Barnabas Aid - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .
Draft law threatens freedom of religion ...

Email:

Draft law threatens freedom of religion and expression in Nepal

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

Draft law threatens freedom of religion and expression in Nepal

Country/Region: Nepal, South and East Asia

Christian leaders fear the witness of the Church in Nepal will be seriously threatened by proposed new legislation that would further restrict evangelism and undermine freedom of religion and expression in the country.

Kathmandu-4X3.jpg
The Singha Durbar in Kathmandu is the official seat of government in Nepal

A new civil code is being drawn up that includes five clauses regarding religious behaviour. The most concerning of these for Christians is clause 160, which would make it illegal to convert someone or abet them to change their religion “by offering inducements or without inducement”, and preaching “a different religion or faith with any other intent”. Offenders could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 Nepalese rupees.

A Nepalese Christian leader said:

This clause is of serious concern. This law seems to go further than Nepal’s Interim Constitution of 2007, by making it illegal to act or behave in any way which might lead someone to change their religion, even without offering inducements. This could include a number of actions that most Christians would see as being integral to the exercise of their faith, as it might result in another person wishing to become a Christian.

Nepalese Christians are also concerned about clauses 158 and 159, which would respectively ban “undermining any religious feeling” and “putting an obstacle in the way of religious rituals which have been in existence since time immemorial”. They fear the former could be used to stifle the free expression of religion as well as the scrutiny or criticism of discriminatory practices, such as the caste system or inequitable treatment of women, that are embedded in religious belief. There is concern that the latter clause could be used to protect the traditional religions of Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism, with “newer” religions to the country, including Christianity, being perceived as a threat.

Return to the old order?

For nearly two centuries before 1950 no Christians were officially allowed to live in Nepal. Although the ban was then lifted, in 1960 the country was declared a Hindu kingdom, and for the next 30 years many Christians were imprisoned for converting from Hinduism or influencing others to do so. Foreign missionaries accused of “preaching” were deported.

A secular state was established in 2006, and an interim constitution guaranteed freedom of religion and expression to all groups; every citizen has the right to “profess, practise and preserve” their religion, and people are allowed to convert from one faith to another, although persuading others to change their faith is forbidden. Christians suspected of encouraging conversion can be reported to the authorities and, if found guilty, may be fined or imprisoned.

But the church has enjoyed a considerable measure of freedom and growth; official figures suggest there are now more than half a million Christians, and some church leaders put the figure much higher, though it remains a very small proportion (2-3%) of the population.

Increasing Hindu extremism is, however, threatening the place of Christianity in the country; the Nepal Defence Army (NDA) and other groups want to turn it back into a Hindu nation. Some Nepalese Christians fear Hindu extremists are gearing up for wide-ranging persecution, which the proposed legislation may serve to advance. The additional restrictions certainly appear to be a retrograde step more in keeping with the old order than the provisions made for religious freedom by the interim constitution.

Help us: Share this article

Email:

Draft law threatens freedom of religion and expression in Nepal

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Other articles

Latest Emergency

/_images_files/content/article_files/General_Appeals/Christmas_2014/iraq-group-4X3.jpg

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • Lift up the Christian lawyers in Pakistan who represent Christian victims accused under the notorious “blasphemy” law. Many lawyers in Pakistan are not willing to represent those who have been accused of blasphemy due to the threats they themselves face from Islamist extremists if they do so. Barnabas Aid supports a group of Christian lawyers who make these cases their focus. They also help victims of other types of persecution, such as converts from Islam. Pray for the safety of these lawyers and for their success in the courts as they seek to right injustices against the Lord’s people. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 6 hours ago

    • Praise God that local police in the village of Tehsil Summodri, Faisalabad District, Pakistan acted to withdraw false allegations of blasphemy against 31 Christians and 23 other villagers. The allegations under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (which carries a mandatory death sentence) were made on 2 September when Christians were ploughing a piece of land given to them for free by its Muslim owner to extend the local Christian cemetery. A group of Muslims accused them of desecrating Muslim graves. The police investigation revealed that the land had been a Muslim cemetery many years earlier but the graves had been moved elsewhere. They changed the charges to the lesser ones under Section 297 (which carries a maximum prison sentence of one year or a fine). It is very unusual for the Pakistani police to defend the rights of Christians in this way. Pray that others will follow their example. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Nov 2014 00:00

    • School text-books in Turkey are still teaching that the Armenians and most other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire a century ago were agents of enemy foreign powers such as Britain and Russia. This, the books say, was the reason for what they call the “necessary deportation” of the Christians. Turkey still does not accept blame for the deaths of at least 1.5 million Armenian and Assyrian Christians, many massacred or dying of deprivation as they were force-marched out of their homeland. Next year, 2015, is the 100th anniversary of the worst year of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide. Please pray that the innocent suffering of these faithful believers will be recognised by every country and that the world will resolve never to let such a genocide happen again. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Pray for 27 Christians, believed to be from various Asian countries, who were detained overnight by the Saudi authorities on 5 September for worshipping at a private home in Khafji. The home had been under surveillance since a neighbour had reported suspicious activities there. Pray that the Lord will protect His people in Saudi Arabia, where it is illegal to practise a non-Islamic religion in public but supposedly permissible to do so in private. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Nov 2014 00:00

    • Wao, a predominantly Christian town on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, is protesting against its inclusion in the new semi-independent Islamic region of Bangsamoro. Wao’s mayor, Elvino Balicao, is seeking exemption from the Bangsamoro government and its Islamic law and has asked that the town remain under the central government. He said that the town is 83% Christian and that local churches support exemption from Bangsamoro. Wao is in the centre of the Muslim-majority province of Lanao del Sur. Pray that the Lord will protect His people and that Wao will gain exemption from the Bangsamoro government. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Nov 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Aid 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Aid is a registered trade mark