Presence of Western fighters in ISIS raises serious questions

September 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

ISISUS, September 29, 2014: It remains a mystery as to why, and how, thousands of Muslims––some of them women too––from the West, have covered such a long distance to join ISIS to fight war in Syria and Iraq, when we hardly find any example of community members from the US, UK, France etc. joining any war against Israel, or against NATO-led forces. For Muslims––cutting across sectarian lines––a war against the Jewish state should have been much more holier than taking up arms against Assad and al-Maliki, as it had occupied Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem, the third holiest place after Mecca and Medina. This is so in spite of the fact that attacks by Israel on Arabs always evoke a lot of anger and street protests in Paris, London, New York etc.

Hardly any Muslim from the US and Europe, came to Iraq in 1991 and 2003 to fight against the American-led NATO attacks, even though there was a strong anti-American feeling in the entire Muslim world. Those who did show eagerness to fight for Iraq were from the Muslim countries and not the West.

Earlier in 1980s Muslim youths from around three dozen countries did converge to Afghanistan to fight against the Communist Soviet Union. Almost all of them who volunteered to fight the Communist regime in Kabul were from the Muslim world though the United States did provide material and moral support to these warriors. Many of the foreign fighters stayed there to later wage war against the West. Osama Bin Laden was one of them so was Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The big question is why is there so much enthusiasm among the fighters from the West, to go for what the international Press wrongly dub, ‘jihad’ in Syria and Iraq and not against Israel or its western allies?

When travelling, especially for the Muslims in the West, is so difficult how is it that such a large number of them from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia etc. landed up in the war-zone of Levant and Iraq. Several of them who went thousands of kilometres to be in the battlefield are White converts to Islam. Who encouraged, motivated, financed and facilitated these youths to go to the strange land?. Most of them are actually Facebook Revolutionaries with hardly any military training and any knowledge about the ground reality. Why the western intelligence and security agencies failed to make distinction between ‘tourists’ and ‘terrorists’ and, in a way, let these youths go there?

If India’s ex-President A P J Abdul Kalam, and the then defence minister George Fernandes had to undergo strict security check and the country’s ambassadors to the United States, Meera Shankar, and the United Nations, Hardeep Puri, had to undergo so much harassment, while travelling within the US, for wearing sari and turban respectively, why is it that nothing could be known about the movement of so many youths to the West Asia?

The phenomenon of volunteers from one, or more country going to other to join war is not new. One finds its example in Holy Crusades between 11th and 13th century. English poet Lord Byron went to fight Greek War of Independence against Ottoman rule in 1830-31. The Spanish Civil War of 1930s drew volunteers from several European and South American countries. Novelist George Orwell was one among them.

Young comrades in the heydays of Communism would cross oceans and seas to wage war in the far away land against the capitalists. Che Guevera, an Argentine-born doctor is still considered as a hero in many parts of Latin America as he fought in three different continents against imperialism. He took part in Guatemalan struggle against US-backed capitalist; with Fidel Castro helped bring about Cuban Revolution in 1960, fought in Congo in Africa and was caught and executed in Bolivia in South America by the US-backed regime.

At the height of Sikh militancy in Punjab a reputed Indian magazine carried a story as to how a few Hindu youths embraced Sikhism and became militants and earned, what they call martyrdom, at the hands of the security forces.

Thus, ISIS is not the first outfit which comprises international warriors who are fighting in distant battlegrounds. But it is different in other ways. Its volunteers have misunderstood ‘jihad’ as they have been brainwashed and indoctrinated by those very western powers, who want to get their countries rid of radical elements.

Take the example of Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto and General Musharraf have hardly anything to do with Islam in their own life. But in a bid to get their country rid of radical elements they encouraged them to fight war in Kashmir and Afghanistan and get killed. In the process these leaders also wanted to achieve what is called the strategic depth for Pakistan.

Similarly Saudi Arabia, at least in the initial years, tried to export the hot-heads from their own country to Syria as the ruling royal family was apprehensive of them. Checking the Iranian influence was also inherent in such move. So they wanted to hit two birds with one stone. However, it is other thing that ISIS started challenging the royal family of Riyadh too.

But apart from money the Saudis––or Qataris––alone do not have the wherewithal to organize and orchestrate such a prolong war. For that they had to rely on the same oncologists––Barack Obama, David Cameron and company––who are now calling ISIS a cancer. The truth is that these doctors instead of diagnosing and treating the disease on time help spread the virus.

While George Bush-II devastated Iraq and Afghanistan the Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2009 supervised the systematic destruction of Syria and Libya. No doubt both Syria and Libya have dictators ruling the country and a lot of people were against them, yet the opposition within were not as powerful as to overthrow Bashaar al-Assad or Maummar Gaddafi on their own.

The surprise aspect is that though there are so many oncologists around yet the cancer of ISIS spread within no time. Till the start of 2014 hardly anyone knew about it. The news of its split from al-Qaeda came in February. The West was excited as in the process al-Qaida got weakened. This was naturally their main objective.

But by June the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria(ISIS) managed to virtually overrun the entire central Iraq threatening the very existence of the country.

The another related question is: as to how is it that the ISIS, a splintered group led by a former Baathist soldier, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, succeed in such a short time when no other terrorist outfit, including the much powerful, organized and well spread al-Qaeda could achieve.

Barack Obama is the head of a non-cricket playing country. But he knows that cancer can now be detected at the early stage and cured. Yuvraj Singh got treated in the United States itself. He came back after a few months to play some good innings.

About a quarter century back Australian all-rounder Simon O’ Donnell too was diagonized cancer. He was cured and took to the field to hit the fastest One-Day 50––in just 18 balls. It took six long years for a Sri Lankan batsman, Sanath Jayasuria to break the record.

So now cancer is not the disease which can not be cured, Dr Obama. There is no need to lament. The problem is that it is difficult to treat when the virus has deliberately been injected into the body by the oncologists themselves.

The fact is that in the name of aerial bombardment the United States and its Arab and western allies are further aggravating the disease as they are not interested in treating the patient.

– tcn

ICC calls on President Obama to discuss issue of religious intolerance in India

September 30, 2014 by  
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President ObamaWashington D.C, September 29, 2014: International Christian Concern (ICC) is calling upon President Barak Obama to discuss the issue of religious intolerance in his upcoming meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since taking office in May, the new Modi-led government has been witness to a dramatic escalation in communal violence across India, many instances of violence being perpetrated against India’s religious minorities. In India’s Uttar Pradesh state alone, over 600 attacks have been recorded in Prime Minister Modi’s first months in office.

The visit will be Prime Minister Modi’s first since a decision that banned him from receiving a U.S. visa was made in 2005 based on the International Religious Freedom Act that bars foreign officials accused of violating religious freedom from receiving a U.S. visa.

This afternoon, Prime Minister Modi will be flying from New York City to Washington, DC to hold two days of meetings with President Obama and other high ranking U.S. officials. During Modi’s visit, the White House announced the leaders “will discuss ways to accelerate economic growth, bolster security co-operation, and collaborate in activities that bring long-term benefits to both countries and the world.”

Not among the issues to be discussed are those of growing religious intolerance and the need for greater protection of religious minorities in India. In the months following the general elections, communal violence across India, often fought along religious lines, has dramatically escalated.

In an interview with the Times of India, Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress Party, said, “There have been some 600 communal clashes in Uttar Pradesh along since the new government came to power in May 2014.” Among these communal clashes are attacks on Christian communities. “Attacks on Christians in Uttar Pradesh are on the rise,” Rev. Victor Das told ICC. “Aggressive Hindu radicals are creating terror in the minds of Christians and other minorities.”

In a letter to President Obama, Congressmen Joseph Pitts and Keith Ellison have requested the issues of religious inclusion and the protection of religious minorities in India be discussed in addition to the topics announced by the White House. “Reports indicate that there has been an increase in violence against Muslims and Christians,” the letter read. “Prime Minister Modi’s visit could open a dialogue about the positive steps his government can take in preventing oppression and encouraging religious inclusion.”

ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “Following Prime Minister Modi’s victory in the general elections, many Christians in India were afraid for the future of the freedom of religion in India. What has followed during Prime Minister Modi’s first one hundred days in office has done little to calm those fears. Christians across India continue to face restrictions on exercising their faith freely and many have been attacked by radical Hindu groups operating with near impunity. This must not be allowed to continue under India’s new national government. Positive action must be encouraged by President Obama in his meetings with Prime Minister Modi to ensure the rights of all of India’s citizens, including Christians and other religious minorities, are respected and enforced.”

– icc

Zero Tolerance, not moratorium, needed to end communal violence

September 30, 2014 by  
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Minorities-under-attackNew Delhi, September 27, 2014: Civil society activists and representatives of religious minorities have called upon the Central and State Governments to take urgent action to end the orchestrated and motivated campaign of hate and violence  which targets and coerces minorities, and impacts on communal harmony in towns and villages in many parts of the country.

The hundreds of incidents of “Shuddhikaran” and “Ghar Wapsi” against Muslims and Christians specially in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and the mobilisation against the so-called “love jihad” has terrorised youth in these regions. The blatant support from  central and local political leaders to these anti social groups has triggered violence in  many places. The media has recorded over 600 incidents of violence against minorities since the results of the General elections were declared on 16th May 2014. State governments had been tardy in taking action against the guilty. This impunity had further encouraged  the unlawful elements.

A public protest against Attacks on Minorities, was held at Jantar Mantar today to focus attention on  the rapidly deteriorating situations. Speakers  impressed upon  the Prime Minister and Union and State Governments and the Union Government to take action under the law of the land against  those creating disharmony and polarising the people.

A Report on Attacks on Minorities was released at the public meeting endorsed  by over 30 civil right and constitutional right groups and minority right to raise the issue of defence of minority rights, the right to live with dignity as equal citizens of India. The country, several speakers said, needed a Zero Tolerate against Communal and Targetted Violence, and not jsut a moratorium for some years.

Speakers noted that the situation had become so critical that even a person of the eminence of jurist Mr. Fali Nariman went on record to voice his concern,

“We have been hearing on television and reading in newspapers almost on a daily basis a tirade by one or more individuals or groups against one or another section of  citizens who belong to a religious minority and the criticism has been that the majority government at the Centre has done nothing to stop this tirade,” …
“And how does one protect the interest of minorities who (or a section of which) are on a daily basis lampooned and ridiculed or spoken against in derogatory language?”   Mr. Fali Nariman said at  function organised by the National Commission for Minorities at which the Union Minister for Minority Welfare, Dr. Najma Heptullah, was present.

We had hoped that the acrid rhetoric of the election campaign would end with the declaration of the results, and the formation of a new government at the centre. The first 100 days of the new regime have, however,  seen the rising pitch of a crescendo of hate speech against Muslims and Christians. Their identity derided, their patriotism scoffed at, their citizenship questioned, their faith mocked. The environment has degenerated into one of coercion, divisiveness, and suspicion. This has percolated to the small towns and villages of rural India, severing bonds forged in a dialogue of life over the centuries, shattering the harmony build around the messages of peace and brotherhood given us by the Sufis and the men and women who led the Freedom Struggle under Mahatma Gandhi.  The attacks have assumed alarming proportions.

Over 600 incidents of targeting religious minorities have taken place from May to September 2014 in several parts of the country, but especially which have seen, or will soon see, by-elections or elections to the Legislative Assemblies.

The hate campaign, the violence, the open threats have stunned not just the religious minorities, but civil society, jurists and academics. Many of them articulated their concern not just at the violence but at the silence of  the Government.

Many of the incidents of violence were directed against individuals and places of worship of the Muslim community, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. These incidents of violence include at least 36 recorded incidents against the tiny Christian community in various parts of the country. The Christian community, its pastors, congregations and churches, were targets of mob violence and State impunity in dozens of cases in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Target dates, one of them coinciding with Christmas 2014, have been set to “cleanse” various areas of Muslim and Christian presence. The state apparatus and specially the police often became a party arresting not the aggressors but the victims to satisfy the demands of the mob. There have attempts at religious profiling of Christian academic institutions, and their students in the national capital.

There has been a well planned shift the locus of violence and mobilisations from the urban centres to small towns and rural areas; another course is to keep the “dead-count” low and use variants of everyday, “routine” violence to spread tensions and create panic. Yet another scheme is to convert India-Pakistan relations into a subset of the Hindu-Muslim relations within India. The most prominent method deployed in recent weeks has been the issue of “Love Jihad”.

While the Southern University System of Louisiana in the United States has decided to offer Prime Minister Narendra Modi an honorary doctorate for his work in inclusive growth and in recognition of Mr. Narendra Modi’s contribution towards social transformation, especially for empowering women and minorities in Gujarat, the facts on the ground are very different.

The people and organisations gathered at the Public meeting demand:

  1. Zero Tolerance against Communal and Targetted Violence, including Hate crimes, profiling and attacks on Freedom of Faith as enshrined in the Constitution of India.
  2. Govt of India and State governments should swiftly take action against those who create tension among minorities through their utterances,  by immediately arresting them and filing cases against them.
  3. The Union Home Ministry and State Home Ministries should issue a directive to all Police Posts across the country to treat all citizens equally and not come under pressure from certain groups and harass minorities.
  4. Govt should set up a mechanism to provide conducive environment to all citizens of our country and to ensure defence of minority rights, the right to live with dignity as equal citizens of India.


– press release

MP: Police investigate church burning

September 30, 2014 by  
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Church burningMadhya Pradesh, September 29, 2014: The burning of a church in India’s Madhya Pradesh has stoked fears of widening religious violence against Christians in the Hindu-majority state.

State police said they are searching for suspects responsible for the church torching in a village in Mandla district. The church, part of the Kerala-based Believers Church denomination, was found severely damaged when members of the congregation gathered for morning prayers on Friday.

The church’s pastor told police that attackers broke open the main door of the building and set fire to a Bible, the carpet, musical instruments and other items used for worship.

The fire was “so powerful that its flames even spoiled the walls of the church,” Pastor Rajesh Parthe said in his police complaint. Attackers also broke three crosses erected outside the church.

Human rights groups say Madhya Pradesh is one of several states where religious violence has been a major concern. Christian leaders in the state say they have recorded many cases of attacks against Christians since the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2003 state elections.

“In the past decade of BJP rule in the state, we have recorded at least 200 major attacks against the Christian community, such as this,” Jerry Paul, general secretary of Isai Mahasangh, a Christian advocacy group based in the state capital, Bhopal, told on Monday. “There are many unrecorded.”

In many cases, suspects are neither arrested nor punished. Paul said this perceived impunity emboldens others to engage in anti-Christian violence.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission has repeatedly called on the state government to investigate Hindu fundamentalist groups for suspected attacks on Muslim and Christian minorities.

Parthe, the church pastor, said this is the first time in 10 years that his congregation has been hit by violence.

A government source, who is not authorized to speak to the press and therefore has requested anonymity, told that the village where the church was burned has no history of sectarian troubles. Given the history of communal violence in the state, police are concerned that the attack may be an attempt to divide people along religious lines, the source said.

Local police have yet to make arrests and have announced a reward of 15,000 rupees, or US$250, for information leading to an arrest.

– ucan

Vietnam: Catholic journalists take huge risks to expose persecution

September 30, 2014 by  
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VietnamVietnam, September 29, 2014: In a church compound in the bustling heart of Ho Chi Minh City, journalists and editors upload the latest online edition of Redemptorist News in a secret backroom bureau. First established in 1935, the Catholic newspaper was shut down by the ruling Communist Party in 1975 after consolidating its control over the country’s once divided northern and southern regions.

Redemptorist News was resurrected and re-launched as an online multi-media platform in 2009 by a group of Catholic priests and activists. Their editorial inspiration: to provide news about the church’s activities and social issues, with a special emphasis on the plight of the country’s persecuted Catholic minority, which receives scant, if any, coverage in the state-dominated mainstream media.

Redemptorist News is the only local news organization that operates outside of the Communist Party’s strict media controls and editorial diktats. With a staff of six editors and 15 reporters, the small-scale news group uploads a local and English language news site, online radio broadcasts, and a 15-minute daily TV program on YouTube.

English language reporting on the site frequently spotlights human rights issues that would be banned in Vietnam’s state-controlled media. In June, Redemptorist News ran a profile story of a Vietnamese Catholic priest who is trying to advance religious freedoms through the use of technology, including evangelism apps for smart phones and tablets. A harder-hitting piece in August reported on the outcry among civil society organizations over the trial of three pro-democracy activists facing alleged charges of anti-state crimes.

“We are the voice of the persecuted and poor who have no voice,” said Ly Ngoc Thanh, a Catholic priest and editor-in-chief of Redemptorist News. “That’s the reason we’re in conflict with the government…We want a better country where human rights are accepted.”

Many of his news group’s reporters and bloggers have become martyrs for that editorial cause. On January 9, 2013, five bloggers who contributed regularly to Redemptorist News were given prison sentences ranging from three to 13 years on charges of subversion, including penalties outlined in the penal code’s Article 79 for “activities aimed at toppling the government,” and for “undermining national unity.”

The group included prominent Redemptorist News blogger Paulus Le Van Son, who was also arrested and detained in August 2011 after trying to cover the appeal trial of a well-known human rights lawyer convicted of anti-state crimes. Ho Duc Hoa, Dang Xuan Dieu, Nong Hung Anh, and Nguyen Van Duyet were the other Redemptorist News contributors or bloggers sentenced that day.

“They have tried to use the law to upset our news,” said Thanh. “We report that the laws violate human rights and are not for the people, but the Party.”

Thanh said he was detained by police before the trial to prevent him from attending the reading of the verdict. He said he has been detained and interrogated on three separate occasions, with police authorities ordering him each time to stop reporting on the plight of imprisoned bloggers, their aggrieved and persecuted family members, and other jailed Catholic social activists. The government did not respond to a CPJ request for comment about Thanh’s alleged treatment.

Despite the threats and harsh sentences, the media group’s reporters and editors continue to defy those censorship orders. In May, for example, Redemptorist News ran a story quoting the wife of one jailed blogger saying that she would rather be arrested and imprisoned than continue to live apart from her husband. “[Authorities] let us know they didn’t like that one,” Thanh said, recalling the phone call he received after the story’s publication.

Official threats often translate into harassment in the field for the group’s reporters. Thanh said that Redemptorist News reporters are often blocked by authorities from entering areas where villagers are locked in land disputes with government agencies. Several of his reporters have had their passports revoked to prevent them from traveling abroad, he added.

“When we are working, there are so many difficulties for us,” said Thanh, noting that a group of Redemptorist News reporters were recently barred by authorities from reporting from the site of anti-China protests in Ho Chi Minh City in May. “We can’t operate in open areas.”

The Redemptorist News website,, has also been targeted by frequent distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, an online assault where multiple compromised systems are simultaneously used to access a single computer system, causing it to overload and crash. Thanh said his news site has been bombarded by DDOS attacks as large as one million hits per second, with the anonymous attacks originating from China, Europe, and Vietnam.

Thanh believes his hidden news bureau has not yet been raided and shuttered by authorities because they fear the power in numbers of his church’s congregation. “They come around looking but we think they don’t get us because they are afraid of the laypeople in our congregation,” said Thanh, while churchgoers sang early evening hymns nearby. “They are afraid we will take pictures and publish their repression…We are very secure inside here; outside we have no security.”

– ucan

Large protest outside Madison Square Garden ask Modi to end repression of minorities; erosion of civil liberties

September 30, 2014 by  
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ProtestNew York City, September 29, 2014: They came in large numbers, represented different faiths and ideological persuasions, and from across the United States. Protesters outside the Madison Square Garden event on Sunday in New York City, came to stand up for seclarism, and to convey some firm and simple demands to visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, under the banner of “Alliance for Justice and Accountability.”

The Alliance, a broad coalition of organizations and individuals, attracted a large and spirited group of Indian Americans with one thing in common: they were demanding justice and accountability in the case of Mr. Modi, and an end to repression of minorities and crony capitalism in India.

“The protests have demonstrated the rejection of a leader who represents a hateful and divisive agenda, ” said Robindra Deb, a key AJA organizer of protest on September 28. “We represent the 70% of Indians that did not vote for Mr. Modi,” added Mr. Deb.

AJA protesters were required by law to share protest space with all other groups protesting at MSG. “While we share human rights concerns, AJA does not endorse separatist calls by other groups protesting outside of MSG. These groups were not part of the Alliance” said Shaik Ubaid, a spokesperson for the Alliance.

The first 100 days of Mr. Modi’s tenure as PM have shown to the world the grave dangers posed by the Hindu nationalist ideology to pluralism and the rule of law. Since the national elections that brought Modi’s party to power, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh alone has witnessed over 600 incidents against the Muslim minority . Mr. Modi has imposed severe restrictions on civil society institutions including world-renowned organizations like Amnesty International and Greenpeace, and is using India’s Intelligence Bureau to tarnish reputed NGOs in India and the diaspora as “anti-national groups.”

Placards could be seen in the large crowd, demanding that Mr. Modi himself be brought to justice and demanding an end to the sectarian agenda of the Hindutva ideology he espouses. Protesters also expressed determination that they would not let the victims of the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, or the subsequent extra-judicial killings and illegal detentions in Gujarat be forgotten. The anti-conversion agenda espoused by Modi’s party has now spiraled into major polarization campaigns led by Hindu nationalist militias to restrict the religious freedoms of minority communities.

Mr. Modi was banned from entering the US by the State Department, under the International Religious Freedom Act for his “egregious violations of religious freedom.” With his election to the post of Prime Minister, the US decided to lift the travel ban, an exemption often given to heads of state.

ProtestProtesters also referred to the report released by The Ghadar Alliance (a constituent of AJA) that evaluated Mr. Modi’s first 100 days in office. The meticulously researched report details the ways in which the new government has increased repression of minorities through brazen violations of human rights and religious freedom, dismantled democratic protections, while increasing corporate giveaways.

“The protests have sent a clear message. The so-called ‘welcome’ given to Mr. Modi by the Indian diaspora is far from being uniform,” said Sonia Joseph, an organizer with SASI in NYC. “On the contrary, a large section of the diaspora has decided its time to stand up and be counted among those who will defend secularism and pluralism in India against the onslaught of Hindutva.” she further added.

“Economic development on the graveyard of human rights and rule of law can never go right” said Parchi Patankar, another spokesperson for the Alliance.

The majority of protesters came through chartered buses from New Jersey, Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia.

– tcn

Strategies for getting promoted

September 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Paul desired a career in the building industry.

Early in his career, he was working with a large ministry to help direct several of their construction projects.
As the projects were completed, Paul was asked to stay on for future projects.

To keep him busy he was given a number of jobs – one of which was cleaning toilets.
He recalls getting down on his knees each day and complaining to the Lord,
“Lord, I’m a college graduate!”


Discouraged, Paul told the Lord, “I will not leave here until You promote me.
Please give me contentment with my circumstance.”
Paul felt totally forgotten by God.

Left alone

A few months later, Paul received a phone call from a man in the Midwest
who owned five successful businesses who wanted to interview Paul for a job.

This came as a total surprise to Paul.

As he drove to the interview, he told the Lord,
“I only want your will in my life, nothing else.
I am content to remain obscure for the rest of my life if I have You.

You must override my lack of experience for me to get this job.”


The owner of the company asked Paul a surprising question:
“If I asked you to clean a toilet, what would you do?”

Paul sat there, stunned.
He wanted to burst out laughing.

Paul assured him that he would simply pick up a sponge and start cleaning.
Amazingly, Paul was hired even though other candidates were more qualified.

After several months of success Paul asked his boss why he hired him.
His boss replied, “Paul, I still have a large stack of applications from people who wanted this job.

Do you remember the first question I asked you in the interview?

I asked each one the same question.
You were the only one who said he would clean the toilet.


Paul, I am a wealthy man, but I grew up dirt poor.
I clean my own toilets at home.

I can’t have people running my businesses who are too proud to clean a toilet.”

Too Proud

” Sometimes God places us in situations
to see if we will be faithful in those
BEFORE He is willing to promote us to greater things

– fwd: v c mathews

Over 500 prayer vigils held on 2nd anniversary of pastor Saeed’s imprisonment; Greg Laurie’s church joins riverside vigil

September 29, 2014 by  
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People PrayIran, September 28, 2014: More than 500 prayer vigils were held around the world this week, including one in which pastor Greg Laurie’s Harvest church participated in California, to mark the two-year anniversary of when pastor Saeed Abedini was arrested by Iranian officials for his Christian faith.

The vigils, held in 33 countries and territories, called on people to pray for Abedini’s safe release and urge their governments to act on his behalf.

The Boise, Idaho-based minister is serving out a “virtual death sentence” of eight years in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons, read a statement by the Riverside Residents Rally held at Riverside City Hall on Saturday.

Abedini has faced repeated beatings, malnourishment, lack of proper medical treatment, and death threats from other prisoners and Iranian Revolutionary Guards, according to a statement released by the American Center for Law and Justice.

The imprisoned pastor was able to write a letter to his daughter, Rebekkah Grace, for her eighth birthday on Sept. 12.

“You are growing so fast and becoming more beautiful every day,” he wrote in the letter, released by the ACLJ. “I praise God for His faithfulness to me every day as I watch from a distance through the prison walls and see pictures and hear stories of how you are growing both spiritually and physically.”

He continued: “I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big why in your mind you are asking: why Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family? The answer to the why is who. Who is control? Lord Jesus Christ is in control.”

“God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good,” Saeed added. “People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some may wonder why? But you should know the answer of why is who. It is for Jesus …”

“But if not, we will still sing together … ‘Hallelujah,’ either separated by prison walls or together at home.”

Abedini is serving an eight-year sentence despite international efforts and numerous petitions headed by the ACLJ seeking his release. Obama also raised the issue of the pastor’s detention during his first phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last September.

He grew up in Iran before converting to Christianity at the age of 20. He later traveled with his family back and forth between Iran and the U.S. to meet other members of his family and for Christian work.

During one such trip in 2009, Abedini was detained by Iranian officials and interrogated for his conversion. While he was released with a warning against engaging in underground church activities, he was once again arrested in 2012 while working on a non-sectarian orphanage project.

Abedini was sentenced for allegedly endangering “national security,” but the ACLJ believes the punishment has more to do with his Christian faith.

– christian post

Summons issued against Modi by a US Federal Court

September 27, 2014 by  
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US Federal CourtNew York, September 26, 2014: The US Federal Court for the Southern District of New York today issued summons against the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his role in the massacres committed in Gujarat during 2002, when he was Chief Minister of the Indian state. Narendra Modi is expected to arrive in New York on Friday.

The court issued the summons in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Justice Center (AJC), a non-profit human rights. AJC has filed the suit along with two survivors of the horrific and organized violence of Gujarat 2002. The suit has been filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA). Names of the survivors have not been disclosed.

Seeking compensatory and punitive damages, the twenty-eight page complaint charges PM Modi with committing crimes against humanity, extra-judicial killings, torture and inflicting mental and physical trauma on the victims, mostly from the Muslim community.

An estimated 2,000 people were massacred and over 100,000 were displaced from their homes in Gujarat in 2002. The pogroms were marked by unspeakable sexual violence against hundreds of women. AJC is providing legal support and advice to the survivors in their effort to hold Mr. Modi accountable for his complicity in the violence. The survivors are suing Mr. Modi for the loss of lives and trauma in their families, and caused emotional, financial and psychological devastation in their lives.

“The Tort Case against Prime Minister Modi is an unequivocal message to human rights abusers everywhere,” said Dr. John Bradley, a Director at the AJC, a veteran activist from the civil rights era. “Time and place and the trappings of power will not be an impediment to justice,” added Dr. Bradley, a known associate of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Alien Tort Claims Act, also known as Alien Tort Statute (ATS), is a US federal law first adopted in 1789 that gives the federal courts jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by US residents for acts committed in violation of international law outside the US.

AJC has also announced a press conference to share details of the case, and the legal path ahead in the survivors’ quest for justice. AJC President, Mr. Joseph Whittington Jr., who is the 2nd Ward Alderman of Harvey, Illinois will address the press conference.

– tcn

Court ruling on freedom to “not disclose” religion hailed

September 27, 2014 by  
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Bombay High CourtMumbai, September 26, 2014: Bombay High Court early this week ruled State has no right to compel anyone to disclose religion, which legal experts say was a “progressive” step.

“It is an excellent judgment with no negative implications whatsoever. Why should anybody know about my religion, or whether I believe in any? It is a private affair. The court seems to have accepted that religion is a social construct,” advocate Mihir Desai, a leading human rights lawyer, said.

Advocate Uday Warunjikar too welcomed the judgment as “progressive and balanced”. “The judgment is in accordance with the mandate of the Constitution of India, and in accordance with the prevalent situation in the country,” he said.

No citizen can be compelled to declare religion in any form or declaration, the Bombay High Court ruled here on Tuesday.

“Freedom of conscience under Article 25 of the Constitution encompasses in itself a freedom to an individual to take a view that he does not belong to any religion. No authority which is a State can infringe the fundamental right to freedom of conscience,” the division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Girish Kulkarni held.

They were hearing a PIL filed by three individuals belonging to a registered organisation named “Full Gospel Church of God” which claims to have more than 4,000 members.

The petitioners claimed that the organisation does believe in the existence of Lord Jesus Christ, but does not believe in any religion, much less Christianity.

They had made an application to the State Government Printing Press for notifying the change of religion. “They wanted a gazette notification to be issued recording that they are not the Christians but they belong to “No Religion”. The applications were rejected by the Government Printing Press,” the court said.

They thereafter filed a petition before the court claiming that their fundamental right to freedom of conscience was being infringed upon. They contended that a person can always declare that she or he belongs to “no religion”.

The State Government had rejected this view. But the court observed that Article 25 of the Constitution included the right to be an atheist.

“There is a complete freedom for every individual to decide whether he wants to adopt or profess any religion or not. He may not believe in any religion. If he is professing a particular religion, he can give up the religion and claim that he does not belong to any religion. There is no law which compels a citizen or any individual to have a religion.

The freedom of conscience conferred by the Constitution includes a right not to profess, practice or propagate any religion,” the order stated.

“The freedom conferred by Article 25 of the Constitution also includes a right of an individual to claim that he is an ‘Atheist’. As the freedom of conscience confers a fundamental right to entertain a religious belief, it also confers a right on an individual to express an opinion that he does not belong to any religion,” it further said.

– the hindu

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