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Chủ Nhật, tháng 7 30, 2006

No. 1073 (Upekha dịch)

India's anti-conversion laws
By
Sun, 30 Jul 2006, 10:38:00

AN alliance of Indian groups representing various faiths and castes has raised alarm over 'anti-conversion laws' and condemned the move of banning religious conversions in several Hindu nationalists' government-run states of India. Last week a statement from the alliance of groups that included over 100 Muslim, Buddhist and Christian bodies as well as numerous lawyers, academics and politicians expressed their grave concern. The Reuters news agency put up a report in this regard saying that 'the laws would seriously infringe and undermine religious freedom in India'. Among the alliance opposing the laws are a number of groups representing 'Dalits', formerly called untouchables, who are at the bottom of the caste hierarchy in mostly Hindu majority India.

Strongly opposing the anti-conversion laws, the signatories to the statement sounded stern warning saying these laws 'deepen and worsen religious divisions, conflicts and violence instead of enhancing the search for religious tolerance, harmony and mutual respect' in the wider Indian national life. At present, at least three of India's 29 states, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or its allies, have enacted such anti-conversion laws. BJP's hard-line and extremist followers - being imbiued with the idea of 'India is for Hindus and Hindus are for India' - are often found to become instrumental in committing communal violence in various parts across the country. The example of BJP-chief minister Naren Modi's condemnable leading role in this regard for the Muslim massacre in his Gujarat state in 2002 was revealed later by an official investigation under an order of India's Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, a leader from Dalit or lower caste, and exposed the other intriguing sides of Indian politics.

Even Pope Benedict XVI two months ago condemned efforts to introduce anti-conversion legislation in Hindu-majority but officially secular India saying they were 'disturbing signs of religious intolerance.' For decades, the Hindu nationalists and extremists have accused Christian missionaries of bribing and enticing poor lower caste Hindus and tribal people to change their faiths though the Christian missionaries who, however, deny adoption of such tactics claiming that those who do convert do so willingly to escape the rigid and acute caste system in Hinduism. Similarly, the highly ignored and neglected tribal people turn to a new faith after suffering from a sense of deprivation. There were murmurs in the Western countries following sporadic communal violence at the instigation of BJP extremists in some parts of India where Christian clerics were assaulted and churches were attacked during the BJP government of Vajpayee at the centre.

India's Untouchables leader Dr. B R Ambedkar, one of the framers of India's constitution, felt humiliated in his own country because of acute caste system and first thought of turning to Islam but considering various factors converted to Buddhism along with his large followers renouncing Hinduism. Those who are at the helm of affairs anywhere and in any country must take all human factors into consideration turning to any act that curbs freedom, human rights and dignity.

http://nation.ittefaq.com/artman/publish/article_29561.shtml