Printing error in Indian school textbook renders Christ as 'demon Jesus'

Wikimedia CommonsJesus Christ - detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.

A printing error in a Hindi language school textbook has accidentally rendered Jesus as a 'devil', rather than 'God' as intended, prompting upset from Christian Indian groups.

The textbook was published by the education board of Gujarat, a state in western India. It used the Hindi word 'haivaan' (devil) prefixing 'Jesus Christ' as opposed to the intended word 'bhagwan' (God), according to the Hindustan Times.

The executive president of the Gujarat State School Textbook Board, Nitin Pethani, called it a 'printing mistake'.

He said: 'Instead of word 'Bhagwan', the word 'haivaan' got printed. We have already made the correction in the online version. Since books have already been distributed among students, it is not possible to withdraw them now.'

He said the board would seek to rectify the issue, though it couldn't recall the books: 'To make sure that the corrected version is taught to students, we will issue a written advisory to all the teachers, asking them to take into account this correction while teaching this subject'.

The relevant passage from the class IX textbook reads in English as 'In this context, a statement by "demon Jesus" is always memorable'.

Some Christian groups have claimed offence, and lobbied for the removal of the books.

'The textbook has depicted our God in a bad light. We condemn the word used for Jesus Christ. It has hurt our religious sentiments. We want the government to withdraw the book immediately,' said one protestor, from a crowd gathered outside the District Education Officer's office in Ahmedabad, Gujarat's capital city.

The Indian Christian advocacy group Indian Christian Voice (ICV) demanded criminal punishment for those involved in the misprint.

'We demand criminal action against the perpetrators and an unconditional apology from the state government...Such wild and reckless statements have the potential to spark off a conflagration that could seriously jeopardise communal harmony. In the larger interest of peace, this particular edition of the book must be withdrawn and banned immediately,' said ICVs president Abraham Mathai, according to IANS.