Mill Hill Father Jim Borst

Indian church leaders critical after Islamic court expels Christians

By  Anto Akkara, Catholic News Service
  • January 20, 2012

BANGALORE, India - Church leaders criticized an Islamic court's decision to expel five Christians, including a Catholic priest.

A Shariah court in Jammu and Kashmir state ordered the expulsion of Mill Hill Father Jim Borst, who has worked in the region since 1963, after accusing him of "spreading communal disaffection."

Shariah courts have no legal standing in India.

"We are really concerned over this," Father Babu Joseph, spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, told Catholic News Service Jan. 20, the day after the ruling. He said personal laws of religious communities "should not be used against other faiths."

Father Borst, a well-known retreat preacher, runs Good Shepherd School in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district. The school was partially burned during the widespread protests against the desecration of the Quran in the United States in 2010.

The school is often closed in Kashmir's harsh winters, and Father Borst was in the southern Indian state of Kerala when the grand mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, Nasir-ul-Islam, read the verdict.

The Indian side of Kashmir -- part of which lies in Pakistan --- has fewer than 5,000 Christians among its population of more than 4 million people.

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