Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Indian P.M. Faces Flak Over Christian "Massacre"

Indian P.M. Faces Flak Over Christian "Massacre"

17 hours ago

(RTTNews) - The European Union Monday pulled up the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his government's utter failure to prevent what it called a "massacre" of Christians in the states of Orissa and Karnataka -- both run by non-Congress ministries, media reports said.

The attacks on Christians was taken up strongly with Manmohan Singh by Nicolas Sarkozy, French President and head of the European Council, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, in a strongly-worded description of the violence during the India-EU summit at Marseille in France.

Although Sarkozy said he admired Manmohan Singh's condemnation of the anti-Christian violence as a "national shame" and his promise to guarantee the religious rights of minority communities in India, the two sides clearly differed on the scale of the violence against Christians in India.

In his reply, the Prime Minister said there were "some sporadic incidents" but declared the determination of the state to ensure that minority communities exercise their "constitutional right to profess and propagate" their respective faiths.

He listed the measures taken by the Centre -- "advisories" to Karnataka and Orissa and deployment of central forces -- to emphasize his government's seriousness to put an end to violence against Christians allegedly by extremist Hindu outfits.

Sarkozy and Barrosso expressed satisfaction with Singh's assurances. Talking to reporters, Sarkozy said the Indian prime minister is a courageous man and his respect for him has gone up because of his assurances. Barroso spoke along the same lines, saying, "we praise the clarity with which he has condemned the violence."

The French president, however, was clearly embarrassed by a query about the ban on Sikh turbans in government-funded schools in France -- that clearly exposed his double standards.

"Massacre of Christians and the turban issue are not of the same nature," a red-faced French president snapped back. He also made it clear that Sikhs will have to conform to rules of the French Republic -- strongly suggesting the discrimination Sikhs allegedly face in France.

"We respect their customs and traditions, and they are welcome in France. But we have rules regarding the neutrality of civil servants; regarding secularism and those apply not just to Sikhs or Muslims but to all. They are non-discriminatory. So while we respect the customs of Sikhs, we expect them to respect the rules of the Republic," he asserted.

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