Wednesday, February 1, 2012

International Petition Drive to Help Pastor Persecuted For Conducting Baptisms

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

SRINIGAR, INDIA (ANS) -- The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians is trying to raise international awareness of the case of an Indian pastor arrested on charges 'disturbing communal peace.'

In a media update, Ann Buwalda, Executive Director of Jubilee Campaign, says that Sajan George is highlighting the case through a petition drive.

Jubilee Campaign says Rev. Chander Mani Khanna, pastor of All Saints Church in Srinagar was on November 19th, 2011 arrested on charges 'disturbing communal peace.'

The arrests of Khanna and two others came after a local Muslim clerical association calling itself a 'Sharia court' accused Rev. Khanna of 'luring' Muslims into converting from Christianity. Their only evidence was a YouTube video of Rev. Khanna baptizing seven believers from a Muslim background.

Jubilee Campaign says that after 11 days in, jail Rev. Khanna was released on bail, but the so-called Sharia court issued a fatwa of expulsion, ordering him and two other Christian workers to leave the state.

In the media release, Buwalda says: “This case represents a worrying continuation of a dangerous trend Jubilee Campaign has seen in India for some time. Over the past several years radical Hindu leaders have reacted to the massive growth of Christianity with frequently accusations that Christians are 'luring' poor Hindus into converting by bribing them or lying to them. It was this sentiment which led to the passage of anti-conversion laws in several states of northern India and led to the 2008 violence against Christians in Orissa.”

Buwalda explained the causes of this sentiment are “complex and specific to the traditional Hindu society where political and economic power was based around the caste system.”

Buwalda said: “The Muslim view on conversions is more explicitly theological, as indicated by the term apostasy. Nevertheless the Hindu response to conversions, which involves baseless accusations of misconduct resulting in vigilante killings of religious minorities is very similar to the Muslim response that we have seen in Pakistan and elsewhere.”

Buwalda went on to state: “This attempt by the Kashmir Muslims to activate the radical Hindu lobbying in support of their actions has been at least partially successful judging by the response of a high-ranking Indian official.

“Of more immediate concern is to the local Christian community is the way that the Sharia court was able to enforce its fatwa of expulsion against Rev. Khanna and the two other Christian workers,” she said.

Buwalda added that, emboldened by their success, groups of local Muslims have been pressuring the families of converts, causing several other converts and Christians workers to flee.

In response, Sajan George, the president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, is trying to raise international awareness through the petition.

Jubilee Campaign urges concerned believers to sign the petition calling for the government of India to respect its own laws and stop the unjust persecution of Rev. Khanna.

Support Rev. Khanna and the Christian Minority in Kashmir, by signing the Petition here:  

** 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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