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Indian bishops protest blasphemous textbook, oppose anti-blasphemy law

Catholic World News - February 25, 2010

Days after violence erupted in Punjab following the publication of a textbook with a blasphemous image of Jesus, the bishops of India welcome actions against the publisher but said they would not support an anti-blasphemy law introduced in one Indian state. The textbook publisher has since apologized, attributing the image’s publication to “oversight and human error.”

“We are deeply offended by the blasphemous image of Christ used on school books and on posters,” the bishops said in a statement. “We feel sad and indignant for this act of sacrilege. We support the legal actions taken by the government in the states of Meghalaya and Punjab towards the perpetrators. We appeal to the central government, asking that it promote, protect, and defend respect for religious symbols of all communities of believers throughout India.”

At the same time, the bishops, leery of the use of blasphemy laws against Christians in Pakistan, oppose a bill introduced in the northeastern state of Meghalaya that would make it a crime to “hurt the religious sentiments of people.” It was in Meghalaya that nuns first noticed the blasphemous image.

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