More than 4,000 protestors took to the streets of New Delhi, marching towards the Indian Parliament in response to two recent attacks against Christians which were televised on several news channels.
Christian leaders fear that if the government fails to condemn the attacks, similar incidents will take place in the future – likely with impunity.
“The diversity of protestors from several religious communities, different Christian denominations, and even civil society groups, show that India’s citizens want a truly secular India,” said Dr. Joseph D’souza, president of All India Christian Council, in a statement.
The protest was organized by the All India Christian Council (AICC), the All India Catholic Union, Truth-Seekers International, the Christian Lawyers Association and the All India Confederation of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Organizations.
In addition, Muslim, Buddhists and Hindu representatives as well as women and student groups joined the thousands of Christians from across the denominational lines in the rally.
“People should be able to practice their faith without violent attacks,” said D’souza. “The government’s silence in the face of recent anti-Christian incidents is not only an injustice, it is dangerous.”
Earlier this month, two Christian missionaries were attacked by Hindu extremists who accused them of forceful conversion in western India. Although initially the missionaries refused to press charges, the police investigated the case after television footage showed a group of Hindus kicking and punching the missionaries, according to The Associated Press.
“This protest illustrates the strength of feeling within India that violent attacks against religious minorities must not go on,” said Stuart Windsor, national director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
“We urge the international community to now reinforce the message to the India Government that they have a duty to protect their citizens from such attacks regardless of their religious background.”
Hindus compose 84 percent of India’s more than 1.2 billion population; Muslims, 13 percent; and Christians, 2.4 percent, according to AP.