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Pastor in Bihar Arrested for Showing Film About Jesus

Wednesday, December 26, 2018, 14:02 (IST)

A pastor in Bihar has been arrested on Dec. 9 and charged with attempting forced conversions after showing a film about the life of Jesus.

International Christian Concern (ICC), the anti-persecution charity, reported that Pr Sojan was showing the film 'Yeshu Masih' when he was arrested.

Sojan was detained by police in Bakhtiyarpur village, which is located in the Patna district in Bihar.

Villagers in Bakhtiyarpur accused the pastor of attempting to forcibly convert people, ICC reported. After his arrest he was told he was not permitted back in the village.

"Rev. Sojan was just showing a movie. Minorities are even more vulnerable and intimidated by the majority of false accusations," Sajan George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told Asia News.

False accusations of forced conversion against Christian pastors and evangelists are common in India. They are used to justify physical assaults or stop Christians from reaching certain communities with the Gospel message.

Last week, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a report explaining how anti-conversion laws in countries like India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka are abused to limit religious freedom for minorities.

USCIRF Commissioner Nadine Maenza said, "Anti-conversion laws are frequently abused by extremists who seek to prevent anyone from leaving the majority religion."

"These laws abrogate the religious freedom rights of majority immunities such as Hindus in Pakistan or Christians in Nepal, and as such they should be rescinded," Maenza added.

These laws are vague and discriminatorily enforced in India and Pakistan, USCIRF's report read.

As a result, the laws have "contributed to a rising number of hate crimes and false accusations against members of minority religion groups", it read.

These laws are used to intimidate and prevent religious minorities from "exercising their right to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience," said USCIRF Commissioner Tony Perkins.

"These laws also disproportionately affect vulnerable and disfavoured groups, such as Dalit Hindus and foreign humanitarian and aid workers," he added.