SC verdict on constitutional validity of Triple Talaq tomorrow

August 21, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, August 21, 2017: A five judge constitution bench will tomorrow pronounce its historic judgment on the constitutional validity of triple talaq among Muslims. The multi-religion constitution bench comprises of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices Kurian Joseph, RF Nariman, UU Lalit and Abdul Nazeer. The bench had begun the hearing on May 11.

A five-judge Constitution bench had heard the issue for six days during which various parties including the Centre, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board and various others made the submissions.

The bench had made it clear that it would examine whether the practice of triple talaq among Muslims is fundamental to their religion and had also said for the time being it will not deliberate upon the issue of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’.

It had also said that the both the issues would be kept pending and will be dealt with later.

‘Nikah Halala’ is a practice intended to curb the incidence of divorce under which a man cannot remarry his former wife without her going through the process of marrying someone else, consummating it, getting divorced, observing the separation period called ‘Iddat’ and then returning to him.

The apex court had on its own taken cognisance of the question whether Muslim women faced gender discrimination in the event of divorce or due to other marriages of their husbands.

- one india

Christian inmate jailed for lynching suspected terrorists dies

August 20, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Pakistan, August 18, 2017: A Christian who was arrested for the lynching deaths of two men mistaken as terrorists in the aftermath of deadly suicide attacks on two churches in Pakistan’s Punjab province has died in prison.

At least 15 people were killed and scores of others were injured when Taliban’s bombers blew themselves up during Sunday Mass at two churches — one Catholic, the other Protestant — in Lahore in 2015. The attack led to mob violence and the killing two men mistaken by protestors as terrorists.

Inderyas Masih, 36, one of 42 Christians, rounded up police, put on trial under stringent terrorism laws and was convicted, was found dead Aug. 13 in jail. Church people maintain that most of those in prison were arbitrarily arrested were not even identified in the camera which filmed the lynching incident.

Masih’s family has for long denied his involvement in the killing. “My uncle was in another city the day the Taliban attacked our churches. He was arrested by plain-clothes police men 15-days later,” Shazeel Anjum, Masih’s nephew told ucanews. com.

Police claimed the basis for Masih’s arrest and conviction was because he owned a T-shirt like what which was seen being used by someone in a news report of the lynching.

“We had been circling the hospital and police station for days to get the dead body. We even heard some police constables joking who’s next?” said Anjum.

Police say Masih succumbed to tuberculosis.

- ucan

Uttar Pradesh militants crackdown on Christians

August 20, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india, Persecution

Uttar Pradesh, August 16, 2017: Christians in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh are facing harassment and disruption of their worship on an ongoing campaign by Hindu militants against so-called ‘forced conversions’.

After our report last week that the Sunday worship service of Pastor Mahendra Gangwar’s Church in village Grem was disrupted by a mob of young men, led by members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP-World Council of Hindus) and the Gau Rakshaks (cow vigilantes) on 30 July, another incident has occurred only a few miles away from Grem.

In this case a church service held in Nawabganj, district Bareilly of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh was disrupted by the same mob of Hindu extremists on Sunday 6 August 2017.

Pastor Geeta Rai, a woman minister, leads a house church in her own home and has done so for the past 10 years. She told Global Christian News: “Immediately after prayer, when we had just begun to sing during service, eight or nine men from the VHP entered my house and started to argue with me and lay allegations on me that I convert innocent people. They snatched my Bible and humiliated me.”

According to Rai, a leader from the Bhartiya Janata Party, Akhilesh Gangwar, taunted her with references to the earlier distruption in the village of Grem.

Rai defended herself by telling the Hindu activists to ask her congregation whether they had been forcefully converted. According to Geeta, the villagers said they had converted after their illnesses were healed. The worshippers denied forced conversion.

The men left the place but soon lady police staff arrived in a police vehicle and arrested Geeta. The woman minister said that the police manhandled her as they took her to the local police station.

The worshippers confronted the police staff and insisted that they all be arrested along with Geeta, as they are the ones who have received healing and have made a conscious decision to join Geeta in worshipping Jesus. But the police paid no heed.

“When we reached the police station, the same group of Hindu extremists along with Akhilesh Gangwar were already sitting there. I was surprised to see that my husband was also there. He was rushing home from our shop after I had called him when the Hindu extremists disrupted the Church. But before he could reach me he was arrested by the male police staff outside our home and was taken to the police station, while the lady police arrested me,” added Rai.

“I pleaded with the police staff to let my husband go, as he is still a Hindu and not a follower of Christ. He has nothing to do with the fellowship that takes place in our house,” said Geeta.

The senior policeman in-charge interrogated Rai, as to what does she do? She explained that she prays in Jesus Name and people are healed. “People choose to come every Sunday and worship with me,” said Rai.

According to Geeta police responded that it was not a crime to worship but as a complaint had been made against Rai, she should no longer have people for worship at her house though she herself can pray within the confines of her home.

“There was a lot of political pressure on the police to book us under charges of ‘forceful conversion’ but they booked us under Indian Penal Code section 151 (Knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons after it has been commanded to disperse).

“We had to arrange for a lawyer and procure bail,” said Rai who was released around 6 in the evening of the same day along with her husband.

Pastor Rai has close to 100 members belonging to her house Church. At any given Sunday, there are at least 30 people worshipping at her house.

“I am not sad, because I know this will happen with God’s people. Though I am worried about my husband, Arjun. It may be that we will be bad mouthed in the society because the police took us to the police station and in our society, it is not considered a good thing to go to the police station. I am sure that the Lord will make a way for us. I have not given up.

“My people are very scared, they are concerned for me. I have instructed my Church members to not to come to Church, for security reasons. The worship and Sunday service will never stop. I will conduct the regular Church service, even if I have to sit alone. I will intercede on behalf of the entire Church and pray for them. I have asked all my Church members to worship the Lord in their respective homes exactly at the same time when the service begins in the Church. I believe that God will make a way for us to once again come together and worship Him in the future,” said Rai.

Speaking of the Church service that took place last Sunday (13 August), Rai told Global Christian News that five Church members who were absent the previous Sunday and were not aware of her arrest, came to attend Church at the regular worship time, so they worshipped along with Rai.

- global christian news

Militant Hinduism rules India today: Christians are collateral damage

August 20, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, August 15, 2017: There is, in a way, poetic revenge in the Bharatiya Janata party, the political wing of the Hindu militant nationalism crusader Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, choosing Mr. Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu as its candidate to succeed career diplomat M Hamid Ansari as Vice President of India, and therefore,

Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper house of Parliament. It was loyal RSS worker Mr. Naidu’s destiny to defeat Gopal Gandhi, diplomat, writer and humanist, and a grandson of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the Mahatma. This a mere sixty-seven years after a Hindutva fanatic, Godse, fired three bullets to fell Gandhi, holding him guilty of helping create an India which was secular, and not the Hindu Rashtra some had led themselves to expect after a Muslim homeland was carved out and named Pakistan.

The dream did not die. It lived on. The RSS, banned for a short while in the wake of theassassination of Gandhi, has grown, and as it approaches its own centennial, on 27 September 2025, it can justly claim it has a presence in every block of every district in the country, barring perhaps the Valley of Kashmir which has its own religious gun-toting groups. In many areas, the Sangh has the brick and mortar welfare projects, schools, dispensaries, shelters to replicate and improve upon those provided by the government, and which were once such a hallmark of Christian work in the country. In many ways, it is the country’s largest non-governmental provider of education at the village level through its Ekal schools and Siksha Bharatis, manned by

By 2014 when its cadres propelled Mr. Narendra Modi to the prime minister’s chair, the Sangh had 40,000 shakhas, or branches. As of 2016 Delhi had 1,898 shakhas, with more than 8,000 shakhas in UP, 5,000 in Kerala, 4,000 in Maharashtra, and around 1,000 in Gujarat. In northeast India, there are more than 1,000 shakhas, including 903 in Assam, 107 in Manipur, 36 in Arunachal, and 4 in Nagaland, 900 in Sikh dominated Punjab, 1,421 in Bihar 4,870 in Rajasthan 1,252 in Uttarakhand, 1,492 in Bengal, 130 in Tripura, 46 in Meghalaya, and close to 500 in the region of Jammu.

The party has kept pace, growing steadily after the Rath Yatra of 1990 and the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. In 2017, it controls directly, in coalition or through friendly parties, every state barring Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, the tiny Pondicherry, Tripura  and West Bengal. Bihar is touch and go. Bengal is under threat. Karnataka too. At its best, the Congress could not retain it freedom struggle hold over the states much beyond the life of Jawaharlal Nehru.

The growth of the RSS, and the BJP that rides in its wake as often as it facilitates the way for the Sangh with its political and administrative clout, in both the southern states and in the north east, which is ethnically very different, is itself of tectonic implications. It has radically changed the political landscape, of course, but it has also changed the Sangh strategy from a purely brahmanically inspired racist agenda to a diabolically more inclusive formula in which it creates little pockets or ideological enclaves where it dilutes its well-established rules till as such time circumstances change. Its policies against beef are given a holiday in the north east and in Goa, but not elsewhere in the country. About this later.

But this creation of enclaves where different cultures are accepted, tolerated to an extent while the campaign to wean them and bring them into the Hindu fold continues, is a very important move by the Sangh to achieve the goal it set for itself more than 90 years ago. It then sought a Hindu Rashtra, perhaps even a Vrihata or greater India that extended from the Kushan empires limits in Afghanistan down to Burma which the British annexed to India. This was the land of the Hindus as celebrated in the holy texts, the folk lore and the racial memory. There was to be purity, a seal against intellectual and blood pollution. There was to be no place for anyone else, other than as second class residents, without the rights given to those for whom Bharata, India, was the Fatherland-Motherland, the Land of their Labour, and the land of their Gods, Pitrabhoomi, Karmabhoomi, Punyabhoomi.

Wrote the patriarch Madhavrao Sadasivrao Golwalkar in his 1938 book “We, our Nationhood Defined”: “German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races-the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole-a good lesson for us in Hindusthan (i.e., the land of Hindus) to learn and profit by.

From this standpoint sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the non-Hindu peoples in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ungratefulness towards this land and its age-old traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights.” Everyone knows these quotations. But they bear being repeated, often.

“Veer” Savarkar alter complicit in the Mahatma’s murder, had made it clear to the meanest intelligence what this meant. “If we Hindus grow stronger in time Moslem friends …will have to play the part of German Jews.”

This, of course, requires a junking of the Constitution, a rule book rooted in the freedom struggle in which the Sangh played no part, and a law book which they had ideologically opposed, but had so far been forced to accept for want of numbers in Parliament. Even after major victories under Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee at the turn of the century, and under Mr Narendra Modi in the campaign of hate and fire of 2014, they had been blocked, stopped in their track on most legislative innovations they wanted, including a new education policy. Mr Vajpayee had indicated he wanted the Constitution changed, and set up a judicial commission to explore the possibility. That he failed is another story.

The BJP will be able to attain an absolute majority in the Rajya Sabha in the 2019 general elections, in which by current calculations, it is also likely to improve its already massive strength in the Lok Sabha, the operative Lower House of Parliament. That means it will be constitutionally equipped to consider if it wants any change in the Statutes, or in the Republic itself. There are international precedents. France has had more than one Republic. Pakistan and Bangladesh have changed their status from democracies to theocracies, if perhaps not quite like Iran. Sri Lanka and Pakistan have alternated between presidential and prime ministerial systems, both alas making a mockery of the system of council of ministers which ought to have been supreme.

By all accounts, it has been a remarkable journey for the Sangh, a growth that has few parallels in history. Its thesis of religious nationalism, a restoration of historical, mythological and purely imagined glories of the Motherland-Fatherland, are not unique. Others, most notably the National Socialist Nazis of Hitler’s Germany had such dreams. And possibly the people they persecuted in a satanic way, the Jews, who fought and negotiated a homeland for themselves in Palestine, expanding it in constant military action. It had hoped that Partition of India in 1947 would automatically ensure a total transfer of populations, with just about a handful of Christians as the only remnants left of foreign rule or Abrahamic philosophic and cultural origin. The Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, even Baha’is and Parsees it had either absorbed in legal definitions, or had seen as allies and partners in the challenge to keep Islam out.

The exchange of populations did not happen, and India remains the world’s third largest Muslim population country after Indonesia and Pakistan. The demographic reality has scared the Sangh, and has made it concoct a thesis of demographic threat from the Muslim population in ten, twenty or fifty years when Hindus will become a minority faith group in their ancient, in fact only, homeland. A frightening thought, deserving of a frightfully powerful response.

That is at the root of the current crisis. The BJP and its cadres are not reconciled to the Muslim presence as equals, asserting their democratic rights, seeking political voice. Despite their public pronouncements occasionally, and by Mr. Modi during his now justly celebrated frequent travels to the United States and Western Europe, of a united people and a united constitutional guarantee of peace, justice and development, every development project has been seen by the Sangh and the party as Muslim appeasement.

Christians are collateral damage. They will be tolerated if they give up converting anyone from now on. The national laws are about ready. And there are indications that a section of the Christian leadership is ready to accept these laws, after a token protest. The Sangh has succeeded beyond its dreams in dividing the church across ethnic, linguistic, ritual and doctrinal lines. The Catholic church also reflects these fractures.

The demonization of Muslims is quite a part of the defence doctrine of the Sangh where the border tensions with Pakistan the internal political turmoil in the valley of Kashmir since the early 1990s, the rise of the Islamic state in the Middle east are all nearly packaged in one matrix.  Civil society may be branded as Anti-Nationals and Traitors, but everyone knows that the target is the Muslim community in the country, specially their young who are as aspirational as any other citizen, and competing for jobs and other resources with their counterparts from other religions.

The New Education Policy that has been mooted in the past twelve months is itself clever ploy to change not pedagogy as much as to change the content and the objective of the education system, taking it away from a pursuit of knowledge in an equal opportunity ecosphere to a hierarchically structured system where only some will be able to pursue high education and the rest will be fractionalized at various stages into vocational studies, paralleling the caste system if old. The pedagogy and content would restore pride in the Golden Age when India ruled the intellectual world, and much of the military and economic arena too. Israel’s revival of Hebrew after two millennia of neglect offers a tantalizing example for cultural revival, and its ability it subdues its Islamic neighbours a modern example from which to learn.

A new generation of politicians, bureaucrats, police, judicial offers, teachers will grow up in this education system. As a Pakistani intellectual once told me, children who read altered history become soldiers in the war where hate and suspicion of the Other is the ammunition and a demolition of democracy is the objective.

The new policy on cattle and beef, cherry picking one sentence from the Directive principles of the Constitution on the preservation of cattle has been twisted and targeted into slew of regulations that range from a strict ban on killing of cows and the trade in beef in almost all parts of the country barring those tiny enclaves in Goa and the North east. If ever there was a doubt, the laws banning trade in cattle for slaughter, and the inclusion of camels it the definition of cattle, makes it clear that it is directed against Muslims.  Like Christians, Dalits and Tribals, who consume beef or trade in the byproducts derived from the dead cow – skin, tallow, bones, sinew, and horn – are hit. A perhaps unintentional result is the aggravation of the rural economy where the farmer depends on a constant refreshing of his livestock – selling the old for slaughter and buying young heifers for milk and bullocks for farming. Sales banned, the cows are being abandoned.

State has had to step in, spending precious national resources on the religious duty of keeping old cattle till they die a natural death. The cattle, however, seem to be dying more of starvation and disease in these government and private havens.

The most brutal manifestation of the new cow laws is the sharp increase in lynching by gangs of Gau rakshaks, or cow protectors who roam the countryside scanning the highways for traders transporting cattle across district and state lines.  The protection racket often draws blood, when Muslim or Dalit youth are lunched if they protest, or fail to pay the protection money. With an estimated 50 lynching in 2016-17, it has generated a wave of nausea in the small civil society. The #NotInMyName campaign, which saw about two dozen protests in major cities in India and even in London and the US, was an important, though feeble, indication of a resistance to the Sangh.

There has been no response yet from the United Nations Human right mechanism, or the international capitals where heads of state so warmly welcome Mr Narendra Modi as an ally in the war against the Islamic State, and more important, as an important customer of their war machines.

The international media has noticed the lynchings. The New York Times in an editorial in July 2017, said: “Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party. But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.”

New leader in an article in another earlier special edition had noted that the failure of the development promise would make the Sangh and the Government work to divert attention through communalism and a rhetoric of war, that is now apparent.

The top three democratic positions in the land – President, Vice President and Prime Minister – are manned by men [Ram Kovind, Venkaiah Naidu, Narendra Modi] who have spent all their adult life as foot soldiers of the Sangh. They have chosen chiefs of the armed forces who would work with them in tandem, beyond the call of duty. The Media, now a big business itself, is a handmaiden as a part of the bigger corporate world. The judiciary, in its much-faulted collegium system, remains a bulwark against the early creation of a Rashtra. But as jurists know, the Supreme Court is as good as the judges who constitute its many Benches. There are indications of ideological differences in the senior judiciary.  Several important issues, including the Dalit Christian one and Aadhar, have been sent to larger Constitutional benches of five, seven and more judges.

The rulings can impact on millions of people, some on each one of us in our personal rights, including the right to life, freedom of faith and expression, and the right to privacy.

Mr. Modi feels empowered, and now has the support system in place. The election of his men as President and Vice President may well be the last nails in the series of planks that have gone into making the structure of the Rashtra of their dreams.

- global christian news

Activists call on Delhi government not to deport 40,000 Rohingya Muslims

August 20, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: Human rights activists are appealing to the government of India to respect international law and not deport the approximately 40,000 Rohingya Muslims present in their territory. The alarm was launched this week by some humanitarian organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who expressed concern over recent statements by Kiren Rijiju, Undersecretary for Internal Affairs. Speaking to Parliament, he said the government has asked the state authorities to identify and expel Rohingya, the ethnic minority of Bangladesh but mainly resident in Myanmar. If this is the case, complain activists, they will be exposed to serious forms of discrimination and violence.

In recent years, thousands of Rohingya have crossed the frontier seeking shelter in India. For the most part, the community lives in Myanmar, but the authorities do not recognize their citizenship. Its members – about a million exponents – live in refugee camps scattered across parts of the Burmese country, where they have been victims of violence for months. The Rohingya population speaks of summary executions, arbitrary arrests, rapes, homes torched in the context of a government campaign renamed the “clearing operation”.

Meenakshi Ganguly, director of South Asia’s Human Rights Watch, said: “The Indian authorities must abide by international obligations and not repatriate the Rohingya to Myanmar in a forced manner. They must first assess their claim to be considered as refugees in an honest way. ”

Even though there are no exact figures, Undersecretary Rijiju said that the number of Muslim migrants has increased in recent years and has talked about some 40,000 people living illegally in the territory of the Union. The largest wave occurred after the military campaign launched in October 2016 as a reaction to an armed attack on rebels against the soldiers.

Raghu Menon, representative of Amnesty International India, said: “Labelling Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers as illegal migrants does not take into account the reasons why they have been forced to flee their homes and the serious risks they would incur if they were expelled in a way forced”. “The Indian authorities – he concluded – are well aware of the violations of human rights that Rohingya would face in Myanmar. It would be shameful to abandon them to their destiny. ”

- asia news

China tells the US to back off on religious freedom criticism, ‘Solve its racism problem’

August 18, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

China, August 18, 2017: China is pushing back against the U.S. State Department’s annual religious freedom report that highlights the Communist government’s persecution of Christians and religious minorities, stating that the U.S. needs to solve its own problems with white supremacist violence.

Bob Fu, president of persecution watchdog group China Aid, told The Christian Post, however, that China is “incorrect” in drawing a comparison between the two issues.

“The Chinese government is directly responsible for their abuses, while the U.S. government is not necessarily responsible for racism,” Fu said in an email on Thursday.

“In Charlottesville, racism occurred because a group of white nationalist individuals who are not affiliated with the government acted on their prejudices, and many U.S. officials went on to condemn their actions, demonstrating that this is not a human rights abuse that can be tied to the government,” he continued.

“China, on the other hand, implements local and national policies that specifically target specific groups of people and even goes so far as to hold official conferences about how to properly execute these policies. This denotes a direct government responsibility for the abuses.”

The 2016 International Religious Freedom Report, released earlier this week, provided an update on the religious freedom situation in 199 countries around the world.

It criticized China for a number of reported human rights abuses, such as one incident in April 2016 in Zhumadian, Henan province, where the pastor of an unregistered church and his wife were buried alive while trying to save their church from government-ordered demolition. While the pastor survived, his wife, Ding Cuimei, died.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying argued in her response on Wednesday that China protects religious freedom.

“The so-called U.S. report ignores the facts, confuses right and wrong and makes wanton criticism of China’s religious freedom situation,” she said, according to Reuters, adding that America is not “perfect” either.

State news agency Xinhua further commented on the violence at last weekend’s rally between white nationalist socialists and Antifa counter-protesters in Charlottesville — in which one protester was killed by a man who plowed his car into a crowd and two police officers who were killed when their helicopter crashed — by suggesting that the U.S. is better off dealing with its own problems first.

“Against the backdrop of the recent clash between white supremacists and their opponents, the U.S. accusations against China simply lay bare the double standard it employs,” Xinhua argued.

“The violence highlighted the danger of racism, which is a serious problem in a still divided U.S. society,” it added.

“Despite its self-proclaimed role as the world’s human rights champion, the fact is the world’s sole superpower is far from becoming a respected role model in this regard.”

The violence in Charlottesville stemmed from a “Unite the Right” rally  — which included white supremacists, members of the KKK, and white nationalist socialist groups — held to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in Emancipation Park. The event was organized by Jason Kessler, a man who used to be an Obama supporter and an Occupy Wall Street alt-left activist before joining alt-right groups.

The rally participants clashed with Antifa counter-protesters in several scattered street fights. Twenty-year-old Nazi sympathizer James Fields was charged with murder after plowing his car into the counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others. Fields is believed to have been at the rally with a group called Vanguard America, a self-proclaimed anti-Semitic national socialist group.

Fu told CP that unlike China, however, the U.S. is not trying to deny its problems.

“Another key difference is that America does not attempt to cover up catastrophic events within the country, and our allowance of worldwide reporting on occurrences like Charlottesville is how China knows of the racial tensions in America in the first place,” he said.

“In the meantime, news of China’s human rights abuses is often given to foreign reporters by individuals who risk a great deal of safety to share the information,” he added.

“Additionally, when race-driven violence occurs, U.S. officials are typically quick to publicly denounce them, while Chinese officials insist that their human rights abuses do not occur, despite plenty of eyewitness evidence to the contrary.”

Other reports have also exposed the significant levels of religious persecution in China, such as a Freedom House initiative released in March.

Freedom House said at the time that 100 million people, belonging to various faith groups, including Roman Catholics and Protestant Christians, face “moderate” or “high” levels of persecution under the Communist Party.

“A Taoist disciple joins the order without knowing when he will be admitted to priesthood. Dozens of Christians are barred from celebrating Christmas together. Tibetan monks are forced to learn reinterpretations of Buddhist doctrine during a ‘patriotic reeducation’ session,” the report said in its examples of persecution.

“A Uighur Muslim farmer is sentenced to nine years in prison for praying in a field. And a 45-year-old father in northeastern China dies in custody days after being detained for practicing Falun Gong.”

- christian post

Jharkhand: Christian bodies, political parties submit memorandum to governor against anti-conversion bill

August 18, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Jharkhand, August 18, 2017: Within a week of the anti-conversion bill passed in the Jharkhand assembly, Christian bodies, under the banner of Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh (RIM), on Friday submitted a memorandum to the Governor against the anti-conversion bill. The main opposition party, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, and the Congress have already submitted their memoranda in this regard. They have also opposed proposed amendments in the land acquisition Act-2013, which too was passed on August 12. The moves come in the wake of the fact that the Governor had returned the proposed amendments to the Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act, which had to be withdrawn by the state government in the just-concluded monsoon session. Among the objections raised by the Governor with regard to the CNT/SPT amendments was lack of clarity on the objective and failure to explain as to how this would benefit the tribal.

In its memorandum submitted today, the RIM questioned the need for such a bill. If there is large scale conversion going on, then why did the government not invoke Section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with the same thing? Also, what is the basis of the government claim about the information about large scale conversion? the memorandum asked. The memorandum also claimed that Section 5 of the proposed bill made it mandatory to get permission from the Deputy Commissioner in advance before performing any conversion, which was against the Constitutional provisions of right to privacy and right to practice one religion.

It appears that the bill is aimed at harassing the Church and missionaries, the memorandum said, adding that misleading advertisements have been brought out targeting the Christian missionaries. A JMM leader said that the party was clear from the first day that such a bill was only to create divisions between the tribal people and the party would oppose it all levels. Congress too had opposed the bill saying it would only add to the communal disharmony, which was the agenda of the BJP. Meanwhile, the BJP leaders maintained that they were confident about the bill getting approval by the Governor and there would be no repeat of the CNT/SPT amendment fiasco. We are prepared. If we feel the need, the party would also petition the Governor this time. However, we are confident that this would not be required. The Bill just puts things in perspective and is not aimed to target anybody,” said a BJP leader, on the condition of anonymity.

State BJP spokesperson Deen Dayal Barnwal said: The matter is now with the Governor and, so there is nothing much to do for the Party. We are clear that both the bills have been introduced with a clear vision. We are keeping a watch and, if needed, proper steps would be taken to ensure that this bill is approval. Sources in the Chief Minister Office maintained that the more opposition opposed the amendments, the more they would be exposed. Also, if we know that some people oppose just for the sake of it, their credibility goes down. We see no hurdle in the passage of the bill, said a source.

- the indian express

Goa Church magazine likens contemporary India to Nazi Germany

August 18, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Panaji, August 17, 2017: An article published in a magazine run by the Goa Church has likened the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule in India to Nazi Germany and claimed that a state of “constitutional holocaust” prevails in the country.

The article, written by a city lawyer Dr. F.E. Noronha, which appeared in “Renovacao” — a pastoral bulletin of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman — urged Goa voters to vote against communal forces in order to halt the march of “nationwide fascism”.

It also takes indirect potshots at Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar while imploring the voters not to vote for those who “show no sign of distinct backbone or character and evidently agree with the nationwide fascism”.

“In 2012, everyone thought in terms of having a corruption-free Goa; this thinking continued till 2014, but from then and increasingly everyday what we are witnessing in India is nothing but a constitutional holocaust. Corruption is very bad, communalism is worse, but Nazism is worse than both,” the article reads.

“Anybody who read William Shirer’s ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ or Allan Bullocks’ ‘A study of tyranny’ or Hitler’s own ‘Mein Kampf’ will find an extraordinary identity between the growth and rampage, of Nazism in Germany in 1933 onwards and India in 2014,” it further says.

The magazine, which is edited by Fr. Aleixo Menezes and is published from the Bishop’s House in Panaji, also goes on to say that the biggest issue in India today is no longer corruption, or even secularism, but of freedom and implores voters not to cast their ballot in favour of a candidate who agrees with fascism.

“The country is being ruled by one or two men and the rest are mere henchmen and running dogs. Please don’t vote for a person who is a mere subaltern of such individuals. We should not vote for persons who show no sign of distinct backbone or character and evidently agree with the nationwide fascism,” the article states.

“Freedom, democracy and secularism are more important than corruption. Corruption was better. Let the corrupt rule if they allow us to talk, to eat and to be politically free.”

Catholics, who look to the Church in Goa as their religious and spiritual guide, account for more than a quarter of the state’s population and also a sizeable chunk of the Panaji’s votebank.

The article also describes the Panaji by-poll on August 23 as an opportunity to stem the downside of Indian democracy by voting against Parrikar, who in the past has been criticised by the opposition for U-turns in matters of policy.

“Let us not vote for persons who hurriedly make dozens of promises every day with dates and deadlines and violate them at leisure. This seems to be the speciality of some people. Also, people with innumerable U-turns do not carry any credit,” it says.

When asked to react to the contents of the article, Parrikar said: “I do not want to say anything.”

However, the former Defence Minister said there were inherent contradictions in the article, but refused to elaborate.

“If someone studies the history of Germany, you will realise (the) contradiction,” Parrikar said.

- ians

Supreme Court asks top agency to probe “love jihad”

August 18, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, August 18, 2017: The Supreme Court has asked the National Investigation Agency to probe what has come to be dubbed “love jihad.”

This was done after the top probe agency told the apex court on August 16 that there was evidence to suggest that some extremist outfits linked to a banned group were involved in converting Hindu girls to Islam and their gradual radicalization toward the Islamic State’s ideology.

The bench of Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud took on record a sealed report of the central agency’s preliminary findings, reports telegraphindia.com.

The directive came amid protests from senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Indira Jaising, who appeared for Shafin Jahan, the petitioner in the case.

Jahan had moved the top court requesting that Akhila alias Hadiya, a Hindu girl who had converted to Islam and married him, be produced. Kerala High Court had earlier nullified the marriage on the ground that the girl had been indoctrinated.

The top court appointed former Supreme Court judge R.V. Raveendran to vet the contents of the investigation report to be submitted by the NIA to allay the petitioner’s fears of possible bias.

Earlier, on August 10, the apex court had directed the Kerala crime branch to hand over its investigation report on the alleged “love jihad” to the NIA. Today’s sealed report submitted by the NIA followed that directive.

Additional solicitor-general Maninder Singh, who appeared for the agency, told the court the NIA’s preliminary findings based on the investigations carried out by Kerala police indicated that Akhila’s case was “not an isolated incident.”

Singh, who appeared along with advocate R. Balasubramanyam, said there was another similar case of conversion involving the same organizations and individuals.

“The entities also appear to be the same. The pattern appears to be the girl having a disagreement with her parents. After the disagreement the girls leave home and somebody comes to give them shelter. The person who has given shelter to these girls is the same person… and this requires investigation,” Singh said.

“In both cases the organizations were involved in getting the women shelter. These organizations and people have some links with Simi,” Singh added, referring to the banned Students Islamic Movement of India and apparently summarizing the contents of the preliminary report the NIA had submitted in the sealed cover.

The ASG said that in both the cases it had been found that members of these organizations married off the girls who had left home before the matter reached the high court.

Sibal said the bench should interview the girl, who is now in the custody of her parents, to verify whether she had indeed been radicalized.

Justice Khehar then referred to the recent spate of suicides by children and teenagers addicted to the online game Blue Whale, which sets a series of tasks to players with the final challenge of requiring him or her to commit suicide.

“Have you ever heard about the Blue Whale challenge? Such things can make people do anything,” Justice Khehar told Sibal.

Sibal insisted that the bench interview the girl; only then would they agree to a probe by the NIA.

“We will not ask her till we need to ask her,” the bench replied.

That prompted Sibal to say: “Your lordships are prejudging the issue.”

Sibal said the Kerala crime branch should continue with the investigation as he did not trust the NIA. But the bench said the NIA was an independent agency and, moreover, a former apex court judge would vet its findings.

“If you don’t want an independent judicial mind to examine it, then we will have to pass order,” the CJI said.

Jaising said the court must speak to Akhila to find out if she was of a “weak mind” and susceptible to indoctrination.

The court said it would examine the girl personally if and when the situation arose.

The bench wanted to appoint K.S. Radhakrishnan, a former Supreme Court judge and a Malayali, to vet the NIA investigation report once it is submitted.

But Sibal and Jaising both insisted that the former judge should be somebody from outside Kerala and suggested the names of former CJI T.S. Thakur and S.S. Nijjar, another former judge of the top court.

The CJI, after consulting Justice Chandrachud, said the court was appointing Justice Raveendran to vet the findings.

Advocate Madhavi Divan, who appeared for Akhila’s father, placed in the court documents she claimed proved that the girl had been indoctrinated by radical elements.

- matters india

Orthodox priest put on trial for praying with children at a summer camp in the mountains

August 17, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

Kazakhstan, August 16, 2017: An orthodox priest has been accused of violating the ‘Law on Religious Activities and Religious Associations” by holding religious meetings in unregistered places.

Vladimir Vorontsov, rector of the parish of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God, went on trial in Merke, a town in Jambyl Region, southern Kazakhstan.

An anonymous source had reported him to the police, saying that the clergyman with children and some parents was taking part in a Sunday school prayer at a camp in the mountains.

On 2 August, officials from the local government, police and National Security Committee (NSC) travelled to the camp for an inspection.

Initially, the authorities laid charges against Fr Vorontsov for extremism, illegal detention of minors, and smuggling religious literature.

Officials tried to interrogate the children, and only a phone call from the deputy head of the regional administration convinced them to stop and leave, allowing camp participants to continue their vacation.

However, two days later, Fr Vorontsov was notified that he was in breach of administrative rules and on 6 August he was summoned to appear before a court to respond to charges of holding religious meetings in inappropriate places.

Under Kazakh law, religious functions must be held in a place of worship. For religious minorities (Protestants, Hare Krishna, certain Muslim groups), this means, for example, fines and administrative detention for praying in private dwellings.

However, this is the first time that such a measure is applied to a representative of the Orthodox Church, the second largest religious denomination in Kazakhstan.

The regional Religious Affairs administration summoned Orthodox clergy to appear before them on 10 August to discuss the case. “The conversation was tense,” Vorontsov said.

Department chief “Omarov treated us as guilty subordinates. The Religious Affairs administration did nothing to resolve this situation, to reconcile.”

In an interview with Esquire.kz, Fr Vorontsov said that the authorities did not like the fact that he had set up a Sunday school and opposed the felling of some ancient trees.

At the same timer, Vorontsov noted that the incident was not a case of “national and religious oppression”, but a wrong interpretation of the law. “I still trust the laws of my country,” the clergyman said.

Orthodox Christians are the second largest religious community in the country after Muslims who follow the Hanafi school.

The country has 3,464 places of worship: 2,550 are mosques, 294 Orthodox churches, and 198 Catholic churches.

Recently, Kazakhstan has tightened controls on religions to counter the rise of radicalism.

- asia news

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