Intro : Muslim countries have banned celebrations of Xmas festivities on the ground that it’s un-Islamic just the way Muslim clerics in Bharat had opposed the Yoga celebration, calling it un-Islamic. But to a great extent the concerns of Muslim countries can’t be entirely brushed aside. Because there are several examples which show the aim of Vatican and Church across the globe is evangelisation.
Faith leaders across Britain have united against growing attacks on Christmas celebrations in Muslim countries. Christmas celebrations have come under attack from Brunei to Tajikistan to Somalia. Somalian Government’s Ministry of Religion has sent letters to the local police, officials and national security intelligence instructing them to prevent celebrations of Christmas. According to Sheikh Mohammed Kheyrow, director of Somalia’s Ministry of Religion, “The Christmas holiday and its drum beatings have nothing to do with Islam. We warn against celebrations of Christmas, which are only for Christians.” In 2013 Somalia’s leading clerics had issued a similar edict.
Muslim countries have banned celebrations of Xmas festivities on the ground that it’s un-Islamic and contrary to Islamic culture just the way Muslim clerics in Bharat had opposed the Yoga celebration, calling it un-Islamic and contrary to their beliefs. Muslim clerics were supported in their opposition to yoga by communists and politicians who practise secular politics. If in Muslim countries, governments are of the opinion that Christmas celebrations could damage the faith of Muslim community and risk attracting terrorist attacks. Then, are these governments by their actions not justifying the violent attacks by IS in Iraq on Christians and Yazidi because they happen to practise a different religion? Then why is the world fighting a war against IS?
Tajikistan, which once was a part of communist Russia, had also tightened restrictions on the celebrations of Christmas festivities—banning Christmas trees and gift-giving. Even decades of Communist rule has failed to soften the opinion of Muslims towards other religions in CIS countries. Last year, a Muslim national from CIS working in Bharat wished his staff Hindus “Merry Christmas” and offered them a Christmas cake to eat and when staff asked him to join them, he excused himself on the ground that he was a Muslim and thus can’t eat a Christmas cake, leaving the Hindu staff shocked and in disbelief who are subjected to a daily dose of “secularism” to instil a sense of guilt in them by communists and politicians who practise pseudo-secularism to appease their vote bank.
The strong steps taken by Somalia and Tajik Government came after Sultan of Brunei banned public celebration of Christmas on the ground that it could damage the beliefs of the Muslim community. Brunei had threatened to imprison up to five years anyone indulging in Christmas celebration in public. The government of Brunei also threatened to impose fines of $20000 for any ceremony contrary to Sharia, including singing religious songs, sending festive greetings, putting up crosses or Christmas trees.
But to a great extent the concerns of Muslim countries can’t be entirely brushed aside. The aim of Vatican and Church across the globe is evangelisation. A call by Pope John Paul-II during his visit to Bharat for evangelisation of Asia had made headlines. Buddhists and Hindus at that time took strong objection to Pope John’s statement. The then spokesman of the RSS Rajender Chadha, had accused the Pope of abusing “the hospitality that India had extended to him and of planning to convert India to Christianity.” A retired Judge of the Orissa High Court Justice Basudev Panigarhi, who headed the commission on riots in Kandhamal district of Orissa in 2007, has in his report held “conversion was the reason behind the communal riots.” The local tribals had been tolerating the conversion activities of the Church for a long time. The report recently submitted by Justice Panigarhi effectively exposes the “soul harvesting” agenda of Vatican and Christian missionaries and yet Churches in Bharat conveniently indulge in mudslinging at Hindu organisations. It’s also a fact that Christians not only indulge in large scale conversions in tribal areas of Chattisgarh and Jharkhand but also continue to guide the Christians in North-East and Kerala during elections by issuing statements in favour of a political party during Sunday mass prayers.
Church leaders in Bharat have raised the bogey of growing intolerance in Bharat and have blamed Hindu nationalist organisations without any proof for the sporadic incidents of theft and vandalism. In the infamous rape case of an 80 year old Nun, Christian leaders in their enthusiasm had sought to lay the blame at the door step of Hindu organisations but didn’t bother to tender an apology to Hindus when the culprits turned out to be illegal Muslim Bangladeshis. Bharateeya Church leaders had asked the Vatican to send a delegation to Bharat. This not only revealed their utter contempt and lack of faith in the Bharateeya Constitution but also put a question mark on their loyalty towards Mother India vis-a-vis Vatican. The Church leaders in Bharat carried out a negative propaganda, using their influence over national and international media, that every attack on the Church was the handiwork of Hindu organisations but investigation in every incident proved beyond doubt that it was the work of anti-social elements and had nothing to do with any Hindu organisation. In fact in certain cases a Christian from North-East was found to be involved in vandalism and theft.
A month back Kerala’s Chief Secretary, Jiji Thomson, had made headlines not for his work but for his communal statement. Jiji while addressing the bicentenary celebrations of the Kottayam Orthodox Theological Seminary asked the Church to take the mission of spreading Christianity. Imagine Thomson making this kind of statement in Somalia, Brunei, Tajikistan or any other Muslim country. Jiji for sure would have been charged with blasphemy and would have invited death penalty and Vatican and missionaries could do nothing.
Aasiya Andrabi calls for boycott of New Year
Separatist outfit Dukhtaran-e-Millat leader Aasiya Andrabi asked people to stay away from New Year celebrations, alleging they were part of RSS’ plan to export ‘lewd’ culture into Kashmir.
As far as Muslim countries’ decision to ban Christmas celebration is concerned, it is highly deplorable in modern times when IS under its Caliphet Al-Baghdadi is already bringing a bad name to Islamic countries. And many of these Muslim countries face the threat to their existence from IS sympathisers and fighters and many more Muslim countries will be facing the threats in near future if IS ideology is not contained. Muslim countries which oppose the activities of IS but encourage ban on the celebration of others’ religious activities, tend to be no different from the Sharia based ideology of IS or al-Qaeda. On the contrary by pursuing the regressive ideology these countries are sowing seeds of hatred in the minds of their citizens which will ultimately be cultivated by terrorist organisations like IS, Boko Haram or al-Qaeda.
Manoj Sharma (The writer is a senior journalist)