Thursday, August 27, 2009

Religious freedom, an instrument for progress and stability

ยป 08/27/2009 11:39

by Bernardo Cervellera

Attacks on religious freedom and violence against Christians embrace nearly all Asian countries. Western governments prefer to criticize some of the violations - such as those committed by Muslims - but are silent on the attacks against Christians in Vietnam or China. A preview of the August-September editorial from AsiaNews monthly magazine.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Late August marked one year since the anti-Christian pogrom in Orissa led by Hindu fundamentalists left hundreds dead and created tens of thousands of refugees. Commemorating the anniversary of that violence, the Church in India launched moments of prayer, vigils and cultural encounters in defence of the freedom of Christians and to urge India to return to being the multi-religious and multi-cultural nation it once was.

Yet the violence is far from over: not long ago we reported the sad news of the death of Fr James Mukalel, a priest from Karnataka, who was killed and stripped naked while returning from celebrating Mass. And we have documented the deadly episode in Gojra (Punjiab, Pakistan), where an angry mob of over 3 thousand Muslims attacked a Christian area of the village. At least 8 people - including 4 women and a child of 7 years - were burned alive and 20 others were injured. More than 50 Christian homes were burned and destroyed and thousands of faithful forced to flee to escape summary executions at the hands of young extremists incited by political parties and mullahs. Meanwhile, still in Pakistan, in the districts of North-West Frontier Province (near Afghanistan) the violence of the Taliban and the imposition of Sharia have led to the forced exodus of non-Muslim minorities, Christians included.

If we look at all of Asia, we see that this immense continent is among the most affected by the lack of religious freedom and the first victims are often Christians.


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