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Christian Nurse in Pakistan Falsely Accused of Blasphemy by Muslim Coworker

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Pakistan – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a 30-year-old Christian nurse in Pakistan was falsely accused of committing blasphemy against Islam. According to local sources, the Christian was accused by a Muslim coworker after a personal dispute over receiving cash tips from hospital patients.

On January 28, Tabitha Nazir Gill was falsely accused of committing blasphemy while working at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital in Karachi, a hospital where she has been a nurse for the past nine years. She was later taken into police custody.

According to a local ICC source, the head nurse at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital issued orders that medical staff may not receive tips or deal with money from patients. Gill reportedly reminded a Muslim coworker of these orders when she saw the coworker collect money from a patient.

In response, the Muslim coworker falsely accused Gill of committing blasphemy and incited violence against her colleague. Videos of hospital staff beating Gill surfaced on social media and Gill was reportedly tied up with ropes, tortured, and locked in a room before being taken into police custody.

However, police released Gill, handing her over to her family, after a short investigation did not find any evidence that Gill had committed blasphemy. Gill and her family have since moved to an unknown location fearing vigilante violence.

“Police have provided protection to the victim and tried to resolve the issue,” ICC’s source reports. “However, a mob of hundreds of Muslims gathered at the local police station to force the police to register a FIR against Gill. This FIR was lodged today.”

First Information Report 74/21 was filed by police regarding the blasphemy accusation against Gill. The accusation remains under police investigation.

In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.

Since Pakistan added Section 295-B and 295-C to the country’s blasphemy laws in 1987, the number of blasphemy accusations have skyrocketed. Between 1987 and 2017, 1,534 individuals in Pakistan have been accused of blasphemy. Out of that 1,534, 829 accusations (54%), were made against religious minorities. With Christians only making up 1.6% of Pakistan’s total population, the 238 accusations (15.5%) made against Christians is highly disproportionate.

ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “We here at International Christian Concern condemn the false blasphemy allegation that has been leveled against Tabitha Nazir Gill. In Pakistan, blasphemy allegations forever ruin the lives of the accused, even if proved to be false. We call on Pakistani authorities to thoroughly and fairly investigate this false allegation and bring the false accuser to justice. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws must no longer be allowed to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred. Too often these laws have been a tool in the hands of extremists seeking to stir up religiously motivated violence against minorities.”
Sources:persecution

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Two Indian-Americans have been named as Biden’s domestic policy advisers

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New York: A day after US President Joe Biden joked that Indian-Americans were taking over the US, he appointed two of them as special assistants for advising him on domestic policies.

The White House on Friday released the announcement by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris appointing Chiraag Bains and Pronita Gupta to those positions on the Domestic Policy Council. Both of them had served in the administration of former President Barack Obama, when Biden was the Vice President.

Bains will deal with criminal justice while Gupta will deal with labour and workers.

The duo joins more than 20 Indian-Americans who have been appointed by Biden to senior positions in his administration. They will not require Senate confirmation as they will be on the President’s staff.

Bains worked in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, first as a prosecutor of civil rights crimes and then as senior counsel to the assistant attorney general.

He was one of the investigators and prosecutors in the federal case against the city of Ferguson for civil rights violations over the shooting of an African American teenager by a white police officer in 2014 that led to nationwide protests and riots.

He was recently the director of legal strategies at Demos, a national public policy organisation, where he led voting rights litigation. Before that, he was a senior fellow at the Harvard Law School and a clerk for a federal judge.

A key component of Biden’s election manifesto is criminal justice reform to ensure that minorities are not treated unfairly by laws and law enforcement agencies.

Gupta was the deputy director of the Labour Department’s Women’s Bureau in the Obama administration.

She was recently the director of job quality for the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Her previous jobs included stints as research director for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy and for the Living Wage Campaign at the LA Alliance for a New Economy.

While congratulating Swati Mohan, the NASA engineer who guided the Mars rover Perseverance to a soft landing on the planet, Biden had said on Thursday, “Indian-descent Americans are taking over this country — you, my vice president, my speechwriter Vinay (Reddy). But I tell you what, thanks. You guys are incredible.”

On Wednesday, Biden had announced the appointment of a Pakistani American, Dilwar Syed, to be the deputy director of the Small Business Administration.

Biden has a track record of working with Indian-Americans and other Asians to promote their participation in US politics.

He is the co-founder with Shekhar Narasimhan of the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Victory Fund, which is a political action committee that encourages and helps Asian Americans to run in elections, besides raising funds and mobilising voters.

He is the president and CEO at Lumiata, an Artificial Intelligence company in the healthcare field.

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Roman Orthodox Church rejects demands for baptism changes after infant’s death

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The leadership of the Romanian Orthodox Church has decided not to change its ancient practice of full-immersion baptism of babies despite public outrage that followed the recent death of an infant during christening.

The denomination’s decision-making body, Holy Synod, has announced that the baptism ritual will remain and that it will only urge priests to be more careful when they perform the ritual, according to Radio Free Europe.

“We do not demand the [end] of the practice of baptism but its modification so [babies] are prevented from unnecessary and even absurd risks!” reads an online petition that had gathered over 65,500 names as of Saturday.

The petition, arguing that the tradition involves brutality and should be abolished, was launched by a teacher, Vladimir Dumitru, in response to the death of a 6-week-old baby on Feb. 1 after suffering cardiac arrest while being baptized in a church in the northern town of Suceava.

The priest, identified as Alexandru Mazarache, fully immersed the baby in the water three times in the baptismal font, DW reported earlier. The child first cried, then became still, then the infant’s lips turned blue. The baby was taken to a hospital, where he died a few hours later.

The priest is a suspect in the investigation on charges of involuntary manslaughter. His lawyer, Marcel Balatchi, was quoted as saying that the priest had “performed the ritual according to church canons.”

Romania’s ombudsman has suggested some health and safety measures to the church, including increasing the age of the child for baptism.

A spokesperson for the Orthodox Church, Vasile Banescu, earlier suggested the churches could sprinkle holy water over babies instead of immersing them.

“It is, without a doubt, a tragic case, a case that will have to be investigated. Let’s not imagine that a child can be put in water without covering his nose, mouth and ears,” Banescu told Antena 3. “There is a technique that an experienced priest always uses. This is how a baptism is celebrated with the utmost care.”

Teodosie Petrescu, the archbishop of Tomis in the country’s southeast, had rejected calls for babies to be sprinkled with water. He was quoted as saying earlier that the tradition of immersing a child three times during baptism has carried on for 2 millennia and will continue.

“There’s no way for the ritual to change. These canons of faith will be available for another 1,000 years. That is why we will not change. We’re not intimidated,” Petrescu said.

The archbishop added that babies should be immersed in cold water, which not only “sharpens” their spirituality, but is also suitable for their health.

Over 80% of Romanians are Orthodox Christians.
Sources:Christian Post

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