Address political issues politically, Omar tells EU delegation

September 27, 2013 by  
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Chief Minister Omar AbdullahSrinagar, 25 September, 2013: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Wednesday told a European Union delegation that the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was on four issues of currency, communication, foreign affairs and defence.

During his interaction with the delegation members in Srinagar about economy and development affecting the political situation, Abdullah said he time and again made it clear that while economic development and peace could create conducive atmosphere for dialogue process, these could not solve the basic political issues confronting Jammu and Kashmir.

“You can neither buy a solution to a political problem nor shoot it out. You have to address it politically and only politically”, he said.

Highlighting the significance of his repeatedly advocating doctrine of dealing with political issues in a political framework, Abdullah referred to the special status of the state recognised by the constitution of India, an official statement issued here said.

“While all the states acceded to union of India and then merged with it, Jammu and Kashmir only acceded and not merged. That is why we have special status, our own constitution and the state flag,” he said adding that the political issues of Kashmir were not born with the militancy in 1990 but their genesis is associated with the partition of the country when the future of all states other than Jammu and Kashmir was decided.

Abdullah underlined the need for sustained internal and external dialogue between the central government and the separatists and the neighbouring countries of India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue once and for all.

The delegation was led by ambassador and head of the European Union to India, Joao Cravinho.

Omar also said there are diverse views regarding the Kashmir issue.

“While one extremist view is for secession, the other extremist opinion is total merger of the state with the union of India. Unless the process of dialogue is started with a view to find out flexibility in both of the views and carve out a roadmap of addressing the issues, the position will not change,” he said and referred to constitution of various teams of interlocutors and Track-II diplomacy to ascertain the public perception in general and the opinion of various shades of political beliefs to resolve the complex Kashmir issue.

The chief minister expressed dismay that these initiatives were not taken to the logical conclusion adding the latest interlocutors’ team formulated a comprehensive report after meeting some 6,000 opinion groups in all parts of the state.

He said the failure to make headway in this and in other reports formulated by others, including Justice Sageer Working Group on State-Centre Relations, make the people apprehensive and subscribe to the idea that union government engages people of the state when there is trouble in the state and sleeps over the situation when it is more or less conducive.

Abdullah said the constitution of India provides framework for the dialogue with the separatists adding their role in resolution of the issue is important as they are on different page rather than the mainstream parties whose views are candidly clear on the subject. He said the reluctance by separatists to get engaged in dialogue is a stumbling block in finding the roadmap to the problem.

He said that he does not see any immediate headwork in the India-Pakistan or centre-state dialogues for the fact that parliament elections are in the offing. However, he underscored the need for a positive and flexible approach by India, Pakistan and separatists to come on the same page to get the political issues of Jammu and Kashmir resolved politically.

Abdullah said he holds his view firmly and will continue to bat for revocation of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the state gradually, reply to a question about the presence of the security forces in Kashmir.

The chief minister replied to questions on development, politics, peace initiatives, security, human rights asked by various ambassadors which included ambassador of Greece I.E. Raptakis, ambassador of Lithuania L. Talat-Kelpsa, ambassador of Austria B. Wrabetz, ambassador of Poland P. Klodkowski, ambassador of Ireland F. McLaughlin and others.

The European Union expressed gratitude to Abdullah for his candid and thought provoking interaction with the delegation and apprised him of their discussions with various groups and public representatives during their stay in Kashmir.

– tcn

Reflection of Gujarat in Muzaffarnagar, though in smaller proportion: Shabnam Hashmi

September 27, 2013 by  
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Members of ANHAD Fact Finding TeamNew Delhi, 25 September, 2013: Presenting the fact finding report, ANHAD demands for CBI probe into Muzaffarnagar riot.

“What we are seeing in Muzaffarnagar is a reflection of 2002 Gujarat, although in smaller proportion,” social activist Shabnam Hashmi said here on Tuesday, while releasing a fact finding report on the Muzaffarnagar riots prepared under by ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy).

A team of 24 activists, journalists, lawyers and students visited several relief camps and villages in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Ghaziabad districts of Uttar Pradesh on September 22 – 23 September, 2013. The fact finding team met hundreds of victims, scores of relief camp committee members; spoke to people in general on the dhabas and in mohallas, besides policemen on the roads, at various police stations.

Hashmi alleged that the riot was “well planned in advance” with the “connivance and manipulations of local administration.”

Speaking on the occasion Supreme Court lawyer Naushad Ahmad Khan, who originally hails from Muzaffarnagar district and was also part of the fact finding team alleged that although many FIRs have been registered, identifying the accused, even then there has been very few arrests in those cases.

Putting the figure of those displaced due to riots to approximate 70,000, although official figure is 40000, the fact finding team also lamented on the poor conditions of the relief camps. They said that most camps do no even have basic amenities and ration.

The Fact Finding Report says, “There is a lot which the UP police and administration would like to hide and push under the carpet. Unfortunately truth cannot be buried for ever and it has started coming out despite all efforts by majority of the media, barring a few exceptions, to portray a very different version of the situation on the ground.”

Meticulous planning:

Alleging that the riot was the outcome of “meticulous planning,” ANHAD report says, “In parts of Western Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand, Sangh Parivar has been active for quite some time. In fact it had increased its activities during the past two years. Very large gatherings, RSS camps and procession have been organised in this area during this period. Evidence shows that systematic effort to recruit unemployed youth, especially from Jat community and local goons were being made, successfully, by the various Sangh Parivar outfits. The heightened activity to recruit and communalise the mind could be traced back to 2010.”

Conditions in the camps:

Highlighting the plight of the victims in the camp, the report pointed out, “Tent and daris have been provided but the day we visited the camp it was raining heavily and the whole place was flooded with water as the tent is not water proof. All the victims were crowded in small dirty corridors. Due to the rain it was also chilly with no warm clothes or blankets, not even space for people to lie down or rest on the floor. Most of the women, children could barely find place to sit in the corridor.”

It was pointed out that about 200 women have delivered their babies in these relief camps, practically without any medical aid from the government. There have hence been reports of several women dying during labour or of infants’ death at birth.

Accusations of rape:

Advocate Naushad Khan referred to the testimonies of girls and women, some of whom have been sighted in the report, alleging rapes, at times gang rapes. Later Shabnam Hashmi told TCN that although she cannot say the exact number, but an estimate 100 girls and women were sexually assaulted.

Bias role of administration:

Questioning the dubious role of the local administration, the fact finding report, says, “The administration, the state intelligence either totally failed to see and assess the danger signals of the communalisation process which were going on and were visible for the past 8-9 months or connived with the Sangh to let the hatred spread.”

They have pointed out that the relief and ex gratia compensation has not been implemented by the administration and that almost no relief measures have been undertaken by the administration.

“People posted in local police stations is highly biased against Muslims and as a result the cases are not being lodged,” the report notes.


The fact finding report has demanded a CBI probe into the riots in Muzaffarnagar and surrounding districts, adding that those against whome FIRs have already been filed must be arrested immediately.

They have also sought proper relief and rehabilitation packages, besides immediate proper care and counseling of those in relief camps, with special focus on women.

– tcn

Two Christian women among prisoners freed ahead of Iranian President’s UN address

September 27, 2013 by  
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Iran, 25 September, 2013: Two Christian women were among eleven prisoners of conscience and political prisoners released from jail in Iran ahead of the new president’s address at the UN General Assembly this week.

President Hassan RouhaniMaryam Jalili and Mitra Rahmati were set free from the notorious Evin prison on 18 September, six weeks before the end of their two-and-a-half-year sentences for evangelism among Muslims and membership of a Christian group.

Then on Monday (23 September), the day before President Hassan Rouhani addressed the annual UN gathering in New York, Iran announced that it had released 80 prisoners arrested in political crackdowns.

The release of the prisoners was viewed as a diplomatic boost for Mr Rouhani’s attempts to open dialogue with Western leaders over Iran’s nuclear programme.

He told the UN General Assembly that Tehran was prepared to engage “immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency”.

President Rouhani, who assumed office last month, promised in his election campaign to free political prisoners, who reportedly number around 800, and to uphold the rights of religious minorities. He had also called for more constructive relations with the international community.

Iran’s appalling human rights record has been a barrier to engagement with the West; the release of the prisoners of conscience and political prisoners is an encouraging indication that Mr Rouhani is prepared to follow through on his election pledges.

Seizing the opportunity of the Iranian president’s visit to New York, the wife of jailed pastorSaeed Abedini, who lives in the US, was able to hand-deliver a letter to Mr Rouhani’s delegation on Monday (23 September), urging his release.

In the letter, written by Saeed to the president, he describes his eight-year jail term for his Christian activities as “unjust” and in violation of the principles of freedom of religion, law and human rights, and calls for a review of his case in line with the country’s constitution.

The American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Saeed’s family, said:

If Iran’s new president wants the American people and the international community to believe he is a true reformer, he must release Pastor Saeed. As long as prisoners of conscience, including a US citizen, suffer torment in Iranian prison, President Rouhani’s claims of change will remain unsubstantiated.

– barnabas team


Destroy all Churches in Gulf, says Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah

September 27, 2013 by  
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Saudi Arabia, September 26, 2013: The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia has said it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” following Kuwait’s moves to ban their construction.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin AbdullahSpeaking to a delegation in Kuwait, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, stressed that since the tiny Gulf state was a part of the Arabian Peninsula, it was necessary to destroy all of the churches in the country, Arabic media have reported.

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric made the comment in view of an age-old rule that only Islam can be practiced in the region.

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom. He is also the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema (Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and Issuing of Fatwas.

A Kuwaiti parliamentarian said last month he wanted to ban the construction of churches and non-Islamic places of worship in the Gulf state.

MP Osama Al-Munawer announced on Twitter he planned to submit a draft law calling for the removal of all churches in the country. He later clarified that existing churches should remain but the construction of new non-Islamic places of worship should be banned.

Kuwaiti MPs call for ban on construction of churches

A Kuwaiti parliamentarian is set to submit a draft law banning the construction of churches and non-Islamic places of worship in the Gulf state, it was reported at the weekend.

MP Osama Al-Munawe

MP Osama Al-Munawe

Kuwaiti Member of Parliament (MP) Osama Al-Munawer announced on Twitter he plans to submit a draft law calling for the removal of all churches in the country. However, he later clarified that existing churches should remain but the construction of new non-Islamic places of worship should be banned.

Fellow MP, Mohammad Hayef supported the draft law. “Kuwait already has an excessive number of churches compared to the country’s Christian minority”, he was quoted as saying by the Kuwait Times newspaper.

The country’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs recently granted a licence for the construction of a new church, which Hayef described as “an error”.

– arabian business

You are part of God’s Inner Circle

September 26, 2013 by  
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I no longer call you servants“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15 NIV)

The word for “friend” in this verse does not mean a casual acquaintance but a close, trusted relationship.

The same word is used to refer to the best man at a wedding (John 3:29) and a king’s inner circle of intimate, trusted friends.

In royal courts, servants must keep their distance from the king, but the inner circle of trusted friends enjoy close contact, direct access, and confidential information.

That God would want me for a close friend is hard to understand.

But the Bible says, “He is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you” (Exodus 34:14 NLT).

God deeply desires that we know him intimately.

You Are Part of God's Inner CircleIn fact, he planned the universe and orchestrated history, including the details of our lives, so that we could become his friends.

The Bible says, “He made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him” (Acts 17:26–27 MSG).

Knowing and loving God is our greatest privilege, and being known and loved is God’s greatest pleasure.

God says, “If any want to boast, they should boast that they know and understand me .… These are the things that please me” (Jeremiah 9:24 TEV).

It’s difficult to imagine how an intimate friendship is possible between an omnipotent, invisible, perfect God and a finite, sinful human being.

It’s easier to understand a Master-servant relationship or a Creator-creation relationship or even Father-child.

But what does it mean when God wants me as a friend?

Talk About It

What do you think about the truth that the Creator of the universe desires an intimate relationship with you?

In what ways can you pursue a deeper relationship with God?

Why Compare?


– fwd: vc mathews

Nepali and Bangladeshi Christians pray for brothers and sisters in Peshawar

September 26, 2013 by  
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Human ChainBangladesh, September 25, 2013: Yesterday, a hundred people held a demonstration in Dhaka to demand justice for the victims of the attack against a local Protestant church. In Nepal, a week of special prayer is held for the Christians of Pakistan.

Christians in Bangladesh and Nepal expressed their solidarity with the victims of the suicide bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan, where at least 100 members of the All Saints Protestant Church were killed with more than 130 people injured.

In both countries, Christian communities have condemned the killing, calling it “a brutal murder” against innocent human beings.

On the initiative of the Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA), a hundred Christians met in Dhaka yesterday before the National Press Club (pictured).

“We protest and strongly condemn this brutal killing,” State Minister for Social Welfare Promod Mankhin, a Catholic, told AsiaNews, “and ask for due process for those responsible. Let all the Churches pray for the victims.”

In Nepal, the Catholic community has decided to offer a week of prayers for the victims and survivors of the attack.

“Next week,” said Fr Richard Rai, a priest at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kathmandu, “some young Catholics will gather for a retreat in Damak. I asked them to pray to bring peace, political stability and prosperity in Nepal as well as in Pakistan”.

– asianews

Islamic fury as Russian court bans ‘extremist’ Qu’ran

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Islamic fury as Russian court bans 'extremist' Qu'ranRussia, September 25, 2013: Top cleric tells Putin the ban is “outrageous” and “illiterate”.

Russia’s top Islamic cleric has protested a provincial court order to declare a translation of the Quran as extremist and to destroy it.

Ravil Gainutdin, the head of the Council of Muftis of Russia, said in an open letter to President Vladimir Putin released Monday that the ruling was “illiterate” and “provocative.”

The Quran is available in Russian translation, but the court last week ruled that the translation by Elmir Kuliyev published in Saudi Arabia in 2002 violated federal law banning extremist materials.

Gainutdin said that the “Russian Muslims were appalled by the neglect of law shown by the court” in the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk and demanded that the verdict be revoked. He said the court’s order to destroy the Muslim holy book was particularly outrageous.

– huffington post

National catechetical conference on practical ways of catechizing at New Delhi

September 26, 2013 by  
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National catechetical conference

The Conference of Catholic Bishops’ of India (CCBI) – Commission for Catechetics organized its 6th National Catechetical Conference from 18th to 20th September 2013 at Navinta, Delhi Archdiocesan Retreat Centre, New Delhi. On this occasion, 94 participants from 66 dioceses, mainly Regional Secretaries, Diocesan Directors and their collaborators, engaged in the catechetical ministry. They prayerfully reflected and shared, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, on the theme: Practical Ways of Catechizing.

Welcoming participants, Bishop Antony Devotta of Trichy Diocese, the Chairman for CCBI Commission for Catechetics urged the dignitaries to realize the importance of ministry of Catechetics. He recommended that as catechists we, bishops, priests, religious and lay catechists, should pass on the faith to all sections and bring them closer to God. Delivering the key-note address, Archbishop Anil Couto, Archbishop of Delhi and President of the Regional Bishops’ council of the North (RBCN), said: “We live in a world of information technology and digital savvy and our thinking is conditioned by this modern development. Yet the truths of the faith remain the same because Christ our Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever…The ultimate goal of catechesis is to have a personal relationship with the crucified and Risen Lord.”

Father Manikyaraju, from the Archdiocese of Delhi, presented a paper on ‘Practical use of the Catechism of Catholic Church for Catechetical Purpose.’ Sister Teresa Joseph FMA enlightened the gathering with a presentation on ‘Contextualizing Catechesis, a Practical Way of Faith Formation.’ Father Joy Puthenveettil, from the diocese of Alleppy, presented a paper on ‘Paradigm Shift in Class Room Catechesis.’ Father Michael Gonsalves, from the diocese of Vasai, presented a paper and a workshop on ‘Creativity in Catechesis, a Practical way of Catechizing.’ Group discussions, sharing of contributions to the catechetical field and region wise reporting were also part of the deliberations. Workshops and group discussions enabled the participants to know the catechetical activities being carried out in different parts of India and to arrive at concrete recommendations to make the catechetical ministry more practical and creative.

The messages of Bishop Ignatius Mascarenhas of Shimla-Chandigarh Diocese during the conference and Father Gilbert Choondal at the concluding function, enlightened the participants.  Presenting the recommendations of the Conference, Father Laurence Culas, National Executive Secretary for CCBI Commission for Catechetics, said: “So often catechists and even directors of catechetical programmes focus excessively on the ‘practical application’ tools. All the practical tools of catechizing at our disposal help us to make the faith relevant. But it does not remain at the heart of our catechetical ministry. On the other hand, merely theologizing the doctrines and beliefs does not serve the purpose of catechizing. Our catechesis flows from the experiential knowledge and the love of Christ and His Church.” At the end of the Conference the participants unanimously voiced that the Catechesis should become a vehicle for increased faith and that faith must lead to change in life and behaviours of the faithful.

– father arockia dhas

Pune bishop: Christian massacre in Peshawar, a failure of the Pakistani government

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Christian massacre in PeshawarMumbai, September 24, 2013: Mgr Thomas Dabre has decided that all the parishes in his diocese will devote next Sunday Mass to the victims of the attack in Pakistan. “The integrity and moral authority of a nation,” he said, “depend on its firm commitment to ensuring the rule of law and defending its minorities.” Religious freedom “is an inalienable human right.”

The massacre of Peshawar”shows the failure of Pakistani authorities to protect the country’s vulnerable Christian community. The integrity and moral authority of a nation depends on its firm commitment to ensuring the rule of law and defend its minorities,” said Mgr Thomas Dabre, bishop of Pune (Maharashtra).

In remembrance of the victims of the attack, he has decided that every parish in his diocese will hold a solemn Eucharistic celebration on 29 September.

“At every Mass after the reading of the Gospel,” the prelate said, “we shall say a prayer for peace, harmony, respect and the security of all minorities of Pakistan.” The bishop himself will celebrate the liturgy in Pune cathedral.

“I am deeply saddened,” the prelate said, “for the terrible and cruel attack on innocent Christians. The failure of the authorities [to protect them] is discouraging and a cause of great concern. The primary task and obligation of a nation is to protect minorities. I am proud of Pakistani Christians for the way they maintain and preserve their faith despite all the difficulties and the challenges they face every day in believing in Christ. “

“The Christians of Pakistan are deeply integrated into the local culture,” Bishop Dabre said. “Urdu is their mother tongue, which they use in worship. This is significant because it shows complete and genuine inculturation. The fact that this community is often persecuted and its members killed is even more serious.”

“Freedom of religion,” he added, “is an inalienable human right, which is intrinsically connected to human dignity and moral compassion for a nation. It is urgent that the international community not remain silent in the face to the growing persecution of Christians in the world.”

– asianews

Majority of Muslims in Kerala want to reduce marriage age for Muslim girls to 14

September 26, 2013 by  
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kerala muslim weddingKochi, September 24, 2013: Some influential Muslim groups (includes partner of the current ruling front in Kerala) in Kerala have decided to approach the Supreme Court to get marriageable age of girls in the community lowered from 18 and they claim that the marriage age is not stipulated in their scriptures. They want the age to be lowered to 14.

However, political leaders and women’s organization cutting across political and religious lines have strongly criticized the move.They fear this retrograde step may undermine the demographic graph and also force majority competitive fundamentalism. They say the move as a backward step that would harm the interests of the community in general and women in particular.

The move is a conscious attempt by vested interests to restrict the freedom of women by sabotaging their education and social advancement and economic self-reliance, they warn.

Nine Muslim religious outfits had met in Kozhikode a week ago and resolved to approach the apex court to seek an exemption for their women, arguing that setting a minimum age limit went against Muslim Personal Law.

The decision came soon after a controversy sparked by the marriage and divorce of a 17-year-old girl by a man from United Arab Emirates.

Earlier, Kerala’s Social Welfare Department had made an aborted move through a circular to validate the marriage of Muslim girls above 16 years of age.

The department withdrew the controversial circular after most political and social organizations protested, alleging that such an order was issued to appease orthodox sections in the community.

Reacting to the plan to approach the apex court, leader of Congress’ women’s outfit Shanimol Usman said they would accept any move without considering the social, mental and physical factors of women.

“There is no reference about marriage age in Holy Quran. But it strongly advocates that community men are responsible to follow laws prevailing in various countries,” she told the Press Trust of India.

“It is a fact that nobody can demand a change in the existing marriageable age by quoting Quran. Misinterpretations and misquoting of Quran can create problems,” she said


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