x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Outrage over image of Jesus in Indian school book

Christian outrage at a school book picture showing Jesus Christ holding a beer bottle and a cigarette has spurred authorities in a north-eastern state to draft an anti-blasphemy law for schools.

GUWAHATI, INDIA // Christian outrage at a school book picture showing Jesus Christ holding a beer bottle and a cigarette has spurred authorities in a north-eastern state to draft an anti-blasphemy law for schools. Police in Meghalaya have seized the notebooks and are taking a New Delhi-based private publisher to court on accusations of offending religious sentiments. In the notebooks, which were meant for handwriting classes, the Jesus picture accompanies the word "idol" and is used to illustrate the letter I.

The publisher has apologised to the people of Meghalaya and recalled all copies of the notebook from the market. The picture has also enraged Christians in the northern Punjab state and sparked protests, local media said. Christian organisations across the state have condemned the incident and demanded the government pass a law to monitor all schoolbooks for offensive content before they are circulated.

"The publication of the picture has deeply hurt our religious sentiments, and [the] publisher has violated the provisions of the constitution of India," said a statement by the Indian Catholic Youth Movement in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. Christians make up 2.3 per cent of India's 1.1 billion-plus population. * Reuters