04/01/2015PAKISTAN Sindh adds Jinnah’s speech on freedom of religion and equality of citizens in school curriculum by Shafique Khokhar The decision by provincial authorities is backed by many human rights organisations. In his address to Pakistan’s first Constituent Assembly, the founder said, “Minorities, to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded. Their religion or faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. They will have their protection with regard to their religion, faith, their life, their culture. They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed.” Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – The Province of Sindh has decided to include in its high school curriculum the historic address Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, made to the country’s first constituent assembly.
In this historic speech, Pakistan’s Founding Father...
04/01/2015INDIA Indian Jesuit backs Supreme Court decision against leaders behind Babri Masjid demolition by Nirmala Carvalho The highest court in the land issues notices to leading members of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The latter had been acquitted on charges of “criminal conspiracy” in connection with the violence of 6 December 1992 in Ayodhya. For Fr Cedric Prakash SJ, we need to “ensure that the generations to come will be able to live without fear in a free, tolerant and pluralistic India".
03/31/2015INDIA - TANZANIA Diocese of Mangalore: school, catechism and solar panels for mission in Africa Since 2012 the diocese of Karnataka has sent four priests in Kituri, Tanzania. Msgr. Aloysius Paul D'Souza: "It was time to share the faith with those who need it most." Positive response from local population, working with the missionaries. Among the future projects, the opening of a kindergarten.
03/31/2015LEBANON A standing Islamic-Christian conference in Lebanon to meet the region’s challenges by Fady Noun Christian and Muslim leaders yesterday agreed to establish such a structure in Bkerké. It will hold quarterly meetings. The failure to elect a new president and the Islamist threat are the main issues that require a solution. On the long run, the arrival of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, on top of existing Palestinian refugees, threatens the country’s very existence.
03/31/2015IRAN Christians in Iran: safe but in a ghetto (II) by Bernardo Cervellera The small Armenian, Chaldean and Latin communities are free but inside their churches. Muslims seeking baptism have to be turned away to avoid antagonising the government. The prevailing model is one of tolerance, living side by side, but without dialogue. As a new Latin cathedral is under construction, many fear that Rouhani’s openness may not last.
03/31/2015MIDDLE EAST - ISLAM Fr. Samir: Arab military coalition possible peacekeeping force to guarantee pluralism by Samir Khalil Samir For the first time in history, a dozen Arab countries have decided to launch a joint military force to fight terrorism. The idea in itself good, in practice is sliding into a sectarian struggle between Sunni and Shia. Instead they could fight the Islamic state, ensure the return of Christians in Iraq and in Syria, push for peace between Israel and Palestine.
03/30/2015IRAN Christians in Iran: with Rouhani there is some movement (I) by Bernardo Cervellera As the world’s most powerful nations try to find an agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue in Lausanne, in Iran things are changing. Despite known limitations on freedom of conscience and problems, including violence, the country’s 350,000 Christians enjoy a degree of freedom that is certainly greater than in other countries of the region. This is the first part of a report.
03/30/2015SINGAPORE The mixed legacy of Lee Kuan Yew, a leader who turned Singapore into a model for Asia Hundreds of thousands of people paid tribute to the city-state’s historic founder, who died on 23 March at the age 91. Ruling with an iron fist, and isolating opponents, the once pro-union lawyer became a bane of his country’s organised labour movement. Under his rule, religious freedom was subordinate to the “common good,” and for China, he was a model.
03/30/2015BANGLADESH Death threats cleanse a Hindu village of its inhabitants by Sumon Corraya The 14 families who lived in Chandantola are now refugees in a neighbouring town. Police arrested some of the local politicians who forced the Hindus to sell their properties at bargain prices, but the refugees complain of long-term persecution and sexual harassment of their young women.
03/30/2015INDIA The conversion of Rupali, a seed that will bear fruit at Easter by Rupali Belose Born into a Hindu family, the young woman always had "a lot of questions about God, but no one gave me answers." Her interest in Christianity grew from meeting a Catholic, who spoke of Christ and familiarized her with the Bible. Today they are engaged, and after a journey of catechumenate she is ready to receive baptism and first communion. "I learned that everyone must carry his or her own cross, but should never feel lost, because God gives us the courage and strength to face it."
03/30/2015VIETNAM Kontum, communist authorities threaten to tear down 22 chapels. Appeal from Bishop by Paul N. Hung The leadership of Djak Tô district want to demolish dozens of private premises used for prayers and functions. The area lacks churches and in the past, people would travel up to 100 km to attend mass. Faithful turn to the bishop, who responds with a letter. While calling for calm, the prelate recalls the right to religious freedom recognized by the government.
03/30/2015INDIA Kashmir, Christian leader arrested for "fomenting sectarian clashes" by Nirmala Carvalho The authorities have detained Rev. Paul Augustine, local coordinator for Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). The Christian pastor was attending a Sunday service. Sajan George, president of the association: "The law of the majority prevails. Where the will of the greatest number enforces that the beliefs and practices of the minority remain threatened "
03/29/2015VATICAN Pope: Holy Week, God’s way is humility, it is Jesus’ way, and “we will take this path” During Palm Sunday Mass, which begins Holy Week, Pope Francis cited the example of people “who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person . . .” He also cited today’s martyrs, persecuted because of their faith, a “cloud of witnesses”. Palm Sunday also marks the celebration of the 30th World Youth Day. Deacons of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions provided the service to the pope and the altar. The pope called on young people to come in pilgrimage to Krakow in 2016. He also mentioned the victims of the plane crash in the French Alps.