Indian State Pressured to Fire Christians

NEW DELHI, India, MAY 23, 2005 ( Hindu extremists have launched a campaign in Orissa calling on that state’s government to dismiss public workers, police and civil servants who are Christians.

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The extremists have teamed up with members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, in their anti-Christian drive.

The VHP is the religious wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which governs this northeastern state, one of the states with the largest presence of Hindu extremists. The party promotes a nationalist and mono-religious ideology.

This new mobilization has caused concern and surprise in the Christian community.

«We do not accept this discriminatory approach with regard to society and public administration,» Father Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Catholic bishops’ conference of India, told the Fides agency. «We are seriously concerned that this type of mentality may spread.»

«It is against the Constitution of India, human rights and the pluralistic spirit» of the nation, he said.

Recent years have seen several episodes of violence against religious minorities and Christian communities in Orissa, and mass «re-conversions» have been fostered to get Christian converts to return to Hinduism.

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