Vatican spokesman: ISIS threat to Pope Francis unfounded

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

isisVatican City, August 26, 2014: In response to rumors that the Islamic State may be targeting Pope Francis, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. said there is no reason for concern.

“There is nothing serious to this. There is no particular concern in the Vatican. This news has no foundation,” the spokesman told CNA Aug. 26.

The rumors spread following an Aug. 25 article published in Italian newspaper “Il Tempo,” which said the number of jihadists in Italy is on the rise due to the influx of unidentified immigrants in the country.

According to the article, Islamic fundamentalists led by Al-Baghdadi plan to “raise the level of confrontation” in Europe and alluded to Israeli sources who said that Pope Francis is “also in the crosshairs of ISIS” as “the greatest exponent of the Christian religions” and the “bearer of false truth.”

Al-Baghdadi has been named as Caliph – the head of state and absolute monarch – of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in western Iraq and north-eastern Syria, and is the former head of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

While the reports regarding the threat of attacks in Europe and on the Pope appear to be unfounded, an Aug. 20 article published by Italian news agency Rai reveals that Italy is tightening its security.

According to the agency, there have been no targeted threats or specific indications of attacks on Italy. However, a nationwide alert has been issued.

– cna

National Minority Commission to raise demands of murdered techie’s father; proposes banning HRS

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

MohsinMumbai, August 26, 2014: A panel of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on Monday visited violence affected areas of Pune and after listening Sadiq Shaikh – father of murdered techie Mohsin Shaikh and other members of minority organizations have said that there are sufficient proofs of involvement of radical outfit Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) in igniting Pune communal violence in the city and therefore the panel would strongly recommend central government to ban HRS.

The commission panel was in the city to examine the losses suffered by the people and check if the government has compensated the victims, especially family of murdered techie Mohsin Shaikh, a 24-year-old IT manager who was beaten to death in the Hadapsar area of Pune by HRS activists after derogatory pictures of Shivaji and Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray were uploaded on Facebook, sparking communal tensions across the city during 31st May to 2nd June.

The commission panel consisted of three members – Dr. Ajaib Singh, T N Shanoo and Captain Praveen Davar (retd) who visited the city after nearly 3 months of the incidence and met members from minority organizations – Khudai Kidmatgar, Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra, Muslim Saurakshan Hakka Samiti, Sadiq Shaikh and many other social activists.

All these organizations along with Sadiq Shaikh insisted the commission to propose central government to ban HRS members of which were responsible for creating havoc in the city resulting into the death of innocent IT manager Mohsin Shaikh in Hadapsar area of the city.

Sadiq Shaikh told the commission that even after state government’s announcement of providing job to Mohsin’s brother, state has not allotted any job to him so far although elections are due in the state for which model code of conduct will resume in couple of weeks.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, in a meeting with Sadiq Shaikh and MLA Pranati Shinde from Solapur on June 9, had assured him that the state government would provide a job for his younger son ‘Mubeen Shaikh’ but no official letter have been issued to his name till date.

With this he also asked commission to raise his demand of prosecuting HRS members arrested for Mohsin’s murder under stringent MCOC Act in a fast track court and to protect witnesses in the case so that trial will not get affected.

Representatives of minority organizations presented some photographs before the commission of damaged Mosques, Kabrastan (funeral ground), burnt Bakeries,shops, vehicles etc and have also demanded to compensate all the victims who have not yet been paid damages by the state.

Qari Muhammad Idris , head of Jamiat Ulema Pune unit apprised commission that since many years Hindu radicals in the city terrorize butchers and forcefully snatch sacrificial goats and bulls from their vehicles during transport for Bakr Eid to other city and sell them in other markets. He also told that even after number of complaints to city police such incidences continue to happen every year due to lack of vigilance of police.

After discussion the commission acknowledged the fact that only Muslim community suffered during the 3 days violence and there is absolute need of banning radical outfit HRS which has proved to be a threat for maintaining communal harmony in the society.

“The Commission will also recommend the ban on the radical outfit. The idea of ‘India’ is that followers of all religions stay together in total harmony in the country,” said Dr Ajaib Singh.

The commission appreciated response of Muslims in the city who kept calm and did not indulge in the violence despite damages suffered to them. The commission also appreciated city police in containing the violence though it hinted that if city police would have been vigilant then damages could have been fewer.

“We found that six incidents that involved digging up of graveyards in Bhosari area, and stone pelting at mosques, could have been avoided if police had been more vigilant,” said captain Davar.

In the end commission promised Sadiq Shaikh and meeting organizations of raising demands of immediately providing job to Mohsin’s brother along with other demands posed by Sadiq Shaikh while it meets Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in next two days. The commission also assured of recommending central government to ban HRS.

– tcn

Chabad Centre reopens 6 years after Mumbai attack

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Chabad CentreMumbai, August 26, 2014: Jewish outreach centre Chabad-Lubavitch, which was bloodied and brutalised in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, reopened to normal activities in its renovated avatar Tuesday.

A group of 25 Rabbis from Asia attended the reopening ceremony at the six-storey Nariman House which houses the Chabad-Lubavitch Centre in Colaba in south Mumbai.

It was one of the targets of the 10 Pakistani terrorists who created the 60-hour mayhem in Mumbai during the Nov 26-29, 2008 terror attacks, sneaking in from the Arabian Sea route.

Among the six people gunned down in Chabad Centre were Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka.

Rabbi Nachman, father of the slain Rabbi Holtzberg, was present during Tuesday’s ceremony.

“It is a very special day, for his (Rabbi Gavriel) family and friends who remember that day’s terrifying tragedy. They had spread the message of goodness, hope, love and tolerance, we must ensure their mission continues to grow further,” Rabbi Nachman said, remembering his son and daughter-in-law.

The Holtzbergs’ two-year-old son Moshe was saved by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel and their cook Qazi Zakir Hussain who lived there.

Moshe was later taken by his grandparents to Israel along with Sandra. She opted to settle there and was granted that country’ citizenship.

The Chabad Centre is now headed by Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky and his wife Chaya, who are its directors.

There is a plan to set up a $2.5-million Jewish Museum on the fourth and fifth floors.

“This six-storey building was continuously operating under the attack. We are not moving into a new building, we are returning to our original building, and we will be continuing and expanding all the activities that took place here,” Rabbi Kozlovsky said.

Rabbi Moshe Motlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, said the reopening was “a moment of tears as also of joy”.

“We shall not fight terror with guns and grenades, but by spreading love. I think this is really a message for the whole world. You can overcome challenges, even the most horrific ones,” he said.

Select visitors witnessed the bullet-ridden walls of the two floors which have not been refurbished but shall be covered with glass to enable people have a sense of the monumental tragedy that stunned the world.

– ians

EFI: Kandhamal – Never again

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kandhamal riotsOrissa, August 27, 2014: On the 6th anniversary of the Kandhamal carnage, the Evangelical Fellowship of India stands in solidarity with the victims of the violence in Kandhamal district of eastern Indian state of Orissa in 2008. Orissa has a long history of anti Christian violence including the attack on the villagers of Kattingia in Kandhamal (1986), a series of burning of 19 churches in Kandhamal (1986-87), the Catholic Health Centre of India near Latur (1996), burning of Bibles and attacks on the Christian congregations and the burning alive of Pastor Graham Steward Stains along with his two sons, Philip and Timothy, aged 9 and 7 years, who were sleeping in a jeep after a village festival. (1999, January).

However, August 25, 2008 started the worst ever violence against the minority Christian population in the history of independent India. Between 75 and 123 people were killed in the violence – though the government has confirmed only 54 deaths in all. The majority of those killed were Christian dalits or adivasi. Many more were injured, close to 5,000 houses belonging to Christians were destroyed partially or fully, and at least 264 churches and prayer halls were desecrated and demolished. An unestimated number suffered severe physical injuries and mental trauma. While there were a few media reports of women being sexually assaulted, many more such victims were threatened into silence. Although Kandhamal was the epicenter of the attacks, the violence spread to over 14 districts of Orissa and a few other states.

Though the Orissa government claims it took strict action against the accused, statistics show that out of the 827 FIRs filed, charges against the accused were framed in only 512. And only 75 cases ended in convictions, in which only 477 persons were convicted but primarily for smaller or petty offences such as burning of houses and damaging property. Only nine people have been convicted for their role in killing of the Christians.

The failure to effectively prosecute those accused of carrying out violent attacks against the Christian community and the apathy of the state machinery has left victims vulnerable to threats, discrimination and social isolation. The impunity enjoyed by the mobs in Orissa has also emboldened other fundamentalist groups to attack the community elsewhere in the country.

The compensation received by the victims is paltry at best and many victims have complained that they have yet to receive even the full compensation declared by the government. There are petitions pending before the Supreme Court calling for an increase in the compensation payable.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India calls upon the central government and the government of Orissa to take active steps to ensure the protection of the rights of religious minorities in India and strict action is taken against those responsible for violence and hate crimes against religious minorities.

– richard howell

Nigeria: Brutal Boko Haram attack on predominantly Christian area claims 100 lives

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Boko HaramNigeria, August 15, 2014: At least 100 people were killed in and around the predominantly Christian town of Gwoza, northeast Nigeria, in an attack by Islamist militant group Boko Haram. A humanitarian crisis is unfolding as displaced and stranded survivors face food shortages.

Boko Haram reportedly took the town, which was not protected by government forces, in the early-morning attack on 6 August. Residents were brutally shot and slashed to death; eyewitnesses estimated that more than 100 people lost their lives. The militants looted and burned houses and destroyed property. Government forces later moved in and have been attempting to recapture Gwoza.

Those who managed to escape to the nearby Gwoza hills, also known as the Mandara Mountains, have been surviving on wild fruits and are at risk of starvation. Some elderly and particularly vulnerable residents remained stranded in Gwoza town without food or water.

The massacre was preceded by raids on villages near Gwoza, which is in Borno state, and the destruction of church buildings in the region. At least five churches were also set ablaze on 30 July in the Hawul Local Government Area of Borno state.

The Gwoza hills, which border Cameroon, have been a safe haven for Boko Haram since 2009. Gwoza Local Government Area has been heavily targeted, with the Christian community bearing the brunt of the violence. Christians have beenmurdered and kidnapped and their houses torched. Speaking to Nigeria’s DailyPost, Christian politician Honourable Biye said that more than 200 churches were burned down in the area in the two years to January 2014.

Other parts of Borno state have also been continuously targeted by Boko Haram militants, including Chibok, from which more than 200 mainly Christian schoolgirls were kidnapped.

Boko Haram is fighting to establish an Islamist state in Northern Nigeria

Pastor Ayo Orisejafor, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), has urged both Christian and Muslim communities to engage with the challenge posed by Boko Haram on an ideological level. During a speech reported by PMNEWS, he said:

Boko Haram is propelled by a religious ideology, it is not poverty. Anyone who tells you it is poverty is not telling you the truth. It’s not poverty. When you blame it on poverty, it is an insult to poor people. There are poor people everywhere even Christians all over the north…

Boko Haram insurgency is an ideology. People are being radicalised by an ideology.

– barnabas team

Jakarta: Muslim leaders explain Islamic fundamentalism to Christians

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Christians and MusilmsIndonesia, August 25, 2014: In Indonesia Islamic extremism has been rising, a worrisome trend that has developed over the past decade but has recently taken an even more “radical and dangerous” turn with the project of creating a Caliphate.

In fact, as the actions of Islamic State militia in Iraq galvanise extremist groups in the country, the government warns of a possible slide towards violence.

Faced with a situation of real danger, the Indonesian Church launched an initiative – involving three Muslim scholars – aimed at a better understanding the jihadist phenomenon and its possible repercussions.

Last Friday the Catholic Bishops’ Conference (KWI) sponsored a seminar, open to bishops, priests, and nuns as well as lay Catholics and Protestants. Organised by the Episcopal Commission for the Laity and held at the KWI headquarters in Central Jakarta, it also saw the participation of three leading Muslim figures.

One of them was Prof Irfan Idris, head of the Department of Counterterrorism in charge of radical movements, who highlighted the role played by “social injustice, poverty, and political vendettas”, stressing the importance of breathing new life into the nation’s core values​​ (Pancasila) based on pluralism and religious freedom.

The expert said that police should move fast to nip in the bud outbreaks of sectarian violence. He also said that he hopes to see a law that would strip Indonesians of their citizenship if they pledge allegiance to foreign groups or authorities.

Ihsan Ali-Fauzi, a lecturer at Paramadina Islamic University in South Jakarta where he teaches a course on Religion and Democracy, warned that discourses that feed hatred are an example of how “political Islam” is boosted through propaganda in mosques and by religious radicals. Hence, he wants better laws to ensure that police has the authority and the powers to counter the slide towards violence.

For Abdul MoQsith Ghazali, from the Islamic University Syarif Hidayatullah in South Tangerang (Banten province), Islamic fundamentalism “is not” a new phenomenon, but has been present from the earliest times following the death of Muhammad. He also noted that radical Islam has many faces: al Qaeda, Wahhabism, the Islamic state. Indonesia, he explained, imported both extremist as well as conciliatory views of the Muslim religion.

Unfortunately though, radicals “have gained greater visibility” among extremists. Charismatic leaders like former President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid are needed to fight them.

At the conclusion of the seminar, in an interview with AsiaNews, Mgr Petrus Boddeng Timang, of the Diocese of Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan), expressed appreciation for the initiative, which should be held in every Catholic community. Many lay people, students and workers, who attended the meeting, agree.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, where Catholics are 3 per cent of the population, is becoming as one of the main centres of Islamic activism in the Asia-Pacific region.

As AsiaNews recently reported, fundamentalist movements and local Muslim leaders have found inspiration in the exploits of Sunni fighters in Syria and Iraq and plan to support the struggle for the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate,even in Asia.

– asianews

Gaily the Troubadour – Arthur Guiterman

August 28, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

In the book Gaily The Troubadour, published in 1936, Arthur Guiterman wrote the following poem.
Reading his observations, you wouldn’t guess it was written 60+ years ago.

First dentistry was painless;
Then bicycles were chainless
And carriages were horseless
And many laws, enforceless.


Next, cookery was fireless,
Telegraphy was wireless,
Cigars were nicotineless
And coffee, caffeinless.


Soon oranges were seedless,
The putting green was weedless,
The college boy hatless,
The proper diet, fatless,


Now motor roads are dustless,
The latest steel is rustless,
Our tennis courts are sodless,
Our new religions, godless.


– fwd: samuel machado

Texas Man to Launch ‘Death Row Jesus’ Campaign; Says Christ Was History’s ‘Worst Criminal’

August 27, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Death Row JesusUS, August 26, 2014: The man behind the controversial “Jesus Tattoo” movement will launch a new campaign “Death Row Jesus” on Wednesday to spread the message that God was the “worse criminal” while on earth.

David L. Miller of the Little Pencil organization is known for his thought-provoking marketing campaigns that promote the Gospel. Last year, he erected 59 billboards throughout Lubbock, Texas, depicting the image of Jesus Christ clad in tattoos. But this time, he is opting for digital video advertisements that will launch in major cities throughout the U.S.

“When people think about Jesus, they don’t think about him being on death row, but if you think about what he did when he was on earth, that’s really the experience he had,” Miller told Lubbock’s NBC affiliate KBCD 11.

He continued, “We communicate very directly that Christ became the worst criminal in history when he took our mistakes on himself. The second message is we are all equally undeserving of God’s grace.”

Part of the video depicts Jesus in an orange prison jumpsuit as He is beaten to the ground. Another part transitions to the scene of the crucifixion where He is dying at the same time that other inmates in prison are being set free.

Miller says the funding for the video advertisements was raised through merchandise sales from the previous campaign, while adding that he is not out to make a profit.

“Corporations spend an enormous amount of money marketing whatever their product is and there is nothing wrong with that,” said Miller. “We just think in this case we have a much better product and one that’s everlasting, life-changing, and so it’s certainly worthy of whatever we invest in it.”

Last year, Miller’s campaign garnered controversy after he filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Lubbock’s largest school district of allegedly violating his right of free speech after they refused to display his ad showing a tattooed Jesus on a jumbotron during high school football games.

The tattoos were the words “addicted” and “depressed,” among other negative descriptions on Jesus’ chest and arms, but the message behind them was that Jesus’ love can change people despite their labels.

At the time, the school district said it denied Miller’s request because by their own policies and practices they were prohibited from allowing religious advertisements with the use of government property, based on the Establishment Clause.

A federal judge eventually sided with the school district this past May saying that the district was right to reject a Christian company.

Miller’s Little Pencil organization was founded about a year ago. Its name comes from a quote by Mother Teresa, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.”

– christian post

CID begins probe into national shooter’s alleged conversion

August 27, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Tara SahdeoRanchi, August 26, 2014: The Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Jharkhand has started a probe into a woman national shooter allegedly having been tortured to convert to Islam by a Muslim man who married her after posing as a Hindu.

A CID team went to house of Tara Sahdeo during the course of the probe.

Meanwhile, accused Ranjit Kohli alias Rakibul Hussain has sent an email to media houses through his friend Rohit, with a five-page letter attached to it.

In the letter Ranjit alias Rakibul has alleged that Tara had demanded Rs.15 lakh for marrying him. He claimed that he was Hindu and the issue was fabricated.

Tara has refuted the allegations. “Does anyone pay Rs.15 lakh to marry a girl? If he is innocent then why is he absconding. There is enough evidence against him but police are not investigating the case properly,” Tara told reporters.

In her complaint to the police, Tara Sahdeo, a national-level gold-medallist rifle shooting champion said she got married in July this year to a person named Ranjit Kohli.

She said the marriage was solemnised in accordance with Hindu rituals.

However, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when people invited her husband for Iftar, she came to know from invitation cards that her husband’s name was Rakibul Hussain.

She also alleged that Hussain and 20 other people forced her to change her religion. When she refused, she was allegedly beaten up and a dog was made to bite her.

Sahdeo alleged that she was threatened with dire consequences if she told anyone about the conversion.

She was kept under close vigil but when Hussain went to New Delhi Aug 19, she sent a message to her family members and was rescued.

Police have sealed three houses where Rakib was staying on rent and seized his seven vehicles.

– ians

West Bengal: President lauds Church

August 27, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Shri Pranab MukherjeeKolkata, August 26, 2014: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday laid the foundation stone of Daya Duar Mini Hospital at a function held in the Church of Palsanda in West Bengal, lauding the Church services.

The President lauded services of the Church at Palsanda for the betterment of tribal population in the area.

“Tribal communities lag behind the general population in maternal and child mortality, access to education and size of agricultural holdings. They are yet to receive full benefits of development despite tribal sub plans under our Five Year Plans and allocation of substantial funds. This is because of problems in our delivery mechanisms,” the president said.

As per the 2011 Census, the tribal population in India is 104 million and accounts for 8.6 per cent of the total population of the nation.

“Our path of development faces a dichotomy. We need to exploit our mineral and forest resources but often that results in displacement and uprooting of our tribals who are the best protectors of these resources. Law and order problems arise when there is a feeling that proper compensation has not been paid and rehabilitation packages provided,” he said.

The Constitution guarantees that land belonging to the tribals should not be alienated but sadly it still happens due to the ignorance of the tribals and greed of non tribals,” he added.

The president lauded the Church’s services at Palsanda in the field of education, social work, and health care for the people of the area.

He said he was happy to know about the five English medium high schools, the Azimganj Bengali medium Residential School and other residential hostels run by the Church.

He was also happy to know that the Church is working with inmates of correctional homes and has established a clinic in every parish.

The President said it is good that Missionaries are working to spread all round development and not just education. Christian teachings such as ‘Service of humanity is God’s service’ and ‘Love the neighbor’ reinforce India’s core civilization values.

He also appreciated relentless efforts of the Church leaders for community welfare and said their example will inspire many more to join in the service of people, nation and God.

– india tv

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