Thursday, December 01, 2011

Hindu threats to Christians in Nepal

My home town of Aldershot has had a massive influx of Nepalese Ghurkas, which has embarrassed the town council in their ability to provide housing, education and medical services. In grateful recognition of this hospitality the Nepalese government has turned against Christians in Nepal.

An extremist Hindu group behind a bomb blast outside a Christian mission building in Nepal has demanded that the country become a Hindu state and all churches in the capital be closed within 50 days. An explosive device was detonated beside the offices of the United Mission to Nepal, an association of Christian and government organisations devoted to social justice and poverty alleviation, in Kathmandu on Tuesday 22 November. The building is situated in a residential area, but there were no casualties and minimal property damage. Another bomb found nearby was defused by a bomb disposal squad. Five days later, a bomb was discovered outside a Protestant church in central Kathmandu by the janitor; it was defused by security forces.

The Nepal Defence Army (NDA), an extremist Hindu group that wants to reinstate the country’s Hindu monarchy, claimed responsibility for the blast outside the United Mission. Pamphlets signed by the group reportedly demanding that Nepal should be a Hindu state, that all churches in Kathmandu should be closed within 50 days and that all missionary organisations should leave Nepal, were found by the police.

The NDA bombed a church in Lalitpur, south of Kathmandu, in May 2009. Three people were killed and more than a dozen injured in that attack, which happened on the eve of national elections for a new prime minister. The group has also been behind the murder of a church pastor and other attacks against Christians, who are feeling increasingly under threat in Nepal. They are concerned about proposed new legislation that would outlaw converting from one religion to another or inciting someone else to do so. Offenders could face up to five years in prison.

Christian leaders fear that the witness of the Church in Nepal will be seriously threatened if the government proceeds with the legislation. It would be a retrograde step for religious freedom in Nepal, overturning the provisions of the 2007 interim constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and expression to all groups. In a worrying indication of the growing climate of hostility over religious conversions, especially to Christianity, two people were beaten and forcibly evicted from their village in Sindupalcowk on 22 November because they had become Christians.

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