statue of Jesus destroyed in wave of attacks against Christian community in India | India


Festive celebrations were disrupted, statues of Jesus were smashed and effigies of Santa Claus were burned in a series of attacks on the Indian Christian community over Christmas.

Amid growing intolerance and violence against India’s Christian minority, which represents around 2% of India’s population, several Christmas events were targeted by right-wing Hindu groups, who claimed Christians used festivities to force Hindus to convert.

In recent years, Christians have been increasingly harassed around Christmas time, but this year has seen a noticeable increase in attacks.

In Agra, Uttar Pradesh, members of right-wing Hindu groups burned effigies of Santa Claus outside missionary-run schools and accused Christian missionaries of using Christmas celebrations to attract people.

“As December approaches, Christian missionaries become active in the name of Christmas, Santa Claus and the New Year. They attract children by forcing Santa Claus to distribute gifts to them and attract them to Christianity,” he said. said Ajju Chauhan, regional secretary general of Bajrang Dal, one of the right-wing Hindu groups leading the demonstration.

In Assam, two protesters in saffron, the iconic color of Hindu nationalism, entered a Presbyterian church on Christmas night and disrupted debates, demanding that all Hindus leave the building.

“Let only Christians celebrate Christmas,” said one of the men, in video filmed during the disruption. “We are against the Hindu boys and girls who participate in the Christmas function… it hurts us. They get dressed in church and everyone is singing Merry Christmas. How will our religion survive? “. Police subsequently arrested the two men involved.

In Haryana state, on Christmas Eve, a night at a school in Pataudi was disrupted by members of a right-wing Hindu vigilante group. Storming the school shouting slogans such as “Jai Shri Ram” now a call for Hindu nationalism, they claimed that the festive event, which included Christmas carols and dances and teachings from the Bible , was used for “a religious conversion in the costume of Christmas celebration” and claimed that they “were brainwashing children through dramas and speeches to accept Christianity.”

In the same state, on Boxing Day, a statue of Jesus was demolished and the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Ambala was vandalized in the early hours of the morning.

A Christmas event that takes place annually at Matridham Ashram in Uttar Pradesh was also targeted by a Hindu vigilante group who stood outside shouting slogans such as’ stop conversions’ and ‘missionary murdabad”, Meaning“ death to the missionaries ”.

Speaking to local media, Ashram priest Father Anand said the protests were indicative of the increase in attacks Christians in India have faced in recent months as allegations of forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity became rampant and anti-Christian hysteria began to develop across India.

“It is a symbol of what is happening because these people are going with impunity and it is creating tension,” Anand said. “Every Sunday is a day of terror and trauma for Christians, especially those who belong to these small churches. “

The Christmas bombings are just the latest examples of incidents of violence against Christians, which are part of a growing atmosphere of religious intolerance towards India’s non-Hindu minorities, namely Muslims and Christians, under the Hindu nationalist government Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Since the BJP came to power in 2014, attacks against Christians have increased. According to a report by the organization Persecution Relief, crimes against Christians increased by 60% between 2016 and 2019.

In recent weeks, Christian missionaries have seen their Bibles burnt down and Christian schools have been disrupted by right-wing groups who claim Christians are forcing Hindus to convert by offering them money and gifts. In Chhattisgarh state, the BJP has addressed the issue of alleged forced conversions, organizing dozens of rallies. In the same state, several pastors have been violently attacked and many religious services must now be performed in secret for security reasons.

This month, the state government of Karnataka became the latest to pass a controversial “anti-conversion” law. Although it does not explicitly mention Christians, its provision against “illegal conversions” has been used in other states to target Christian pastors and the state has already seen an upsurge in attacks, with 39 Christian hate crimes this past. year only.

According to a report released in October, there have been more than 300 documented attacks on Christians across India in the first nine months of 2021.


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