Protect churches during Christmas, appeals Mumbai NGO

Mumbai, Dec 13 (IANS): A Mumbai NGO on Thursday appealed to the Supreme Court to withdraw the permission for the use of fire-crackers during Christmas and instead ensure protection to churches and Christians during the upcoming Christmas festival.

In a statement, Harmony Foundation Chairman Abraham Mathai said that the apex court recently permitted the use of fire-crackers on Christmas eve till 12.30 a.m.

"However, with respect to the Supreme Court verdict, bursting fire-crackers is neither a norm nor a tradition during Christmas. What is most important is the safety of churches and the Christians who attend the Midnight Mass on December 25," Mathai told IANS.

He said that in 2017, there were 384 reported vandal attacks on churches around India of which 15 were on Christmas, and the numbers keep increasing regularly, which is a matter of serious concern.

Mathai pleaded that the Supreme Court should direct all state governments to ensure adequate and elaborate security measures for churches and safety of all Christians to discourage lumpen elements from targeting them and disrupting religious gatherings on the occasion of Christmas all over India.

"While bursting fire-crackers is not a religious requirement for the peaceful community, protection of life and freedom to worship without intimidation is a universal fundamental right which needs to be safeguarded," Mathai said.