By Muslim Mirror News,
Washington D.C , 4 Dec 2014 : The Indian American Muslim Council has condemned the burning of St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Delhi and hate speech by BJP Central Minister Niranjan Jyoti as an attack on India’s religious minorities.
In a statement on Thursday, IAMC said early forensic investigations indicate kerosene was used to start the fire, confirming fears that this was a targeted arson attack, suspiciously close to Christmas. The sanctuary, sacristy and the first floor balcony have been gutted completely in the attack that follows a pattern of similar attacks against churches throughout the country.
IAMC has also condemned the deplorable hate speech by BJP Minister Niranjan Jyoti during an election rally in Delhi. The foul language used by a Union Minister, including expletives as references to minorities represents a nadir in the Indian public discourse, and provides fuel for sectarian violence like the one against the Catholic Church in Delhi.
There has been a marked increase in violence and hate campaigns against minorities in India, since the BJP has come to power. Prominent watch-dog group “International Christian Concern,” reported an alarming rise in the attacks on rural churches in recent months. In May 2014, several villages in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh passed local ordinances banning all non-Hindu religious activities, in effect banning Christianity. Vatican Radio, the Holy See’s official news outlet, reported on the possibility of Christians being “purged,” from villages across three states.
A relentless hate campaign against minorities, including conspiracy theories of Muslims luring Hindu girls into marriage as a form of “love jihad,” and the forced “re-conversions” of Christians to Hinduism, has resulted in a feeling of siege among India’s minorities. In this context, Prime Minister Modi’s announcement that December 25th will be observed as “Good Governance Day,” is deeply insensitive to the sentiments of Christians, given the day is observed as Christmas in most parts of the world, including by Christians in India.
IAMC has demanded that the Special Investigation Team that has been constituted to investigate the attack be asked to probe the political motives behind the attack, given that elections are due in Delhi. In the Trilokpuri riots in October this year, locals have observed that outside forces were in the forefront of fomenting violence.
“Polarization of communities through violence and intimidation prior to the elections is a pattern that is repeating itself across the country,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “We stand in full solidarity with the Christian community against this dastardly attack on a place of worship,” added Mr. Khan.
IAMC has called upon the government and civil society to further safeguard the country from extremism, through inclusive development and by upholding the principle of equality before the law for all citizens, irrespective of caste or creed.
Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 15 chapters across the nation.