Amid mounting incidents of “rape jihad” targeting Christian girls, members of various Church organisations took out a massive protest march in Kozhikode, Kerala, on September 27.
Serving a stern message to the state government, which has turned “a blind eye to the plight of the Christian community”, and proponents of ‘Love Jihad’, hundreds of protesters, including Christian clerics, nuns, parents of victims and students staged the Collectorate March.
According to the Church authorities, there was a spurt in the number of ‘Love Jihad’ cases in the Kozhikode district. The immediate provocation for the protest was a shocking incident in which a radicalized Muslim youth raped a Christian girl after drugging her and filmed the act to force her to convert to Islam. When she refused, the youth threatened to make the videos public. Later, the youth along with his friends tried to abduct the girl. Notwithstanding the complaint from the victim and her parents, the police tried to save the culprit.
Following news reports about the incident, several such incidents came to the fore. The parents of a Delhi-based girl complained to the National Minority Commission that their daughter was abducted by a Muslim youth after trapping her in ‘Love Jihad’.
In a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah earlier this week, George Kurian, the vice-chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, demanded an investigation by the National Investigation Agency and an effective law to “curb such fraudulent activities of radicalised elements”.
In a video message posted on Facebook, a senior cleric had termed the organised act of conversion by means of love, rape, drug and coercion as “Rape Jihad”.
Expressing solidarity with the victims of Love Jihad, the demonstrators gagged themselves with black ribbons and protested against the alleged police laxity in the probe into the incident.
The protesters — holding banners and placards featuring slogans such as ‘Love aimed at conversion?’, ‘Arrest those indulge in forced conversions’ — urged the state government to crack down on the jihadi conversion mafia.
Catholic Congress vice-president Dr Chacko Kalamparambil said religious conversions through force and fraud is terrorism. He also alleged that the Christian community is a major victim of this and urged the state government to invoke the IPC sections against forced conversion to book the culprits. He said that it should not be projected as a ‘Christian versus Muslim issue’ and the Islamic organisations must come forward to disown and condemn such incidents.
The Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM) leader, Visakh Thomas, warned that his organisation will form a special youth squad to protect the girls in the community from the menace of Love Jihad, if such incidents are repeated.
Famous Malayalam film director Ali Akbar delivered the keynote address. Among the protesters were the mother and brother of another Love Jihad victim from Malappuram. The organisations such as the Kerala Catholic Bishop Council Pro-Life, AKCC, Matruvedi, etc., participated in the protest.