Nepal’s Constituent Assembly rejected calls to revert the country to a Hindu state on Monday (14 Sep.), sparking violent protests, reports AP.
Bombs went off at two churches in Nepal’s easternmost Jhapa district late on 14 Sep. The churches suffered structural damage, but nobody was hurt, according to The Kathmandu Post.
Three police officers were injured on the morning of 15 Sep. while attempting to defuse a bomb which reportedly failed to detonate at a third church. Pamphlets promoting the radical Hindu organisation, Hindu Morcha Nepal, were found at all three sites.
The BBC reports that 30 people have been killed in recent weeks “in violence over ethnic minorities’ appeals for better representation in the constitution”.
Nepal became a secular state in 2007, after the abolition of the monarchy a year before, but the country has witnessed a rise in Hindu nationalism, led by the Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal (RPP-N).
Christians feared that removing the term secularism from the constitution would embolden nationalists, as World Watch Monitor reported in August.
Christians remain fearful over the expected adoption on Sunday (20 Sep.) of the amended Article 31(3), which now states: “Any act to convert another person from one religion to another, or any act or behaviour to undermine or jeopardise the religion of another [will be] punishable by law”.
Attempting to convert someone to another religion is already prohibited in Nepal, but the expected amendments would mean that anything perceived as “evangelistic” could be punishable by law. Christians fear this could eventually render all Christian activity illegal.