Sunday, November 27, 2011

Former British Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali calls for immediate release of arrested Indian pastor

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

OXFORD, UK (ANS) -- Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, patron of the UK-based Release International , has called for the immediate release of an Indian pastor accused of bribing Muslims to convert to Christianity.

Release International says Pastor Chander Mani Khanna from Srinagar, Kashmir Province, was arrested after being summoned by a local Muslim mufti (religious leader) to appear before a Sharia court -- and answer allegations of converting Muslim children by offering bribes.

According to AsiaNews a video appeared on YouTube showing Pastor Khanna baptizing Muslim converts. Witnesses claim that police beat the converts to make them give evidence against the pastor.

In a media update, Release International says that as tensions grow, there are fears for Pastor Khanna’s life and that a fatwa may be issued against him.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
Release International Patron Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said: “I know the Reverend Chander Mani Khanna, and he is a respected parish priest of the Church of North India who would never use underhand methods to evangelize.

“I am astonished that such a person can be arrested by an India committed to religious freedom and democracy. I call not only for his immediate and unconditional release but also for protection for him and his family. Let us pray that freedom and justice will prevail in Kashmir for everyone: Muslim, Christian and Hindu.”
Bishop Nazir-Ali was the 106th Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England: he retired in September 2009, taking up a position as director of the Oxford Centre for Training, Research, Advocacy and Dialogue. He holds dual citizenship of both Pakistan and Britain.

Release International says Pastor Khanna denies the claims. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) believes the charges arose because the pastor failed to get a local Muslim's son into the Christian school of his choice.

The GCIC has written to the Government of Jammu and Indian Kashmir to intervene on behalf of the pastor, who leads All Saints Church (part of the Church of North India).

According to AsiaNews, police arrested Pastor Khanna on grounds of promoting enmity between religious groups and outraging religious feeling.

Release International says the GCIC reports that tensions between Muslims and Christians in Kashmir have been rising since last year when a US pastor burned copies of the Koran in public.

Through its international network of missions Release International serves persecuted Christians in 30 countries around the world by supporting pastors and Christian prisoners and their families; supplying Christian literature and Bibles, and working for justice.

Follow this link to the story on AsiaNews: 

For further information, please contact Release International on +44 (0)1689 823491, or by email  Website: 

** Michael Ireland is the Senior International Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior International Reporter

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

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