaders was Anuradha Mukherji of Naz India who hailed the Delhi High Court order and said, “The court has only de-criminalised homosexuality and has not legalised it. This verdict will only free the victims (LGBT community) from harassment.”

The discussion heard both views of religious leaders and Naz Foundation and finally came to a conclusion with a serious question posed by Rev. Christopher Rajkumar of NCCI who asked if “faith based organisations that condemned homosexuality took any preventive steps in the past to mediate the issue?”

He urged Churches and other faith based organisations to “take further steps to educate the youths, study the issue and initiate engagement in the need” of people with different sexual orientation.