Bengaluru Archbishop for religion-neutral citizenship offer

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Bengaluru, Jan 9 (IANS) The Metropolitan Archbishop of Bangalore, Peter Machado, on Thursday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and the Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala to grant citizenship to illegal migrants on the merit of individual cases but not on religious basis.

“Religion should never be the criterion for citizenship of a country. There is a danger that there could be a polarisation of our peoples along religious lines, which is very harmful for the country,” said Machado reiterating the statement that the Metropolitan Archbishop of Bombay, Oswald, Cardinal Gracias made in December.

Referring to the Citizenship Amendment Act, Machado said it implies that any other group or community other than illegal Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian migrants will not be eligible for citizenship.

The CAA excludes persecuted Muslims of all kinds such as Shias, Ahmediyas and others from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan from the citizenship offer.

According to Machado, CAA caused misunderstanding among the Assamese people, leading to an uproar and violence which now is slowly spreading to other parts of India.

He also appealed to the citizens to maintain peace and harmony, shunning violent methods to fight for their cause.

The Archbishop called the government to strike a dialogue with people opposing CAA and come to an agreement about the way forward with justice, equity and fairness.

“By doing so, it can meet out justice to all the illegal migrants and thus promote equality among them. More so, it can also convince the citizens of the country that it upholds the sacredness of the Constitution and respects the rights of all the linguistic and religious minorities without any discrimination,” he said.

Empathising with the victims of religious discrimination, Machado said: “We also express our solidarity with those who have been discriminated on the basis of religion and assure them of our support an fellowship that justice may be granted to them and that all of us may live as one family as brothers sisters in this our motherland.”

He pledged that the Christian community will continue to work for the betterment of all the citizens without any discrimination and will continue to build the nation based on equality, justice and fairness.

–IANS

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