Monday, 18 June 2012

Sanal Edamaruku: an update

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

Sanal Edamuruku at the
Church of Our Lady of Velan Kanni, Mumbai
Thanks to all of you who have signed the petition in support of the Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku, who is facing charges of “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community” after he debunked a supposed miracle involving water dripping from a crucifix in a Catholic church in Mumbai. The petition currently has 5,825 signatures – please do take the time to read it and add your name if you haven't already.

For those who are familiar with the case so far, here's an update – we've been in regular contact with Sanal since the controversy broke back in March, and we're pleased to be able to tell you that he's currently in Helsinki, meaning that the threat of arrest has been lifted, at least for the time being.

Prior to leaving India he was forced to stay away from his home in Delhi, as his lawyers are receiving daily phonecalls from the Mumbai police telling him to turn himself in. Sanal would be only too happy to comply – and face down the ridiculous complaints – were it not for the fact that he has been refused anticipatory bail, meaning he would have to stay in jail indefinitely. This is why the petition is aimed at getting the complaints by several Catholic organisations dropped, rather than at changing the 'blasphemy' law. However Sanal has plans to address this issue too.

His lawyers are busy filing three separate cases: an application to the Mumbai High Court for anticipatory bail, and to have the case thrown out. And they are preparing a case to go before the Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court of India to remove article 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code, a relic from 1860, as it is against free speech.

A ruling by the High Court concerning "anticipatory bail" is expected early this week. If this is granted he will be able to return to India knowing he will not face time in jail. Then he can concentrate on refuting this unfounded and unconstitutional charge.

In the meantime, he thanks you all for your continuing support, and urges you to keep the pressure on the Catholic Church to get the complaints withdrawn.
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