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Indian Marchers Protest Visa Policy

MUMBAI, India, JAN. 31, 2007 (Zenit.org).- More than 10,000 Christians of various denominations marched in protest of the government’s visa policy.

According to AsiaNews, the government has long refused to grant foreign missionaries visas for pastoral or evangelization work in India.

In a statement, march organizers said that “foreign Christians are victims of a draconian entry visa policy,” AsiaNews reported.

The news agency explained that Hindu fundamentalists are suspicious of Christians, whom they accuse of proselytizing.

Sam Paul, national secretary of the All India Christian Council, told AsiaNews that on several occasions the police have shut down meetings in Andhra Pradesh for the simple reason that foreign Christians were present.

“Officials often prevent such activities from continuing on the grounds that foreigners with tourist visas cannot participate,” the march organizers added. “Such actions violate the Indian Constitution and international protocols. Our guests have not come to convert anyone, but only to participate as regular believers. They do not want to forget [their religion] just for being in India.”

Although the visa policy affects Buddhists coming from Tibet, China and Japan to a lesser extent, the marchers say there is a clear case of discrimination against Christians.

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