On September 23, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, when asked to comment on Bishop Joseph Kallarangattu’s remarks linking the state’s Muslim community to a “jehad of love and drugs”, said the comments were “factually incorrect and unwarranted”.
On September 8, Bishop Kallarangattu, from the influential diocese of Pala, created a huge controversy with his words during a Sunday sermon in the Martha Mariyam church in Kuravilangad. He spoke out against the Muslim community in the state and said they had designed a jehad module of love and narcotics to trick Catholic girls into converting them.
The bishop recalled the case of Nimisha alias Fathima, a Hindu girl, and Merrin Jacob, a Catholic, who had converted and joined their Muslim husbands to travel to Afghanistan and fight for ISIS. His comments sparked a community divide within the state, with the Muslim community furiously opposing the remarks. CM Pinarayi refused to jump into the fray for two weeks, but ultimately appealed to all communities to refrain from making irresponsible statements. The Catholic Church and the bishop have so far refused to apologize for these comments.
So why did the Catholic bishop and theologian target the Muslim community with his joint remarks?
Well, part of the Church leadership is reporting an event 11 years ago when a Christian university professor faced the wrath of radical Islamists in Kerala. On July 4, 2010, activists from the radical Islamic organization Popular Front of India cut off the right hand of TJ Joseph, a professor of Malayalam at Newman’s College in Thodupuzha, run by Catholics, apparently for a question in an article. intended for graduate students whom they considered blasphemous.
He was crippled and his wife committed suicide due to depression in March 2014. Joseph was also fired from college and the Church did not support him either for fear of community repercussions. He had to go to court and was eventually reinstated on duty on the last day of his service.
The same church that abandoned Joseph is now super loud about love and jehad narcotics. They feel that their younger generation will be more targeted in the future by Islamic jihad operations.
Meanwhile, the BJP has fueled the pot by vehemently supporting the Bishop’s comments. Rumors are also circulating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to appoint Professor Joseph as a member of the National Minorities Commission. Rumors grew after Suresh Gopi, the Malayalam superstar-turned-BJP member Rajya Sabha, visited the professor on September 23 and spent time with him. But later Joseph told reporters that “he was not offered such a post.”
âMany people (VIPs) have visited me over the past 11 years. Suresh Gopi also visited me recently. But I did not receive any offer from him. I am a simple man with limited ambitions leading the life of a retired teacher. I have already lost my wife and I don’t want any more controversies, âJoseph told India Today.
Professor Joseph was perhaps the first victim of the Talibanism promoted by Islamic radicals in Kerala. During this time, CM Pinarayi decided to present the facts and clarify the words of the bishop. âOf the 100 people from Kerala who joined the Islamic State from 2016 to 2019, only five were from the Catholic community. And among them, four were married to Catholics who later converted with their families to Islam. There is no factual evidence that the love of me motivated them to convert.
Pinarayi chose to delay his response after comments on social media started to heat up about the BJP rally behind the bishop. The Congress played hide and seek according to the local constraints of the leaders. So while CPC leader K. Sudhakaran offered moral support to the bishop, opposition leader VD Satheesan was scathing in his comments (he then toned down his public comments because the Christian community is a bank. major Congress votes). Former MPP and outspoken troublemaker PC George, who is at odds with Muslims in his Poonjar constituency in Kottayam, supported the bishop’s comments on political grounds.
The CM also made its statement after Syro-Malankar Catholic Cardinal Baselios Mar Cleemis called a meeting of all religious leaders (which was ignored by the Syro-Malabar Church) to resolve the issue. âThe CM believes the church has made a mistake and has a hidden agenda in trying to gain support from community forces in the state. He is not in the mood to facilitate such church programs, âa senior CPI (M) official told India Today.
Bishop Kallarangattu’s quarrels don’t have many takers in his own church. Many think tanks and activists within the church believe that “the escalation of the liturgy within the church could have prompted the bishop to attack the Muslim community and project it as a threat to the community.” .
Veteran theologian Fr. Paul Thelakat also rejects the bishop’s comments against Muslims. âAn apology is a free and genuine expression of regret. He started the problem and he must solve it for the good of the church and of society in general, âexplains Father Thelakat, who has been a priest in the Syro-Malabar church for more than four decades.