On January 16th, 2008, as she prayed with a large group of Christians, a mob of Hindu extremists arrived. They chased worshippers away, set fire to a car and ten motocycles and, threatened to cut them “into pieces”. In recent weeks Hindu extremists in India’s “tribal belt” have stepped up a vicious anti-Christian campain. Over Christmas in Orissa mobs set fire to 55 churches and 600 houses. This is the worst aniti-Christian violence independant India has seen. The population of Christians in India is between 3% to 6% of the population (close to 7 million individuals). Most Indian Christians are dalits, at the bottom of the caste system, once known as “untouchables”. Christian converts often claim to be Hindus to keep access to government jobs and college places “reserved” for Hiduism’s lower castes. More than 230 people have been arrested on conversion charges in one single state in the past two years. The recent Christmas violence was mostly directed at Catholics. Identifying religious minorities as a common enemy has proven an effective rallying cry for right-wing Hindu groups. At this time, Christians fear more violence in the future. Source: The Economist, Feb 9th, 2008 Edition.
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