PROFESSOR ALI SUKHANVER
Throughout the world, Pope Benedict XVI is recognized as a symbol of kind heartedness, affection and love for humanity not only by his followers but also by a great number of Muslims. People rank him as a beacon of compassion and sympathy for the whole of humanity. In his traditional beginning-of-the-year address to diplomats at the Vaticanhe said, ‘In many countries Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life; they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes.” He urged greater religious tolerance around the world and said referring to the assassination of a Christian Pakistani minister Shahbaz Bhatti that the killing of Bhatti was ‘not an isolated case’. Shahbaz Bhatti was gunned down on March 2, 2011 allegedly by Muslim extremists inIslamabad. In the same address, referring to recent attacks on churches inNigeria on Christmas Day, he said, Religious leaders should ‘forcefully’ condemn intolerance and violence.” The most important impression which one gets out of Pope Benedict’s statement is that the Christians are facing the worst security threats only by the Muslim extremists. In other words he attested the Muslim apprehension that the so-called war on terror is nothing but simply a war against the Muslims.
Be it the western or the non-western society the monster of terrorism is engulfing the whole of world in different forms and different shapes. Exploitation and mistreatment on the basis of religious distinction is also a form of terrorism and has become a very serious issue in the world of today. It is a day-light fact that the Christians are also facing the same type of serious threat which the Muslims are facing in various parts of the world where they are in minority but it is not a fact that the Muslims are the only threat to the Christian community. When we look at the matter in a broader spectrum we find the situation more grave and serious in Indiawith reference to the Christians rights violations. Here is an extract from an article published in the Conservative News on Feb 14, 2000 with the title, ‘Hindu Extremism on the Rise in India’. The paper says, “Hindu fundamentalist groups in Indiaare trying to curb the activities of other religious groups and control the “expressions” of those not conforming to their world view, according to analysts here. As examples, analysts point to Hindu attempts to change the Indian constitution in ways that would curb artistic free expression and restrict the right of minority Christians and Muslims to preach and practice their religion freely.” CNS further says, “Indiahas a long history of violence between the Hindu majority and Muslims. Recently, Christians also have been targeted. The New Delhi-based United Christian Forum for Human Rights has documented more than 120 attacks against Christian individuals, churches, and schools by Hindu fundamentalists, in the past year. Half of the incidents have occurred in Gujarat.” Another picture of Hindu extremism against the Christians was portrayed by The Hindu of September 30; 2008.The paper reported the case of a Catholic nun who was stripped naked and brutally gang-raped in front of a police post with 12 policemen from the Orissa State Armed Police present and watching. The Catholic priest who was with her was mercilessly thrashed for refusing to participate in the atrocity.” The Compass Direct News published a report on the last day of 2011 with the title ‘Acts of Terror against Christians in Indiain December 2011’. The report pointed out more than twenty incidents of Hindu atrocities against the Christians in different parts of India including Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Bangalore Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Nalgonda, Indore, Nagarcoil and so many other areas. The incidents included burning of churches, humiliation of religious books and above all abuse of Christian women. The western- Christian media has always been very successful in portraying the Muslims as terrorists but most of this portrayal is based on prejudice and unfairness. Prejudice and bias always leads to injustice and cruelty. Prejudice is no doubt a menace and a nuisance. The worst example of this menace is the Hindu dominant society of India in which the evil of prejudice has adopted the form of a chronic disease now. Vidya Subrahmaniam said in an article which was published in The Hindu of 4th September 2010, “Secular, democraticIndia has seen pogroms against all three significant minorities — Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. The accounts of murder, arson, and crimes against women sounded horribly familiar: Each detail, each grisly fact seemed taken out of a script enacted before; the sequence of events was as predictable as the shattering, gut-wrenching climax.” Unfortunately all these details of Hindu atrocities against the innocent Christians could not come to the notice of the honourable Pope Benedict, otherwise he would have certainly referred to them in his traditional beginning-of-the-year address to diplomats at theVatican. It is a sheer misconception, a perpendicular misunderstanding rather a baseless misapprehension that terrorism means making the lives of innocent people hell through generating an atmosphere of harassment and persecution; disfigurement of facts and defacement of actualities is also a very heinous form of terrorism.