BOMBAY, Jan. 22 (AFP) - Christian missionaries and anti-fundamentalist activists on Monday protested a move by the Hindu nationalist-ruled western state of Gujarat to ask schools to subscribe to a Hindu weekly.

Gujarat state, which is ruled by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's BJP party, recently asked state-funded schools to buy the local language weekly Sadhana -- the mouthpiece of the Hindu nationalist BJP's parent organisation, RSS.

"This is unconstitutional. They are asking us to buy a magazine that is openly anti-Christian and anti-Muslim. We will not comply with the government circular," Jesuit priest Cedric Prakash told AFP from the state capital Gandhinagar.

Prakash is the convenor of the United Christian Forum for Human Rights. He demanded the government withdraw the notice. "If the circular is not withdrawn by today, we plan to move the court against this violation of our fundamental rights."

Hanif Lakdawala, of the privately-run organisation Sanchetna, said the state government's move was "just the latest of a series of steps to impose Hindu ideology on minorities.

"The magazine is communal and fascist and is not in keeping with the secular nature of our constitution. We are strongly opposed to this."

Gujarat state Education Minister Anandiben Patel denied there was any attempt to force the magazine on schools for non-Hindu students.

"We do not plan to withdraw the circular. I do not understand why such a fuss is being made, when nobody is being compelled to subscribe to the weekly, " she said.

Patel said the weekly magazine is neither anti-Muslim nor against Christianity.

"It is a social magazine. There is freedom of expression in our country and all views should find expression. Such kind of opposition is not right. We are not penalising anyone for not subscribing to the magazine."

Patel said circulars recommending books and magazines are "routinely" issued by the state government.

"The (previous) Congress party government has issued more than 180 such circulars. Nobody objected to them."

Gujarat has been in the limelight the past couple of years for mounting attacks on Christians by organisations affiliated to the BJP party.

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