The CSF protests bollywood movie advertisement

November 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Christian, Church, India, India, newsletter-lead, Persecution

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Mid Day Whos ThereThe CSF protests “Who’s There?” movie advertisement
The CSF Protest to Police Commissioner and Censor Board to halt film
Complaint also filed with Vakola Police Station, Mumbai for registering offence
The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF), the Mumbai-based activist community NGO takes strong exception to the movie Who’s There? (Kaun Hai Waha?) which hurts Christian sentiments for its portrayal of the community. The CSF general secretary, Joseph Dias, has in a complaint protested against an advertisement showing Jesus Christ on the Cross and a man moving menacing, knife in hand, towards him to stab him. The advertisement is featured in the media as pre-release publicity poster with the a caption – “This time evil will win” which mocks the Christian faith.
The CSF will stall the release scheduled for 18th November, unless it is satisfied that the Church and the religion are shown in proper light. The movie is directed by Ejaz Ahmed and produced by Wasim Shaikh, which has hurt religious feelings and hence is a punishable offence. The makers of the movie know nothing about Church exorcism, since the film deals with a ghost haunting a newly married couple.
Joseph Dias points out that even the category of certification ( Universal or Adults ) is not mentioned in the advertisement and hence, as per Rule 38 of Cinematograph (Certification) Rules 1983, non compliance of this rule is a cognizable and non-bailable offence under section 7 of Cinematograph Act 1952.
According to The CSF, the Christian faith is misinterpreted and shown in bad light. The move will disturb communal harmony and action can also be taken under sections 153A , 153B & 505 (1 & 2) of the Indian Penal Code, section 295 of the Criminal Procedure Code and other relevant laws of the land. ” Is it possible that a man be shown attacking Allah or any other god in a film or poster? Then why should a man be shown in such a manner with the Christian God? asks Joseph Dias.
The CSF will also campaign for a Blasphemy Law, covering “no offence to any religion”, with leaders of other faiths and present a memorandum to the federal law & minorities minister, Salman Khurshid, as in India religion is a very sensitive issue with all faiths.
Joseph Dias also points out that the 5B (2)guidelines of the Censor Board are also reasons to act, which states – The film is to be examined in the interests of public order, decency or involves defamation or contempt of court. The courts have repeatedly urged sensitivity and that the contemporary standards, be kept in mind, besides the opinions of the people, whom the film portrays. Some CBFC guidelines that the film violates and reasons for not granting it a screening certificate are under the following:
1. I)  the film must be responsible and sensitive to the values and standards of society;
2. iv) pointless or avoidable scenes of violence, cruelty & horror,  de-sensitising or de-humanising people.
2. v ) scenes which have the effect of justifying or glorifying drinking are not shown
2. xii) visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented.
2. xiii) visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific… are not presented.
2. xviii)  visuals or words involving defamation or contempt of court are not presented….
In view of the above, The CSF calls for the movie certificate to be recalled, if given and action taken against those who have made it, to serve as a deterrent. Joseph Dias has complained to the authorities to register an offence and said, if need be, The CSF will go to court and seek remedial action.

Christians Hurt by Swami Agnivesh’s Letter to Pope Benedict XVI

November 4, 2011 by  
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Swami Agnivesh

Swami Agnivesh

India, November 04, 2011: The Christian community is saddened to read reported comments made by Swami Agnivesh in a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, in response to his Diwali greetings. The Swami and he says others like Pandit NK Sharma, a leading disciple of Swami Swaroopanand and Shankacharya of Puri took exception to the pontiff advocating freedom of religion. Swami Agnivesh has suggested that the pope calls for a moratorium on the religious conversion of “unlettered tribals” and children who cannot make an “informed choice”, drawing the pope’s attention to such cases in Orissa and the tribal belt. The Mumbai based community NGO, The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF), general secretary, Joseph Dias reacts as below:

” Swami Agnivesh’s letter has particularly hurt us, since he has been striving to maintain the secular fabric of the nation and stridently opposing the Hindutva stance of right wing fanatics. Swami Agnivesh implies that Christians are undertaking such activities, which is far away from the truth. Christians believe, conversion is no conversion, if it is not done freely from one’s conscience. In a country where Christians are a microscopic minority of 2 per cent and declining, as per official census figures, conversion by force or fraud is hardly possible. There is freedom of faith in so-called “Christian” countries, where all faiths thrive, with little restrictions.

We are also grieved at Swami Agnivesh’s reported statement that India has ” suffered a great deal at the hands of persons and organisations who have insisted that the only way people can be saved is for them to give up their own faiths and adopt the faith that is being proffered to them by missionaries and mullahs “. He is also reported to have said that ” We also want to bring together other religious leaders in demanding that the Pope to issue a statement towards stopping collective conversions in countries like India “. The CSF is against any conversion by inducement and condemns conversion by fraud, as those undertaking it are not Christians and give the community a bad name.

Indian Christians are battling serious impediments not just to freedom of religion, but also grave violations of basic fundamental and human rights. In many states there are anti-conversion laws, besides other relevant legal sections used to implicate and harass Christians in false cases. The situation is worse in states where the BJP is in power, either on its own or as a coalition partner. Such a letter by Swami Agnivesh is bound to give impetus to the persecution campaigns of the Hindutva and castetist forces, making the situation worse for the community.

Swami Agnivesh ignores the fact that Christianity is believed to be in India since the times of the first apostles of Christ, Thomas and Bartholomew, besides the British, Portuguese and others professing the Christian faith ruled India for centuries and thereafter the Christian community for the last over 6 decades has been serving the country without any discrimination. Yet there has been no increase in the Indian Christian population. Indian Christians suffer from governmental apathy and neglect, targetted by fundamentalist elements and find themselves alienated from the national mainstream, as a result of their docile and peaceful nature, as demanded by their faith.

Some Wary of Black-Listing Egypt for Rights Violations

May 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Christian, Egypt, lead story, Persecution, World

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Human rights activists, clergy believe designation would be counterproductive.

Protest in Cairo over Demolition of Church

Protest in Cairo over Demolition of Church

5/5/2011 Egypt (Compass Direct News) – Placing Egypt on a U.S. State Department list that penalizes countries for their lack of religious freedom would be a mistake, according to some Egyptian human rights activists and Christian leaders.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) issued its annual report on April 28, recommending that Egypt be placed on the list of “Countries of Particular Concern,” or CPCs. While many in Egypt agree with the report’s assertion that religious persecution and sectarian violence are serious issues in Egypt, some said the designation would be counterproductive and would give the burgeoning government a black eye before it has a chance to address the issues.

“We don’t think it is helpful to add Egypt to any black list this year,” said Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “It sends a negative message that Egypt is worse off this year now that it is not being ruled by a dictator.”

The USCIRF report covers the time period from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. The Egyptian revolution beginning Jan. 25 culminated in President Hosni Mubarak stepping down on Feb. 11 of this year.

The USCIRF is a governmental advisory board that was created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. The body advises the U.S. State Department on the status of religious freedom in countries around the world, and among its statutory responsibilities is issuing an annual report recommending certain countries be designated as CPCs. The designation can lead to a range of actions against the listed country, including diplomatic censure, forbidding the transfer of military technology and ending economic aid.

Egypt has been on the USCIRF’s “Watch List” since 2002, but this is the first time the commission has recommended Egypt be placed on the CPC list, a sign of the deteriorating state of religious freedom in the country, USCIRF Chairman Leonard Leo said in a press statement issued with the report.

“CPCs are nations whose conduct marks them as the world’s worst religious freedom violators and human rights abusers,” Leo stated. “In the case of Egypt, instances of severe religious freedom violations engaged in or tolerated by the government have increased dramatically since the release of last year’s report, with violence, including murder, escalating against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities. Since President Mubarak’s resignation from office in February, such violence continues unabated without the government’s bringing the perpetrators to justice. Consequently, USCIRF recommends CPC designation for Egypt.”

Bahgat said that although there is no evidence that the number of attacks has increased from this time last year, there have been “qualitative changes” in the attacks that he finds “very disturbing.”

“For the first time, we saw the complete demolition of a church,” Bahgat said, referring to the March burning of a church building in Sool. “Attacks against churches are common, but this is first the first time we have seen the destruction of a church.”

Along with the arson attack, Al Qiddissin Church in Alexandria was bombed at the close of a New Year’s Eve celebratory mass. Twenty-three people were killed and scores injured. Eleven days later, in an unrelated incident in Minya Province, an off-duty police officer attacked a group of Christians, shooting one to death and injuring five others. The motivation behind the killing is still unclear.

In March a group of Salafi Muslims cut off the ear of a Coptic man for allegedly renting an apartment to a group of prostitutes. The Copt denied the allegations. The Salafis, who according to the victim tried to force him to convert to Islam, said they were executing justice under Islamic law.

With the exception of the Minya shooting, Bahgat said all the incidents have one thing in common; there has been no criminal persecution of anyone involved, including last month’s attacks in Minya.

On April 19, a mob set numerous Christian homes and businesses on fire after a dispute between a Christian and at least two Muslims over the placement of a speed bump led to a riot.

“There is no one in jail or on trial for the destruction of the church or the attack on the man in Qena,” Bahgat said.