Posted by: Titus Presler | September 16, 2010

Torching of Christian school in Kashmir: One religious extremism responds to another

The torching of a Christian school in Kashmir by a mob angry about the threatened burning of a Quran  by a Christian pastor in Florida is yet another shocking and tragic illustration of the destructiveness of religious extremism, whether Christian or Muslim.

The Kashmir incident comes close to home, for I know headmaster Parwez Kaul and his wife Joyce, having traveled with them and Bp. P. K. Samantaroy of the Diocese of Amritsar in 2002 in the region of Himalchal Pradesh in connection with research for the Global Anglicanism Project.  We did not reach Srinagar in Kashmir, but did get as far as Jammu, the southern part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Further, the second Church of North India consultation for the Anglican Indaba Project in July 2010, for which I was the facilitator, was to have been held at the Tyndale Biscoe School in Srinagar, but had to be relocated to a site near Delhi on account of riots at the time in connection with the longstanding dispute between India and Pakistan over the territory of Kashmir.

It appears from the Anglican Communion News Service report that it was not the historic Tyndale Biscoe Mallinson School in Srinagar itself that was destroyed but a branch school at Tungmarg that represented an outreach initiated in 1996 by the mother school.  I recall talking with Parwez Kaul about that initiative, which was an effort to reach beyond the more elite constituency of the school in Srinagar.  I have written both to Kaul and to Bp. Samantaroy expressing concern, prayer and solidarity at this time.  We need to join in Bp. Samantaroy’s call for strengthened protection for Christian and Christian institutions in Kashmir.

In a similar vein, Bp. Humphrey Peters Salfaraz of the Diocese of Peshawar in Pakistan indicated in a conversation this morning that he has had to devote himself in recent days almost entirely to trying to address tensions arising there in connection with the Florida fiasco, this in the midst of continuing to address recovery from the recent catastrophic flooding in Pakistan.

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