Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Minister from Kashmir speaks against conversions, does not mention ‘Kangaroo Court’ at all

Minister for renewable energy Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday slammed religious conversions as “anti-secular”, comments that come in the wake of an Islamic court’s indictment of Christian missionaries in Kashmir on charges of proselytisation. Abdullah’s views that conversions tend to “disturb the secular balance” could be potentially seen as his backing of “Shariah Supreme Court of Islamic Jurisprudence” ruling for four Christian evangelicals to be barred from the state.

Although it has no jurisdiction under the Indian Constitution, the Shariah court, a 200-year-old body, administers and advises the state government on applicability of Islamic laws in JK, a state that enjoys a special federal status.

“Those who aid conversions through allurement should be punished,” Abdullah, prominent Kashmiri, told HT.

There are concerns that the decree could stoke attacks on Christian institutions and missionaries in the Muslim-majority state, where native Hindus had faced strikes from Islamic insurgents in the late 80s.

Srinagar, the state’s summer capital, itself boasts of famous missionary schools, such as Burn Hall School, founded in 1956. Mufti Nasir-ul Islam, a top Shariah court official, told HT: “We respect Christianity. The trails were held under cordial circumstances and videotaped. The pastors were duly heard.”

Christian bodies, including the Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI) and the All India Christian Council, have ruled out “allurement” of Muslims.

“There is no immediate threat but surely a great deal of insecurity,” CBCI spokesperson Joseph Babu said. Christian Council head and National Integration Council member John Dayal said its fact-finding team had found “absolutely no evidence of allurement”.

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