India: Hindutva’s Christian ‘Dhimmis’

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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 520 | Wed 11 Mar 2009  

'Dhimmitude' is the term for 'the legal and social conditions of Jews and Christians subjected to Islamic rule' (Bat Ye'or http://www.dhimmitude.org/ ). Dhimmitude kept the 'dhimmi ... utterly subdued' (Qur'an, Sura 9:29): paralysed by humiliation and fear. The Nazis took a leaf from the Islamic book when they forced the Jews to wear distinctive clothing. Now it appears that India's Hindu nationalists are adopting similar tactics. According to reports, Christians displaced by the violent Orissa (north-east India) pogrom of August-September 2008 (see RLPs 494 and 495) are being forced to submit to a form of subjugation that mirrors that of dhimmitude. Whilst dhimmitude is a historic and integral element of Islamic rule and clearly would thrive under a fascist Hindu nationalist regime, it should have no place in secular, democratic India. 

Orissa's Archbishop Raphael Cheenath recently reported that, while Christians are free to move around their relief camps, most are too fearful to return to their villages. Christians who have returned to their villages have been forced to 'become Hindus' or pay a fee. Archbishop Cheenath reports that 'humiliating and discriminatory rituals are imposed upon the Christians by the Sangh Parivar [Hindu nationalist] elements with impunity'. He says the Christians are not permitted to use the public restrooms when Hindus are there; they must salute tribals whenever and wherever they meet them; and Christian women are forced to wear humiliating clothing. 'If a Christian is riding a cycle and happened to meet a "Hindu" Tribal, he has to get down from the cycle and walk. While bathing in the pond in the village, tribal "Hindus" have to ... bathe first, only then Christians can bathe.' Furthermore: 'Christians are threatened with dire consequences if they dare to go to the Church. If they still make an attempt they are prescribed sanctions like they will have no access to drinking water wells, ponds, gathering of firewood, etc.' 

According to the Archbishop, whilst most priests have returned to their parishes they have been advised to request police escorts ahead of time whenever they need to travel. The Archbishop is concerned by reports that 'secret meetings by the Sangh Parivar are held all over in Kandhamal' -- he is anxious there may be another attack. Meanwhile, the government is busy boasting widely that they have restored peace to Kandhamal. 

On 18 February Hrudayananda Nayak (40), a Baptist lay leader and father of two, accompanied his sister from their predominantly Christian village of Rudangia in Kandhamal district to a nearby town. While en route he was snatched by Hindus and murdered. His battered body was found in the forest the following day. It is assumed he was murdered by people who had been threatening him. Nayak is the fourth Christian to be abducted and killed since the anti-Christian violence subsided late October last year. Social activist Rabindra Parichha told the Union of Catholic Asian News that he suspects the Hindu radicals have decided to kill the district's Christian leaders. And he warns, 'They are working toward their target.' 


* will remove the cloak of propaganda from Kandhamal so that India  and the world might see how ugly Hindu nationalism can be; while  the 'world' may not care, may the Holy Spirit stir up grief and  indignation in the Church so that prayers will rise up against  this evil for the sake of his precious Indian Church.  

'For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.' (2 Corinthians 10:4 ESV) 

* will protect and build his Church in Kandhamal, in Orissa, and  across India; may every Indian believer know and experience the  fellowship, comfort and love of Christ.  





Hindu nationalists in Orissa, north-east India, are humiliating Christians in the way Islamic states have historically subjugated their 'dhimmis' (Jews and Christians under Islamic rule). Whilst most Christians displaced by last year's pogrom are still too fearful to return to their homes, those who do are being forced to 'become Hindus' or pay a fee. Those who continue as Christians are then forced to wear humiliating clothing; dismount from bicycles and salute 'Hindu' tribals whenever and wherever they come across them; not use public facilities while Hindus are there; and not attend church under threat of sanctions (loss of water, firewood and the like). Some observers fear another attack is being planned. Others believe that Christian leaders are being targeted for elimination. Please pray for India, especially for the Church in Orissa. 


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Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.