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Thursday, February 04, 2010

US thinktank: On religious discrimination, India next only to Iraq

  NEW DELHI: For India, international recognition of its free and pluralistic society has always been hard to come by and while things are changing,

  they are clearly changing slowly. A study carried out by Washington-based Pew Research Centre, the highly respected US thinktank, said India is next only to Iraq when it comes to social hostility and religious discrimination perpetrated by individuals and groups.

  The study titled `Global Restrictions on Religion' took into account the situation in as many as 198 countries, North Korea being the only notable exception, to derive the conclusion. India was just below Iraq and well above countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan when it came to social hostility in the country. Pakistan is at the third place right below India.

  The study, which claims to cover 99.5% of the world population, deals with restrictions imposed on religion not just by social groups and individuals but also by the government. Even in the case of government induced restrictions, India fares badly with its position in the top 40 countries out of the 198 mentioned.

  Even though the report says that "the highest overall levels of restrictions are found in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran, where both the government and society at large impose numerous limits on religious beliefs and practices'' India is ranked well above them in the social hostility index.

  While India has fared badly on both, China has done remarkably well when it comes to social hostility even though it has done badly in the government imposed restrictions section. "Vietnam and China, for instance, have high government restrictions on religion but are in the moderate or low range when it comes to social hostilities. Nigeria and Bangladesh follow the opposite pattern: high in social hostilities but moderate in terms of government actions,'' it says.

  The report clubs India with Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Bangladesh as countries where large segments of the population want to protect the special place of one particular religion. This is how it explains the high social hostility index for these countries. "Many of the restrictions imposed in these countries are driven by groups pressing for the enshrinement of their interpretation of the majority faith, including through Shariah law in Muslim societies and Hindutva movement in India which seeks to define India as a Hindu nation,'' says the report.

  In preparing this study, states the report, the Pew Forum devised a battery of measures, phrased as questions, to gauge the levels of government and social restrictions on religion in each country. "To answer these questions, Pew Forum researchers combed through 16 widely cited, publicly available sources of information, including reports by the US State Department, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the Council of the European Union, the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, the Hudson Institute and Amnesty International,'' it states.

  QnA: Although India is called a secular country, in reality have we ever been secular?


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Blogger Leela said...

We the Buddhists in Sri Lanka believe it is a privilege of every human being to be able to follow a religion of his choice. Though the Christian countries of the West are emphatic about it, they do not follow it in practice. They have shown us their audacity to say one thing and do another. Perhaps Norway is the most hypocrites out of the lot. Its constitution is the most backward in the entire world.

The Constitution of Norway imposes punitive action to those citizens that do not stick on to their religion. One of the clauses says; all the high positions in the Government are reserved only for those that follow its official religion – Lutheran Christianity. Most western countries impose similar restrains in a roundabout way, if not directly through their constitutions. In France, Muslim children cannot wear head scaffs at schools.

Our constitution is fair, if not fairer than any other in the world. We have no restrictions what so ever as in Christian Europe. Yet, Christian web sites accuse us of being prejudiced. And the NGOs backed by Europeans clamor for religious right in our streets.

The truth is; they want to offer gifts to poor Sinhala Buddhists as a carrot and turn them Christian. They want such dirty tactics to be a constitutional right. And some green politicians do not mind that.

In the Oxford dictionary ‘bribe’ is described as a gift offered to influence a person to act in favor of the giver. If that is so, what evangelists offer to Buddhists is nothing but a bribe. And, bribe is abhorrence. No Buddhist would accept bribe as a fundamental right to turn Buddhist a Christian. They will never accept the use of bribe as an acceptable means of persuasion. Neither, would they stay put forever and watch their house being set fire by dirty tactics.

We should prevent such a calamity by all means. One of ways to prevent such a tragedy is to let the Buddhists know about the Christian God. They must know the contents of the Bible, Koran and the other numerous books that they claim to be divinely inspired. They must read the parts, which churches ignore, or conveniently re-write, in an effort to render religious text more palpable. Buddhists must learn the way Christian Missionaries had abused the power to harm our heritage during the colonial times. We must be vigilant about the things that they are doing to us right now.

There are quite a few scholarly texts on the subject of harm done to Sinhala Buddhists and their heritage by the Christian missionaries. However, not many are available to read about the myth in the Bible and the Hebrew God. And, none that highlights the sections of the Bibles that contradicts and the evangelists covers up.

I must emphasize at the same time, that no Sinhala Buddhist are against the Bible preaching in Sri Lanka. On the contrary, we welcome any evangelist who seeks to preach the Bible verses in public. If the Christian Evangelists so wish, we can arrange our 'Bana maduwa' preac house in Buddhist temples as a temporary pulpit as our ancestors did in the past. If any Sinhala Buddhists believe Christian Gospel is their salvation and seek to proselytize, that is well and good. But, evangelists must be as open as Buddhists are about their scriptures. They must not scream only about the sermon of the mount and conceal many other dim-witted, dirty, and nasty verses in the Bible. They must also explain us those illogical parables that Jesus is said to have said.

Two thousand years ago, the Buddha had advised truth seekers to evaluate many preachings before stick on to one. So, making a decision on assessment is a wise philosophy than stumble on blind faith by fear. Hence, I urge all the apostates to read many books on the myth of the Hebrew God. Apostate should to read them with an open mind before making a decision. But, they should let go the fear and blind faith for that Hebrew God of the desert at least while they read this kind of material. Then only they will comprehend the logics logically and see both sides of the coin.

3:36 AM  

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