ASIA/INDIA - National paper front page cartoon offends India’s Christians: Catholic Bishops protest

Thursday, 27 May 2004

New Delhi (Fides Service) - India’s Christians were deeply offended by a cartoon with regard to the recent elections in India published by a national newspaper. Strong protest was voiced by the country’s Catholic Bishops. The cartoon, on the front page of the May 23 issue of the Dainik Hindustan, was a caricature of the Nativity Scene with Sonia Gandhi as Mother Mary and the new Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the Infant Jesus.
Christians all over the country, deeply disturbed and indignant at the blasphemous and scornful attitude taken by the newspaper, pointed out that for their part Christians always show great respect for the traditions and figures which are part of the patrimony of other believers in India.
In a press statement issued on May 27 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India strongly protested against the insulting publicity by Dainik Hindustan, which, they said “hurt the sentiments of the Christian community. The whole episode has given a distorted picture to the readers by the newspaper which was totally unwarranted and objectionable. We urge the media to keep politics to the sphere of politics only and not give e religious twist to political personalities and events”.
The episode itself and the fact that the Bishops were able to voice their protest is a sign that pluralism and freedom of expression exist in this country, the largest democracy in the world. However criticism was voiced also from many non Christians including moderate Hindu circles denouncing lack of respect and tact on the part of the Dainik Hindustan.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 27/5/2004 lines 21 words 234)