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Christians join religious persecution protests in India

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DELHI, India (BP) — Christians have joined thousands in protests across India against mob violence fueled by religious beliefs in the mostly Hindu nation.

The protests, which continue today (July 12), followed the lynching two weeks ago of Junaid Khan, a teenage Muslim boy stabbed to death by men who reportedly accused him of eating beef. The men also attacked Khan’s three brothers, throwing all of them off a train as they returned from a shopping trip during the annual Eid celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

Most Indian states ban consumption of cows, worshipped by Hindus but a cheap source of protein for others, including Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Jains.

Under the rallying cry “Not In My Name,” protesters gathered in at least eight cities June 28 through early July, proclaiming the religious liberty guaranteed in India’s constitution but considered unenforced. The killings, conducted in the name of Hinduism and patriotism including “cow devotion,” were “not in my name,” protesters proclaimed.

Christians, only 2.8 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people, were among banner bearers, United Christian Forum president Michael Williams told the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCANEWS).

“A small group in India believe that every Indian should follow a particular culture and lifestyle dictated by them,” UNANEWS quoted Williams June 30. “It cannot exist. Not in my name and not in my constitution. … You are not protecting the constitution by killing innocents.”

Police arrested four men for Khan’s murder and identified the chief suspect in the killing, UNANEWS reported. Two of the suspects were local government employees, according to news reports.

Public lynching by “cow protectors” protesting the consumption, smuggling or slaughter of cows has increased across India under the leadership of Hindu Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UNANEWS reported.

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