Self – Appraisal

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

a young boy uses a public pay phoneA Little boy went to a telephone booth which was at the cash counter of a store and dialed a number. The store-owner observed and listened to the conversation:

Boy: “Madam, can you give me the job of cutting your lawn?”

Woman: ( at the other end of the phone line ) “I already have someone to cut my lawn.”

Boy: “Madam, I will cut your lawn for half the price than the person who cuts your lawn now.”

Woman: “I’m very satisfied with the person who is presently cutting the lawn.”

Boy: ( with more perseverance ) “Madam, I’ll even sweep the floor and the stairs of your house for free.”

Woman: “No, thank you.”

boy cleaning the lawnWith a smile on his face, the little boy put the receiver down. The store-owner, who was listening to all this, walked over to the boy.

Store-owner: “Son… I like your attitude; I like that positive spirit and would like to offer you a job.”

Boy: “No thanks.”

Store-owner: “But you were really pleading for one.”

Boy: “No Sir, I was just checking my performance at the job I already have. I am the one who is working for that lady I was talking to!”

This is called “Self-Appraisal”

Give your best and the world comes to you!

More Christians martyred today than in first century: Pope Francis

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

christian first century martyrsVatican City, April 7, 2015: The number of Christians being martyred today surpasses that of the first century, Pope Francis has said.

In his Regina Caeli prayers the Holy Father said: “Persecuted Christians are the martyrs of our time. May the international community not remain mute and inert in the face of this crime.”

Last week almost 150 Kenyan Christians were murdered by al-Shabaab terrorists at Garissa university. It is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Christians are killed for their faith every year worldwide.

In his address, Pope Francis spoke about the meaning of Easter, saying: “In Him, through our Baptism, we are risen, we have passed from death to life, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of love.

“This is the Good News that we are called to carry to others in every environment, animated by the Holy Spirit. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus and the hope He has brought to us is the most beautiful gift that a Christian can and must offer his brothers and sisters.

“To one and all, therefore, do not tire of repeating: Christ is risen,” he urged the crowd, adding that the Good News of the resurrection should “shine on our face, in our feelings and in our behavior, in the way in which we treat others.

“We proclaim the resurrection of Christ when his light illuminates the dark moments of our existence, and we are able to share it with others; when we know when to smile with those who smile, and weep with those who weep; when we accompany those who are sad and at risk of losing hope; when we recount our experience of faith to those who are searching for meaning and happiness,” the pope said.

“And there — with our attitude, with our witness, with our life — we say ‘Jesus is Risen,’ with our soul. Let our lives be conquered and transformed by the resurrection.”

- the catholic herald

Buddhist hardliners attempt to storm archaeological site

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Balangoda archaeological siteColombo, April 7, 2015: Police and Buddhist protesters clashed in the town of Balangoda on Saturday after members of the hardline Sinhala Ravaya group demanded that an ancient Buddhist archaeological site be cleared of all Muslim structures.

Police fired water cannons at the protesters, who held their demonstration in spite of an injunction aimed at preventing further flare-ups at the historic Kuragala religious site.

Muslims and Buddhists are split on the site’s original purpose; it contains an ancient Sufi shrine and Arabic inscription dating back to the 10th century, but Buddhists maintain its original purpose was a monastery that dates back to the 2nd century BC. They have repeatedly called for the removal of newer mosques built on the site.

Magalkande Sudantha Thero, a monk and the convener of Sinhala Ravaya, said hundreds of protesters including dozens of monks were attempting to enter the rock temple to “remove illegal Muslim constructions”.

“We appealed to government officials to remove illegal constructions before April 4 but they ignored us. Therefore as Buddhist monks we have a right to protect Buddhism since this is a Buddhist country,” Sudantha Thero told ucanews.com.

According to Muslims, the cave is a holy meditation site of one of Islam’s greatest saints, Sheikh Mohiyadeen Abdul Qadir Jilani.

Sym Saleem Been, a member of the Dambulla Mosque committee, said Sinhala Ravaya’s demands were pointless. In 2012, Buddhist protesters firebombed and stormed the Dambulla mosque, claiming it was an illegal structure on a sacred Buddhist site.

“There is no Buddhist temple or even a Buddhist statue at Kuragala,” Been pointed out. “This beautiful ancient mosque remains in its current location and it holds great significance for Muslims all over the country.”

Tensions between Buddhists and Muslims have been rising in recent years amid outgrowth of radical Buddhist groups. Last June, four Muslims were killed and more than 150 people injured after the hardline Bodu Bala Sena launched attacks on Muslim majority coastal towns.

Also this week, Sinhala Ravaya called on the government to ban niqabs and burqas, saying the full-face coverings posed grave security risks.

The cabinet is working on a draft bill that would hand down harsh punishment for those found guilty of hate speech, particularly that which leads to violence.

- ucan

The CSF and Church bodies back Justice Kurian Joseph

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Chief Justice of India H L DattuKochi, April 7, 2015: The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) supported Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, who had opposed the decision of holding a conference of judges on Good Friday.

Chief Justice of India H L Dattu had called a conference of the judges on Good Friday.

The KCBC is a common platform of Catholic Bishops in Kerala. Justice Joseph is a member Syro-Malabar Church, which is one of the three Catholic denominations in Kerala.

“By writing to the Prime Minister against holding judges’ conference on Good Friday, Justice Kurian Joseph has upheld the impartiality of the judiciary and secularism. It is not true to construe that Justice Joseph did not participate in the meeting on the ground that he is a Christian faithful and due to his personal inconvenience,” Fr Varghese Kallikkattu, KCBC secretary, said.

“When it comes to religious issues, we cannot say that the central government and the Prime Minister were adopting impartial stand. It was unfortunate that minority communities are facing discrimination. When such an approach is adopted towards the Christians, others would get a feeling that Christian celebrations and rituals are insignificant. Such an approach is an insult to the Christians,” said Fr Kallikkattu.

Another Church body, the Kerala Region of Latin Catholic Council (KRLCC), said conducting a judges’ conference on Good Fridayinfringed upon the minority rights.

It said the Christian community was “deeply hurt by the act of those at the supreme echelons of the judiciary, ignoring the secular values enshrined in the Constitution.”

- indian express

Attack on Kerala church: Police make no headway

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kerala christiansThrissur, April 8, 2015: Kerala police is yet to make any headway into the case of unidentified people setting afire two bikes and a car parked in front of a Pentecostal Church at Kaniyambal in Kunnamkulam last month.

Police had questioned all the functionaries of pro-Hindu organizations in the locality, but all of them denied any links with miscreants, Circle Inspector of Police in Kunnamkulam Krishna Das told the Indian Express newspaper.

The pastor of the church said that last year some persons had asked him to stop conducting vacation Bible class at the church.

The March 26 attack was just ahead of this years vacation Bible classes. Those who had threatened the pastor last year were not local people and they did not reveal their identity, the newspaper said quoting sources.

State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who visited the church recently said that if the local police did not make any headway in the investigation, the case would be handed over to the Crime Branch.

He also said that the attempt by some people to cause communal hatred in a place like Kunnamkulam known for religious diversity and communal harmony need to be condemned.

CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishan, who had visited the church on April 1, had said that the ruling UDF Government was going soft on the alleged atrocities committed by Sangh outfits.

- new indian express

Hand chopping case: court reserves verdict

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

t j josephKochi, April 8, 2015: A court in Kochi on Monday reserved its verdict on the case of alleged Islamic fanatics chopping off the right hand of former college professor T.J. Joseph, saying more explanation is required from the accused.

The announcement of the verdict has been postponed.

Joseph, who was teaching at Newman’s College in Thodupuzha was attacked near his house in Muvattupuzha on July 4, 2010 by Popular Front activists who claimed the professor had included a question that insulted the Prophet in an examination.

Six main accused in the case, including the first accused, are still absconding.

The National Investigation Agency said in its charge sheet that the accused attempted to murder the professor with preparations akin to a terrorist strike. They had thrown a country-made bomb at the Joseph’s car to keep passers-by at bay and tried to kill the professor, who was accompanied by his wife.

The Kerala Police had named 54 activists of the Popular Front and the SDPI in its original chargesheet. The NIA took over the investigation on March 9, 2011, making it the first case the national agency investigated in Kerala.

The agency collected evidence against 37 accused but failed to find the main accused, Savad, who chopped off Joseph’s hand at wrist, and M.K. Nasar, the mastermind of the attack.

A chargesheet has been submitted against 31 accused. The trial was held in camera considering the sensitive nature of the case. The NIA produced 306 witnesses before the court.

Joseph’s wife Salomi, a key witness in the case, committed suicide even as her husband was fighting a legal battle to get his job back. The college management suspended him after the question paper stirred a controversy.

The NIA charge sheet says the accused were trying to disturb communal harmony and inciting their community members to violence. They acted like terrorists who conducts trial and imposes punishment on their own.

- manoramaonline

Islam’s growth rate outpacing Christianity’s: Pew study

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Islamic YouthInternational, April 8, 2015: Youthfulness and fertility are two factors that will help Islam come close to becoming the world’s dominant religion in just a few short decades.?

That prediction is the heart of a new study by the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life. ?

“Between 2010 and 2050, the world’s total population is expected to rise to 9.3 billion, a 35 percent increase,” the study says.

“Over that same period, Muslims — a comparatively youthful population with high fertility rates — are projected to increase by 73 percent.

The number of Christians also is projected to rise, but more slowly, at about the same rate (35 percent) as the global population overall.”?

That means that by mid-century, there may be 2.92 billion Christians on the planet Earth, as opposed to the 2.17 billion there are now, and 2.76 billion Muslims, over a billion more than there are now. ?

The closing gap between the two religions is more dramatic when considered according to the percentage of the world’s population.

While the percentage of Earth’s inhabitants who follow Christ is expected to remain fairly constant, at the 31.4 percent it is now, the percentage of Muslims will shoot up from its current 23.2 percent to 29.7 percent.?

Muslims and Christians are the two leading groups in fertility, the report says: “Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3.1 children per woman — well above replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population. Christians are second, at 2.7 children per woman.”?

The fact that 34 percent of Muslims in the world are under the age of 15 also helps ensure that Islam will grow faster than other religions. The share of Christians under that age is about the same as the world average, 27 percent. ?

The Pew study also projects that religious conversion will benefit Islam over the next three and a half decades, while Christianity will suffer a net loss due to religious switching.

Acknowledging that “conversion patters are complex and varied,” Pew predicts a net gain of 3.2 million Muslims and a loss of 66 million Christians.?Some of the other conclusions of the Pew study include:

Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion — though increasing in countries such as the United States and France — will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.

In Europe, Muslims will make up 10 percent of the overall population.

India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.

In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.

Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

- aleteia

Pope prays for end to persecution in Easter Sunday address

April 6, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

pray for the persecutedVatican City, April 6, 2015: Pope Francis prayed for the students massacred by Islamist militants at Garissa University in Kenya during his Easter Sunday address, asking for an end to the persecution of Christians.

Francis, after saying Mass for thousands of people in a rainy St. Peter`s Square, delivered a mostly sombre and grim “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

Attacks on Christians in Africa and the Middle East have been the grim backdrop of all Holy Week ceremonies leading up to Easter.

“We ask Jesus, the victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence – and there are many,” he said.

The pope spoke as churches in Kenya, where al Shabaab gunmen massacred nearly 150 people, singling out Christians for point-blank executions, turned to armed guards to protect their congregations on the most important day of the Christian liturgical year.

“May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya – for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.”

The 78-year-old Argentine pope, celebrating the third Easter of his pontificate, spoke from the central balcony of St Peter`s Basilica after saying a Mass below for tens of thousands of people wearing plastic ponchos and holding umbrellas against the driving rain.

Calling for peace in Libya, where last February Islamic State militants beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, the pope called for an end to “the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence”.

He prayed for peace in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, where Boko Haram Islamist militants have also targeted Christian churches.

“We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subjected to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups,” he said.

“Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family. And we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who make their money from the blood of men and women” he said.

Just about the only positive part in the pope`s address was a reference to the deal reached in Switzerland last week between Iran and the international community on a framework for a nuclear accord.

“In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world,” he said.

- zee news

The Wahhabi threat to Southeast Asia

April 6, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-asia

The Wahhabi threatMalaysia, March 30, 2015: When I joined the foreign ministry in 1972, a major foreign policy concern in the region was that Southeast Asian nations would soon fall like dominoes to militant communism supported and abetted by the People’s Republic of China. Fortunately, the dominoes held.

Today, the old domino theory may well be applicable to a new danger: Islamic extremism.

Violent jihadi groups drawing inspiration and support from Al-Qaeda and ISIS have sprouted in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Armed attacks, suicide bombers, beheadings and violence against innocent civilians have made the news.

Young Southeast Asian Muslims are also gravitating to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq to join some of the most violent and extremist jihadi groups. The Jakarta Globe, for example, recently reported that more than 500 Indonesians have joined the ranks of ISIS. Militants from Indonesia and Malaysia fighting in Syria have reportedly even formed a military unit for Malay-speaking ISIS fighters — Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiyyah (Malay Archipelago Unit for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and have participated in suicide missions.

According to some experts, jihadi groups in the region are using the Syrian war to create a pool of combat-trained and indoctrinated recruits for eventual deployment at home. Local security forces have responded by rounding up ISIS militants and sympathizers.

Just as worrying, religious extremism is now reaching alarming levels within Muslim societies with profound political and security implications for the entire region.

Once moderate Malaysia, for example, is awash in an acrimonious and polarizing debate about the imposition of sharia law that could drive the country to the brink of chaos. Muslims and others who speak out against sharia are threatened, intimidated and harassed. The inspector-general of police, no less, has warned that even questioning sharia law might provoke an ISIS attack! The very fact that a constitutionally secular and democratic nation like Malaysia is even having a discussion about amputating limbs, beheading, stoning, and even crucifixion is mind-boggling, and telling.

While militant groups and hot-button issues like sharia law have understandably drawn significant attention, more fundamental questions about the causes of Islamic extremism in the region have not been adequately examined. Why is the culture of intolerance, hate and violence that permeates so much of the Middle East now being manifested in Southeast Asia? What has caused this rising tide of Islamic extremism that is now threatening to overwhelm the region’s fragile democracies, stymieing nation-building agendas and fraying already tenuous inter-communal relationships?

The Wahhabi factor

Clearly, this growing extremism is not happening in a vacuum and neither are its roots entirely home grown. Security experts increasingly point to the Wahhabi ideology that is being aggressively exported by Saudi Arabia as the single biggest cause of extremism in the region.

Wahhabism, the official religion of Saudi Arabia, is an exceptionally virulent, narrow and militant interpretation of Islam based on the teachings of an austere 18th-century preacher and scholar, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792). Over time, it has morphed into an all-encompassing politico-religious theology that considers all other faith groups deviant, has no tolerance for other cultures, no respect for human rights, no love for democracy and an abiding distaste of Western values. It is harsh, puritanical, unforgiving and violent.

The ultimate goal of Wahhabism is one global community with one creed (Wahhabism) ruled by one Khalifah (ruler), presumably the House of Saud. It makes for a grand strategy not just for hegemony in the Middle East but for global domination.

Over the last few decades, Saudi Arabia has spent more than US$100 billion exporting Wahhabism to all corners of the globe. Thousands of mosques, seminaries, universities, schools and community centers have been built, while thousands of preachers, teachers and activists have been educated, trained and dispatched across the world along with Wahhabi-approved textbooks and other literature.

The Saudi-Wahhabi nexus has such a stranglehold on Sunni religious discourse that its views now predominate. The House of Saud has also deftly used its unique position within Islam as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to leverage strategic influence, respect and power over the global Islamic community.

The Saudi-based, Saudi-funded Muslim World League (MWL), founded in 1962, is one of the principal channels of Wahhabi infiltration, influence and control. It actively promotes Wahhabi doctrines, theology and practices on a global scale. The MWL has more than 56 offices and centers on five continents. No surprise, therefore, that Wahhabism has emerged as a major, if entirely negative, force in the world today.

Wahhabism also provides the theological underpinning for almost every violent jihadi group, is behind much of the impetus to replace secular democratic institutions with fundamentalist Islamic ones and is the main driving force behind the radicalization of young Muslims.

Unquestionably, the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus has become the greatest single threat to peace and stability in the world today.

And it is now casting a long shadow over Southeast Asia as decades of Wahhabi infiltration, indoctrination and influence come to boil.

Southeast Asia: the next battleground?

Most of Southeast Asia’s radical groups — certainly groups like Jemmah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf, Laskar Jihad, Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia and Jemmah Salafiyah — have ties to the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus as did the 9/11 terrorists. Saudi organizations like the International Islamic Relief Organization (once headed by Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law) have been implicated in funding a number of these jihadi groups as well, prompting the US treasury department to declare some of its branches terrorist entities.

Over the years, Saudi Arabia has also built up a significant cadre of Wahhabi-trained academics, preachers and teachers across the region. Many of them are now in the forefront of movements and lobby groups agitating for greater Islamization, demanding the imposition of sharia law, pushing for stricter controls on other faiths, and working behind the scenes to influence official policy and shape public opinion. What is unfolding is nothing less than the gradual “Saudization” of Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asian governments have clearly been far too complacent and have failed to adequately respond to the mushrooming Wahhabi threat both from without and from within. They appear to be in a state of denial about the magnitude of the problem, responding with half-hearted measures to address the more immediate threat posed by militant groups while leaving the Saudi-Wahhabi infrastructure of extremism intact. They are too intimidated by Saudi Arabia’s religious credentials and too mesmerized by its wealth for their own good.

Worse still, negligence has often been compounded by complicity with some political leaders exploiting religion for their own purposes. It is no secret, for example, that in Malaysia a dangerous political game is being played with the sharia issue despite the enormous damage it is doing. And in Brunei, the sultan has sought to out-maneuver the Islamists, as well as consolidate his own position, by pre-emptively declaring an Islamic state replete with sharia law and restrictions on other religious groups. Only time will tell whether such a strategy will assuage the extremists or merely feed their appetite.

There is now a real danger that unless Southeast Asian governments act quickly and decisively, the region could end up a zone of violence, instability and stagnation instead of the vibrant and stable community they have spent many years developing.

Here are some urgent steps that should be considered in addition to security measures against jihadi groups:

Begin an honest conversation with the Saudis about the damage that Wahhabism is doing to their societies.

Work with the international community to identify and dismantle the entire infrastructure of extremism (the institutions, the organizations and groups, the schools and madrasas, the funding, the dissemination of extremist literature).

Reaffirm commitment to pluralism and democracy, and aggressively incorporate its values into the political, educational, social and legal fabric of society.

Urgent action now might just give the many Muslim moderates in the region — like the Group of 25, Sisters in Islam and the Islamic Renaissance Front in Malaysia — the space and the time they need to reclaim the middle ground and reassert the essentially moderate, peaceful and tolerant nature of their faith before the dominoes fall to the extremists.

Dennis Ignatius is a retired Malaysian diplomat. He served in London, Beijing and Washington and was ambassador to Chile and Argentina, and High Commissioner to Canada.

- the malaysian insider

Srinagar: Pastor Paul Augustine released on bail

April 6, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

JailedJammu & Kashmir, April 02, 2015: Pastor Paul Augustine, GCIC Coordinator in Jammu & Kashmir, who was arrested along with 3 other members of his congregation after the Worship Service on Sunday, 29-03-2015, have been released on bail on 01-04-2015, Wednesday evening, after detaining them in the police lock up for four days. In the midst of the Holy Week schedule, Pastor Paul has to keep running now for a permanent bail for his church members as well as for himself.

As reported earlier, Pastor Paul Augustine was conducting his Sunday morning worship service on 29-03-2015 at the regular church allotted for Christians to have their prayer services at the Recruit Training Centre of the CRPF at Humama in Srinagar.

On that day, the worship service though scheduled for 8.30 a.m. was delayed a bit due to the heavy rains in the Kashmir Valley and the service actually began at about 9 in the morning. Though he has a total congregation of about 100 believers, only about 40 were present on that Sunday morning. A friend of his, one Bro. Philip from Udampur was also present in the church along with a guest of his. Also, some Muslim friends were present in the church.

Pastor Paul was preaching on the Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd….“and then noticed some Muslim Maulvis peeping through the windows near the door. As soon as the worship service was over, some of the Muslims along with the Maulvis gathered outside the church and caught hold of the Muslims who were present in the church and began to beat them and then took them to the Humama Chowk and also began shouting and forcing them to say that “Father Paul was converting them Christianity”. In the meantime a huge crowd gathered at the Chowk.

Pastor Paul told them that they could verify the facts and settle the issue at the police station instead of having a fight in the middle of the road at the Humama Chowk. When they went to the police station on the Humama Airport Road, Srinagar, the Muslims complained against Pastor Paul that he was luring Muslims to become Christians. Based on their complaint Pastor Paul was arrested along with three other believers and detained in the police station on charges under RPC – 153/a and 295/A. It is also learnt that the Maulvis were threatening the Muslims who were present in the church to bear witness against Pastor Paul Augustine that he was forcing them to become Christians. Please pray for him.

- newsman

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