RSS will destroy Hinduism: Poet Ashok Vajpeyi

November 30, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

RSS VolunteersNew Delhi, November 26, 2015: The RSS may not harm Islam in India, but it will certainly destroy Hinduism, Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi said on Thursday.

“Mahatma Gandhi had once said that all religions are true, but they are not perfect. Through this he is saying that each religion can learn from another religion. A nation which is called so diverse which has millions of gods and over 700 languages.

“Now they are saying that you are a traitor. So if I am a traitor let me say something. At present in India, I don’t know how Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will harm Islam, but it will certainly destroy Hinduism,” he said, delivering a public lecture on the occasion of the Constitution Day at the Gandhi Peace Foundation here.

A vociferous critic of the policies of the Narendra Modi-led central government, Vajpeyi has been under attack by the Sangh parivar for returning his Sahitya Akademi award to protest rising intolerance in the country.

Referring to the recent controversy over the statements made by Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, he said: “There is a difference between the nation and its government. The nation is larger than the government. Protesting against the government doesn’t mean one is protesting against the nation.”

Intellectuals and activists were present at the gathering to mark 66 years since the country’s constitution was adopted, and the present socio-economic political situation, democracy, existing inequalities and right to equality and justice were among the issues taken up. The event was organised by Jan Awaaz, a citizen’s platform created to highlight public concerns.

Among others who spoke were Supreme Court lawyer Indira Jaising, activists Usha Ramanathan and Nikhil Dey and Delhi High Court’s former chief justice Rajinder Sachar.

– tcn

Four Muslims among top 100 rich Indians

November 30, 2015 by  
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Four Muslims among top 100 rich IndiansIndia, October 29, 2011: Four Muslims are listed among the top 100 rich Indians in the ranking for the year 2011, released by Forbes on 26th October 2011. Azim Premji (3rd) from IT industry Wipro, Yusuf Hamied (30th) from pharmaceutical Cipla, Habil Khorakiwala (80th) Chairman of generics maker Wockhardt and Irfan Razack (87th) from the real estate industry Prestige Estates are among the richest Indians.

Premji and Hamied are the regular persons listed in the Forbes richest person ranking for many years but Habil and Irfan are the recent entries to the Indian richest club. Shahid Balwa, Partner of DB realty and Etisalat, was also among the billionaires of 2010 ranking with the worth of $1.06 billion, but he is not in the list of 2011.

Azim Premji, prominent Indian Muslim consistently ranked in Forbes richest listing, is the head of India’s leading IT outsource agency Wipro with the worth of $13 billion which was $16.8 billion last year. Last December he was in limelight by donating $2 billion to his trust to fund his education charity which is the largest individual amount donated so far by any Indian. Premji is ranked 3rd among Indians and 36th in overall world billionaires ranking 2011. In March 2010, he was at the same position among Indian billionaires but worth of assets was $17.6 billion that is higher in comparison to 2011.

Yusuf Hamied & family is the renowned drug maker in India under the Cipla brand for last 75 years. His asset also declined from $1.95 billion in the year 2010 to $1.1 billion in March 2011. But they improved the business and current worth is reached to $1.75 billion. In the global ranking 2011, he is at position of 1057 among world richest.

Habil Khorakiwala has the family-owned pharmaceutical business under Wockhardt brand which has the main source of revenue from the United States and Europe. Now they have entered to develop hospital infrastructure in Indian major cities. Earlier in the year 2006, he was 746th ranked among the World billionaire with the net worth of one billion.

Irfan Razack is the managing director of real estate developer Prestige Estates group. He and his younger siblings, Rezwan and Noaman, who share fortune and work with him, took company public last year, raising $240 million. Has built over 45 million square feet of commercial, retail and residential properties so far; has 61 ongoing projects covering 62 million square feet in South India.

Mukesh Ambani with worth of $22.6 billion and Lakshmi Mittal with worth of $19.2 billion are at the top among Indian richest in the ranking of 2011 but the assets of both top Indian billionaires have decreased in comparison to last year. India’s 100 richest have lost 20% of their total wealth: They are collectively worth $241 billion, down from $300 billion a year ago, due in part to a 10% decline in the Mumbai Sensex and a falling rupee.

– tcn

A silent church ignores a wave of executions in Pakistan

November 30, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pak MinioritiesKarachi, November 26, 2015: Pakistan is close to achieving a notorious new milestone of becoming one of the world’s top executioners, with almost 300 inmates already put to death this year and thousands more waiting.

According to figures from Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission, 295 people have been hanged in the country — a new record — since December last year.

Amnesty International, however, puts the toll of executed inmates at 299.

Abdul Basit, a paraplegic man who was convicted of murder, could have become the 300th, but his Nov. 25 execution was delayed at the eleventh hour after the Pakistani president intervened.

This was the third time that an execution warrant had been issued for Abdul Basit, who was first scheduled to be hanged on July 29.

Despite being unable to stand and being reliant on a wheelchair, jail authorities are adamant about carrying out his inhuman and unlawful hanging.

“The hanging of a wheelchair-bound prisoner simply cannot be conducted in a humane and dignified manner as required by Pakistani and international law. Proceeding with Abdul Basit’s execution in the circumstances will offend against all norms of civilized justice,” the rights group’s chairwoman, Zohra Yusuf, said in a statement.

The outspoken group has taken a principled approach to defending the rights of Pakistan’s death row prisoners. If only the local church would do the same.

Pakistan lifts moratorium

Pakistan’s record on executions this year is all the more astounding given that prior to December 2014, the country had not carried out any executions in six years.

But Islamabad lifted its moratorium on the death penalty shortly after Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshawar, killing 150 people — including 130 schoolchildren.

The horrific attack shocked the nation and triggered countrywide protests and demands to rein in the Taliban’s campaign of terror and violence.

As media and public pressure grew, the Pakistani military and political leadership rushed to restore capital punishment and announced the establishment of controversial military courts to fast-track the trials of terror suspects.

Initially, the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif opted to execute only terror convicts, but pressure from Islamist parties and clergy convinced authorities to order executions for all kinds of death row convicts — a move that drew condemnation from the United Nations, the European Union, Amnesty International and other groups.

Rights watchdogs say the government is ignoring its responsibilities to reform the legal system. They say that the circumstances that prompted the suspension of capital punishment in the first place have not changed after six years, and that the deeply flawed criminal justice system continues to pose the threat of wrongful convictions.

Rights groups also argue that there is no evidence to suggest any correlation between the death penalty and reducing crime rates.

When compared to 2014 statistics, Pakistan’s nearly 300 executions this year would put it near the top of an unfortunate list. This year, Saudi Arabia has executed at least 151 people, while Iran has put to death almost 700, according to Amnesty.

Death row

According to the Justice Project Pakistan, a Lahore-based nonprofit law firm that helps marginalized people in the legal system, more than 8,000 people are currently on death row. Pakistan’s government, on the other hand, says there are 6,000.

Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of four, is among those who have been handed the death sentence after her disputed conviction for blasphemy. Bibi’s final appeal is pending before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Among those who have already been executed are Aftab Bahadur Masih, a Christian man who was arrested in 1992 in a case involving the murder of a woman and her two sons.

According to the Justice Project Pakistan, Bahadur was only 15 years old at the time of his arrest — too young to face the death penalty. The Catholic Church in Pakistan had made an unsuccessful appeal for clemency to Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain.

In August, Pakistan executed Shafqat Hussain, convicted of killing a child in 2004. His lawyers claimed he was 14 when found guilty and his confession was extracted by torture, but officials say there is no proof he was a minor when convicted.

Church response disappointing

In September this year, Pope Francis called for the global abolition of the death penalty in his address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.

“The golden rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” Francis said in his speech to Congress.

“This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred.”

Despite Pope Francis’ clear and unambiguous stance on capital punishment, the Catholic Church in Pakistan has failed to take a stand against the record numbers of executions in the country this year.

Apart from an appeal for clemency for Bahadur, neither the church nor the human rights arm of its bishops’ conference, the National Commission for Justice and Peace, has issued even a single statement on the death penalty.

In fact, two senior officials from the commission told that they personally supported the government’s move to resume capital punishment, reasoning it would help solve the country’s long-standing terrorism woes. The two officials, however, asked not to be named.

Although some clergymen individually opposed the executions in media interviews, there has been a muted and disappointing official response from the church, to say the least.

It is high time that the Catholic Church in Pakistan took a principled stance against capital punishment. It would be in line with international laws, and indeed in line with the views of Pope Francis himself.

Zahid Hussain is a Pakistani journalist covering human rights and issues affecting minorities.

– ucan

ICC: Pak, Africa, Vietnam, Mexico & Paris

November 30, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Office of Christian TV Channel in Pakistan Burned to the Ground

Earlier this week, the office of a Christian television channel was burned to the ground by unknown assailants in Karachi, Pakistan. Owners and employees of the Christian channel claim the attack was religiously motivated and took careful planning to execute. Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan are often targeted by radical groups. In March, suicide bombers attacked two churches in Lahore killing almost 20 people.

Pope Francis in Africa: What Are the Key Issues He will Face?

Pope Francis has maintained a strong voice for the persecuted Church. Now that his three-nation tour of Africa has begun, will he address Christian persecution as he visits the continent most racked by such violence towards believers. While he’s there, Kenya has declared Thursday a national holiday to accommodate his visit, but a Kenyan atheist group challenges the institution citing separation of church and state. He also plans to visit Uganda and Central African Republic.

17 Refugees of the Christian Montagnard Minority Return to Vietnam

17 Montagnard refugees are planning to return home to Vietnam after they had fled to Cambodia citing religious and political persecution. The past few years have seen hundreds flee to Cambodia from the central highlands in Vietnam. The Montagnard are predominately a Christian minority group which has experienced persecution and discrimination by local authorities in the region as the central highlands is more rural to the south bordering both Laos and Cambodia. These are the latest to voluntarily return home as their requests for refugee status have gone unfulfilled by the United Nations.

More than 150 Christians Face Imminent Expulsion in Mexico

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 15, local government officials and community leaders in the village of Mariano Matamoros in Mexico have threatened to expel 158 Christians from the small Chiapas community. The threat comes after years of severe religious freedom violations perpetuated against the Christians, and after a recent farmland raid instigated by community leaders against the small Protestant community which left many without food. Since 2012, Protestant Christians in Mariano Matamoros have suffered severe discrimination persecution, and gross abuse of their basic human rights, but the October 15 farmland raid left the Protestant community in an especially desperate situation.

The Paris Attacks Are Bad News For Christian Refugees

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris, the shifting tide of sentiment towards refugees fleeing from Syria means even less chance of support for Syrian Christians who were already in bad situation. Every nation is reviewing how such a thing could happen – and what they need to do to prevent an occurrence within their own borders. The conflict and persecution on one side and the fear on the other, leaves them in the middle with dwindling aid and support.

– icc

70% of women who get abortions identify as Christians, survey finds

November 30, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Pro-LifeU.S, November 25, 2015: Over 40 percent of women who have had an abortion say they were frequent churchgoers at the time they ended their pregnancies and about a half of them say they kept their abortions hidden from church members, new LifeWay Research shows.

In a survey released Monday that was sponsored by the pregnancy center support organization Care Net, researchers from the Christian research group LifeWay found that about 70 percent of women who had an abortion self-identified as Christians, while 43 percent say they attended a Christian church at least once per month or more at the time they aborted their child.

The survey, which interviewed 1,038 respondents who’ve all had abortions, found that 20 percent of the respondents attended church at least once a week at the time of their first pregnancy termination. Six percent said they attended church more than once per week, while about 54 percent said they rarely or never attended a church.

As a majority Christian churches do not support aborting a child, only 7 percent of women said they discussed their abortion decision with anyone at church, while 52 percent said no one at their church knew about their abortion. Additionally, 76 percent of them say that the church had no influence on their decision to go through with the abortion.

“I’m not surprised but I don’t think that necessarily reflects anything bad about churches,” Jeanne Mancini, the president of the March for Life organization that organizes an annual pro-life rally in Washington D.C., told The Christian Post Wednesday.

“That would be fantastic if she went to a church member but the reality is that they know often that they are not doing what’s right, so they are not going to go [to someone] who is an expert in morality to find that out,” Mancini added. “They want somebody to tell them that it’s OK and they are not going to hear that from a church, at least not most churches.”

The survey also found that 64 percent of respondents feel that members of the church are more likely to gossip about their pregnancy or abortion consideration rather than actually help them understand their pregnancy options.

While weighing their abortion decisions, 36 percent said they expected or experienced judgemental reaction from a church, while 26 percent said they expected or experienced condemnation from the congregation.

Only 16 percent said they expected or experienced a “caring” reaction from the church, while 14 percent said they expected or experienced a helpful reaction.

– christian post

Love is not tolerance

November 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

Christian love bears evil, but it does not tolerate it.
It does penance for the sins of others, but it is not broadminded about sin.

The cry for tolerance never induces it to quench its hatred of the evil philosophies that have entered into contest with the Truth.
It forgives the sinner, and it hates the sin; it is unmerciful to the error in his mind.

The sinner it will always take back into the bosom of the Mystical Body; but his lie will never be taken into the treasury of His Wisdom.

Real love involves real hatred:
Whoever has lost the power of moral indignation and the urge to drive the buyers and sellers from the temples has also lost a living, fervent love of Truth.

charity of love
Charity, then, is not a mild philosophy of “live and let live”; it is not a species of sloppy sentiment.
Charity is the infusion of the Spirit of God, which makes us love the beautiful and hate the morally ugly.

– bishop fulton j sheen

Protest rally demands removal of Assam governor for having link with RSS

November 29, 2015 by  
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Protest rally demands removalGuwahati, November 28, 2015: In an unusual development, the ruling party of Assam has demanded removal of the state’s governor. Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) on Friday took out a protest rally across Guwahati against Governor PB Acharya alleging the governor to be involved in activities of the RSS and trying to divide people in the line of religion.

The APCC demanded the removal of Acharya within a month, while submitting a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee.

“We are demanding the removal of PB Acharya for acting and discharging functions like an agent of BJP and RSS. Even after complaining number of times, unfortunately, no action was taken so far. Recently the governor had made highly sensitive remarks publicly that ‘Hindustan is for Hindus’. Such statements have created serious repercussions not just in Assam but across the country,” said APCC president Anjan Dutta through the memorandum.

The APCC also said that the continuation of Acharya as a governor will bring divisions among the different communities of the state.

“The stay of the governor Acharya will bring division among the people of the state in the line of religion. He is the constitutional head of the state and he should behave accordingly but unfortunately, he is doing the opposite,” Dutta added.

The APCC will ‘do a ‘gherao’ at the Raj Bhawan on December 7 and if the governor is not removed within a month the APCC will stage protest in front of the Governor’s House every day.

Earlier, the governor came under severe criticism after his controversial remark ‘Hindustan is for Hindus’. During a book launch event in Raj Bhawan in Guwahati the governor had said, “Hindustan is for Hindus. There is nothing wrong with that. Hindus from different countries can stay here. They cannot be outsiders. There is nothing to be feared about that. But how to accommodate them is a big question and we should think about that”.

People from political parties and civilians have also expressed their displeasure at the statement of the governor.

AIUDF chief and MP Badruddin Ajmal termed it as an attack to the constitution. “Strongly condemn Assam governor’s statement. He is a constitutional authority and his statement is direct attack on the constitution,” tweeted Ajmal.

In another tweet the perfume baron said that though the governor has RSS background, now he is holding a constitutional post. “He shouldn’t try to polarise Assam before 2016 election,” Ajmal added.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), an influential peasants’ organization of the state has also condemned the Acharya. KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said that such remarks clearly indicate that the governor wants to play politics in the name of religion.

– tcn

Catholics look to encyclical to observe day for dalits

November 29, 2015 by  
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dalit christiansNew Delhi, November 27, 2015: The Catholic Church in India is taking its cue from Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment in observing its annual Day for the Liberation of Dalits.

“As we take care of nature, we have to take care of the marginalized and oppressed people in our country,” Father Devasagaya Raj, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishops’ office for dalits and lower classes, told

The priest highlighted the importance of the pope’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato si’, which was addressed to every person on the planet.

When nature is exploited, dalits are also exploited and discriminated by society, he said.

“Let us take a vow to protect the rights of these people and give them their due place in the society,” Father Raj said, adding that the encyclical, while talking about saving the climate, also includes the “social climate.”

In the encyclical, the pope blamed human greed for the planet’s critical environmental emergency.

The Catholic Church in India annually celebrates The Day for the Liberation of Dalits on the nearest Sunday following the U.N. Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.

Hence, Dec. 13 this year is to be observed at the parish level to educate “our own Catholics about the rights of the dalits,” said Father Raj.

There will be special prayers in parish churches and liturgies will be centered around the theme of climate, castes and care for the Earth, he explained.

Indian society comprises the high castes — Brahmins (priests, teachers), Kshatriyas (kings, warriors) and Vaishyas (merchants, artisans). The Sudras (laborers, peasants) make up the lowest caste.

Those not born into these four castes were the outcasts, formerly called untouchables, who are now called dalits, a Sanskrit term meaning “trampled upon.”

The dalits have long been the target of disempowerment, oppression and persecution even though the Indian Constitution abolished caste discrimination and made “untouchability” because of religious sanction a punishable offence.

It guarantees quotas, for dalits and other underprivileged classes, in government jobs and in educational institutions.

However, Christian and Muslim dalits are denied these benefits on the grounds that their religions do not recognize the caste system.

Christian dalits in India have been fighting for their rights as enjoyed by their Hindu counterparts for more than half a century.

Church leaders estimate that at least half of India’s 23 million Christians are of dalit origin.

– ucan

Christians, Muslims with good income mulling migration

November 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

persecutionNew Delhi, November 27, 2015: With incidents of religious persecution of minorities happening across the country and the Indian government’s inaction to control it, a section of people from Muslim and Christian communities with decent incomes have started weighing the option of moving abroad but are not fully convinced to make the move yet.

Rashid Rehman, a 42-year-old footwear importer from East Delhi, said the thought of leaving did occur to him, but he quickly brushes it aside with his unflinching faith in secular India, which strengthens when he sees countless number of Hindus speaking up for the minorities and condemning hate crimes.

“I don’t think we will leave [India]. Until our Hindu friends are talking on our behalf, until we understand that their hearts don’t want us, we are not going anywhere,” he said.

However, the recent violence inflicted on Muslims makes him anxious and then obtuse statements coming from senior ministers who “either tacitly justify the violence or come up with vague statements to ensure accountability”.

“The fear factor is there,” he said.

Rehman said he is not sure what kind of future his children will face if “the Hindu versus Muslim mentality is systematically nurtured”.

Many on social media argue that India has gone through several bouts of religious violence and yet its secular character has remained.

A Delhi-based computer engineer, who is a Christian, said he was contemplating moving out “if the situation remains the same”.

He said that the reason for his migration was not just communal tensions but “other forms of intolerance as well”.

Recently famous actor Aamir Khan reopened a debate about intolerance by saying that his wife recently suggested moving from India.

Though they abhor the idea of leaving, they are still considering it to ensure that their children grow up in a society free from religious prejudice.

The first round of migration among elite Muslim families — those who would hang out with people like the “Ambanis and Tatas” — happened in the early 1990s, after the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the subsequent riots.

It was largely Mumbai-centric with several families moving to Europe and the Gulf. Their children struggled to establish ties with the new world, but as they grew up they began to make peace with their “Non-Resident Indian” (NRI) identity.

– the hindu

Remember hidden Catholics in North Korean parishes

November 29, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

North Korea ChristiansKorea, November 26, 2015: To mark the 70th anniversary of the division of Korea and the Year of Mercy, the Archdiocese of Seoul launched a prayer movement, “North Korean church in my heart.”

Seoul Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, who serves as apostolic administrator of Pyongyang, North Korea, said the people there “have always been in my prayers.”

Before a Mass at Myeongdong Cathedral Nov. 24, the cardinal said: “Pope Francis has announced the Jubilee of Mercy; I believe the Korean Peninsula is one of the regions that need most the mercy of God. I invite everyone to join me in this prayer movement, to bear in mind the Catholic Church of North Korea, and to show our love and concern with continuous prayers.”

After the liberation of Korea, there were 57 parishes and about 5,200 Catholics in North Korea. After the Korean War, however, the Catholic Church of North Korea faced persecution by the government. Only a few hidden Catholics are believed to be in North Korea now.

The archdiocese said “North Korean church in my heart” is open to anyone who wants to pray for the North Korean church.

– cns

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