Thank You Lord for 2012

December 31, 2012 by  
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Renewed and Revitalized

“..but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Monday, 31 st of December, 2012.
A New Year will begin soon, which usually means we want to start afresh and hopefully do things differently this year.

We have been rushing around both before and after Christmas, enjoying the company of family and friends and stressing out about all sorts of things which have nothing to do with Christ’s birth.

As children we counted down the days until that wonderful morning when we would awaken to presents and to the fun and laughter of all that day brings.

As adults we count down the days, madly baking and buying last minute presents and cards to send to our many family and friends.

After the celebrations have finished we cleaned up and wondered why we went to all that trouble as we are left tired and flat.

The above passage from Isaiah points out to us that if we have faith and hope in the Lord then we are able to draw on the strength and peace that only God can give as we start this New Year.

I used to think that this passage was just for saints and those who spent all their time working for the Lord, but over the years I have come to realize that it applies to all of us, no matter the reason for our tiredness and listlessness.

It could be that we have become weary from the days of endless stress at work or at home and all we feel like doing is crawling into our own shells and shutting the rest of the world out. Illness or family tensions leave us exhausted.

It could be through a feeling of loneliness or perhaps the opposite – too many people crowding in and making demands on us, that we simply want to stand up and say “enough is enough”.

That is when God wraps us in His loving arms and lifts up our heads so we can face another day.

Prayer for the day :
Loving One, we awake to this new year, knowing that You will be beside us and alive in us each moment of every day.
As this year unfolds give us the strength and the peace that we need to keep going so that we may live a life of joy as You so wish us to have.

Thank you, Lord, that every moment is a new beginning, not just the start of a new year
and help us to soar on wings of eagles when we become weary.
In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.


fwd: vc mathews

Prayer Focus Update

December 31, 2012 by  
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“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:13-14, NIV

Syria – Plight of Christians intensifies

Syria – Plight of Christians intensifiesThe condition of the Church in Syria is becoming more and more desperate. Christians, their property and their churches continue to be the targets of violent attack. A senior church leader reported that they also face “inflation, poverty, growing of sectarian enmity, shortages of supplies of food and fuel, cold weather, revenge, kidnapping for big amount of ransom, risks of travelling, frequent Internet cut off and many such things.”

For example, while the Christian population of Homs was once 50,000-60,000, just 80 Christians remain in a Christian neighbourhood of the old city in December 2012. They are being held hostage by rebels and prevented from leaving. One by one they are dying because of severe hardship and a lack of medicines. A Barnabas Fund partner stated that they were being kept there as “human shields” by Salafist rebel groups to deter government forces from attacking the Christian area, which is now occupied by rebels.

Despite the dangers they face, and the fact that many Syrian Christians have fled their homeland, church leaders in Syria have refused to leave their people. One senior Christian leader said, “We have to say we want to stay here. It is our vocation to give our testimony. We had a lot of persecution in the past and we have to find a way to continue.” Praise God for the courage and steadfast witness of these leaders.

As observers predict the collapse of the Assad regime, under which Christians in Syria had been well treated, the future for Christians looks bleak. Give thanks to the Lord that He is a faithful God who does not desert His people in need. Ask that He will be a stronghold and a refuge for the 80 Christians left in Homs, and that they will be allowed to leave in safety. Pray that all Christians in Syria will know the Lord’s peace in these desperate times, and that He will make a way for them to live in safety in their own country.

Nigeria – Christians targeted in bombing and riots

Nigeria - Christians targeted in bombing and riotsCry out to the Lord on behalf of Christians in Nigeria, who continue to be the target of violent attacks by Islamists. More Christians have lost their lives in two recent incidents in predominantly Muslim Northern states.

In the first incident, on 25 November, at least eleven people were killed when suicide bombers attacked a church inside a military barracks in Jaji, Kaduna state. Initially, a bus was driven into the wall of St Andrew’s Protestant Church. This blast caused no casualties, but as worshippers gathered around the scene there was a deadly second explosion when a car was blown up outside the church. Although officials reported a death toll of eleven people, with 30 injured, witnesses at the scene put the number of dead at around 50. The Islamist group Boko Haram is thought to be behind the attack; a recent report estimated that the group has been responsible for over 3,000 deaths since 2009.

Three days earlier, in the town of Bichi in nearby Kano state, an allegation of blasphemy led to anti-Christian riots. Chibuke, a Christian tailor, accidentally mispronounced the name of a popular outfit, inadvertently saying, “The prophet has come to the market.” He was subsequently accused of deliberately blaspheming against Islam, and rampaging Muslims took a violent revenge; a mob armed with cutlasses, knives and other weapons attacked Christians and their property. Four deaths, including that of Chibuke, were reported, although only two have been officially confirmed.

Pray for those who are mourning loved ones lost in these atrocities. Ask that the Lord will comfort them and enable them to forgive the perpetrators. Pray that He will be a shield around His people in Nigeria, who are at great risk of violence at the hands of Islamists, and that they will know His peace despite the dangers they face.

Uzbekistan – Jailed pastor released and granted asylum in Sweden

Uzbekistan – Jailed pastor released and granted asylum in SwedenGive thanks to the Lord that Makset Djabbarbergenov, a pastor from Uzbekistan who was imprisoned in Kazakhstan and facing extradition back to his homeland, has been freed from prison and granted asylum in Sweden along with his family.

Makset and his family had fled to Kazakhstan because of continued harassment by the secret police in Uzbekistan. He is wanted in his homeland for violating the country’s restrictive religion law, and had been detained, for the second time since he arrived in Kazakhstan, since September 2012. The original detention request made by the authorities refers to two separate offences, neither of which carries a penalty of more than three years in prison. However, one of the charges was later changed to that of “creation, leadership or participation in religious extremist, separatist, fundamentalist or other banned organisations”, an offence that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in Uzbekistan.

Barnabas Fund raised Makset’s plight with the authorities in the UK, Europe and the US, and also petitioned the Kazakh authorities. On 4 December, he was released from prison in Almaty and taken to the airport, where he was reunited with his pregnant wife and four sons. They were issued with visas for Sweden before being flown to the country. Praise God that He hears the needy and does not despise His own people who are prisoners (Psalm 69:33). Give thanks that Makset is now safe from being imprisoned for his faith, and pray for the release of others who are in jail around the world because they are followers of Christ.

Vietnam – Christians fear surge in incidents of harassment following increased restrictions
Christians in Vietnam, who already endure severe restrictions on their activities, are now facing the prospect of even tighter control. Churches are already required to register with the government, and those that do not register or are refused registration are subject to a great deal of harassment. New restrictions, which come into force on 1 January 2013, will make it even harder for churches to register.

Religious groups will now have to prove that they have operated for 20 years without violating any law, including “infringing national security”. However, because this charge is often levelled at groups that the government wants to suppress, it is feared that the new conditions will allow the government to refuse registration to more churches. The decree also requires that religious leaders obtain the permission of the authorities before they can travel abroad for conferences.

Disturbingly, a senior member of the Vietnamese Parliament said recently that “Vietnam will increasingly model itself on China in matters of religious policies”. Christians in China who are members of unregistered house churches often suffer intense harassment, including the possibility of jail terms.

Lift up to the Lord our Christian brothers and sisters in Vietnam, and ask that they will be protected from harassment resulting from these tightened restrictions. Pray that the Lord who gives strength to His people and blesses them with peace (Psalm 29:11) will be with the congregations of churches that are unable to register. Pray also that the government will not continue to make its policies on religious freedom more repressive.

Belarus – Beleaguered church given last-minute eviction reprieve

Belarus – Beleaguered church given last-minute eviction reprieveGive thanks that a church in Belarus that has been locked in a ten-year battle with the authorities has narrowly escaped being forced to vacate its premises. New Life Pentecostal Church, which meets in a renovated cowshed on the outskirts of Minsk because it is barred from using public buildings, was ordered to leave on 27 November. Praise the Lord that on 5 December it received a last-minute reprieve from forced eviction.

In Belarus, state permission is required in advance for a building to be used for religious activities. Protestant groups are often refused this permission, and so face state harassment for continuing to meet. New Life, which has a congregation of around 1,000, has been the target of several official attempts to force them out. The church has been issued with numerous heavy fines, and in 2004 the building’s power supply was cut off by the authorities. When the building was formally confiscated in 2006 and a bulldozer sent to demolish it, New Life launched a hunger strike that attracted high-profile support, and the authorities backed down. The church’s bank account was also frozen in 2010, making it very difficult for it to carry out its work.

The church held a thanksgiving service for this latest escape from eviction, but a spokesperson acknowledged that this reprieve is unlikely to be the end of the harassment the congregation faces. Church administrator Vitaly Antonchivok said, “This isn’t the end, of course – the eviction is cancelled, but legally our land and building still belong to the authorities.” Pray that the official campaign against New Life church will be stopped, and that it will be able to worship in peace. Ask that every member of the congregation will know the Lord’s peace and strength throughout any future trials.

Indonesia – Christians at risk from violence and sharia law

Indonesia – Christians at risk from violence and sharia lawA recent announcement from the new mayor of a city in Indonesia that sharia law will be implemented there is set to make the position of Christians even more vulnerable. Budi Setiawan, mayor of Tasikmalaya in West Java, made the promise on 19 November in order to honour a pledge he made to Muslim leaders who backed his election campaign.

Christians in Indonesia face both the prospect of attack by Islamists and the challenge of official intolerance. Two churches in West Java have been closed by the authorities, and both have also come under attack from extremist groups. In some provinces aspects of sharia law are applied to Christians as well as to Muslims, and non-Muslims are seen as second-class citizens under sharia. The mayor’s plans have met with opposition; pray that they will not be carried out.

This announcement came after a UN spokesperson slammed Indonesia’s record on protecting minority groups. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke out against “violent attacks, forced displacement, denial of identification cards and other forms of discrimination and harassment” against Christians and other religious minorities. She called on Indonesia to take “firm action” to reduce the number of such incidents. Pray that Ms Pillay’s public statement will lead to reduced anti-Christian persecution in Indonesia.

Ask also that the Lord will strengthen Christian communities who face opposition. Give thanks that police pledged to tighten security at registered churches throughout the country over Christmas and New Year, and ask that the Lord will keep His people in Indonesia and other Muslim-majority countries safe throughout this high-risk period, when there are often attacks on Christians.

India – Poorest Christians still denied economic rights

India – Poorest Christians still denied economic rightsMillions of disadvantaged Indian Christians continue to be denied their constitutional rights by the government. Christian Dalits are refused the socio-economic benefits that are given to their Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist counterparts. Because Dalits are at the very bottom of India’s hierarchical caste system, they are greatly disadvantaged, and legislation exists to redress this imbalance by bolstering their rights. Christian and Muslim Dalits, however, are denied these provisions, known as Scheduled Caste status.

Pray for Christian Dalits, who have long been protesting their unequal status, most recently on 15 November in New Delhi. Ask that this continued pressure will lead to Scheduled Caste status also being extended to Christian and Muslim Dalits. Tribal Christians, who can also remain trapped in poverty without official recognition, are similarly denied it. Even the non-Christian relatives of tribal Christians can be denied the caste certificate they need to access support such as scholarships for their children.

Lift up to God Indian Christians who are trapped in grinding poverty, and ask that He will meet all their needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Ask that they will also know His joy despite the struggles they face.


– barnabas team

Central Java, young Muslims participate in Christmas mass

December 31, 2012 by  
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The young people are students of a local Islamic university. They justified their presence as a gesture of friendship and brotherhood towards Catholics. The gathering took place in the church of St. Xavier in Kebon Dalem, in the province of Semarang. In the region several Muslim imams had called for a boycott of the Christmas Masses.

Central Java, young Muslims defy the Islamists and participate in Christmas massJakarta, December 28, 2012: Regardless of the threats of radical Islamic leaders against the Christians, 12 Muslim youths of Semarang Islamc State University WaliSongo attended Christmas Mass in the Catholic Church of St. Francis Xavier Kebon Dalem (Semarang, Central Java). Fr. Aloysius Budi Purnomo said that they came of their own accord, risking their own lives. Before entering the church, the boys asked permission to attend mass, justifying the visit as a gesture of brotherhood with their Christian neighbors during the Christmas period.

“In the beginning – says the priest – I was not impressed. At Christmas many Muslims come to our services but only to ensure safety, showing no interest towards us. But when I met these young students I was convinced about their true intentions” . The pastor stresses that the faithful applauded the 12 “guests” of exception, who have followed the mass from beginning to end in silence and with great attention.

Muskit, one of 12 students gave the priest a small message read at the end of the Mass, in which he confesses the reasons that led him to attend the function. “I am very happy to have lived this experience with my fellow Catholics,” said the young man. “As a Muslim, I am resolved to strengthen the spirit of tolerance and coexistence with Christians.” According to Muskit, Indonesia is a multi-religious society and this spirit must be preserved. “I had the chance – he added – to attend a celebration where the message of peace of Christmas is widespread and shared.”

Despite the risk of attacks by Islamic extremist groups, thousands of Catholics flocked to churches to attend Christmas mass. AsiaNews sources point out that in all the parishes turnout was higher than expected. As every year, the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest moderate Muslim organization in Indonesia, provided more than 20 thousand people as security guards in front of the Christian religious buildings.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world and while the constitutional principles ensure religious freedom, it is increasingly the scene of attacks and violence against minorities, be they Christian, Ahmadi Muslims or other faiths. In the province of Aceh is governed by Islamic law, the Sharia – the only one in the archipelago -, and in many other areas the Muslim religion’s influence in people’s lives is becoming more radical and extreme. In addition, some rules such as building permits – the infamous IMB – are exploited to prevent the building or close down Christian places of worship, as is the case for some time in the regency of Bogor, West Java, for the faithful of the Yasmin Church .

– asianews

India needs uniform protocol for rape: Human Rights Watch

December 31, 2012 by  
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India needs uniform protocol for rapeNew York, December 30, 2012: Official responses to rapes in India are ad hoc and unpredictable and often “degrading and counter-productive”, Human Rights Watch said Sunday.

“India does not have a uniform protocol for medical treatment and examination of survivors of sexual assault,” the US-based body said in a statement.

This, it said, made “responses ad hoc and unpredictable, and in the worst cases, degrading and counter-productive”.

This was reflected in the continued use of the so-called “finger test”, which Human Rights Watch had documented in a 2010 report.

“While conducting medical examinations, many doctors record unscientific and degrading findings, which involve noting the ‘laxity’ of the vagina or hymen,” it said.

“This was “apparently (meant) to determine whether the victims are ‘virgins’ or ‘habituated to sexual intercourse’.”

Often doctors, police and judges look for evidence of “struggle” or “injuries” especially hymenal injuries, in the medical examination report, discrediting those who do not report such injuries, it said.

“The Indian government should establish national standards and a uniform protocol for the medical treatment and collection of medical evidence in cases of sexual assault, and to eliminate the use of finger tests on sexual assault survivors,” a Human Rights Watch statement said.

There should be “dignified treatment and examination of sexual assault survivors”, the statement said.

“Dignity and accountability should underscore the police and medical responses to sexual assault throughout India.”

It pointed out that Indian civil society organisations had long called for laws on sexual assault to be reformed.

Under current criminal law, India does not have a general definition of sexual assault.

It only defines rape (penile penetration), “outraging the modesty” of women, and “insulting the modesty” of women. Indian law does not recognize the offence of marital rape.

The Human Rights Watch statement followed the death of a 23-year-old Delhi woman who was gang-raped and assaulted Dec 16.

“This murderous gang rape is a sobering reminder of the pervasive sexual violence that women and girls across India suffer,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The government needs to act now to prevent sexual assault, aggressively investigate and prosecute perpetrators, and ensure the dignified treatment of survivors.”

Human Rights Watch said there was an urgent need to reform the criminal law and procedure and to provide improved treatment of survivors to ensure justice for sexual assault victims.

The statement also said that while security forces have at times been implicated in sexual assault, the government has not taken action against them.

In May 2012, about 90 civil society bodies and individuals, including Human Rights Watch, wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking reforms in responses to sexual assault and greater police accountability.

The groups called on the Indian central government to constitute a high-level task force to develop a coordinated response to gender-based violence, especially sexual assault.

They also urged New Delhi to instruct state governments to monitor police handling of sexual assault reports and investigation, and hold accountable officers who mishandle their duties.

They called for funding an existing scheme to provide financial assistance for rape victims and monitor its implementation.

“The level of care – including counselling – provided to the Delhi gang-rape victim and her family demonstrates that political will can ensure support and care for victims of sexual assault,” Human Rights Watch said.

“But this only followed public outrage and demonstrations after the attack.

“Human Rights Watch has found that survivors usually find it difficult to register police complaints, and often go from one hospital to another even for a medical examination, and often report suffering humiliation at police stations and hospitals.”

– ians

Mass to reflect pain over rape victim’s death

December 31, 2012 by  
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Mass to reflect pain over rape victim's deathMumbai, December 31, 2012: Midnight mass on New Year’s Eve will reflect the pain that the nation feels at the passing away of the Delhi gangrape victim. Parish priests across Catholic churches will be mindful to hold out hope in Jesus Christ’s message of peace, joy and love amid growing frustration over women’s security in India.

Fr Ronald Devar of St Pius Church, Mulund, says, “The grave exploitation of women, whether it be rape, female infanticide or dowry killings, is a sign of deep-rooted prejudice. It shows a mindset that reeks of discrimination. The rape victim who lost her life was a victim of barbaric cruelty and violence.”

He adds, “The Prophet Isaiah said in the Old Testament, ‘The people who have walked in darkness have seen a new light’. As the new year dawns, we citizens need to see things in a new light and change our attitude instead of merely paying lip service to the cause.”

Fr Simon Britto of St Ignatius Church, opposite Musafirkhana, will remind people of the glory of womanhood by holding up the example of Mother Mary. “She is a role model in this, the Year of Faith, for she brought forth the miracle that is Jesus,” he says.

The priest does not fail to link his message with the ongoing attacks against women in India.

“I touched upon the issue at Christmas as well. Our women must be free to chart their course in life without having to look over their shoulders at all times. Our parish itself has more women than men and their attendance is markedly high as well,” Fr Simon says. St Ignatius is the smallest parish in Mumbai, with merely 130 people, half of them native Kolis.

In Colaba, the Roman Catholic or R C Church has a “small congregation of 700” but the faithful do arrive for midnight mass on New Year’s Eve. Fr Andrew Sequeira says that the mass will this time be held indoors at midnight.

“I have a simple message for the people. Follow the path of Jesus and you cannot go wrong,” he says.

– times of india

Friday Sermon: Planning, streamlining and enrichment

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Imam reads from a book the khutba for Juma prayers but how many do understand it?

Imam reads from a book the khutba for Juma prayers but how many do understand it?

December 28, 2012: Today’s Muslim community has not been able to organize the required upbringing of the individuals – properly and regularly – to the extent that it is obliged to do. Shariah had prescribed, even fourteen centuries ago, a comprehensive weekly system of Friday sermons, which is still in vogue to some extent.

However, in order to ensure that the community takes full advantage thereof the sermonizing needs to be subjected to well-researched planning, streamlining and enrichment. In the community’s life, the Imams and Khateebs are meant to play pivotal, multi-faceted role. However, it is not an easy task to adequately perform the duties of deputizing the Prophet (S) and his Companions (R). In order to equip themselves with the required competence, the Imams & Khateebs need to continuously acquire deep knowledge of the basic concepts of Quran, Hadith and, in fact, the wholeShariah alongwith positive thinking, social activism, educational pursuits, high ethical values, and awareness about the most up-to-date scientific and technological developments.

In the Indian subcontinent, Friday’s Arabic Khutba is usually preceded by a speech in local language. For that, on every Friday millions of Muslims piously present themselves in the mosque, sit in reverence with heads bent and keep attentively listening to every word uttered by the Imam/Khateeb. The sermons, fifty two times in a year and 4000 times in an average lifetime, surely leave an indelible impact on the listeners’ personality.

Therefore, the Imams and Khateebs – before each Friday Khutba – should spend quality time to study, mull over and carefully plan their sermon and prepare meticulous notes regarding the proposed subject-matter in a dedicated diary. They should plan the weekly topics keeping in mind the expediency for individual and societal guidance. For this purpose, if the Imams and Khateebs also stay together in small groups of 25-30 each – for 2-3 days atleast once a year – this periodical rendezvous would be mutually enriching. The masses have to be impressed upon that the Qur’an is a complete code of human conduct equally applicable to each moment in life and hence it must not be restricted to recitation and memorization only. Every day for half an hour every educated Muslim must read multiple translations and commentaries of one Quranic verse and, thus, try to appreciate the message given therein. Thus, slowly one begins having a feel of God’s scheme of human creation and, concomitantly, the individual obligations toward the community.
Likewise, with the help of many commentaries, the Imams and Khateebs too need to fully grasp God’s message given in the Qur’anic verses comprised in the Arabic sermon delivered on Friday fully appreciating the relevant historical background and true import of the message. Having done so and with the help of notes in their diaries, the Imams/Khateebs should peridically (say, once in every six weeks) explain the Arabic Khutba to the Friday audience. Similarly, the meanings of the Surahs to be recited in both rakats on Friday should also be explained in local language and it must be announced that ‘these verses would be recited today in the Namaz’. That would boost up and augment the Namazis’ connexion to and ownership of the divine commandments given in the Qur’an.

Apart from that, the Friday speech delivered in the mother tongue should focus on better upbringing of the listeners adequately highlighting that the interests of the community need to be placed at a much higher pedestal than those of the individual. The Ummah has at least one-third claim over each individual’s existence. Everybody must devote one third of his or her time, resources, assets, income and love – not to oneself or the family but – to somebody else who is needy.

The Imams/Khateebs have a basketful of responsibilities and challenges entrusted to them by the Shariah to identify the difficulties faced by the community and explore the steps needed to overcome them. For example, each individual must get the Aadhar card and the election card, eligible candidates must try to join the government service at appropriate level, in addition to purely deeni taleem the parents must impart modern education to the children, madarsa educated child must also know computers, science, maths, English, amendments needed in the Waqf law, etc. While sermonizing the masses regarding such issues the Imams/Khateebs will surely avoid political or sectarian overtone. They must rather focus on social reformation, moral upgradation and selfless service to the community.

We are aware that no part of human life is outside the realm of Shariat. Hence, the role of the Imams and Khateebs must permeate each aspect of the individual and community life. In order to best perform their key responsibilities, the Imams/Khateebs will have to continuously keep themselves well informed. In addition to hosting the five daily congregational prayers, the mosque will have to be used as a center to monitor and upgrade the social, economic and educational progress of the community.

In the Quran’s first revelation itself God has mentioned the significance of Qalam. If we are asked today what’s a Qalam, we would immediately take out of the pocket and wave a ball pen or a fountain pen. Exploring further we can think of the chalk of the slate or the wooden pen of the wooden writing board. But fourteen centuries ago none of these existed and still God used the word Qalam.

A contemplative analysis leads us to realize that the Qalam mentioned in the Qur’an is any device through which one person’s thoughts can be communicated to another or from one place to another. In the twenty-first century the computer keyboard is the Qalam. Today if Muslims do not use computer systems they would lag behind other communities even in spreading the divine message. The Imams and Khateebs will have to learn computers. There are 56 Islamic countries and millions of Imams and Khateebs all over the world. The key to what we can learn from this wealth of global resources lies in our index (shahaadat) finger. Using this finger on the keyboard the knots of knowledge begin to untie. It was only ten years ago that surfing on computer I came to know the genesis of what we recite in the Namaz sitting on our folded legs.

Ironically in India, the individual concern regarding the community mostly remains confined to being angry over governmental indifference toward Muslims. We hardly wonder that if the government has ignored the community for 65 years, then would we still be silent spectators for another 65 years? Or we would stand up as good Muslims, take command of the community and march ahead for its progress and prosperity. The Imams and Khateebs will have to guide the Ummah as rightly said by Dr Sir Mohammad Iqbal:

Ishq ne kar diya tujhey zauq-e-tapish se aashnaBazm ko misl-e sham’-e-bazm, haasil-e soz-o-saaz de.

[Your true love for God has introduced you to the ecstacy of burning out the self for His pleasure. So now it’s your duty to pass on to the community what all you’ve learnt through such joyful self-dedication.]

– tcn

How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks

December 31, 2012 by  
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MiD DAY Sting: Mumbai’s sex trade secret revealed

‘They came to earn money’
A sex tourist can buy the ‘wife’ of his choice in Mumbai
‘Women are ready to be sold for as little as Rs 2,000’
‘I make sure the deal is not below Rs 50,000’
‘He has been sitting here for a long time, marry him’
Hotel boy: Arabs marry the girls and then betray them


How Arabs buy 'wives' and dump them in a few weeksMumbai, December 28, 2012: A month-long investigation by MiD DAY journalists has revealed a twisted form of human trafficking that involves rich Arabs, greedy Qazis, sham marriages, agents and girls lured into the flesh trade or those looking for a quick buck.

The modus operandi: set up a temporary or time-bound wedding to a rich Arab. The affluent Arab offers a negotiated amount for the services of a ‘wife’ during his stay in India. The price for the ‘booty’ varies from Rs. 15,000 to nearly a lakh for the 10-day marriage. Girls from poor families are sold like commodities to the Arabs, many of whom arrive on tourist visas from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. While this may seem shocking to many, the women involved in this latest form of flesh trade are often willing participants.

The Arab and The Qazi

These predators have been perpetrating a blatant crime under the veneer of nikaah, abusing the Islamic rules of marriage. Abusing the sanctioned provision which allows a Muslim man to have four wives at a time, many old Arabs are not just marrying minors in Mumbai and Hyderabad, but marrying more than one minor in a single trip to the country.

The Pimp and The Victim

A healthy stream of women keep flowing into the city from all parts of the country to solicit the Arab clientele who have turned Mumbai into a sex haven. For as little asRs 2,000 per job, scores of women line up every evening hoping to catch the eye of the adulterous tourist.

Over a month-long operation, Kranti Vibhute posed as a would-be bride and Bhupen Patel as her friend trying to help her get the deal. They found that these deal brokers, prostitutes and Qazis have been running this business quite explicitly.

A Qazi, who solemnises the weddings and also facilitates the divorce proceedings, takes 50 percent of the negotiated price as his cut. The agent, who sources the girls, takes 25 percent of the balance amount.

The pimps, cab drivers and sub-agents charge Rs. 500-1,000 per deal.

The Arab gets a sex slave for a temporary period, who he calls his ‘wife’, and takes her on a vacation with him. Once the honeymoon period is over, he brings her back dumps her with a ‘talaaq’ and goes back to the Qazi’s office for a new bride. The girl gets her cut and lines up for the next husband to come her way.

The Qazis solemnise these sham marriages, in violation of Islamic principles of nikaah and talaaq. A woman cannot be married off to another man unless her first husband gives her a divorce, or she has sought khula (separation) and has completed the iddat period (a gap of at least three months and 13 days).


Owing to abject poverty and wretched living conditions, many women are forced into the world of flesh trade. While some girls have fallen victim to the flesh trade, tricked by the promise of monetary benefits and a better standard of living, others have chosen the path to make a quick buck.

During the course of the operation, MiD DAY discovered that several women, who were once sold as brides to Arabs, have now turned into agents and pimps. The women now scout villages and cities looking for fresh blood to incorporate into the trade.

– mid day

Indian student’s tongue is slashed for refusing to convert in Germany

December 29, 2012 by  
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Indian student’s tongue is slashed for refusing to convert in GermanyBerlin, December 28, 2012: A 24-year Indian student in Bonn was brutally attacked by Islamic extremists who slashed his tongue when he refused to convert. The student was attacked on Christmas eve when he was on the way to his place in Bonn.

The men enquired about his religion and asked him to convert to Islam, warning him that they would cut his tongue if he refused to do so, Der Spiegel reported.

The student, who was not identified, told the police that he was attacked by two men from behind after he ignored them. The attackers beat him up, slashed his tongue and fled in a car. Police spokesman did not give details of injuries but said the information that the victim gave was credible.

A passerby found the student and called an ambulance. The student was admitted to a local hospital and was released a day later.

The Bonn police’s department for politically motivated crimes is investigating.

It is not the first time this year that Bonn has hit the headlines as a result of possible Islamist activity. In May, a Salafist was arrested after stabbing two police officers during a counter-demonstration against a display of caricatures of the Prophet by a local right-wing populist party.

Earlier this month, another member of the orthodox Muslim group threatened to take a hostage in order to force the perpetrator’s release

– toi

Card. Gracias, violence against women: bringing God back to center of our lives at Christmas

December 29, 2012 by  
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During his homily on December 25, the archbishop of Mumbai spoke of the New Delhi gang rape and of a “contempt for women” prevalent in Indian society. In the Year of Faith, the enemies of peace are those who marginalize God from life: even Christians who close their hearts to others.

Card. Gracias, violence against women: bringing God back to center of our lives at ChristmasMumbai, December 27, 2012: The New Delhi gang rape is a “terrible example of the malaise of India” and therefore “the marginalization of God” from life, says Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Indian Bishops’ Conference, to AsiaNews commenting on the violence that took place on December 16 last, which has rocked the Indian society. Today the victim, a girl of 23 years, was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for further treatment and rehabilitation. In the homily for Christmas Mass, the cardinal spoke of the various forms of violence against women, spread across the country: the rapes, such as that against the young woman or the one suffered by Sister Meena Barwa during the anti-Christian pogrom in Kandhamal; female feticide. According to the Archbishop, against the contempt for women and to affirm the peace of Christ, we must “bring God and Christian values ​​to the center of our lives,” especially “at Christmas in the Year of Faith.” Below, we publish a reflection written by Card. Gracias for AsiaNews.

The horrific incident of rape in the capital (New Delhi) is one example of the malaise of society and most regrettably, it is not an isolated event.  It is most unfortunate, in our country. Violence against women exists even before her birth, where in female foeticide she is murdered in the safest place of the womb of her mother.

This violence against women in different parts of the country reflects the  deeper disregard of the women coupled with the disregard for law and also the criminal justice system, The destructive forces against peace are found everywhere: in greed; in corruption; in power; in violence; in not caring for the poor, the homeless, the migrant, the mentally ill and the voice of the unborn child. The greatest enemies of Christmas are not those who do not know or believe in Christ, but those Christians who have become hard-hearted, self-righteous and have closed their hearts to the human needs of others.

This is the consequence of  “Marginalization of God”. We are pushing God from the center of our lives to the periphery and sometimes he is not a factor. Christmas is the time to put God back and to bring Christian values back with the living of the gospel of Jesus. Christ brings the light so that we might see beyond our self-centredness, beyond our desires to acquire more and more, beyond taking care of only “me”. The birth of Christ challenges us to reassess our priorities, our values, our very way of life

Our young people, university students and people of all ages are protesting this horrific and unspeakable gang rape incident. This has got the whole nation’s attention because of the horrific nature of this despicable crime. We ask for Justice for Sister Meena Barwa who was raped in the Kandhamal carnage, and whom Justice continues to elude. . All these violations against women should be examined in context to the interest of society. The root is the same, the disregard for God, being manifest in these forms.  The woman is being commoditised, disrespected and done away with; the  girl child is discriminated against in life and also before she is born.

This calls for an attitudinal change that  goes beyond the law, beyond self-interest, beyond self-preservation in always seeking what is truly good for the wellbeing of others, as indeed of themselves. Authentic peace – SHALOM – the peace of Christmas, the peace of Christ, is total wellbeing for the individual, right relations with others and with God, and a justice that puts an end to any rationale for war and exploitation.

Every celebration of Christmas affirms our Faith that Christ has come to redeem us from those inner disturbances that destroy our composure of mind and heart. When we believe, we bring Christ into the world by acting responsibly towards our families, in our jobs, in our relationships with others. When we believe, we bring Christ into the world by being generous and compassionate.

In this Year of Faith, as we celebrate Christmas,, we pray for our beloved motherland, whose daughters are in anguish and agony and we pray for the peace of Christmas , Peace is what we all yearn for. It is not an empty desire. It is a hope, a hope founded on faith. We will not see the fullness of peace realised until Christ comes again at the end of time. But we cannot wait until then. We need to pray and work for peace now. When we believe, we give birth to Christ in the world by working for peace.

May the courageous living of our Faith help us experience the Peace, Joy and Love of the Christ-Child this Christmas.

– asianews

Christmas in Udupi: Bajrang Dal Protest Against Banner at Kalmady Church

December 29, 2012 by  
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Udupi: Bajrang Dal Protest Against Banner at Kalmady Church

Karnataka, December 26, 2012: Chaos erupted outside Stella Maris Church, Kalmady here on Wednesday December 26 after actvists of Bajrang Dal took offence over a banner put up at the Church.

The banner shows the image of Vailankanni with a Brahmin holding a pot. The story goes that a Brahmin boy had a vision of Mother Mary and offered her a pot of milk on request.

Bajrang Dal Protest Against Banner at Kalmady ChurchBajrang Dal Protest Against Banner at Kalmady Church

The Bajrang Dal activists on Wednesday gathered in front of the church and staged a protest, demanding immediate removal of the banner and an apology from the Church.

Anil Bangera, Udupi unit convener of Bajrang Dal said that someone informed him on Tuesday December 25 night that a banner hurting the sentiments of the Hindu community had been put up at Kalmady church.

“We will not be satisfied with just removal of banner. We demand an apology. Even earlier such incidents have happened, one of them in Kodavoor where a Hindu boy was made to learn the Bible,” he alleged.

Though police was ready to take down the banner, the activists did not allow without an apology from the Church.

On hearing of the protest, Fr Alban D’Souza, parish priest of Stella Maris Church met the protestors and said that the Church had no intention to hurt anyone sentiments. He also assured that the banner will be removed, but the protestors were not convinced and demanded unconditional apology.

Speaking to Daijiworld, Louis Lobo, vice-president of the church said that the banner was put up on December 8 to mark the silver jubilee of Our Lady of Vailankanni Shrine at the Church.

Udupi and Malpe police along with DySP Prabhudev Mane arrived at the spot and brought the situation under control.

As per the latest update, parish priest Fr Alban reportedly issued an apology and the matter was resolved after the banner was removed.

A case has been registered at Malpe police station and investigations are on under the guidance of SI Lingaraju.

– daijiworld

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