Muslims crack down on freedom of religion in Kashmir

From the National Catholic Register. (H/T ECM)


The sharia court in Muslim-majority Kashmir has no constitutional or legal authority. But its recent verdict ordering the expulsion of five Christians from the troubled Indian side of Kashmir has sent alarm bells ringing among Christians in India.

Apart from ordering the expulsion of the Christians, the court also directed the government of Jammu and Kashmir to take over the management of the Christian missionary schools besides monitoring their activities.

Those ordered to be expelled include Father Jim Borst of the Dutch Mill Hill Missionaries, who has been based in Kashmir since 1963.

“This is much more than conversion. It is humiliating and certainly threatening for us,” Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery of Jammu-Srinagar told the Register Jan. 27, reacting to the verdict.

Srinagar is the capital of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is nestled in the Himalayas.

On Jan. 19, the court ordered the expulsion of Father Borst, along with two Protestant pastors and their wives, accusing them of “luring the (Kashmir) valley Muslims to Christianity.”

The verdict focused more on Pastor Chander Mani Khanna of the Protestant All Saints Church at Srinagar and pronounced him guilty of conversion. The pastor of the Church of North India had been arrested in November by state police on the dubious charge of “fomenting communal trouble” after Muslim groups pressed charges against him. Though the civil court released him on bail, the sharia court went ahead with its own trial.

“Khanna and his associates have been found guilty of spreading communal disaffection and were involved in immoral activities. They are ordered to be expelled from the state,” deputy grand mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, Nasir-ul-Islam, said Jan.19 while reading the verdict of the sharia court.

Father Borst, a well-known retreat preacher, runs the Good Shepherd School at Pulwama. The school had been partially burnt during widespread protests against the desecration of the Quran in the United States during the 9/11 anniversary in 2010.

I think it says something about a religion when the only way they can stop people from leaving their faith is through coercion and violence.

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