Kolkatta, Jan 15, 2020: After very long, leaders of Kolkata’s Christian community have taken to the streets. Multiple demonstrations have been planned and executed by the community’s leaders against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), with most of them deeming it “unconstitutional”.
The Quint caught up with one of the most prominent Christian leaders of the city Reverend Sunil M Caleb, the principal of Bishop’s College, Kolkata. Reverend discussed how the CAA discriminates against only one community, the pervasive nature of Islamophobia across India and so on and so forth.
Talking about why the Christian community has decided to speak out, Reverend Caleb said it is because the CAA is “unconstitutional” and discriminates against only one religion.
"“Taslima Nasreen would not get citizenship in India because she was born in a Muslim family in Bangladesh . Or the Ahmadiyyas, who I know quite a bit about, in Pakistan, would not be welcome here. We decided at the time of Independence that we would be a secular republic and this kind of an act which is selective and where religion is the basis of citizenship, we feel in unconstitutional. And the constitution we hold to be very dear. Therefore it’s something we must protest against and therefore we are coming out on the streets.” " - Reverend Sunil M Caleb
Reverend Caleb elucidated on Islamophobia’s all-pervasive nature in the country, saying it’s prevalent among Christians as well. This “fear of Muslims” he says, comes from “lazy thinking”.
"“It (Islamophobia) arises out of a lot of prejudice and lazy thinking, I would say. You tar everybody with the same brush and call all Muslims terrorists or a place where Muslims are more in number, you call it Pakistan. There are misguided people in Islam, there are misguided people in Christianity, there are misguided people in all religions.”" - Reverend Sunil M Caleb
He believes “systematic teaching of ALL religions” instead of just tagging religious studies as a part of the History syllabus is imperative to resolve this.
"“In India, for some reason, we have not ever had any regular proper religious education in schools like it is prevalent in Europe. Even the Indian, Indic religions are not properly taught. So there is a lot of misinformation, misinterpretation. There’s all kind of prejudice and half-truths all over the place. We need systematic teaching of all religions.” " - Reverend Sunil M Caleb
Home Minister Amit Shah has reiterated, in the context of CAA, that Christians will not be affected. Thus, we asked Reverend Caleb why the Christian community is protesting against it. He said they are doing so to stand with other minority communities.
"“We, as minorities in this country, feel that we need to stand with each other. We have nothing against the majority community in any way, but I think as a Christian, we are always taught to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed, stand in solidarity with those who are looked down upon, those who are marginalised. That comes out of the teaching of the Bible and the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have grave suspicions about this whole process that it will not turn out well.” " - Reverend Sunil M Caleb