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Intolerance of Christians again: Karnataka government smashes 15 crosses

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Police in India’s Karnataka state have removed 15 crosses from a hill near a Catholic parish, accusing Christians of encroaching on government land and erecting crosses without permission.

It was the second such incident this year in the southern Indian state.

More than 300 police and revenue officials arrived Sept. 23 at St. Joseph’s Church in Susai Palya in Chikkaballapura district and removed the crosses.

In a six-hour operation, police removed a 32-meter-long cross from the hilltop and 14 seven-meter-long crosses on the way to the hilltop.

“The government officials acted arbitrarily without any prior notice,” said parish priest Father Antony Britto Rajan.

He said hundreds of parishioners gathered and watched the police action “in shock and horror.”

“We have been using the space for more than five decades for praying the Way of the Cross, especially during the Lenten season,” he told UCA News on Sept. 25.

Besides Catholics, people from other religions visit the hill for prayer. “There was no problem from anybody,” he said.

Police officials claimed they were following a state High Court order but refused to show any such order, the priest said.

The parish plans legal action to restore the crosses, Father Rajan said.

The state government is run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is accused of supporting Hindu groups who have pledged to make India a Hindu-only nation.

Church leaders said the BJP government in the state is deliberately targeting Christians as they are opposed to “our charitable works meant for social upliftment of the poor and the marginalized.”

In a similar operation in March, police removed a statue of Christ and 14 crosses from a Christian burial place on Mahima Betta hillock in the state’s Bengaluru district. There too police said Christians had encroached on government land.

Church officials said they legally owned the land and have documents to prove that the land was given to them.

Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore reacted to the March incident by saying the police removed the statue and the crosses “bowing to the pressure of a few outsiders.”

In March, he expressed hope that the state government “will instruct the local authorities to do this redressal act immediately” by reinstalling the crosses.

But after seven months, the government has done nothing to reinstall the statue or the crosses. On the contrary, it has removed 15 more crosses.

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Another Pakistani Christian Girl Becomes Victim of Forced Conversion and Forced Marriage

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Pakistan– Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old Pakistani Christian girl, is the latest victim in the pattern of the kidnapping, forced conversion, and forced marriage of young Christian girls in the country. This case prompted demonstrations against these grave injustices in an attempt to give a voice to the suppressed religious minorities of Pakistan. With these kidnappings taking place now more regularly than before, the religious minorities have been pushed to increasing extremes of discrimination.

Arzoo, from the city of Karachi located in the southern part of Pakistan in the province of Sindh, was abducted by her next door neighbor, Mr. Azhar Ali, taken against her will, forcefully converted to Islam, and married to the 44-old kidnapper. Her parents filed an official report with the police department and immediately began pursuing legal action on behalf of their daughter, which resulted in the most recent decision of the high court favoring the 44-year-old kidnapper and upholding the marriage. Although the case filed by the parents was pending in district court, where the abductor refused to disclose the whereabouts of Arzoo, Mr. Ali filed the complaint in High Court for protection on behalf of Arzoo. The judge did not provide a fair opportunity to the plaintiffs, which was a direct violation of Article 10-A of the prevailing state constitutions and issued a one-sided decision without examining the government, school, or church documents clearly starting that the girl was a minor of the age of 13. Moreover, the parents and the lawyers were unable to present their case before the issuance of the said court order. The pending jurisdiction of the lower court and orders for Arzoo to be produced in court were ignored by the high court. Instead of producing her in lower court, Mr. Ali presented Arzoo at the higher court, which was an openly disrespectful and deceiving maneuver by the abductors. Such a strategy is quite indicative of a complicity within the police and the system in regards to this case.

As codified in the Sindh Child Marriages Restrained Act of 2013, the province of Sindh has prohibited child marriage and restricted the age of consent to 18 years of age. Even though documents produced by Arzoo’s family clearly proved her to be 13, the judge refused to review this evidence. Instead, the judge of the high court sided with the falsified documents presented by the kidnappers.

The case sparked demonstrations in the region protesting this pattern of injustice. Forced kidnappings and forced conversions have become commonplace in Pakistan and remain a consistent point of fear for the girls in the religious minority communities.

Dr. Sabir Michael, a Karachi-based academic, Human Rights defender, and participant organizer of these demonstrations said, “It is the second reported case of abduction, forced conversion, and marriage of the minor Christian girl in Karachi in recent months, which has increased a sense of fear and insecurity in the Christian community at large. Apparently, it seemed that the policy and administrations of the court, as well as the city and state institutions, stood with Azhar Ali, the abductor of the minor girl. Her mother was not allowed to meet her in separation, which further seeded mistrust and outrage against the state institutions among the plaintiffs, human rights defenders, and the Christian and minority community.”

Since Mr. Ali’s two brothers are the employees of the Sindh police, Dr. Michael severely doubted the effectiveness of the police in this case. “A fair trial should be provided, giving the strongest considerations to her status as a minor. Additionally, her medical examination should be conducted independently and she should be placed in the custody of the relevant child protection unit of the Sindh government. Even better, she should preferably be placed in the protection home for the girls and women under the supervision of Justice Majida Rizvi, a chairperson of the Sindh Human Rights Commission.”

The international community must speak up on behalf of the oppressed in Pakistan and demand justice for these innocent girls and their families.
Sources:persecution

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വാഷിംഗ്‌ടൺ യുണൈറ്റഡ് ക്രിസ്ത്യൻ സ്കൂൾ സ്ഥാപകൻ എബ്രഹാം തോമസ് മോസസ്(78) നിര്യാതനായി.

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വാഷിംഗ്ടൺ : എരുമേലി മുട്ടപ്പള്ളി മുക്കൂട്ടുതറ ഇടപ്പള്ളിൽ ഏബ്രഹാം തോമസ് മോസസ് (78) വാഷിംഗ്ടണിൽ അന്തരിച്ചു.എറണാകുളം മഹാരാജാസ് കോളേജ്, തേവര കോളേജ് എന്നിവിടങ്ങളിൽ നിന്ന് പഠനം പൂർത്തീകരിച്ചു ഉപരിപഠനത്തിനായി 1969 ൽ അമേരിക്കയിൽ എത്തിച്ചേർന്നു. പിന്നീട് ഗവൺമെൻറ് ജോലി ലഭിച്ചുവെങ്കിലും സുവിശേഷികരണത്തിൽ അതീവതല്പരനായിരുന്ന താൻ പല രാജ്യങ്ങളിലും പോയി സുവിശേഷം അറിയിച്ചിരുന്നു. പിന്നീട് വാഷിംഗ്ടൺ യുണൈറ്റഡ് ക്രിസ്ത്യൻ അക്കാഡമി ( WUCA) എന്ന സ്കൂൾ സ്ഥാപിച്ചു. ആ സ്ക്കൂളിൽ പരേതൻ 45 വർഷത്തോളം പ്രിൻസിപ്പാൾ ആയി സേവനം ചെയ്തിരുന്നു.

ഭാര്യ: സാറാമ്മ മോസസ് തിരുവനന്തപുരം കവടിയാർ തോണിക്കല്ലിൽ കുടുംബാംഗം.
മക്കൾ: സിസ്റ്റർ എലിസബത്ത് മോസസ് ( ന്യൂ ടേസ്റ്റമെന്റ് ചർച്ച്, ഡൊമിനിക്കൻ റിപ്പബ്ലിക് സഭാ ശുശ്രൂഷക), ബെക്കി മോസസ്, പോൾ മോസസ്, ഫ്രെഡി മോസസ് ( മൂവരും യു.എസ്)

മരുമക്കൾ: ബ്ലോസം പോൾ, നവോമി ഗ്രാൻ്റോസ്.
മെമ്മോറിയൽ സർവീസ് വരുന്ന വെള്ളിയാഴ്ച വൈകിട്ട് 7.00 മണിക്കും ഫ്യൂണറൽ സർവീസ് ശനിയാഴ്ച രാവിലെ 10.30 നും നടത്തി സംസ്കാരം നടത്തും.
Address: New Testament church, 400 Butternut st. NW, Washington, DC 20012

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Another Pakistani Christian Girl Becomes Victim of Forced Conversion and Forced Marriage

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