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Anglican leaders pray for Mumbai victims: CEN 12.02.08 December 2, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India, Terrorism.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican leaders in Britain have applauded the Indian government’s measured response to the terror attacks in Mumbai. The Archbishops of Canterbury, Armagh, Dublin and the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church last week added their voices to the chorus denouncing the killing of almost 200 people.

Church leaders in India and across the world have condemned the violence, while church schools and institutions in Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and other urban areas have tightened security in fear of further violence.

Anglican leaders pray for Mumbai victims

India’s Christians have been caught between fanatical Islam — which sees native Christians as agents of the “crusader” forces of the West, while Hindu militants — who have driven tens of thousands of Christians from their homes in Eastern India’s Orissa state — view Christianity as an “un-Indian” faith and have mounted a campaign to stop its spread and stamp out its influence in the country.

St Thomas Cathedral in Bombay held the first of a score of funerals on Saturday for victims of the three-day terrorist attack upon India’s financial capital. While police commandos exchanged gunfire with the remaining Islamist terrorists trapped in the Taj Hotel, the cathedral hosted the funeral of the hotel’s executive chef Vijay Rao Banja.

Ten of the near 200 dead worked in the hotel’s kitchens. Dressed in their chef’s smocks and hotel livery, hundreds of Taj employees — Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsees — sang “Amazing Grace” in the city’s colonial-era Anglican Cathedral.

On the first day of the terrorist attack, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams wrote to India’s High Commissioner in London, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, expressing his shock at the “appalling atrocities in Mumbai.”

He told Mr Mukherjee the prayers of the members of the Anglican Communion were with the people of India. “People everywhere”, Dr Williams said, “stand in solidarity with the innocent and in condemnation of those who would destroy innocent lives out of evil and misguided motives.”

The Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, Dr Alan Harper and Dr John Neill on Nov 28 released a statement saying the attacks were “deeply shocking … morally indefensible and represent unquestionable evil.

“Our hearts go out to all innocent people from all nations and faiths caught up in the carnage whilst going about their daily lives,” they said. Writing from Glasgow the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Dr Idris Jones said his prayers were with all those “affected by the appalling violence and terror in Mumbai – for those who are injured and for the families of those whose lives have been lost.”

He also prayed for the leaders of the West and the Indian government to find the “courage and wisdom” that would “bring an end to this terror.”

The Irish primates applauded the Indian government’s measured response. “The Indian authorities have been faced with unprecedented brutality and are to be commended for their attempts to respond in defence of the victims and to uphold the rule of law in one of the world’s greatest democracies,” they said.

Since 2004 over 4,000 people have been killed by Muslim and Hindu terrorists in India. In 2005 bombings by Muslim militants in Mumbai killed almost 200.

Attacks by Muslim militants this year in Jaipur and Bangalore, coupled with the persecution of Christians in Orissa by Hindu militants, places the country second only to Iraq in the number of fatalities incurred in the “war on terror.

On Friday the Bishop of Calcutta instructed all schools operated by the Church of North India (CNI) to conduct anti-terror drills. Bishop Ashoke Biswas asked each school to prepare evacuation plans and to conduct rehearsals for locking down the school and moving the children out of harm’s way in case of a terror attack or bombing.

The General Secretary of the CNI, the Rev Enos Das Pradhan, denounced the targeting of foreigners in the terror attacks. “It is a national shame that tourists from other countries, who, having been fascinated by the rich heritage and cultures of India, visit our beautiful and diversified country, have been targeted.”

He appealed for all churches “to pray for peace and reconciliation” — a call echoed by Pope Benedict XVI and faith leaders from around the world. India’s Muslim establishment also denounced the attacks. The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, condemned the attacks “unconditionally”, IslamOnline said, while The Times of India reported the Mumbai Muslim Council had refused permission for any of the nine dead terrorists to be interred in their cemeteries — and urged all Muslim cemeteries in India to refuse their bodies for burial.

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