Christians in India demand increased security ahead of Christmas celebrations

Christians protesting against attacks on churches in Delhi in this file photo. (AFP)
Updated 23 December 2017

Christians in India demand increased security ahead of Christmas celebrations

NEW DELHI: The president of the Catholic Church in India has expressed concern over the rising number of attacks against Christians, and has urged the government to ensure their security.
“Recent incidents in some states (in India) have created anxiety among Christians,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis told Arab News.
He and other church leaders met Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday to press for greater security for the Christian community.
“The minister assured us that immediate action would be taken to bring the culprits to justice and ensure the safety of the community,” Cleemis said.
Last week, 30 Catholic choir singers were attacked in the Satna district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh by right-wing Hindus who accused them of practicing religious conversion.
Local church leaders accused police of arresting the choir members instead of the culprits. “What happened in Satna isn’t an encouraging sign for minorities,” said Cleemis.
“You arrest people on the basis of a rumor, you ignore arson and assault, and you let the culprits go scot free. This worries us,” he added.
“We need the government to act immediately to ensure all possible ways of giving confidence to minorities in India,” Cleemis said.
“India belongs to everyone. If something happens to one community, it affects the entire country. We want a united India with diversity intact.”
Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “No such attack on Christians took place in Madhya Pradesh,” BJP spokesman Deepak Vijaywargiya told Arab News. “Since this is an election year, such allegations arise to serve certain vested interests.”
Christians were also reportedly attacked on Friday in the BJP-governed western state of Rajasthan, again over accusations of religious conversion, a charge the minority community in India vehemently denies.
Earlier this week, in the Aligarh district of the BJP-governed eastern state of Uttar Pradesh, a Hindu group pledging allegiance to a local BJP parliamentarian warned Christian schools against celebrating Christmas. “India is increasingly becoming unsafe and hostile to religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims,” Harsh Mander, director of the Center for Equity Studies, told Arab News.


British PM pushes for Brexit deal vote after being forced to seek delay

Updated 3 min 1 sec ago

British PM pushes for Brexit deal vote after being forced to seek delay

  • The divorce is again in disarray as Britain’s political class argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will again try to put his Brexit deal to a vote in parliament on Monday after he was forced by his opponents to send a letter seeking a delay from the European Union.

With just 10 days left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, the divorce is again in disarray as Britain’s political class argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum.

Although Johnson hammered out a deal in grueling talks with EU officials last week, it was not certain that the speaker of the House of Commons would allow a vote on the deal on Monday.

Johnson was ambushed by opponents in parliament on Saturday who demanded a change to the sequencing of the ratification of the deal, exposing the prime minister to a law which demanded he request a delay until Jan. 31.

In a twist that illustrates the extent to which Brexit has strained the norms of British statecraft, Johnson sent the note to the EU unsigned - and added another signed letter arguing against what he cast as a deeply corrosive delay.

“A further extension would damage the interests of the UK and our EU partners, and the relationship between us,” Johnson said his own letter, signed “Boris Johnson”.

The EU has not yet given a clear response.

The British government insisted on Sunday the country will leave the EU on Oct. 31, and plans to put the deal to a vote in parliament later on Monday though it is unclear if the House of Commons speaker, John Bercow, will allow such a vote.

Bercow will make a statement on the proceedings shortly after parliament opens at 1330 GMT.

If Bercow, who said on Saturday he was blindsided by the government’s debate proposal, does not allow it then the government will have to try to push on with the legislation needed for ratification of Johnson’s deal.

But that is a path that exposes Johnson to attempts by opponents to wreck the agreement.

Sterling, which has rallied more than 6% since Oct. 10, slid from five-month highs on Monday. It hit as low as $1.2850 in Asian trading before settling around $1.2920 in London, down 0.5% on the day.

Goldman Sachs raised the probability of the United Kingdom leaving with a ratified deal to 70% from 65%, cut its view of the chances of a “no-deal” Brexit to 5% from 10% and left its view on no Brexit at all unchanged at 25%.