Syrian Bishop warns: ‘Losing India’s fundamental Character’

“The biggest issue we are facing is that we are quickly losing India’s fundamental character,” the Metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Bishop Yuhanon Mar Meletius of the Thrissur diocese, has stated in an interview that has been picked up by several Indian newspapers.

Metropolitan Mar Melitius

Bishop Yuhanon, also addressed as Metropolitan, has given the interview to the YouTube channel of a Canada based Indian Malayalee journalist Sunitha Devadas .

“I must say with great sadness, and some fear, that the future of India is looking dangerous with a weakening Opposition, and with the minority communities from Kerala that can act like the Opposition not doing anything,” the bishop said in the interview.

Yuhanon Mar Meletius was born on 4 July 1954, the first-born child of M.J. Markose, a farmer and a social worker, and Saramma Markose in Ezhakaranad, Ernakulam district, Kerala. He was named named Rajan. His siblings are Loosy Kuriachan Mangalathu, Jose Markose Murimakil, and Santhosh Markose Murimakil.

Answering a question about how  long Kerala’s Christians could  stay safe from the Hindutva forces, so active in neighbouring Karnataka, the bishop sounded a warning for Christians who are tilting towards Right-wing forces.

“It is very sad that everyone is only bothered about the safety of their own surroundings. Those who whipped up an issue over a movie (Esho, Malayalam for Jesus) did not do anything when Stan Swamy was killed. I am deliberately saying ‘killed’”, the prelate said.

“I must say that Christians (of Kerala) are moving on a suicidal path. I don’t think the Sangh parivar can take the Christians on that easily in Kerala. But I have no doubt that (one day) Kerala will also see what we now see in north India,” he said.

He was referring to a section of Christians in Kerala who react to comments by Muslim radicals, and  whip up Islamophobia. There is a speculation that the flames of Islamophobia among Christians are being fanned by the BJP. The Party has so far failed to gain little more than a toehold in Kerala where it has  no MLA or Lok Sabha MP.

Observers say that the  BJP is  ‘dealing its last card’ and trying to ‘drive a wedge between the minorities’. The purpose is to tilt the  electoral balance in the hope of winning some seats in areas where the vote of Christians can make a difference.

Last month,  a Christian politician P.C George, made wild charges against the Muslim community from a Sangh Parivar (Hindu Right-wing) platform. George, an ex-MLA, was booked under Section IPC 153A (promoting enmity  between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc.) for his remarks against the Christian Community at Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelan in Thiruvananthapuram. He was later released. According to newspaper reports, George had asked non-Muslims in Kerala to avoid Muslim run businesses and restaurants. He reportedly said that tea sold in Muslim restaurants were laced with drops causing impotence to turn people infertile.

Sunitha, the journalist who interviewed the Bishop told The Telegraph newspaper  ” Beyond criticising Hindutva and the  P.C. George , the bishop calls for a larger Christian solidarity with the marginalised, beyond the confines of one’s own religion. He is aware that the Sangh Parivar’s newfound love towards Christians in Kerala is hypocritical as it is during the same time that violence against Christians is increasing in states like Karnataka. His focus is on a rainbow coalition against forces that try to divide us.”

“I have a little difficulty in seeing George as a Christian,” the bishop said, airing his personal opinion. He referred to how Jesus Christ had told his disciples that his aim was to liberate, not destroy, opponents.

“He (P.C. George) is known by the name of someone who had accepted and embraced everyone, beyond all barriers. In that sense, I have strong doubt whether he deserves to be called a Christian,” the bishop said and narrated the parable in which St George slew a monstrous creature to help everyone and described how he was martyred for not giving up his beliefs.