Christians are not under attack in India – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“What is more of a hate crime: when a stone is thrown at a church by a drunkard or when respected clergy declare without any proof that Hindus are damned to eternal hell-fire if they don’t become a member of the Church, and when they brainwash Christian children to believe this? Will TV anchors be outraged at such a discriminatory, baseless allegation which can lead to real hate crimes?” – Maria Wirth

Bishop Joseph of Edessa: Thomas of Cana, a Mesopotamian merchant and missionary, brought a mission to India in 345. He brought 400 Christians from Baghdad, Nineveh, and Jerusalem to Kodungallur. He and his companion Bishop Joseph of Edessa sought refuge under King Cheraman Perumal from persecution of Christians by the Persian king Shapur II. The colony of Syrian Christians established at Kodungallur may be the first Christian community in South India for which there is a continuous written record. T.R. Vedantham showing his own perspective on Christianity was the first to propose in 1987 that Thomas of Cana was confused with the 1st century apostle Thomas by India's Syrian Christians sometime after his death, becoming their Apostle Thomas in India.There is probably no other country where members of other religions were as safe as in India. Hindus always gave shelter to those who were persecuted in their homelands. Jews gratefully acknowledged that India is the one country where they were never persecuted. Syrian Christians under their leader Thomas of CanaThomas the Apostle did not come to India—were given refuge in the 4th century. Parsis came in the 10th century to escape the Muslim invaders in Persia. And in 1959, some 100,000 Tibetan Buddhist refugees found shelter in India—only 12 years after the British had left the country, divided and poverty-stricken.

In contrast, the rich USA with an area three times the size and only a quarter of India’s population allowed only in 1991 one thousand Tibetan families to enter.

Indians never hesitated to accept those who were in trouble and who wanted to preserve their faith because they did not distinguish between human beings on religious lines. Their attitude was that all belong to one big human family and all have the same divine essence in them. For them “religion” was not an identity but a natural, ideal way of life.

So what happened that nowadays there is a lot of talk that Christians are under attack in India? Have Hindus become intolerant?

No. Hindus have not changed. All the so-called attacks on churches which were hyped up recently on many TV channels turned out to have been minor crimes unconnected with “Hindu extremists”. In other countries they would hardly find space in the local paper. Why were they flogged for days on TV channels? Why were Christian spokesmen given plenty of airtime to falsely blame the “Hindu right” and claim that Christians are under attack? There seems to be an agenda by the Churches and it would need to be investigated why so many TV channels obliged.

A smashed glass pane outside one church, a fire due to short circuit in another church, a theft of 8000 Rupees in a convent school, stones thrown by a mixed group of Hindus and Muslim surely don’t warrant hours of hyped coverage.

Yes, there was also the break-in into a convent school in West Bengal, where not only 1.2 million Rupees were stolen but a 72-year-old nun was allegedly gang raped.

This was shameful no doubt and this news reached in no time all corners of the world. It fitted well into the image that had already been crafted over the last 2 years—of India as a rapists’ nation. The Vatican radio spoke of India’s shame which went viral on the internet.

It turned out that Bangladeshi Muslims, probably encouraged by the Pakistani secret service, were behind it.

Cardinal Archbishop Baselios Cleemis is the current President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.Typically, the media fell silent. The BBC ran a scroll that an arrest has been made in the nun gang rape in India. They didn’t mention that he was a Bangladeshi Muslim. Neither the Vatican, nor the cardinal or the bishop apologized for their wrong, greatly publicized pre-judgment of the case that it was connected with the Hindu re-conversion drive of RSS and VHP.

The campaign of media and Christian representatives against “Hindu extremists” is not likely to end soon. New incidents will come up and the Christian spokesmen will again peddle the “truth” that under Narendra Modi as Prime Minister the Hindus are emboldened to “attack” Christians in hate crimes and that Christians feel helpless and insecure. The TV anchors will continue to prod them: “Do you feel unsafe in India?” and all Christian spokesmen will again reply “Yes” and claim that hate crimes have increased since Modi came to power.

There are other voices, too, who do not take part in this back stabbing of their Hindu brothers and, probably closer to the truth, blame the Christian clergy for trying to sow discord between communities. Yet those Christians, like Robert Rosario or Hilda Raja, are not likely to get an invitation to represent the Christian side, because they wouldn’t further the agenda to portray Hindus in poor light.

Mainstream media has tremendous power to shape opinions. Churches have tremendous financial and political clout. Both obviously cooperate to portray Hindus as intolerant and hateful of other religions—contrary to facts. There is a third power that wants India to get a bad image the world over, at least as bad as its own image is. It is Pakistan. The Sunday Guardian of 21th March exposed that the Pakistani secret service increased its budget six-fold to achieve the goal that India is put into the same bracket with Pakistan on human rights issues and downgraded by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

This goal has already been achieved in regard to projecting India as a rapist country. In the west, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are now seen as being on the same level. In fact, India stands out negatively: it is openly thrashed for its ‘anti-women attitude’, while it is politically incorrect to thrash Muslim countries. The German professor who quoted India’s rape culture as reason to reject an Indian shows the huge damage that this false portrayal of India has done.

Unfortunately, India did nothing to put the issue into perspective when the maligning campaign started, and it seems that India again does nothing to prevent an equally damaging, also false perception that Hindus are prone to hate crimes against Christians. Sometimes I wonder whether Indians are even aware how detrimental to India’s image abroad the media campaign has already been.

Over 2 lakh men and women raped in US prisons each year!At least the government, if not the public at large, would know that India is neither in the top league of rape countries, nor are Hindus known for hate crimes and discrimination against members of other religions.

They would know that India has presently a population of 1270 million, and that it is unfair to compare absolute numbers of crimes with other countries. If the crimes that happen in the USA, Canada, in all European countries including Russia plus Australia were added up, then they could be compared with the number of crimes that happen in India. Can the media be made to give a balanced reporting on the issues it takes up? Does anyone remember the hype that media created about AIDS some 20 years ago? “India second only to South Africa” they screamed. Nobody mentioned that India had 1000 and South Africa 50 million inhabitants.

If the media were fair, they would discern that the charge of 160 hate crimes against Christians in the last 10 months, especially when those include theft and a stone thrown by a drunkard, is no reason to shout “Christians don’t feel safe in India”? Why do they play into the hands of the west which will be pleased to get a stick to beat India with?

In England, there were over 1,000 hate crimes only against Jews in the last year. This would equal over 20,000 hate crimes in India if it is put in proportion to the population. In USA, several Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were killed only because they were Sikhs, Hindus or Muslims. Should the USCIRF not put the US and Europe on its watch list, before it even thinks of condemning India?

There are several indicators that clearly show that Christians are not persecuted in India and are even pampered:

The percentage of Christians keeps increasing. Their places of worship multiply manifold and are free from government interference, unlike Hindu temples. Many Christians are in high positions. Missionaries have the guts to openly declare that they want to plant hundred thousand churches in India and “evangelize the whole country in this generation” (from a Christian youth magazine called “Blessings”). Christians and other minorities are privileged and get special benefits like scholarships, etc. Christians can teach the catechism in their schools to Christian students, while ethic teachers in those schools must not mention Sri Krishna, or Hindu philosophy to Hindu students. Compare this with the situation in Pakistan and it becomes evident that the “operation equal blame” depends entirely on spreading falsehood and manipulating the world opinion.

Former IPS officer Julio Francis RibeiroHow to counter this mischievous agenda? Certainly not by going on the defensive and giving special attention to Christians. “Justice for all, appeasement for none” is the way to go. The nun gang rape has been carried to the eight corners of the world as a ‘communal crime’ because the victim was a Christian. How would the kin of a Hindu girl feel who has been raped and maybe even killed by Muslims or Christians, yet neither the media nor even the police take any interest in the case, because it is not communal enough when Hindus are at the receiving end? Crimes need to be treated as crimes and religion should be out of consideration.

Hindus have no reason to be defensive. Spokesmen are dishonest when they claim that Christian are unsafe in India. It will be difficult to find any other country where Christians in minority are as safe and pampered, as among Hindus. If someone needs to be on the defensive, it is the Christian clergy and they may know it. Maybe that is the reason why they act as bullies in tune with the dictum ‘attack is the best defense’. They will stop playing the bully only when they perceive their opponent as strong.

Strength here doesn’t mean to bully back. It simply means to be clear, stick to truth and stick to dharma. It also means not to be afraid to point out the adharmic, divisive aspects in Christianity.

We live in the 21st century when science has discovered that there are different levels to reality. The apparent variety in this universe is based on uniform oneness. Our deepest essence is made of the same stuff, as it were. The Indian rishis knew this, ages ago. Where then is there place for a huge fire where billions or maybe trillions of heathens will burn for eternity after the Day of Judgment?

What is more of a hate crime: when a stone is thrown at a church by a drunkard or when respected clergy declare without any proof that Hindus are damned to eternal hellfire if they don’t become a member of the Church, and when they brainwash Christian children to believe this? Will TV anchors be outraged at such discriminatory, baseless allegation which can lead to real hate crimes? Will Hindus (and other heathens like Buddhists, atheists, etc.) demand an answer from the Churches?

Christians who originally came as refugees, and later went berserk during the Goan Inquisition, are now on a well-planned mission with huge funds from the west to change the broad-minded attitude of Hindus from “We revere ALSO Jesus” to a narrow-minded “We revere ONLY Jesus”?

Are Hindus Demonic Lunatics?Contempt and intolerance for other religions is inbuilt in Christianity. Its goal is clear: all must follow Christ. Hinduism must disappear. If they say something else in interfaith dialogues, it is deception. The spread of Christianity is not in India’s interest. It is not in humanity’s interest either.

Hinduism unlike Christianity and Islam, has no agenda and never had an agenda to wipe out other religions. In India, there always were innumerable paths to the one truth. It is India’s job not only to honour her valuable heritage and educate her own people and the world, but also prevent her people from being deceived, threatened or allured by unfair means to a divisive ideology.

The Churches don’t succeed anymore to enforce belief in unreasonable dogmas among Christians in the west, yet their financial and political power is mind-boggling. They have plenty of funds to defame Hindus and Hinduism the world over. India is no equal in this fight, as most of her own media seems to have switched sides.

Maybe the Prime Minister himself needs to point out on his visit to Europe that Christian Churches are on a massive conversion spree in India because they have this strange and baseless notion that otherwise Hindus go to hell. They should relax. Hindus won’t go to hell. Most Europeans will agree with him.

However, I don’t know how much damage the media campaign “Christians are under attack” has already done. I just checked with a cousin in Germany. Yes, he heard already that there were attacks on Christians in India…. – Maria Wirth Blog, 30 March 2015

Church and temple thefts in Delhi

Country comparison of rape rate per 100,000 of population.

South India Church Mission Logo

See also

  1. Part One: The Anti-Modi Christian Agenda
  2. Part Two: The Anti-Modi Christian Agenda

Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for Islam’s reboot – Maureen Callahan

Maureen Callahan“Ali thinks the West … should look to the lessons of the Cold War and recognize we are waging a battle of ideas — that in 17 Muslim majority nations, the state religion is Islam. … ‘We need to recognize that this is an ideological conflict that will not be won until the concept of jihad itself has been decommissioned.'” – Maureen Callahan

Ayaan Hirsi AliThere was a time when author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali believed it all: that, according to Islam, the infidel should die, that the Quran is infallible, that those who violated sharia law — thieves, gays, adulterers — deserved to be stoned to death or beheaded, as they were each Friday in a public gathering place she and her brother called “Chop-Chop Square.”

Today, she is that rare thing: a public intellectual who, despite death threats and charges of bigotry, calls for an end to Islam — not just as the faithful know it, but as we in the West think we know it.

“The assumption is that, in Islam, there are a few rotten apples, not the entire basket,” Ali tells The Post. “I’m saying it’s the entire basket.”

In her book, “Heretic,” Ali argues for a complete reformation of Islam, akin to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Though her own education led her to reject Islam and declare herself an atheist, she believes that for the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, there must be another way.

“If you are a child brought up to believe that Islam is a source of morality” — as she was, in Africa and Saudi Arabia — “the Muslim framework presents you with the Quran and the hijab. I don’t want to be cruel and say, ‘You grow up and you snap out of it.’ But maybe we who have snapped out of it have not done our best to appeal to those still in it,” she says.

Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now - Ayaan Hirsi AliIn “Heretic,” Ali says there are three kinds of Muslims. There are the violent, the reformers, and what she believes is the largest group — those who want to practice as they see fit and live peaceably but do not challenge the Quran, the Muslim world’s treatment of women and the LGBT community, or terrorist attacks committed in the name of Islam.

Yet she refuses to label this group as moderate. She believes they have done nothing to deserve it. “I’ve never believed in the word,” Ali says. “It’s totally useless. I think we’re in a time now where we demand answers from Muslims and say, ‘Whose side are you on?’ ”

Ali argues for five amendments to the faith. “Only when these five things are recognized as inherently harmful and when they are repudiated and nullified,” she writes, “will a true Muslim reformation have been achieved.”

Those five notions are:

  1. The infallibility of the Prophet Muhammad and the literal interpretation of the Quran
  2. The idea that life after death is more important than life on Earth
  3. Sharia law
  4. Allowing any Muslim to enforce ideas of right and wrong on another
  5. Jihad, or holy war

Rejecting these ideas, some of which date to the 7th century, is a shocking proposition to the faithful.

“The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world,” Ali writes, “is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here.”

Religious DissentDissent and die

Ali has firsthand experience. In November 2004, after collaborating with the Dutch artist Theo van Gogh on the documentary “Submission” — which criticized the Muslim world’s abuse of women — Van Gogh was shot to death by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim. The assassin attempted to decapitate him and stabbed him in the chest, leaving a note affixed by the knife. It was a death threat against Ali.

She was forced into seclusion and given a 24-hour security detail. Today, she lives with her husband and young son in the United States yet remains a target.

“In no other modern religion,” Ali writes, “is dissent still a crime, punishable by death.”

She knows the greatest criticism she faces is that she is Islamophobic, that she is accusing all Muslims of adhering to jihad, to abuse, to the establishment of a caliphate.

In the book, Ali cites a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center on Muslims’ beliefs. It found that in Pakistan, 75 percent think those who leave Islam should be put to death. In Bangladesh, 43 percent think so. In Iraq, 41 percent.

Those who believe sharia is the infallible word of God: 81 percent in Pakistan, 65 percent in Bangladesh and 69 percent in Iraq.

She also cites a 2007 Pew study that found that among 18- to 29-year-old American Muslims, 7 percent had favorable opinions of al Qaeda, and they were twice as likely as older Muslims to believe suicide bombings in the name of their religion were warranted.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IslamophobiaWar of ideology

This is where Ali thinks the Obama administration has failed.

President Obama “has acknowledged Islamophobia, which is the worst thing you can do for Muslims who are trying to turn things around,” she says. Whether it’s ISIS or al Qaeda or the Taliban or so-called lone wolves — such as the Boston Marathon bombers or the Charlie Hebdo attackers or the suicide bomber who blew up 15 Christians in Pakistan last week or the ISIS suicide bombing that left 137 fellow Muslims dead — when these people say they are killing in the name of true Islam, Ali says, believe them.

She accepts that Obama’s administration is attempting a delicate balance — that to declare war on Islam is exactly what these fighters want — but says more can be done.

“Obama is saying, ‘Listen, Muslims, I’m on your side. I respect your beliefs, and I’d like you to help me fight these attacks committed in the name of your religion,’ ” Ali says. “He’s delivering, and they’re not.”

Western Europe, she says, is turning away from the threat of self-segregating Islamic immigrants at its grave peril. A 2009 study by the think tank Citivas found 85 operational sharia courts in Great Britain alone.

“I think with the Arab world, the West thinks we’re fighting an inferior enemy,” Ali says. “Look at the language we use: It’s jihad, it’s insurgency, it’s asymmetric.” Ali thinks the West, and the US especially, should look to the lessons of the Cold War and recognize we are waging a battle of ideas — that in 17 Muslim majority nations, the state religion is Islam.

“We did not say the Soviet system was morally equivalent to ours; nor did we proclaim that Soviet communism was an ideology of peace,” Ali writes. “In much the same way, we need to recognize that this is an ideological conflict that will not be won until the concept of jihad itself has been decommissioned.”

Sam HarrisThe “mother lode”

The greatest obstacle to an Islamic reformation is the diffuse nature of the religion itself. Unlike Catholicism, there is no leader, no papal equivalent to endorse or denounce jihad. In fact, there is no hierarchy of any kind, and any man who wishes can declare himself an imam.

Meanwhile, groups such as ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban are successful precisely because they have top-down leadership, codified warfare and an explicit, simple goal. “These groups are adapting to modern technology, to modern innovations in organization and management,” Ali says. “They know that without a hierarchy, human beings understand nothing.”

She is gratified by the stance taken by Sam Harris, a prominent American neuroscientist and author of “The End of Faith.”

“Sam realizes that among religions, Islam is unique in its atrocity, that everything we said about [violence in] Christianity and Judaism was hundreds of years ago. He calls Islam ‘the mother lode of bad ideas,’ which is extremely brave,” she says.

With “Heretic,” Ali is calling on those Muslims who reject jihad, acts of terror, and the subjugation of women and infidels to organize, to challenge, to speak out loudly and often against violence committed in the name of Allah — and she is calling on the West to actively demand it.

“This is a transformation of the West as we know it,” she says. “We’re at the beginning, and what we do right now is going to be consequential.” – New York Post, 22 March 2015

» Maureen Callahan has worked as an editor and writer at the New York Post for seven years, covering everything from the subcultures of the Lower East Side to local and national politics. She has also written for Spin, New York, and the late, lamented Sassy. In 2009, she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the New York Post.

Sam Harris

Pakistan: Religious women protesting against Charlie Hebdo Magazine

We take issue with India’s Daughter because of its flawed understanding of violence against women – Sakhi

Sakhi“We take issue with India’s Daughter not because it sheds light on the pervasiveness of violence against women in India, but because its fundamentally flawed understanding of the issue is the basis for a globally-funded campaign. Further, viewers are manipulated into seeing Indian culture as inferior, Indian people as in need of global saviours.” – Sakhi

India's DaughterThis International Women’s Day marked the beginning of a large-scale campaign to eradicate gender inequality and end violence against women in India. India’s Daughter, a documentary from Leslee Udwin focusing primarily on the December 2012 gang-rape of Jyoti Singh, was intended to air on BBC that day to launch the campaign. According to Udwin, the campaign will show this film to twenty million schoolchildren in an effort to educate them on issues of gender sensitivity. BBC decided to release the film four days early while the Indian government banned it amid controversy. Discussion around India’s Daughter since then has primarily focused on the ban. The conversation has effectively shifted away from the contents of Udwin’s film with voices falling into two camps divided on the issue of free speech. We’d like to make our stance very clear: of course India’s Daughter should not be banned. However, the current debate has created a climate in which necessary critique of the documentary and campaign has been sidelined. Missing from India’s Daughter is a contextualization of violence against women in India, an understanding of violence as structural, and the voices and decades-long efforts of grassroots activists in India. The resulting documentary makes reductive conclusions, harmful because they are the foundation of a globally-funded campaign.

Badrinath Singh & WifeThis documentary has a singular focus on Jyoti Singh’s case. There is an in-depth look at its surrounding elements: the perpetrators, Jyoti (through the eyes of her parents and friend), the litigation, the political response, and glimpses of the protest. The problem arises as these elements are used to draw broad conclusions about violence against women — that somehow gendered violence is inherent to Indian culture. It is not. Media coverage of the documentary is disproportionately centered on disturbingly misogynist quotes from one of the perpetrators, Mukesh Singh, and the case’s defense lawyers. The reaction to these quotes has been to ascribe this attitude as typical of Indians rather than indicative of widely-held, patriarchal beliefs about women. These attitudes, though they may be voiced in different words or acted out in different ways, are present everywhere. We must remember that there is not a single part of the world in which gender-based violence has been eradicated.

M. L. SharmaUdwin’s documentary is deliberate in its characterization of Indian men as exceptionally brutish. By making this a question of personality and mindset, the result of a “sick society” in need of education, the film ignores the structural nature of violence. For a documentary meant to be a platform for a campaign to eliminate violence against women, it must acknowledge that violence is a product of and perpetuated by intersecting systems of power, such as consumerism, globalization, and privilege. Instead, the documentary simplifies violence by presenting Jyoti Singh’s case as emblematic of the nature of all violence against women in India. There is no typical victim and there is no typical perpetrator. Violent acts cross lines of class, intention, education, power, and privilege.

Motiram MeshramIn 1972, Mathura, a young Dalit girl, was raped by two police officers. Seven years and multiple courts later, the police officers were acquitted by the Supreme Court. In response to this injustice, protesters took to the streets, women mobilized, created women’s rights groups that still exist today, and the consent clause in India’s rape law was amended. This case is considered a turning point for the women’s movement in India. Leslee Udwin, however, frames the demonstrations in the aftermath of the Jyoti Singh case as the first of their kind — something spontaneous, as though void of history. In interviews, Udwin claims that the December 2012 protests were the inspiration for this film, but devotes little time to the voices of the protesters. Rather than using her platform to highlight India’s long history of grassroots organizing in response to ongoing violence, Udwin erases agency from women in Indian society. India’s Daughter relegates Indian women to spaces of marginalization and vulnerability. This two dimensional view means that the voices of women doing this work, the voices capable of bringing about real change, are muted rather than uplifted.

Gulabi GangSakhi for South Asian Women recognizes that women should be in charge of their own narrative. As an organization in New York City, we are also very intentional about the way we speak about issues affecting women living in South Asia; we defer to the expertise of those on the ground. We know that violence against women is a problem in India, as it is a problem everywhere. Agreeing with this premise does not mean refusing to interrogate the assumptions and methods of others looking to raise awareness and find solutions. We take issue with India’s Daughter not because it sheds light on the pervasiveness of violence against women in India, but because its fundamentally flawed understanding of the issue is the basis for a globally-funded campaign. Further, viewers are manipulated into seeing Indian culture as inferior, Indian people as in need of global saviours. We look forward to a documentary and call to action that recognizes these same issues but proposes solutions that are inclusive, reflective, and progressive. – Sakhi, 11 March 2015

» Sakhi for South Asian Women exists to end violence against women. It unites survivors, communities, and institutions to eradicate domestic violence and to create strong and healthy communities. 

Swami Vivekanand

“The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women.”

Ranaghat nun rape atrocity part of ISI’s Operation Equal Blame – Madhav Nalapat

Prof M.D. NalapatThe speedy finger-pointing over the Ranaghat atrocity has to be seen in the context of efforts by numerous international organisations to characterise the Narendra Modi-led NDA government as a fanatic band of majoritarians dedicated to the submission of the minorities to their will. … Pakistan’s ISI has increased its budget by six times for “operation equal blame”, designed to ensure that India and Pakistan share the same brackets on issues of human rights highlighted by the “international community” (the usual shorthand for NATO member-states).” – Prof M. D. Nalapat

ISI Chief Ahmed Shuja PashaThe Ranaghat atrocity, where a 72-year-old Catholic nun was violated by three young men, was carried out through an extremist organisation based in Khulna in Bangladesh, say analysts based within the territories of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The organisation “used recruits from two different faiths for the operation, and arranged their return to Bangladesh within hours of the atrocity”, thereby making it problematic that the actual perpetrators would ever get apprehended. More disturbingly, these sources allege that a section of the local police in the vicinity of the seminary “was aware of the planned operation, and agreed to ensure safe passage” to the perpetrators. They, however, denied that any political party had a role to play in the heinous crime, which has traumatised the peaceful and progressive Christian community throughout India. “Elements in the local police ensured that the follow-up action (after the rape) was first delayed and then taken in such a fashion that evidence got destroyed” and that “even though the extremist youth shown on the CCTV cameras were moving around in the neighbourhood for six days before the assault, the local police failed to bring in residents of the area who could have identified them”. They claim that after such a botch-up of the initial leads in the case, “only the usual suspects will get rounded up by the CBI, which is relying on the local police for assistance in solving a crime that the latter allowed to take place”, and hence that “the actual planners and facilitators of the attack will escape”.

Baselios Cardinal Cleemis is the current President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.The speedy finger-pointing over the Ranaghat atrocity has to be seen in the context of efforts by numerous international organisations to characterise the Narendra Modi-led NDA government as a fanatic band of majoritarians dedicated to the submission of the minorities to their will. GCC-based analysts say that since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government came to power at the Centre on 26 May 2014, Pakistan’s ISI has increased its budget by six times for “operation equal blame”, designed to ensure that India and Pakistan share the same brackets on issues of human rights highlighted by the “international community” (the usual shorthand for NATO member-states). According to these GCC-based analysts, who track the activities in Bangladesh and Nepal of the ISI and its associated groups internationally, the organisation has since 2011 set up a budget to fund attacks on Christian organisations and priests in India, so as to ensure that the international media report India in the same way as they do Former IPS officer Julio Francis RibeiroPakistan, a country where the Christian community has been discriminated against since the 1980s and where members of the community are routinely killed or converted through threats. Such activity has been sharply stepped up since the middle of last year.

“There is a perception that the ISI recruits only Muslims, when the fact is that in India, more than a third of active and dupe recruits (i.e. those unaware that they are working for the Pakistan-based espionage agency) are Hindus and even a few from other communities”, an analyst based in an Abu Dhabi agency revealed, adding that “it does not take much money or persuasion to ensure that acts of violence get committed in a country where poverty is rife”.

Teesta Sitalwad & Javed AnandOver the past four years, the ISI has liaised through its associates with NGOs and individuals worldwide to “facilitate the preparation of reports which seek to show that India is a country where Christians and Muslims are grossly discriminated against”, said a US-based analyst, who pointed out that the effort is to ensure that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) succeeds in lobbying the US government to place India in the same bracket as Pakistan when the Obama administration makes public its report on international religious freedom by end-April. NGOs such as Amnesty International have lately been bracketing India in the same category as Iraq and Nigeria, where the treatment of minorities is concerned, periodically briefing policy-makers within the NATO bloc about events in India. In this context, it has relied on reports such as a “300 Days” report card of the Modi government, which claims that there have been 600 egregious attacks on minorities during this period, 450 against Muslims and the rest against Christians. What goes unmentioned is that much higher figures exist for attacks against Hindus in the same period, or that in previous 300-day periods when the UPA was in office, the figures were much higher. “From New York to Geneva to London, squads from the ISI have been active in ensuring that a stream of misinformation reaches policy-makers about the situation in India”, a process in which they have been aided by several well-intentioned individuals and groups who have jumped onto the “India is fascist” bandwagon being propelled by some politicians in India eager to discredit the Modi government.

Obama also has a Christian agenda for South AsiaWhen President Barack Obama visited India for the 26 January Republic Day parade, he flagged five concerns of his government: religious freedom, status of Dalits, slavery, violence against women and overall human rights. Not accidentally, an international campaign is now on to show that India is deficient on all five counts, with the US House of Representatives passing for the first time a resolution on the status of Dalits in India (HR 566, 113th Congress) in a context where the EU has since 2006 passed six resolutions against India on the same subject. Recently, a documentary by a film-maker linked to an NGO, which sought to show India as a country where rape was commonplace (when the statistics show the country to be safer than the US or several of its European allies), was shown on the BBC. The NDA government’s clumsy reaction of banning the filming in India ensured global publicity for the documentary, thereby playing into the hands of the traducers of India. Not surprisingly, there have been several high-profile screenings of the “banned” BBC documentary in various NATO capitals and metropolitan centres, in a context where the US House of Representatives on 6 March and the US Senate on 11 March discussed the subject of violence against women in India in very critical language, a precursor of condemnations to come on this and the subject of “slavery”, i.e. child labour in India. Interestingly, a child labour campaigner in India has won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, joining a list of winners that includes Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger, but excludes Mahatma Gandhi.

Sonia Gandhi & Opposition LeadersOminously, efforts are on by some NGOs and their patrons to ensure a mammoth march of farmers to Delhi in May, this time with a view towards ensuring physical clashes with law enforcement officials. Two earlier marches have taken place, the last a few days ago, on the issue of pollution in the Yamuna river. NGOs, trade unions and farmers organisations are meeting with political and other elements in order to launch a coordinated campaign against the Narendra Modi government in the coming weeks, both nationally as well as internationally.

George Alencherry, Kuriakose Bharanikulangara & Narendra ModiAll that can be said with certainty is that those who indulge in violence which could get interpreted as a hate crime, such as the recent attacks on Christian institutions across India, are playing to a tune which promotes the ISI’s “operation equal blame”, thereby assisting that organisation to succeed in portraying India in international fora as being as much of a serial abuser of the rights of the minorities as Pakistan, when the reality is very different. – The Sunday Guardian, 21 March 2015

Nun Rapists

Truth must be upheld, Mr Ribeiro – Hilda Raja

Julio Ribeiro

Lady Professor Icon“I am 78 and thought it is time to speak out. The ordinary people like me are happy and content. We feel no persecution or discrimination and are not on the hit list. Even if we are, truth cannot be hidden. In fact it was the Church which had crucified TRUTH and continues to do so.” – Dr Mrs Hilda Raja

I read Mr Julio Ribeiro’s ‘I feel I am on a hit list’ (Indian Express dated 16th March). I did not react immediately because I wanted to let it sink and see if there was any foundation in what he stated. To me who am 78, the whole accusation of his seems to have no foundation. As of Julio Ribeiro, my ancestry also can be traced to Hinduism. While he agrees on this, the question arises why we are Christians today. How did it happen? What kind of inducement-allurement and what strategy of proselytization were used in those days for my ancestors to become Christians? Unlike Julio Ribeiro, I do not feel threatened. Neither do I fear that I am on a hit list. I feel very much an Indian no matter who says what. The point to note is that the Catholic Church to which Julio Ribeiro and I belong has a parampara of a persecution mania. This is because we have inherited and are born through persecution. Not by the Hindus but by the Dutch, the Portuguese, the French and the English. This is precisely why though Julio Ribeiro acquiescence that his DNA if tested, it will not differ markedly from Mohan Bhagwat’s. The same can be said of our Hindu ancestors. Then what happened down the line.

We must agree that there was persecution, forced conversion by the conquerors. It was a question of torture and death to which the Hindu ancestors were subjected to. This is not fairy tales but recorded history when thousands of temples were destroyed, houses were ransacked and people were brutalized. Those who indulged in these human rights violations were treated as saints by the Vatican and raised to sainthood. But now we raise a hue and cry against ‘Ghar Vapsi’. What was good for one is not good for another. It is not though these were in the hoary past. Even today most of the NGOs do indulge in this proselytization. I wish the government of India ban all foreign funds. If China could develop without such NGOs and the foreign funds why should India not?

Hitler's Pope Pius XIII must bring the Vatican’s mind set in this context because it is relevant. When it comes to conversion it will go the extra mile. Look at what it indulged in during the regime of Pius XII. He did not hesitate to join hands with Hitler who attacked Yugoslavia. Hitler partitioned the country into the Catholic Croatia and the Orthodox Serbia. Then followed a massive ethnic cleansing. The aryanisation process which separated the Jews, Serbs as undesirables. These were deported to concentration camps. Children were not spared. The ethnic cleansing was done by the open support of the clergy—priests and nuns supervised and Vatican followed the ‘omerta’ and looked the other way. Special death Aloysius Stepinaccamps were set up for children. Several commandants and officers at these death camps were Catholic priests. Franciscan monks supervised the mass executions. This ethnic cleansing thus had the blessings of Vatican. There were monetary gains for the Vatican from the Holocaust in Croatia. In the certificate of conversion which was sold for a few hundred of dinars the Vatican netted millions. Vatican was well-informed and yet the Pope maintained silence. In fact not a single member of the clergy was held accountable—though the commandants of the death camps were priests. When after the war, Archbishop Stepinak was arrested for war crimes by the Yugoslav government, Puis XII excommunicated everyone who had taken part in the trial. Later the Archbishop was presented as the champion of religious freedom! It is interesting that in 1998 Pope John Paul II travelled to the Republic of Croatia to announce the beatification of Archbishop Stepinak.

It must be noted that the Vatican abetted and colluded with Mussolini and Hitler in all their brutality. It stood to gain both in terms of power and money. Yet we often hear the word ‘fascist’ being thrown against the BJP and the saffron brigade. This is part of the Christian parampara of the Catholic Church to which Julio Ribeiro and I belong to. Yet we are scandalized by the ‘Ghar Vapsi’. What about the Inquisitions held in India in Goa. With so much of baggage how can we point a finger to others, to the saffron groups and then pretend that we are being victimized and discriminated? All rapes are abominable and need to be condemned in the strongest terms. But why only the rape of the nun, be it in Orissa and now in W. Bengal, be internationalized? Why and how can the Vatican interfere and want to send a delegation?

Burning at the stake by the InquisitionIn a population of nearly one and a quarter billion human rights violations and inhuman acts are bound to happen. These need to be severely put down not politicized. It is the NGOs which create a kind of phobia. Foreign funds flow and towards this they organize dharnas and rallies. Any violation and discrimination is being attributed to the Modi’s government. But then these things had not suddenly surfaced. There is a long gestation period of discrimination, of injecting a fear psychosis. The politicians have communalized the communities.

India is known for its secularism—and it is not because the Constitution made it secular. Even before the Constitution the Hindus welcomed all religions. Butchery and compulsion and forced conversion were introduced and followed by the Dutch, Portuguese, the French and the English. Earlier the basic tenet followed by the inhabitants of this great country was Sanatana Dharma. Even today that is the guide and the dictum.

I am 78 and thought it is time to speak out. The ordinary people like me are happy and content. We feel no persecution or discrimination and are not on the hit list. Even if we are, truth cannot be hidden. In fact it was the Church which had crucified TRUTH and continues to do so. Perhaps there may be aberrations to this. It must not be forgotten that Julio Ribeiro was hounded by a minority community for the alleged human rights violations in Punjab. It was not the Hindus who were behind it. So may be JR has some deep-seated fear within him. But then to generalize this personal fear into the whole fabric of the Indian populace is too far-fetched.

TruthI want to appeal to the government of Modi to ban the foreign funds flow into this country. We should be able to manage with what we have. Why take a begging bowl to other countries and disrupt the peace within. If other countries can manage so can we. I would like to mention about the good works done and which are being done by nuns. But then they have enormous assets. When the foreign invaders left this country they turned over all their land and houses to the Churches. As if these are their grandfathers’ possessions! By all legal rights these should have been turned over to the government of India. So the Churches had at their disposal land and finances to start with. There is no accountability. Look at the minority education institutions which run on their own rules and regulations. Why did the Constitution founders submit to such a request and enshrine it in the Constitution? Is that not discrimination? I have studied from LKG to PG in minority institutions. Later I was a faculty in one of the elite colleges in Chennai. I know how they function. The least said about them the better. Yes, good work they do there is no denying, but it has a price. Money flows into Vatican. There is wealth beyond measure in these Church-allied institutions and in churches. So when mammon triumphs where is TRUTH. The same lenses must be used to scrutinize Mother Teresa’s work in India. – Dr Mrs Hilda Raja, 21 March 2015

» Dr Mrs Hilda Raja was a Professor of Social Sciences at Stella Maris College in Chennai. After retirement she has been a consultant on various government and international development projects. She now stays with her son in Vadodara, Gujarat.

 

To blacken India on rape, BBC has omitted the facts – Christopher Booker

Indian students participate in a silent march urging the Indian government to lift the ban on the documentary film 'India's Daughter', in Bangalore on March 13, 2015. The students appealed to the government that banning the documentary by film maker Leslee Udwin was not justified as it throws light on the mindset of a sector of people which blame women for everything including rape.  AFP PHOTO / Manjunath KIRANManjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

Christopher Booker“Those who saw the preview of India’s Daughter in Delhi have testified that the original version did make comparisons with the rest of the world. One, Anna Vetticad, praised it as a “balanced documentary,” because it ended with “worldwide statistics highlighting violence against women from Australia to the US.” But when the final version emerged, all this had been cut out. India was shown standing alone, as a country where rape is an exceptional problem.” – Christopher Booker

Leslee UdwinA huge row has erupted in India over India’s Daughter, a film made by the BBC on the gang-rape and murder of a young medical student on a Delhi bus in November 2012. What aroused particular anger was how the film, designed to be shown in seven countries to mark International Women’s Day, seemed to want to portray India as the rape capital of the world, with its headline claim that the country has “a rape every 22 minutes”.

But what has also come to light is that when the film was privately previewed in Delhi, its original version included evidence that in many countries in the West the incidence of rape is actually much greater. In Britain, the official Crime Survey for England and Wales 2014 estimated that there are 85,000 rapes every year, or one every six minutes. Equivalent US figures suggest that 1 per cent of all women are sexually assaulted each year, one every 25 seconds.

Anna VetticadThose who saw the preview of India’s Daughter in Delhi have testified that the original version did make comparisons with the rest of the world. One, Anna Vetticad, praised it as a “balanced documentary”, because it ended with “worldwide statistics highlighting violence against women from Australia to the US”. But when the final version emerged, all this had been cut out. India was shown standing alone, as a country where rape is an exceptional problem.

What also led the Indian courts to ban showing the film was its portrayal of a country where violence towards women is part of its national culture. Particularly controversial was its prison cell interview with the bus driver, waiting on death row for the outcome of his appeal to India’s Supreme Court. He showed no remorse for the woman he had helped to rape and murder. He suggested that she had brought this on herself by travelling on a bus late at night. But again this picture of India as having a peculiar cultural problem over its acceptance of gang-rape is belied by the statistics. According to UK and US figures, 14 per cent of rapes are by strangers. In India the figure is less than 1 per cent.

Umar RazaqBack in 2012, when that Delhi crime first attracted worldwide coverage, I looked into many horrific stories of gang-rape reported in Britain. According to the Metropolitan Police, more than 15 per cent of rapes reported in London each year involve three or more attackers. In one Essex case, the rapists of a 16-year-old girl poured acid over her in an attempt to destroy the evidence of their crime. We scarcely need reminding of recent revelations about what was going on in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere.

If there is a cultural problem here, it is the long-standing desire of the Western media to stereotype Indian males as somehow, to a special degree, sexual predators. Back in 1984, Western screens showed the TV series Jewel in the Crown and the film A Passage to India, both featuring rapes by Indian men of white women (although one was imaginary). More recently no films about India have been more popular in the West than Slumdog Millionaire and Monsoon Wedding, again featuring rapes, although this time by Indian men of Indian women.

BBCAs for the BBC’s latest effort at reinforcing this stereotype, there is already evidence that it has done damage to the image of India in the West, such as the much-publicised case of the Leipzig professor who barred an Indian student from an internship on the grounds that “we hear a lot about the rape problem in India, which I cannot support”. Female professors in Germany are reported as refusing to teach Indian male students for similar reasons. But the question the BBC has to answer is why did it so deliberately omit the evidence from the final version of that film, which might have given its worldwide audience such a different picture? It seems that, across the board, it now takes its right to distort evidence so much for granted that it no longer has the ability to recognise what damage this is doing. – The Telegraph, 14 Mar 2015

» Christopher Booker is an author and journalist who for many years has been a columnist with the London Sunday Telegraph. He was the founding editor of the satirical magazine Private Eye.

Dalai Lama: “India has great potential to help the world” – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“Christianity and Islam have a terrible historical record, Indian traditions do not. There were many different ways of worship in India yet all lived peacefully together—till the dogmatic religions, Islam and Christianity, arrived on the scene, and Hindus became their victims.” – Maria Wirth

Dalai LamaH.H. the Dalai Lama said during the last Kumbh Mela in Haridwar that “India has great potential to help the world.” He added that already as a youth in Lhasa he was greatly impressed with the richness of Indian thought, and went as far as to say “Everything in my head is from India. I am a son of India.”

In India, however, there are two camps. One agrees with the Dalai Lama. The other does not and even ridicules anyone who claims that India’s heritage has great value.

I belong to those who agree with the Dalai Lama. The reason is simple: It is true. India does have great potential to help the world. There is plenty of evidence. Just read some of the ancient texts, for example the Upanishads. The insights contained therein are mind-boggling. For me, who grew up as a Christian and felt dissatisfied with what I was taught to believe, it was all the more obvious. Christianity is no equal to the Indian tradition.

Here I refer only to the philosophical and religious angle. Yet India’s heritage contains amazing knowledge in all possible fields—from science to music, from architecture to astronomy to medicine and so on. It is a huge treasure, in spite of the fact that a lot of this treasure has been lost or destroyed. Not without reason India is called the cradle of civilization and “Indian wisdom” is proverbial in the West.

Now, since it is clear that the Dalai Lama is right, how can there be people who disagree?

Thomas Babington MacaulayThis is a long story that started in 1835 when a politician called Thomas Macaulay pleaded in the British Parliament to replace the Sanskrit gurukuls in India with English education. He argued that if Britain wants to successfully subdue Indians, they need to be cut off from their culture.

Macauley got his way. From then on, the Indian elite had to send their children to English medium schools, if they wanted them to make it in life. Naturally, the kids didn’t hear much about their own great culture and whatever little they heard, was negative. And since they didn’t learn Sanskrit, they could not check it out for themselves.

Ironically, this happened at a time when the European elite had discovered Sanskrit and India’s wisdom and were stunned by its depth. This discovery contributed to the so-called era of enlightenment in Europe which resulted in a separation between State and Church.

Yet Indian children were taught from mid-19th century onwards, how great and accomplished Britain was. It suited the colonial masters to have “educated natives” who held them and their lifestyle, including their religion, in high esteem. In return, they, especially those who had converted to the western religions, were allowed to feel superior to the ‘superstitious Indian masses’.

Brainwashing works. And Indians proved that it lasts even over several generations. Those who claim that the Dalai Lama is wrong are generally “Macaulay’s children” who feel proud that they are fluent in English and don’t realize that they have been uprooted in the interest of their former masters.

These people never delved into the rich Indian heritage that had impressed the Dalai Lama. Yet in spite of their ignorance, they claim that India has nothing to offer. They don’t really claim it: they shout it, so that any opposition to their view cannot be heard. Of course this is not a healthy state of affairs, but it plays out often on Indian news channels: Macauley’s children (or should I call them ‘anti-Hindu brigade’?) accuse and insinuate about Hinduism what the British convent schools had taught them.

 Baselios Cardinal Cleemis is the current President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.Missionaries have always maligned Hinduism, but in the recent decades, a new, dangerous insinuation is noisily propagated. Christian leaders support it and the international media eagerly picks it up. It is this:

“Hindus are intolerant of other religions. They hate members of other religions, and now, since there is a BJP government, they show their agenda openly. They want a Hindu India and the obliteration of other religions. The rising incidents of attacks on churches prove it.”

“Who will stop this hate” kept flashing on the screen of a news channel, after a stone had damaged a church window. Such insinuations are unbearably unfair. Hindus (other Indian traditions included) are by far the most tolerant people on earth. There is no other country, where minority Christians, Jews and Muslims are as safe as in India. And yet there seems to be a coordinated effort by Indians and westerners, which is gleefully supported by the media, to paint Hindus as hateful of other religions.

“Attacks on churches have a pattern” they shout, when there is no pattern. After a burglary of Rs 8000 in a Christian school, Macauley’s children demanded a statement from the Prime Minister in spite of the fact that the principal of the school—a nun—and the police had stated that it was theft without any communal angle. When children threw a stone at a church, it made national news for hours, and will probably be eagerly included in international news reports that “incidents of attacks on churches are rising in India”.

In contrast, attacks on temples are not considered newsworthy. In 2014, 206 temples and 3 churches were vandalized. If vandalism of a place of worship is expected to have been committed by culprits from another religion, then the number of attacks on churches should be a multiple of the attacks on temples, because Hindus are the great majority. How come that far more temples were vandalized?

New Delhi TemplesThe point is that the anti-Hindu brigade is not interested in the truth. They want that attacks on churches are rising, at least in the perception of people the world over. They want that ‘Hinduism’ evokes disgust. What could be the reason?

President Obama’s recent remarks may give a hint. At a prayer breakfast in the White House a few days after the Jordanian Air Force pilot was brutally burned alive by ISIS, he tried to give the impression that Islam, Christianity and Hinduism are all in the same boat. They all have committed unspeakable atrocities. “Even Gandhi would be shocked”, he said referring to India.

Now this attempt to draw Hinduism in was blatantly dishonest. While Christianity and Islam indeed have a terrible historical record, Indian traditions do not. There were many different ways of worship in India yet all lived peacefully together—till the dogmatic religions, Islam and Christianity, arrived on the scene, and Hindus became their victims.

Instead of trying to pull Hinduism down to the level of the dogmatic religions in the perception of others, it would be better to find out what makes dogmatic religions prone to violence and eliminate those aspects.

One major aspect is the fact that the dogmatic religions mix up the path with the truth. They claim that only one path is true – their own – and all have to follow this one path, when in reality only one truth is true and paths are many. The Rishis declared “Truth is one; the sages call it by many names”.

Abrahamic ReligionsThe problem with the dogmatic religions is, however, that they don’t enquire into what is really true. They think that truth is the opposite of a lie, and insist that the story they tell about God is true and not a lie. They never deeply reflected on what is really and absolutely true about us and the universe.

Indian Rishis did reflect and came up with deep insights. Truth is the eternal, unchanging, infinite, conscious basis that upholds this ever-changing universe. Names and forms are only fleeting and impermanent appearances on this basis which is among others described as Sat-Chit-Ananda.

The Rishis claim that the goal of life is to discover this truth in us and they show many ways, depending on the tendencies of different persons – bhakti, jnana, karma, yoga, etc. The Hindu tradition is open-minded: If devotion to Krishna helps you, it is fine. If devotion to Jesus helps you, it is also fine.

Will the dogmatic religions correct themselves? Will they agree that truth is one and different paths are possible? It seems so natural and would make such big positive change in the world.

Yet it is not likely that those religions will give up the power that comes with “we alone have the truth” without being pressurized. They keep defending their flawed religion, and one major aspect of this defense is to malign Hindu Dharma. The reason may be that they are aware that if people knew the truth about Hindu Dharma, they would appreciate it as it makes far more sense than the dogmatic religions.

Encyclopedia of HinduismIndians need to ponder how to translate the potential of their tradition to help the world into reality. Mainstream media clearly sides with dogmatic religions and its influence is close to almighty. Yet those religions have serious drawbacks. Their followers are left stranded regarding the meaning of life. Depression is rampant in the Christian West and Muslim youth is horribly misguided to believe that killing unbelievers makes their lives meaningful and will fetch them a reward in afterlife.

If Hindus and Buddhists join together and propagate India’s wisdom, their voice is more likely to be heard. At the same time, they need to expose absurd dogmas and forcefully demand at international forums that nobody can claim without any evidence that non–Christians—and non-Muslims respectively—will burn in hell for all eternity.

If this is not hate speech, what is? If this is not against human rights, what is?

Voltaire said: “Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” The belief in absurdities needs to be stopped. Then atrocities in the name of religion will stop automatically. – Maria Wirth Blog, 1 March 2015

» Maria Wirth is a German psychology major and writer. She lives in  North India and tweets at @mariawirth1.

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