Christians angry over Christ's picture, Facebook post

Last Updated: Mon, Jan 21, 2013 15:30 hrs

Pune, Jan 21 (IANS) Christian groups in the state Monday took umbrage at a 2013 calendar showing Jesus Christ holding a cigarette and a beer and urged the Maharashtra government to initiate action.

The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) and other groups said their religious sentiments have been "insulted".

"This blasphemous picture has been printed in December and around 30,000 of these offensive copies have already been circulated in the market," CSF president Joseph Dias told IANS.

Tanaji D. Lonkar, a former Shiv Sena municipal corporator, purportedly published a calendar with the "offensive" picture of Jesus Christ.

Lawyers Vikram E. Amolik and Pankaj K. Bhandari have filed private criminal complaints regarding the calendar before a Pune court and the matter is expected to come up for hearing soon, Dias added.

Lonkar has sought to dissociate himself from the issue, saying that the printer had downloaded the image from internet. Lonkar said he has withdrawn the calendar.

Dias added that over the past few months, tribal Christians in Palghar region of Thane and in Raigad district had been attacked by local radical elements.

"Despite several complaints, nothing has been done, creating a feeling of insecurity among Christians. When two girls posted on Facebook on late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's death, the government took immediate action as it was a political issue," Dias said.

He threatened an agitation unless the state government acted immediately and brought the culprits to book.

In another instance, a post on social networking website Facebook showing Mother Mary ordering Christ to "clean up" has angered the community.

In the post, Mother Mary is depicted saying: "Jesus! Look at this mess! Clean up your room now!"

"When there were objections to the post, the author apologised, but in a very nasty manner using the 'F' word, which made it even worse," CSF president Joseph Dias told IANS.

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