Freedom Of Religion
The Prime Minister, Morarji Desai expressed himself in favour of the Freedom of Religion Bill and said the government could not allow forced or lured conversions. He told a deputation of Christians who called on him that he had equal respect for all the religions, but he could never appreciate conversions by lure. At the same time, he explained, there must be no obstruction if an adult decided to change his religion voluntarily. But this did not apply to minors, as they were not in a position to know what they were doing.
Opposing The Bill
It was almost on the eve of last Christmas that an innocuous-Iooking private member’s bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by O P Tyagi (Janata). In seeking Parliament to legislate against forcible conversions from one religion to another, Tyagi has stirred the veritable hornets’ nest. The Christian community has expressed its consternation. Even the saintly Mother Teresa joined the issue by beseeching Prime Minister Morarji Desai to see that the Bill was not passed.
New Bangladesh PM
The labour minister, Shah Azizur Rahman, was named the new prime minister of Bangladesh. He was chosen parliamentary leader of the ruling Nationalist Party by its Parliament members in a meeting in Dhaka. The selection makes him the party’s prime ministerial nominee. Formal confirmation by Parliament is expected on April 2.
Saudi Egypt Rift
Hardline and moderate Arabs broke their deadlock today and agreed to a complete economic boycott of Egypt and an eventual break in all diplomatic relations with the Anwar Sadat regime. The agreement, reached on the fifth day of often volatile negotiations, indicates that the conservative bloc led by Saudi Arabia has acceded to nearly all the hardline demands for sanctions against Sadat.