Crisis grips JD-S over tie-up with BJP, poll debacle

August 30, 2013 by  
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JD-S over tie-up with BJPBangalore, August 28, 2013: The Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) Wednesday faced the prospect of losing the tag of recognized opposition party in the Karnataka assembly to the BJP as a party legislator threatened to quit the house.

The legislator, Mallikarjun Khuba from Basavakalyan in the northern Bidar district, submitted the resignation letter to JD-S president and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda here Wednesday. Basavakalyan is about 730 km from Bangalore.

Khuba told reporters that he would submit the resignation to Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa unless he gets a satisfactory response from Gowda and his son and leader of the opposition in the assembly H.D. Kumaraswamy to issues he has raised.

Apart from expressing unhappiness over “recent developments” in the party, Khuba has also said that he was upset at not being made the chief whip of the party in the assembly.

If Khuba carries out his threat, the JD-S strength in the assembly will be reduced to 39 and the position of leader of the opposition will go to the Bharatiya Janata Party as it has 40 members.

Khuba’s threat has come even as speculation is rife in political circles in Bangalore that several JD-S legislators were planning to quit the party and join the ruling Congress as they were upset over the tie-up with the BJP.

The JD-S and BJP had both won 40 seats each in the assembly in the May 5 elections which brought the Congress back to power in the state with 122 seats in the 225-member assembly.

The remaining seats were won by smaller parties and Independents.

Khuba’s move came on a day Gowda met senior JD-S leaders to consider revamping the party following the drubbing it received in the Aug 21 bypoll to Bangalore Rural and Mandya Lok Sabha seats, both considered its bastion. Mandya is about 80 kms from Bangalore.

Gowda told reporters after the meeting that he will talk to Khuba to sort out the issues raised by the legislator.

The Congress trounced the JD-S with D.K. Suresh bagging the Bangalore Rural seat defeating Kumaraswamy’s wife Anita by over 137,000 votes while popular Kannada actress Ramya won in Mandya beating C.S. Puttaraju.

The loss of Bangalore Rural was particularly hard for Gowda family as Kumaraswamy had won the seat in 2009 by around 130,000 votes.

The bypolls were held as Kumaraswamy and his party colleague N. Cheluvarayaswamy who represented Mandya quit the Lok Sabha on getting elected to Karnataka assembly.

The drubbing came in spite of BJP backing the JD-S, a tie-up that has upset many in the JD-S.

Following the debacle Kumaraswamy offered to quit both as state JD-S chief and leader of the opposition in the assembly.

Gowda said Wednesday that he has accepted his son’s resignation from the state JD-S chief’s post and a new head would be appointed by Monday.

He has left to JD-S assembly members, who are meeting here Thursday, to decide whether they want Kumaraswamy to continue as leader of the opposition or accept his resignation from that post also.

The tie up had extended to Aug 22 bypolls to three legislative council seats also with JD-S not fielding any candidate.

However, here too the arrangement failed to score as the Congress won two seats, Mysore and Dharwad while an Independent romped home in Chitradurga.

– ians

Welfare Party accuses Rajastan government of dillydallying Asaram Bapu case

August 30, 2013 by  
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Asaram Bapu caseNew Delhi, August 28, 2013: Welfare Party of India wondered why the Rajastan state government is dillydallying the Asaram Bapu case and takes so much time in taking legal action against the self-styled god-man who is alleged to have compelled a minor girl to have sex with him at his Ashram in Jodhpur.

The girl who along with her parents had gone to visit Asaram, accused him of sexually assaulting her and the disclosures made by her are on record before the police. Party general secretary Dr.S.Q.R.Ilyas in a statement asked the Rajastan government to prove that they will not succumb to any pressure whatsoever its source and strength might be.

It gives shame for the state police to wait for serving the notice and requesting him to come within four days time. Dr. Ilyas said that the high profile guru needed stringent punishment if he had broken the trust and privilege bestowed by lots of his disciples. He also demanded the Union Home Minister to ensure that there would be no laxity from the part of the state police officials in booking and bringing the accused before law.

Dr. Ilyas stressed that this was needed to send strong message that the law of the land treated everyone at par.

– tcn

Minya: Schools, Churches and Orphanages burnt to erase all traces of a Christian presence

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Traces of a Christian presenceEgypt, August 28, 2013: In a raid that followed Morsi’s ouster, Islamists particularly raged against children’s toys. The facilities were also open to children from rural Muslim families

With at least 20 attacks against churches, Christian schools and orphanages, Minya Governorate is the part of ​​Egypt where Islamists struck with greatest violence and brutality.

“The Islamists”, one resident said, “burnt and destroyed everything. Their goal was to erase all the traces of a Christian presence; even the orphanages were looted and destroyed.”

After storming the Prince Tadros el-Shatbi Church, the armed Islamic extremists turned their attention to two homes for disadvantaged children located near the parish church, residents said.

They stole church offerings, clothes, and children’s games before torching the entire building. The fire lasted over 5 hours.

“Fortunately,” the source said, “the children were taken to safety before the arrival of the Islamists.”

Like other Christians sites, the two homes that housed hundreds of orphans are now a pile of rubble.

The criminals did not only destroy the two orphanages but also the homes of some families working for the orphanages as well as a nearby art gallery that sold objects and artefacts made by orphans to raise money.

Shurkri Huzayn, 40, is the orphanage guard. He, too, grew up as an orphan at the facility. He witnessed the Salafist attack.

“What kind of people are they? Even unbelievers would not attack an orphanage,” he said.

Islamists raged particularly against anything that symbolised the Christianity and modernity, including computers.

After they left the building, the terrorists burnt nearby shops and schools, such as the St Joseph Coptic School, which is run by nuns, a pharmacy and a restaurant. Anti-Christian graffiti were sprayed on the walls along a road.

A few days after the massacre, the guard said that Copts wrote a message on the wall of the orphanage in response to the militants’ insults that read, “Despite of what you did, we ask God to forgive you,” and “God exists.”

According to a teacher at St Joseph, the attack will have a major impact on Christians’ daily life.

“The teachers,” she noted, “do not know when the school year will start. The school is open to Christians and Muslims and has taught hundreds of children from rural areas, many of whom were housed in the two orphanages.”

– asianews

West Java: support for Christian official targeted by Islamists

August 30, 2013 by  
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Growing support for Christian official Jakarta, August 28, 2013: A group of demonstrators took to the streets today demanding Susan Jasmine Zulkifli’s removal; among their reasons, the fact that she cannot participate in Muslim functions. Smiling, the official said that everyone has the right “to make their voices heard in a peaceful manner.” Her open straightforward manner has won over her fellow citizens.

The campaign of denigration by Islamic extremists against Susan Jasmine Zulkifli continues. She is a Protestant woman who was appointed sub-district chief in Lenteng Agung, a largely Muslim area south of Jakarta, in West Java.

Today, a few dozen people, wearing Islamic clothing, took to the streets calling on Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo to remove her from office, or move her to an area with a Christian majority.

Unfazed by protesters, a smiling Ms Zulkifli said that the protesters “are local residents” and as such have a right to “make their voices heard in a peaceful manner.”

For days, Lenteng Agung Islamists have been campaigning to oust Susan Jasmine Zulkifli (pictured) because her Christian faith “does not go” with the Muslim majority, a request rejected by the governor of the Indonesian capital.

When they started, the fundamentalists claimed that they had a petition signed by thousands of residents in support of their demand, a petition they never presented to the authorities.

Today, they went back to the streets, dragging some local residents unaware of the purpose of the demonstration.

Those opposed to the current sub-district chief claim that she is not fit for the post because she cannot take part in Muslim religious ceremonies or prayers.

“Send us another leader (who is Muslim)” and “Be wise in your choices,” read one of the banners displayed by the protesters.

In reality, the campaign against the woman is an attempt to gloss over the fact she has done good things in the sub-district in the two months she has been in office.

Susan Jasmine Zulkifli took bolder steps compared to her predecessors, showing herself to be much closer to the residents through frequent visits to the streets, meeting people and exchanging views and opinions with the public. Her style is similar to that of Joko Widodo, something that irritates religious extremists.

To those who complain that she cannot attend Muslim religious services because she is a Christian, she said, “There are many members of my staff who are Muslims. They can participate without a problem in my place.”

Downplaying the issue, she went on to say, “The purpose of my presence in Lenteng Agung is simple: to serve the citizens and enforce the rules.”

Her style and resolve have won over many local women, including some who were protesting in the streets invited by neighbours, as one woman named Rini put it, without any clear idea about the reasons for the protest.

“She’s a good person,” Rini added, “and I started to like her because she is not your typical leader, who just sits behind a desk.”

“Susan is a nice lady, open to everyone. And everyone likes her way of doing things,” said another protester.

– asianews

Bishops Pates and Kicanas update US bishops on Egypt; Pates urges Secretary of State Kerry to act

August 30, 2013 by  
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Washington, August 23, 2013:

Secretary of State John KerryTargeting of churches and Christians unacceptable
Bishops join Pope Francis in praying for all victims of violence
Catholic Relief Services helping schools, refugees

The United States should work with the international community to support Egyptians in ending violence, restoring the rule of law and building an inclusive democracy in their country, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace. In an August 23 letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, urged a path of dialogue and reconciliation that promotes peace, human rights and religious freedom in Egypt.

“Amidst the tragedy of violence and bloodshed in Egypt, our Conference has a special concern for the Christian community,” wrote Bishop Pates. “Extremists have scapegoated Christians, blaming them for the current state of affairs, and viciously attacked Christian churches, institutions and communities, destroying property and terrorizing people. The destruction of Christian churches and the targeting of Christians are unacceptable.”

Bishop Pates said that the bishops of the United States join Pope Francis in praying for “all the victims and their families, the injured and all those who are suffering.” He echoed the words of the Coptic Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, who commended the Muslims in Egypt who stood with Christians and defended their churches and institutions. Bishop Pates also expressed concern for Egypt’s poor and refugees, who are particularly vulnerable in a time of upheaval.

“We urge the United States to preserve, and even increase, humanitarian and economic assistance,” Bishop Pates wrote. “Poor and vulnerable Egyptians should not pay the price of the political turmoil and violence gripping their nation.”

In an August 23 memo to all U.S. bishops, Bishop Pates and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, chairman of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), said that CRS is working with the Church in Egypt to help those most affected by the violence and unrest. CRS is currently helping to rehabilitate church schools that have been burned and looted. Their ongoing work includes: educating refugee children; aiding young women vulnerable to sex trafficking; helping people find work during the recent years of turmoil and economic uncertainty; and fostering dialogue and acceptance among religions. Last year CRS began a program with the Coptic Catholic Church that has brought together thousands of Christians and Muslims.

– usccb

Words of Wisdom

August 30, 2013 by  
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William ShakespeareMother TeresaCharles DickensAlbert EinsteinSwami VivekanandaLeo TolstoyMother TeresaThomas Alva Edison

fwd: antoinette dass

ICC petition for 7 Kandhamal imprisoned Christians

August 29, 2013 by  
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Washington D.C., August 28, 2013: The Men Were Arrested in 2008 and Have Been Held Without Trial Since

Washington D.CInternational Christian Concern (ICC), a Washington D.C. based non-profit that assists religious minorities facing discrimination for their faith, launched a petition calling for the release of seven imprisoned Christians in Orissa, India. The petition letter is addressed to India’s Ambassador to the United States and calls on the Indian government to ensure the “speedy release” of the seven prisoners. It can be found on ICC’s website and will be available for signing until September 15th.

According to the petition letter, all seven Christians were arrested in the Kandhamal District of Orissa, India, in 2008 following the murder of Laxmanananda Saraswati, a Hindu religious and political leader. Saraswati’s murder was blamed on the Christian minority of Kandhamal and sparked violent protests that led to the murder of 38 people and left an estimated 54,000 homeless. On September 9th, 2008, the Communist Party of India, a violent Maoist group, claimed responsibility for the murder of Saraswati. Members of this group were later arrested and charged with the murder; however, authorities refused to release the seven Christians, who have remained in detention without trial for nearly five years.

The petition letter goes on to explain that an ICC investigation found little evidence the seven Christians had any relationship prior to their arrest and seemed to have been arrested at random. The lack of evidence against the seven was also confirmed by an Indian High Court which ruled there was “insufficient material evidence” against the Christians and that the “Fast-Track Court #2,” one of the courts set up to process cases after the 2008 protests, should conclude the trial in a “speedy manner.”

According to ICC, the Christians are innocent and remain in detention for “political motives” to appease radical Hindu groups. The petition letter concludes, “All seven individuals have wives and children who have been left to provide for themselves as their fathers and husbands await a trial which has never come for a crime they did not commit. Sectarian prejudice and religiously-based discrimination should not be allowed to dictate the fate of seven innocent men. Their speedy release will help signal to the world that India is sincere both in its application of the rule of law and the promotion of religious freedom for all of its 1.2 billion citizens.”

Isaac Six, International Christian Concern’s Advocacy Manager, said, “I believe the government of India sincerely desires to promote religious freedom for all of its citizens. As an acceder to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, India has pledged to protect the right to freedom of ‘thought, conscience, and religion.’ Unfortunately, the five-year detention of these seven Christians for a crime they did not commit is intricately tied to their religious identity. Any further delay in their release would only prolong the tragedy their families have undergone these last five years. I sincerely hope this petition raises awareness of their plight and compels the government of India to act quickly.”

– icc release

Anto book release: Institute NIA inquiry – Digvijaya

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Kandhamal BookNew Delhi, August 24, 2013:  AICC general secretary and senior Congress party leader, Digvijaya Singh has called for an inquiry by NIA (National Investigation Agency) into the widespread anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal while releasing an investigative book on the fifth anniversary of the Kandhamal violence.

“Communalism in the name of any religion should not be tolerated. Kandhamal is a fit case for NIA inquiry,” pointed out Singh at the release of the book titled ‘Kandhamal craves for Justice’ authored by senior journalist Anto Akkara.

Singh congratulated the author of the investigative book for ‘pursuing the case of carnage in Orissa single-handedly’ and said that it has brought out shocking information about what had happened in Kandhamal. “I know, more than all of you, the level of infiltration that fascist forces have made into the military, police, judiciary and legislative bodies,” Singh added.

“What has happened in Kandhamal is travesty of justice. Yet, the NHRC and the government has not even responded to the report the People’s Tribunal,” pointed out Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and chairman of National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal, after releasing the book and handing over the first copy to Digvijaya Singh.

Following the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008, the massive funeral procession across Kandhamal district turned it into an inferno. In weeks of unabated violence, more than 100 Christians perished while 300 churches and 6,000 Christian houses were looted and torched, rendering 56,000 Christians refugees.

“It is shocking to read that an MLA, accused in seven murders, was sitting outside the Fast Track Court with his men – questioning everyone who goes inside,” noted Justice Shah drawing attention to ‘shocking facts’ brought out in the book published by Veritas India Books.

“Kandhamal’s story of five years is a travesty of justice. Of the 3,232 complaints, there has been a mere 75 convictions despite two Fast Track Courts being set up. Among the 27 murder trial verdicts, the Fast Track Court has found the accused guilty only in two cases. Is this justice?” asked the journalist who made 17 trips to Kandhamal ‘to investigate the mountain of injustice’. “The stoic silence of the NHRC on Kandhamal is shocking. It has not even made a press release on Kandhamal so far,” pointed out the author.

Further, Akkara noted that Kandhamal has “exposed the ugly face of Hindutva”. “Apart from hounding the Christians, the self declared protectors of Hinduism, gang-raped and burnt alive even an orphan Hindu college student looking 22 Hindu boys at a Christian centre. Is this Hinduism?” pointed out the author.

“A silent, obliging media also plays a role. Only a handful of fearless journalists like Anto Akkara have doggedly reported on the atrocities in Kandhamal. We need to applaud their work. Because, truth alone will prevail. Truth alone will save us,” remarked Swami Agnivesh, outspoken eminent social activist and reformist Arya Samaj leader.

“Without the connivance of the Chief Minister of a state, communal violence cannot happen. Even if it happens, it cannot drag on for more than 24 hours,” noted Swami Agnivesh. He also decried the silence of the NHRC to the massive injustice in Kandhamal.

Vrinda Grover, senior lawyer and human rights activist said that the injustices after the riots against Sikh in Delhi in 1984, Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 and Christians in Kandhamal calls for a stringent legislation ‘to curb the impunity behind communal violence’.

Cardinal Zen says he is willing to risk jail

August 29, 2013 by  
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Hong Kong, August 28, 2013: Calls for free elections in Hong Kong grow louder.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe former Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, is prepared to go to jail if the promise made to the British colony when Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 (that is, free democratic elections and universal suffrage by 2017) is not kept.

While it looks less and less likely that China will agree to free elections in one of its territories, the debate in Hong Kong, Asia’s financial hub, has been getting more and more heated by the month. On the occasion of Hong Kong’s handover anniversary last 1 July, 430 thousand people marched through the city’s forest of sky-scrappers, in what was described as the biggest pro-democratic demonstration held in a decade.

But the greatest concern for the Chinese government and its allies in Hong Kong, is Occupy Central, a movement inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest movement of 2011. Occupy Central was launched by a professor and a Protestant pastor and its aim is to paralyse the financial district in July next year, with a series of peaceful protests and acts of civil disobedience. The government runs the risk of the former colony’s image of stability and safety for business being compromised.

Unlike the rest of China, Hong Kong’s 7 million-strong population enjoys complete freedom of expression and religion and an independent judicial system. But its leaders – starting with the Chief Executive of Hong Kong who governs the former colony – are elected by a select number of voters, in a complex voting system which critics say was deliberately conceived to favour Beijing’s allies. The opposition and the Occupy Central movement are asking the government to introduce a clearer voting process and allow universal suffrage so that the next Chief Executive can be elected in a more direct manner.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Cardinal Zen – who recently retired and has always been a critic of Beijing – said he was worried about potential infiltrations by pro-China protesters. Their aim is to provoke clashes, inciting the government to respond with force. “I’m worried we may finish with some violence … Then they have the pretext to crush everything,” the 81-year old prelate said.

– vatican insider

Changeover? Gujarat to rebuild mosques destroyed

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Gujarat government to rebuild mosques Gujarat, August 28, 2013: Authorities will present the financing and restoration plan by October 1. Over 2 thousand Muslims and Hindu extremists destroyed about 535 places of worship during massacre. Local Islamic community sees plan as move by chief minister Narendra Modi to ingratiate himself with them ahead of elections.

The Gujarat government will fund the restoration and rebuilding of mosques destroyed during the 2002 riots between Hindus and Muslims. The move was announced in an official note sent to the Supreme Court. After 10 years of legal battles, the sudden turnabout decided by the chief minister Narendra Modi has raised the suspicious Islamic community, which sees it as a strategic move ahead of the general elections of 2014.

The state government assured the court it would draw up the scheme by the next hearing on October 1 and show it to the court and the original petitioner, the Islamic Relief Committee-Gujarat (IRCG).

“We’ll wait for what the government comes up with, but this is clearly an attempt to remove the taint on the Modi administration,” said ICRG chairman Shakeel Ahmed.

In 2003, the IRGC turned to the High Court of Gujarat to ask the state government to repair the 535 damaged places of worship, mostly mosques, claiming that the state was the guardian of the life and property of all citizens and had failed miserably in protecting sacred sites. However, Modi and his government have always said that a secular state is not entitled to fund the restoration of religious property.

On 27 February 2002 a group of Muslims in Godhra attacked and set fire to the Sabarmati Express, with Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya, the site of an ancient mosque confiscated years ago by Hindus. The attack killed 58 people and triggered violent inter-religious riots throughout the state. The Islamic community paid the highest price, with nearly 2 thousand victims. Modi – a member of the ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and even then chief minister – has always been accused of conspiring in the massacres.

– asianews

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