Sunday, December 19, 2010

Question of Religious Intolerance

Posted by TMishra | Sunday, December 19, 2010 | Category: |

December 15, 2010: After four months of detainment and trial, a court in Bhutan sentenced Prem Singh Gurung, an ethnic-Nepali Bhutanese citizen, to three years in prison. Gurung was accused of ‘creating civil unrest' by showing films about Jesus Christ to his neighbors.

The Kingdom of Bhutan has remained largely isolated from the outside world for centuries, but this tiny Himalayan nation has garnered international attention recently for modernizing to the beat of its own drum. In an attempt to preserve national heritage, the government banned television and the internet until 1999, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce the TV. Long a nation run by Buddhist monks and monarchical families, it wasn’t until March 2008 that the ruling King Jigme Singye Wangchuck abruptly stepped down to make way for democracy.

Now officially plugged into the internet and under a functioning democracy, Bhutan is posed to integrate itself with the rest of the world. Even the newly revised constitution is modern in tone, guaranteeing many of the same rights that are found in democracies across the globe. But this predominantly Buddhist country is having trouble acting according to its own constitution when it comes to religious freedom, and Bhutanese Christians are suffering as a result.

Prem Singh Gurung's sentence was announced on October 6, four months after he hauled a generator and projector up to two villages, both of which are without electricity and located more than a day's walk from the nearest road. According to Kuensel, the government-run newspaper of Bhutan, Gurung showed Nepali movies between each of which was a short clip about Jesus Christ.

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