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01 April 2012

All India Christian Council condemns Saudi Grand Mufti call for destruction of churches in West Asia

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By Pervez Bari


Bhopal: The All India Christian Council (AICC) has condemned the call by Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.”


The AICC President Dr. Joseph D’ Souza in a press statement said: "The Mufti’s controversial statement placed Christian churches throughout the Arabian peninsula in jeopardy and could have repercussions for religious minorities in other countries.


The AICC Secretary General Dr. John Dayal called upon the government of India and other civilised countries to use their good offices to ensure that the nations in the Arabian peninsula rebuffed the Wahabi Imam’s bigoted statement, and assured the safety and security of churches in the Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Christianity is already forbidden in Saudi Arabia which has no churches.


West Asian media had reported the controversial statement in the context of another statement by a Kuwaiti member of parliament who reportedly called for the ‘removal’ of churches in his country.


Legislation was also recently introduced in Kuwait’s parliament that would mandate the removal of Christian churches from the country and impose strict Shariah laws. Kuwait has later clarified the legislation would not remove the churches, but prohibit further construction of Christian churches and non-Muslim places of worship in the country.


The Saudi Grand Mufti emphasized that because Kuwait is part of the Arabian Peninsula, it would be necessary to destroy all churches in the country. There are a large number of Christians living in Saudi Arabia and the other countries of the Arabian gulf, many of them from India and the Philippines, with their population estimated at over 3.5 million, over 800,000 of them in Saudi Arabia alone.


The All India Christian Council has been following developments in the region with growing alarm and concern as Christians continue to be coerced and harassed at various times. It is particularly disturbing because India has a large number of its citizens, mostly labour but also businessmen, engineers and medical personnel, in the region. A large number of migrant from the states of South India are Christians, the statement said.


The All India Christian Council said the Mufti’s statement flew in the face of the United Nations Charter and the UN Declaration On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Intolerance And Of Discrimination Based On Religion Or Belief, the statement pointed out.


[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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