Pastoral letter against Islamic State
by B S Harishankar on 09 Feb 2020 16 Comments

On January 15, 2020, a pastoral letter by Syro-Malabar Media Commission under the Syro Malabar Church Major Archbishop, Cardinal George Alencherry, urged the priests and laity to take serious note of Christian girls getting trapped in love and being killed in Kerala and other States by Islamic State organizations. The media commission has Bishop Joseph Pamplany as Chairman and Bishop Paul Kannookkadan and Bishop Sebastian Vaniapurackal as members. The letter came after a week-long Synod of the Eastern Rite, in which 57 of 64 Bishops of the Syro-Malabar church participated.


The pastoral letter has come at a time when Left parties and Islamic outfits have been jointly carrying violent protests claiming that religious minorities in India are threatened under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). It is a catalyst that admits that CAA has nothing to do with religious minorities in India. It protects persecuted religious minorities (including Christians) from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have arrived in India as refugees.


The Synod of Syro-Malabar Church, an apex body of Catholic Bishops, the second largest in Asia, chaired by Cardinal George Alencherry, called “love jihad a reality” and accused the Kerala State police of not taking timely action. The Synod said it was a matter of concern that love jihad was gaining ground in Kerala, putting in danger its social peace and communal harmony. It said Love Jihad is a planned reality, targeting Christian girls. Referring to a police record, it said out of 21 people recruited from Kerala into Islamic State terror outfit, half were converted Christians, which should be of grave concern for the community (NCM asks Kerala police for report on ‘love jihad’, after Syro-Malabar church allegation, The Week, January 19, 2020).


Father Jimmy Poochakatt, spokesperson of Syro Malabar Church, observed, “If the believers are concerned with such a scenario, then you cannot fault them for it. Though officially the diocese has not taken a stand, we are concerned. So if there are people working towards stopping such a thing what is wrong in supporting them?” (Hindustan Times, July 17, 2017). The current pastoral letter by the Syro Malabar church has officially accepted Islamization and love jihad as realities.


“Love Jihad in Kerala is part of global Islamisation project”, says the Global Council of Indian Christians. In 2009, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) had stated that more than 2600 young Christian women were converted to Islam since 2006. KCBC’s Vigilance Commission for Social Harmony urged Christians to be on guard against the phenomenon (Over 2500 women converted to Islam in Kerala since 2006, says Oommen Chandy, India Today, Sept. 4, 2012).


On June 25, 2012, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy informed the state legislature that 2667 young women were converted to Islam in the state since 2006. This was a written answer to an unstarred question raised by K.K. Latika of the CPI(M). In all, 7713 persons were converted to Islam during 2006-2012.


The National Commission for Minorities, in September 2019, expressed concern that Christian women have become soft target for Islamist terror recruiters, particularly in Kerala. NCM Vice-Chairperson George Kurian urged the Union Home Ministry to take note of the “alarming trend” and order a probe by the National Investigating Agency. He also urged the government to bring an “effective law to curb such fraudulent activities of radicalised elements”. He cited a campaign by the Kerala Catholic Bishops Conference’s Commission for Social Harmony and Vigilance against the “social evil” (National Commission for Minorities: Kerala Christians facing dangers of ‘love jihad’, The New Indian Express, Sept. 24, 2019). Kurian quoted a report by the KCBC Commission which claimed that there were 4,000 instances of “love jihad” between 2005 and 2012 (Christians a soft-target for ‘love jihad’ by Islamic radicals: Minority body vice chairman, The Week, Sept. 26, 2019).


Mathew Mar Gregorios, Bishop, Syrian Independent Orthodox Church, believes the time has come for youngsters to stand up and fight the evil of ‘love jihad’. From the number of messages received from parents of girls who fell victim, there appears to be rampant conversion of Christian girls to Islam in the Malabar region. The Bishop said since he heads a Church denomination, he cannot disclose many facts. He said some people have alleged an Islamic State link in this, which needs to be probed (The BJP and the Church find common ground on ‘Love Jihad’ in Kerala, Hindustan Times, July 17, 2017).


In 2009, Justice K.T. Sankaran of the Kerala High Court found indications of ‘forceful’ conversions under the garb of ‘love’, and asked the government to consider enacting a law to prohibit such ‘deceptive’ acts. The Court stated that there had been 3,000-4,000 such conversions in the past four years (Kerala HC asks govt to frame laws to stop ‘love jihad’, Economic Times, Dec 10, 2009).


Former Chief Minister V.S. Achyuthanandan has accused the Popular Front of India (PFI) of aiming to convert Kerala into a “Muslim country” in the next 20 years. Achyuthanandan said the PFI was pumping money to lure youth to Islam and persuade them to marry Muslim women (PFI trying to make Kerala a ‘Muslim country’, says VS, Indian Express, July 25, 2010).


Investigations into the disappearance of 21 youth from northern Kerala in June shed light on the problem of ‘Online Islam’. News and views are being bandied about that Kerala is a safe haven for the Islamic State (IS) or a fertile ground for terrorism, especially after the arrest of six persons with alleged IS links (Is Kerala fertile ground for terror groups like Islamic State?, Hindustan Times, Oct 12, 2016).


A Kerala Police intelligence operation tracking ISIS recruitment in the Kerala uncovered alarming details about a terrorist network camouflaged by left parties (The Jehadis of the south: Why Kerala became fertile ground for new ISIS recruits, India Today, Sept 2, 2017). As of March 30, 2018, 90 Keralites were thought to have joined ISIS. Of this, 16 have been killed in raids by US and other forces fighting ISIS in various countries in the Middle East. Of the 90, 21 were from Kasaragod and 38 from Kannur. At least 12 Keralites joined ISIS from Bahrain (Has Kerala become ISIS’s most preferred recruitment hub after J&K?, The Week, June 27, 2018).

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