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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Indian religions unite on conversion
Christian and Muslim leaders in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu are planning a day of protest and fasting later this month, over new rules banning what are termed "forced religious conversions."

The ordinance prohibits conversions under inducements including the offer of cash, or the threat of divine displeasure.

It will become law, once ratified by the state assembly, and will carry penalties including imprisonment and heavy fines.

After an emergency meeting of Christian bishops and Muslim leaders on Thursday in Madurai, the city's Archbishop said all religious groups, including Hindus would be invited to join the protest.

He said the ordinance breached the secular principles of the Indian constitution.

Hindu activists say religious conversions exploit poor living conditions.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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