Archbishop visits temple, praises treatment of Hindus in BritainNovember 16th, 2008 - 6:33 pm ICT by IANS
London, Nov 16 (IANS) The head of the Church of England has contrasted the “organised attacks” on Christians in Orissa with the treatment of Hindus in Britain, and said India risks losing its place as “an international beacon” if the violence is allowed to continue.In a letter written to Indian church leaders on the eve of a visit to a large British temple Saturday, Archbishop Rowan Williams also declared: “Inappropriate pressure to reconvert is as unacceptable as inappropriate pressure to convert.”
He said the scale of the violence in Orissa, with most of the victims among the poorest of society, “is truly shocking”.
“Rather than improve the situation in Orissa seems to have deteriorated and, indeed, to have spread to several other states, such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. I understand that more than 50 Christians have been killed, and many tens of thousands have become refugees,” he said in the letter to the Moderators of the Church of North India and the Church of South India.
“In this country we seek to maintain positive and respectful relationships for the good of society with Hindu communities and organisations who are a minority here,” he said.
Williams Saturday visited the Balaji Temple in Birmingham - the largest Hindu place of worship in Europe - as part of his inter-faith interactions in Britain and planted an olive tree on a ‘Christian Hill’ on the temple premises.
In his letter, Williams praised the achievements of India, saying it was not only the world’s largest democracy but also a model for “rich religious diversity, and respect between most of the major faiths of the world”.
“Yet, your Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned what is happening as a ‘national shame’ and asserted that ‘Christianity is part of our national heritage’.
“I too feel that if a small minority community (less than three percent of the population) continue as the target of attacks - attacks which often seem to be organised - then India will have lost its place as an international beacon.”
He said the current outbreak of violence in India was being motivated by “ambitions for political power”, pointing out Hindu leaders in India had distanced themselves from the attacks.
Williams called for the central and state governments to enforce appropriate justice and security so that Christians ousted from their villages in Orissa can return home and worship in peace.
Tags: archbishop rowan williams, church of south india, hindu communities, hindu place of worship, hindus in britain, international beacon, manmohan singh, national shame, prime minister manmohan singh, temple premises