The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Friday, January 06, 2006

UK Backs Campaign Against Hindu Persecution by Russian Church

Nabanita Sircar
London, December 29, 2005
Hindustan Times

The campaign against the alleged harassment of Hindus in Russia by the Orthodox Church and the Mayor of Moscow is getting more intense in Britain.

Ashok Kumar, MP is launching the "Defend Russian Hindus Campaign" at the House of Commons in January.

There was umbrage here when it was learnt that Archbishop Nikon wrote a letter to the Mayor of Moscow urging him not to allow the construction of a Hindu temple in Moscow because according to him, Lord Krishna who is worshipped by the Hindu community was an "evil demon".

"Such untenable words in an age where interfaith harmony is the need of the day are nothing but an attempt to malign and persecute a faith community that teaches respect and freedom for every other faith community, " commented Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General Hindu Forum of Britain, an umbrella organisation of most community groups in Britain.

The Defend Russian Hindus Campaign, launched by the Hindu Forum of Britain, Hindu Council UK, National Council of Hindu Temples UK, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK, Hindu Council of Australia, Hindu American Foundation and many other worldwide Hindu organisations, aims to build awareness about the alleged persecution and discrimination against Russian Hindus by a corpus of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Mayor of Moscow, despite support from the Central Government.

There are over 100,000 Hindus in Russia. In Moscow alone, there are 5,000 Hindus of Indian origin and over 10,000 Hindus of Russian origin.

Two years ago the Mayor of Russia asked Hindus to vacate their temple in exchange for a piece of land on which they could build a bigger temple. After land was allocated to the Hindu temple, the original temple was demolished. The Russian Orthodox Church orchestrated mass protests against the allocation of land and started a misinformation campaign against Hindus in the media.

On October 30, 2005, after bowing down to pressure from the Orthodox Church, the Mayor of Moscow cancelled the land order and took away the piece of land given for the construction of the Hindu temple. Now, the 15,000 Hindus in Moscow have no place to worship. The consecrated Deities of Radha and Krishna will have no home, say the Hindu leaders.

Kallidai said around the time of India Prime Minister's state visit to Moscow to meet Russian President Putin, Archbishop Nikon, a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, called the Hindu God, Lord Krishna an "evil demon, the personified power of hell opposing God", and "a livid lascivious youth".

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