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India - Condemnation of inter-communal violence in Gujarat

05 March 2002

Letter to member churches and the National Council of Churches in India, 5 March 2002.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The World Council of Churches has received with shock and profound sorrow the news of the tragic outbreak of indiscriminate communal violence in the cities and towns of Gujarat that has already resulted in over hundred deaths and threatens to engulf the entire country. Together with you, we condemn and deplore such wanton acts of violence that have resulted in immense sufferings of people of both Muslim and Hindu communities. Through you, we convey our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the victims.

In recent times there has been an almost universal increase in incidents of religious intolerance and violence. This trend must be stopped before our societies are further torn asunder by hatred and senseless killings at the hands of extremists. It is the responsibility of each and every person to prevent such ruthless acts of destruction and disruption that are certainly contrary to all religious beliefs. It is imperative for people of all faiths to rise to the challenge to defuse violence and conflict and promote inter-communal peace and harmony amongst the people.

 India has been a model of secular democracy founded on principles of plurality and diversity. These must be preserved in the interest of all. The spiritual teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, who belonged to Gujarat, are based on "Ahimsa - non violence". During his lifetime the great Mahatma worked for communal harmony and mutual tolerance as a necessity for all times and for all races and called for the sharing of each other's sorrow to strengthen the bonds of common humanity. The tragic events in Gujarat today discredit the spirit and teachings of this great leader who held both Hindus and Muslims dear to his heart.

We share the pain and sorrow of the Indian people. Our prayers are with you ever as you seek to uphold non-violence and act as bridge builders and agents of peace and reconciliation in your beloved nation.

 
                                                                 Yours in Christ,

                                                                Georges Lemopoulos
                                                                Acting General Secretary