2017-07-25 14:00:00

Indian Christians set Martyrdom Day on July 22 ‎

A group of Indian Christians have decided to observe Martyrdom Day on July 22 in memory of ‎Christians who are persecuted and killed for their faith.  It was the initiative of Shibu Thomas who ‎through his ecumenical movement, “Persecution Relief” said special prayers were offered in Churches ‎across the country. The observance is "part of a concerted effort to encourage those who continue to ‎struggle to cope with persecution and challenge to live a true Christian life," Thomas told ‎UCANEWS.‎
Thomas explained that July 22 was chosen as it marked the first anniversary of the rape and murder of a ‎Christian schoolgirl in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh after her family refused to abandon their Christian ‎faith despite several threats.  "This was an act of revenge and intimidation, to get her family to ‎renounce their faith, but they are still firm in their faith despite continuing threats," Thomas said. "The ‎day is a moral boost for such persons who suffer for the sake of Christ," he said.  ‎

Growing persecution

Christian leaders like him say attacks against Christians have increased since 2014 when the right-‎wing pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in a landslide victory. ‎Fundamentalist Hindu groups, who consider BJP as their political wing, took the election victory as a ‎mandate to step up their action to make India a Hindu-only nation.‎
Data collected by Persecution Relief shows that in 2016 alone, Hindu extremists destroyed 106 ‎Christian places of worship, most of them belonging to Protestant and neo-Pentecostal groups.  

Kandhamal, the worst persecution
In one of the worst persecutions against Christians in Indian history, nearly 100 ‎Christians were killed in the orchestrated riots that Hindu extremists unleashed in Kandhamal ‎district of eastern India’s Odisha state in August, 2008.  (Source: UCANEWS)‎

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