India (MNN) — Labeled a "massacre" by the European Union, violent anti-Christian attacks in India could escalate further. Compass Direct News reports that Hindu extremists in Orissa state have called for a forced shut-down known as a "bandh" to take place tomorrow on all sectors of society. Many fear that a move like this would give radicals power to attack anyone celebrating the birth of Christ.
"The Christians will not stop celebrating Christmas on December 25th," says Open Doors USA President Carl Moeller. "This bandh will be used as a pretext for increased violence against the Christian community in response."
Although Orissa state has had a long history of anti-Christian violence, the assassination of Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati in late August sparked a new wave of persecution.
A bandh would prohibit any public displays on Christmas for the purpose of celebrating Christ's birth. The Laxmanananda Saraswati Condolence Society (SLSSS) sent a threatening notice to the Orissa government in November warning of a Christmas bandh unless those responsible for Saraswati's murder were arrested. Although Maoists claimed responsibility for the assassination, Hindu extremists continue to blame Christians.
"There are Hindu nationalists, extremists really," said Moeller, "who are committed to the extermination of the Christian population of India."
Although bandhs were outlawed by India's Supreme Court in 1998, the president of the SLSSS called for the shut-down in a massive Delhi rally. Provocative speeches at the rally led Christians to fear a new wave of attacks against those publicly celebrating Christmas.
"We need to take up their cause in prayer and in action so that Christians all around the world, maybe next year, can celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus freely"
Thousands have been displaced and injured in violent attacks, and persecution has spread throughout India. Although the state's chief minister ensured the safety of Orissa believers, Compass notes that he "stopped short of prohibiting the Hindu extremists' plan." Moeller urges believers worldwide to pray for Christians in Orissa and take action on their behalf.
"In doing so, they can create a spotlight on what is, by all accounts, one of the most horrific examples of religocide going on in the world today."
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