At a time when polarisation between the Hindu and Muslim communities across India has increased, a Catholic bishop in Kerala has set off a new controversy by alleging that Muslim communities are waging a “narcotics jihad”.
On 9 September, Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt of the Pala, Kottayam district alleged that the Muslim community is endangering youth belonging to other religions, especially the Christian youth, by luring them into Islam using drugs.
These drugs, according to the Bishop, are allegedly used in ice cream parlours, juice corners, and hotels, which are run by “hardcore jihadist” and that drugs are being used as a “weapon to spoil non-Muslims”.
Not surprisingly, the comments also set off alarm bells across the Christian community in the state, with other bishops and nuns, several Islamist groups, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and the Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan condemning the Bishop’s comments.
However, the Catholic Church along with the influential Nair Service Society community and the Bhartiya Janta Party, who has been trying to make inroads in the state, has come out in full public support of the Bishop's comments.
The Kerala unit of the BJP also went a step further and wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking a law to deal with “narco-terrorist and love jihad”.
But why is a Catholic Bishop in Kerala triggering a war of words against another minority community in the state? What is it about the Muslim community that is making the Catholic Church anxious? And is this the first time this has happened?
Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram
Guest: KA Shaji, senior journalist based in Kerala.
Editor: Shelly Walia
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