Christians in the western Indian state of Gujarat have demanded the removal from schools of a textbook that describes Jesus as a demon, reports Asia News
The description in ‘Teacher-disciple relationships in Indian culture’, a book for ninth-grade pupils, was discovered by Subramaniam Iyer, a lawyer.
Translated from Hindi, the contentious line says: “In this context, an incident of the demon Jesus will always be remembered”.
According to Iyer, the error “is a punishable offence under sections 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code”, which relates to “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class by insulting its religion”.
“Such errors are not acceptable and should not be permitted to remain in textbooks which are read by young minds. Either the government should rectify it or call for a reprint,” Iyer added.
Nitin Pethani, chairperson of the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks, which published the book, said it was a typographical error. “The word ‘haiva’, a disciple of Jesus Christ, got misprinted as ‘haivan’, meaning a demon,” he said.
Informed of the error, Gujarat’s Education Minister, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, said he was already aware of it, and that it would be corrected.
But human rights activist Fr Cedric Prakash said: “The fact that Jesus is denigrated in school books says a lot about those in charge of shaping the minds, character and future of children.”