President, Sonia happy over Modi statement on religious violence

New Delhi (Matters India): President Pranab Mukherjee and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were “happy” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a statement against religious violence.

This was revealed by Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, the supreme head of Universal Syrian Orthodox Church, who called on the two Indian leaders on Wednesday.

The visiting Church dignitary had met Modi the previous evening, hours after the prime minister told a Church function that his government would not allow anyone to incite hatred against religious communities and that citizens have the right to practice the religion of their choice.

The president and the Congress party chief insisted that the attacks on churches in the last few weeks were “not the way India behaves,” the Syrian Orthodox Church leader told reporters in New Delhi.

The President and Sonia Gandhi “mentioned the statement of the Prime Minister and they all affirmed that what happened during the last few weeks and months to Christian churches is not the way Indian behaves, this is not an Indian way of treating the people in this beloved country.”

The visiting Church leader discussed issues confronting the Christian community in India with the president and Gandhi.

“I believe it was very positive from all of them, from the Prime Minister, from Sonia Gandhi and from the President. They (Mukherjee and Gandhi) were all happy that that statement was also made (by the Prime Minister),” he told reporters in response to a query on the issue.

He said he has urged political leaders to do all that they can to “the Indian spirit of tolerance, peaceful coexistence of all and do their best to keep away the ideologies of extremism and fanaticism.”

Modi has been under attack from opposition and Christian groups of keeping quiet on a string of recent attacks on five churches and a Christian school in Delhi,

“My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly. Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions,” he had said at a function to celebrate the elevation of two Indian Catholics to sainthoods.

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