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Indian Catholics rally for peace after Islamic hate slogans

Threats against Christians, Hindus at a rally by the Popular Front of India in Kerala have gone viral on social media

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters and activists take part in a protest demanding a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) in New Delhi on Feb. 28, 2021

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters and activists take part in a protest demanding a ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) in New Delhi on Feb. 28, 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 25, 2022 09:14 AM GMT

Updated: May 26, 2022 05:33 PM GMT

Catholic youths in the southern Indian state of Kerala have staged a peace rally calling for harmony and religious tolerance after an Islamic outfit allegedly threatened to eliminate Hindus and Christians.

The May 24 rally was held in Kanijrappally town in Kottayam district after a viral video of a member of the Popular Front of India (PFI) was deemed as a “death threat” to other religious communities and provoked widespread concern and condemnation.

Kerala police have arrested three persons for using provocative and threatening slogans during a PFI rally in Alappuzha district a few days ago.

In the video circulated on social media, a young boy, sitting on the shoulders of a man, is seen shouting a slogan that others in the crowd repeat: "Keep ready rice and flowers in your home” and “have enough incense in homes, we are coming.”

The slogans were interpreted as warnings to Hindus and Christians as the items mentioned are used during the final rites of the communities.

In response, Catholic youths carried lit candles and sang hymns as they marched.

“It is the duty of the government to initiate action against those openly challenging communal harmony and peace in the society”

Father Varghese Kochupurackal in his message said the Hindu religion is a religion of tolerance while Christianity is a religion of peace. The threat against these religions “is an open challenge to their universal traditions,” he said.

He further said that the threats issued at the PFI rally were a matter of serious concern and a challenge to India’s time-tested principle of religious tolerance.

Meanwhile, Catholic bishops in Kerala questioned the inaction of the ruling communist-led provincial government. “Kerala was shocked to hear such slogans during the rally,” Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council (KCBC) said in a statement.

KCBC spokesperson Father Jacob Palackappilly said: “It is the duty of the government to initiate action against those openly challenging communal harmony and peace in the society.”

The priest told UCA News on May 25 that the government should shed its “dangerous silence” over the issue and take action against all those involved.

The PFI gained notoriety when its radical activists chopped off the right hand of a Christian professor in Kerala in 2010 for including what they deemed an objectionable question on the Prophet Muhammad in an internal examination

Kerala police said the person who was carrying the slogan-shouting boy on his shoulders had been taken into custody and was being questioned, reported the Press Trust of India.

The PFI gained notoriety when its radical activists chopped off the right hand of a Christian professor in Kerala in 2010 for including what they deemed an objectionable question on the Prophet Muhammad in an internal examination.

Professor T.J. Joseph, who taught the native Malayalam language in Thodupuzha in Idukki district, was attacked while he was on his way back home after attending Sunday Mass on July 2, 2010.

Kerala is known for having a sizable percentage of minority communities. Hindus make up 54.73 percent of its 33 million population, followed by Muslims at 26.56 percent and Christians 18.38 percent, according to the 2011 national census.

Christians and Hindus in the coastal state have often accused radical Muslim youths of committing "love jihad" by marrying and converting girls from other religious communities to Islam by feigning love.

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