Petition to withdraw charges against Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku

Various rationalist groups call for the withdrawal of charges against Sanal Edamaruku.

We call on the Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay to withdraw their complaint against Indian Rationalist Sanal Edamaruku.

Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Indian Rationalist Association, has for decades been a tireless campaigner for science and against superstition. He is widely known for his exposure of the tricks used by self-professed ‘God-Men’ and gurus and has often been on Indian television explaining the everyday science behind supposed miracles.

He stands accused of “deliberately hurting religious feelings and attempting malicious acts intended to outrage the religious sentiments of any class or community”, an offence under Section 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code. No arrest warrant has been issued but the case is “cognisable” meaning the police can arrest without warrant at any time. He is being harassed daily by the Mumbai authorities who, under pressure from Catholic groups, are insisting that he turn himself in.

We call on the Vatican and the global Catholic community to make known their opposition to the conduct of the Mumbai diocese. We call also on the government of India, the world’s largest democracy, to defend free speech by making it clear that their laws are not to be used to suppress scientific knowledge and reasonable criticism of religious mysticism.

Tip: @guardianScience on Twitter

The Richard Dawkins Foundation is also encouraging people to sign the petition. The original story about this Indian skeptic is here. He is under attack apparently because he revealed that a “miraculous” weeping cross was really a result of capillary action, not a miracle. It angered the Catholic church.