Islamic State threat to Kerala Christians worries leaders

Media reports that terrorists connected to the so-called Islamic State(IS) plan to target Syrian Christians in Kerala are causing concerns for religious leaders in the southern Indian state.

Oct 20, 2016

KOCHI: Media reports that terrorists connected to the so-called Islamic State(IS) plan to target Syrian Christians in Kerala are causing concerns for religious leaders in the southern Indian state.

The Times of India daily recently reported that Kerala police have busted an IS-inspired cell.

Interrogations reportedly revealed that the Islamic militant outfit was targeting churches and institutions run by “a denomination of Christians of Syrian lineage.”

The report did not specify the denomination, but said they were targeted because their ancestors had killed Muslims during the historical crusades.

Those from Syrian traditions form the bulk of Christians in Kerala. They include members of the Catholic, Jacobite, Orthodox and Chaldean churches.

Shaukat Ali, Deputy Superintendent of the National Investigation Agency, refused to comment on the report.

However, a source close to the agency said that Subhani Moideen had revealed the IS plans.

Moideen, a 31-year-old native of neighbouring Tamil Nadu state, was allegedly radicalised through social media, and travelled to Iraq in 2015. For several months, he worked for IS in both Iraq and Syria, before returning with a mandate to carry out attacks in India, ucanews.com was told.

Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, who is based in the Kerala state capital, has declined to comment.

However, the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council views the report seriously. The council’s deputy secretary general, Fr Varghese Vallikatt said, “We cannot take the threat lightly.

The spread of IS militancy poses a threat to all mankind.”

Fr Vallikatt speculated that IS may hope to destroy the prevailing religious harmony in Kerala. Of the 33 million people in Kerala, 55 per cent are Hindu, 27 per cent Muslim and 18 per cent Christian.

Most Christians in Kerala trace their religious roots to St Thomas the Apostle.

Fr Paul Thelekkatt, former spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, told ucanews.com that the militant IS outfit “is trying to purge Christianity from their ancient lands.”

Fr Thelekkatt said, “This is because they identify Christianity with the West. In order to attack the West, they, rightly or wrongly, attack the Christians, even outside the West.”

“Normally, Muslims do not share this view, but poverty and illiteracy in many Muslim countries offer a fertile ground for sowing the seeds of terrorism.” -- ucanews.com

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