Displaying items by tag: India
At least 30 Christians in India’s Uttar Pradesh have recently been falsely accused of forced religious conversions. This was triggered after Hindu nationalists, including members of the BJP party, claimed two Muslim men forcefully converted 1,000 people. BJP politicians publicly praised the arrests and warned against fraudulent conversions of Hindus to other faiths. Now Christians in Uttar Pradesh are being attacked by radical Hindu nationalists justifying their assaults by falsely accusing the Christians of illegal conversions. Similar anti-conversion laws and abuse of Christians are being enacted in eight other states. ‘This is a grave situation for Christians. ‘There is zero response from the Yogi administration. The attacks are mainly perpetrated by hardcore Hindutva activists who enjoy the support of the politicians’, said a church leader, who requested anonymity.
India has ramped up its coronavirus vaccine production and approved Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine for emergency use amid warnings of a third wave. The vaccine, with 85% efficacy, will be introduced through a supply agreement with homegrown vaccine maker Biological E. It is still unclear when the vaccine will be available. Daily case counts have fallen from 400,000, but they still average up to 40,000, and experts have warned that a third wave of infections is inevitable. Johnson & Johnson's jab is the second foreign vaccine to be granted emergency use authorisation under a new policy not requiring manufacturers to conduct local clinical trials if the vaccine is approved by WHO. In June the Moderna vaccine was given Indian approval, but the company is locked in a legal tussle, and no one has yet been given Immunisation.
A new wave of Christian persecution began after two Muslim men were arrested and charged under the new anti-conversion law. Hindu nationalists, including BJP members, claimed they had been involved in forceful conversion of 1,000 people. Using the arrests as an opportunity for political gain, BJP politicians publicly warned against illegal conversions of Hindus to non-Hindu faiths. Since then, International Christian Concern has documented at least thirty Christians in Uttar Pradesh being attacked by radical Hindu nationalists. In each of these incidents, perpetrators justified their attacks by falsely accusing their Christian victims of engaging in fraudulent conversions. ‘This is a grave situation for Christians in the state,’ a church leader, requesting anonymity, said. ‘There is zero response from the Yogi administration, which empowers the attackers to do more. The attacks are perpetrated by the hardcore Hindutva activists who are supported by politicians.’
Religious minorities in India are facing “systematic persecution” at the hands of Hindu nationalists, which is condoned by the authorities, the police, and the media, new research suggests.
The report Destructive Lies: Disinformation, speech that incites violence and discrimination against religious communities in India, by the Christian charity Open Doors, based on research compiled by a team from the London School of Economics (LSE), says that Christian and Muslim minorities are facing an “existential threat” from mobs of Hindu nationalists known as Hindutva.
Hindutva is an ideology that disregards Indian Christians and Muslims (and other religious minorities) as true Indians because they have allegiances that lie outside India and asserts the country should be purified of their presence. This is leading to a systemic, and often carefully orchestrated, targeting of Christians and other religious minorities.
Researchers from the LSE - who have not been named for safety reasons - said that “state actors” were complicit in the attacks, as well as media, and senior religious leaders, who offered tacit approval for the violence. Social media are also frequently being used to stir up attacks on minorities, with impunity.
One researcher said: “The extent to which . . . state actors are complicit in the violence is shocking; it was there even at the ground level. The bureaucrats, the police, the lower court judges, all of them are . . . openly colluding to harass these minorities. And politicians, top religious leaders, and powerful media owners [are giving] very overt signals that this [behaviour] is desirable.”
Christian communities are now living in an “atmosphere of deep trauma, fear and anxiety”, the report says.
“Apart from regular spectacular incidents of mob lynching, even daily life for many religious minority groups is now marked by fear and a sense of abandonment from their fellow beings as well as from the government, and indeed their own religious institutions,” researchers said.
The report featured 8 case studies and determined 4 headline findings:
1. Persecution pervades everyday life
The research found that ‘an atmosphere of deep trauma, fear and anxiety pervades the Christian communities that we visited in rural areas, as well as many of the Christian and Muslim communities in medium-sized towns and villages and on the outskirts of larger cities’.
2. Covid-19 has made persecution even worse
Not only have Christians been deliberately overlooked in the distribution of Covid-19 government aid, they have also been the subject of disinformation relating to the pandemic. These lies have spread across mainstream and social media platforms and apps.
3. State officials are increasingly hostile
Some Indian states have anti-conversion laws. These are frequently used to target Christians for ‘forced conversions’ and reflect how hard-line Hindu influences in the political sphere translates to regressive laws.
4. Attacks are shared as warnings on social media
One of the first things extremists will do before attacking Christians and other religious minorities is snatch their phones. This is to prevent them documenting the incident. But the perpetrators themselves will record the attack and post it on social media.
Pray with us that the UK Parliament will respond to this report and use their influence to improve the lives of Christians in India.
Pray with us that each recommendation in the report will be fulfilled.
Pray with us that the lives of Christians in India will be changed (2 Timothy 3:11–12)
Although Christian persecution continues to rise in India, the only recent survey of this fact was in 2020 when a report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India listed 366 incidents where Christians were targeted, 40+ in the first two months. Most incidents feature physical violence, threats, harassment, and the disruption of church services by religious radicals or the police. Disruption of prayer meetings and Sunday worship is now a trend across many states. Many Christians are falsely accused and detained on charges of forced conversion. The US commission on international religious freedom has said, ‘Religious hate crimes in India are rising. Mob violence is carried out against Christians accused of forced or induced religious conversion.’ Christians make up a little over 2% of India’s population. Though they are often accused of following a ‘foreign’ religion, the gospel was introduced there in the first century through Jesus’ disciple Thomas.
Over 1,200 girls in Rajasthan started a movement against child marriages, which saw a spike during the Covid pandemic. Nearly 30% of South Asian women aged 20 to 24 were married before they turned 18. While the Indian government has not maintained comprehensive data, international organisations say child marriages could be a major fallout of the pandemic. By June 2020, only three months into lockdown, 92,203 interventions had been made by ChildLine. 35% of those interventions were about child marriages. Saira Bano, 17, wants to be a teacher and help other girls become independent. She heard of a group of girls from marginalised communities who were starting a campaign to create awareness around child marriage. ‘That got my hopes up,’ said Saira. ‘I attended their meeting and learned that the state government has a scholarship scheme in place to ensure girls like me don’t drop out of school.’
Christians are increasingly being persecuted violently: by brutal IS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hindu extremists in India. Release International issued a report on persecution trends in 2021. It is a wake-up call to take our prayers for our persecuted family to new levels. Nigerian attacks are driven by Islamist ideologies to destroy ‘the infidels’. 300 Christians remain detained without trial inside Eritrea. The Chinese government is increasing its ‘clean-cup’ of anything that does not advance the communist agenda. North Korea’s policy against Christians is the longest, harshest persecution in recorded history. Iranians constantly fear they are under surveillance when they meet secretly. The pressure has led to an exodus from Iran that will continue in 2021. Egyptian Christian converts from a Muslim background will continue to pay a high price for their faith and will be expelled from their families, divorced, and lose their employment.
Across Nigeria 1,470 Christians have been murdered and 2,200 abducted since January. The most recent offence was in Kaduna State when eight Christians were killed and a church was burned down. Pray for an end to such attacks by Fulani Muslim herdsmen and jihadists. In Burkina Faso jihadists ambushed a baptism and killed 15 of the Christians. Al-Qaeda and IS have been growing in West Africa since January. Pray for God's peace for the many who are living in fear and protection over those who ran away. In India’s Rajasthan state 15 radical Hindu nationalists carrying swords, sickles, and a gun attacked the family of a pastor after they all refused to renounce their Christian faith. The assailants killed the pastor’s 52-year-old father. Pray for God to strengthen and encourage church planters and house churches in different Hindu-dominant villages. Armenian Christian gravestones are used to build roads in Azerbaijan as they seek to eradicate evidence of Armenian culture and identity.
Cyclone Yaas has hit the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal. Nearly two million people were evacuated from West Bengal prior to its arrival. Yaas is the second powerful cyclone to hit India in just over a week, bringing tidal surges with waves higher than rooftops and gusts above 95 mph. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed, two airports were closed, and train services were cancelled ahead of the storm. West Bengal reported 20,000 mud houses and temporary shelters damaged or destroyed. Last week Cyclone Tauktae resulted in mass evacuations and over 150 deaths. Both Yaas and Tauktae halted Covid prevention efforts, as mass evacuations took precedence. Odisha officials said they had suspended testing, vaccinations, and a door-to-door health survey in three districts. The coastguards have deployed ships and hovercraft along the coast to execute the relief operation.
Tauktae, the strongest storm on record to hit India, killed over 40 people after it made landfall on 17 May. Branches of the air force and navy are scouring the sea to rescue personnel from oil rigs and vessels that were in the path of the cyclone. One barge sank with 261 people: 188 were rescued, 26 died, and 47 are missing. Other barges ran aground. Deaths were caused by lightning strikes, collapsed buildings, falling trees, floods and fallen live electricity poles in Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Goa. The cyclone caused winds of 125 mph when it made landfall. As Tauktae battered the west coast, another cyclone is likely to hit the east coast. A low-pressure area is very likely to form over the north Andaman Sea and the adjoining east-central Bay of Bengal around 22 May, with the potential to intensify into a cyclone.