A youth choir of Christians showed solidarity with the Indian Muslim community during a Christmas service in a church in south India.
A group of 15 carollers wore skullcaps and headscarves, traditional clothing worn by Muslims, and sang Christmas carols at St Thomas Mar Thoma Church in Kozencherry, Kerala, on December 23, 2019.
The carols were also performed to the tune of folklore Muslim songs, known as Mappila songs.
The performance was widely lauded as a show of solidarity with India’s Muslims, who say the right-wing BJP government is making discriminatory changes against Muslims to the law.
“The church wanted to send the message that it shares the anxiety of people who fear they could become refugees, Jesus Christ was made a refugee a day after his birth,” Assistant Vicar Father Daniel T Philip said.
“The Muslim song was not sung by the church choir but by youth members of the church, it was performed in solidarity with refugees of all communities including Muslim and Christian,” he added.
“I shared this idea with our youth members and they sang in special costumes,” said Father Daniel.
The narration that accompanied the carols described Christmas as a celebration of refugees, and made subtle references to protests against the the new Indian citizenship act.
“Our solidarity is with everyone who is denied justice. The Muslim community is now in picture as they are a section, who have been denied justice,” said Choirmaster Eapen Mathew.
“Every year we pick a socially relevant theme for Christmas choir. Last year it was about the floods that ravaged our state,” he added.
The BJP government passed The Citizenship (Amendment) Act December 11 making religion a test of citizenship for the first time in India.
Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and massive protests have broken out all over the country against the act.