I have in my hands two boxes; Which God gave me to hold. He said, “Put all your sorrows in the black box And all your joys in the gold.”
I heeded His words, and in the two boxes Both my joys and sorrows I stored. But though the gold became heavier each day The black was as light as before.
With curosity I opened the black I wanted to find out why.
And I saw, in the base of the box, a hole Which my sorrows had fallen out by.
I showed the hole to God, and mused “I wonder where my sorrows could be.”
He smiled a gentle smile and said “My child, they’re all here with me.”
I asked God why He gave me the boxes, Why the gold, and the black with the hole?
“My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings The black is for you to let go.”
When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man. He was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him some chips. He gratefully accepted it and smiled at him.
His smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer. Again, he smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.
As twilight approached, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave; but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man, and gave him a hug. He gave him his biggest smile ever.
When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? He’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”
Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked, “dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?”
He replied “I ate potato chips in the park with God.” However, before his son responded, he added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime! Embrace all equally!
Have lunch with God…….bring chips.
-fwd : a n dass
Germany, August 22, 2012: The German city of Kassel is best known for the art exhibition Documenta, which is currently taking place. These days, though, a local caricature museum is dominating the headlines with a controversial cartoon hanging in its window, depicting Jesus on the cross. Christian leaders want it removed.
Lampooning religion has proven an easy way to get into hot water in recent years. Caricatures poking fun, or outright hostility, at Islam have been especially prone to producing controversy — or even violence.
Now, however, it is Germany’s Christians who find themselves on the receiving end of an indelicate cartoon. Several religious leaders in Kassel, the western German city that is currently hosting the semi-decadal art exhibition Documenta, have protested against a drawing advertising a show in the city’s caricature museum.
“I find it problematic when a caricature disparages the very heart of a faith,” Barbara Heinrich, a Protestant official in the city, told German news agency DPA. Local Catholic priest Harald Fischer has likewise criticized the caricature, according to the local paper, the Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine (HNA), as have Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders from the area.
The cartoon in question is hanging outside the Kulturbahnhof, a cultural center which houses the caricature museum, known as Caricatura. It depicts Jesus in agony on the cross as a voice calls down from heaven, “Hey, you. I fucked your mother.”
‘Not Good for the Church’
Museum head Martin Sonntag has rejected calls to remove the poster. He told the HNA that caricatures are by their very nature offensive to some observers. “But we can’t remove caricatures after every complaint,” he said. Were the museum to take into account all religious and other viewpoints, he added, it would have to close its doors.
The artist behind the caricature, Mario Lars, likewise expressed surprise at the burgeoning debate. “It was not my intention to hurt the feelings of the faithful,” Lars said. “I was just making a joke…. (The church) should stand aloof of such things and address more important problems. Such a large commotion over a small joke isn’t good for the church.”
The mini-imbroglio recalls a recent scandal involving the German satirical magazine Titanic. The publication recently printed an image of Pope Benedict XVI soiling himself front and back under the headline: “The Leak Has Been Found.” The Vatican was not amused and filed a cease and desist order against the magazine.
Pakistan, Aug 22, 2012: As the furore over the arrest of a minor Christian girl over blasphemy charge is yet to die down, the body of an 11-year-old boy from the minority community, bearing torture marks, was found in Faisalabad city of Pakistan’s Punjab province Wednesday, police said.
Samuel Yaqoob, a resident of the Christian Colony of Faisalabad, 100 km from Lahore, was brutally tortured before being killed.
He had been missing since the evening of August 20, when he had stepped out of his home to go to the market.
Yaqoob’s burnt body was found near a drain of the Christian Colony Wednesday. His lips, nose and belly were cut off and he could hardly be recognised as his body was badly burnt, relatives said.
The boy’s family recognised him from a mark on his forehead. Police sent the body for an autopsy.
Yaqoob’s family and other residents of the Christian Colony staged a protest and demanded the arrest of his killers.
Asia Bibi, the boy’s mother, told police that her family had no enmity with anyone in the area.
“We neither received any phone call for ransom nor were we told that Samuel had committed blasphemy,” she said.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Shafiq Ahmed said police were investigating all aspects of the case.
He said Yaqoob’s father died a few months ago and the family was very poor, ruling out the possibility that he was kidnapped for ransom.
“We did not receive a complaint of blasphemy. However we are investigating this aspect as well. The autopsy will tell whether the boy was sodomised,” Ahmed said.
The killing came days after an 11-year-old Christian girl with Down Syndrome was arrested by police in Islamabad on a charge of blasphemy for allegedly burning pages of the Quran.
Rimsha Masih’s family and dozens of Christians fled their homes due to threats from Muslims.
President Asif Ali Zardari directed the Interior Ministry to investigate the incident and to provide protection to the Christians.
- indian express
The violence, which lasted several weeks and saw sporadic incidents even three months later, registered over 52,000 people hiding for their life in nearby Sal forests, almost 6,000 houses burnt to the ground, more than 300 places of worship and Church-run institutions destroyed, and perhaps as many as 100 persons, some of them women, killed in the most horrendous manner.
Just one person has been convicted of murder, and in other cases, frightened witnesses, bad investigation and shoddy court cases have meant that ringleaders have escaped the law. Hundreds of families still have no house, and several hundred more have not completed reconstruction because, despite massive help from the Church, the money ran out.
Many remain unemployed, hundreds have lost out on education, and businesses are yet to be rebuilt. At a more human level, perhaps the entire Kandhamal needs sustained trauma counselling. In the words of a young priest or pastor, “I am still afraid when I try to go back to my area.”
The Church has spent millions during various facets of relief and rehabilitation – from money spent in feeding refugees in the first months of the violence, to finally up to 30,000 rupees or more given to each family to reconstruct their houses because the government grant of 20,000 rupees to 50,000 rupees was either not forthcoming or grossly insufficient to rebuild houses where the cost came from a minimum of 70,000 rupees to upward of 100,000 rupees, depending on the location and the size of the house.
In most cases, the house that was destroyed was bigger than the house that was sought to be rebuilt in the given amount of money. And no one thought of how the family would furnish the house, and buy other commodities that make a house into a home.
No one is accusing anyone in the Church of corruption, but perhaps each Church, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Pentecost, needs to make a discreet private audit of its resources committed to Kandhamal since 2007.
Funding agencies and generous churches across the country and around the world would want to know, and hope, that their donations have made a lasting difference in the lives of the victims.
And there has been no government assistance in rebuilding the places of worship.
So how do we observe the fourth anniversary of the worst violence against the Christian community in India in recent centuries, other than in prayer and protest?
The pursuit of justice would be a good way, I think. Justice at all levels.
And holding the State – not Orissa or Odisha alone, but the Indian State – to account, learning our Constitutional lessons from developments in Gujarat which saw a near genocide against the Muslim community in 2002, and the violence against Sikhs in Delhi and other cities in 1984.
The Sikhs lawyers and retired judges, and the widows, have taught us the valuable lesson of persistence in the pursuit of justice. Decades later, they have not lost an iota of their zeal. The intensity of their passion to see that justice is done, is remarkable, and is, in fact bearing fruit. They have shown that it is possible to demand, and get, appropriate reparation and relief. They have also networked effectively with civil society, got the highest in the land to apologise, and have held powerful politicians accountable for their actions.
The Muslims community, too, has proved the relevance of networking with civil society and using all means, judicial, political, and civil to get justice to the victims. The Supreme Court of India in many epochal judgements effectively ensured justice in Gujarat. The final word is still to be said, and there is hope that political bosses, police officers and even subordinate judiciary will pay for their crimes and their abetment to crime, or impunity, before long.
Public outcry in Kandhamal too, as a matter of fact, began when the then Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Bhubaneswar, approached the Supreme court and successfully urged it to upturn the order of the Collector, Krishan Kumar, who had banned Christian organizations from brinbing relief to the ravaged district.
Archbishop Cheenath was again in court seeking appropriate relief and rehabilitation. Now a group of religious have approached the Supreme Court to order a fresh look into the cases of murder in the district during the violence.
We have been advocating that Church and the victims approach the Supreme Court for a fresh investigation and retrial into all cases of murder as the so-called Fast Track Courts have seine veritable miscarriage of justice.
It has also been our case that instead of a display of charity, what rebuilding in Kandhamal needed was concerted action to ensure that that the government, through the district administration met the entire expense, rather than give a pro rata amount decided by some bureaucrats on their whim and fancy without even determining how much was really needed to pay for the bricks, cement, steel, wood and asbestos or steel sheets needed to build, a house.
It was the government’s job, many felt, to ensure reemployment, rebuilding of businesses and local self help groups which were earlier flourishing in the turmeric and ginger trade. The church relief could then have gone into rebuilding lives.
An important recent order of the Supreme Court relates to its refusing to stay a Gujarat High court order of February 8 asking the Gujarat government to pay compensation to over 500 shrines damaged during the infamous 2002 riots in the wake of Godhra train carnage.
A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra asked the state government to furnish details of the number of religious structures actually damaged and the financial cost of their reconstruction. The Gujarat government has been reluctant, saying public funds cannot be used for religious porpoises, forgetting the millions of rupees it has spent in such functions as Shabri Kumbhs in the Dangs some years ago.
High Court Acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala had ordered compensation for over 500 places of worships in the state on a plea by Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat, an NGO. The court also ordered that principal judges of 26 districts of the state will receive the applications for compensation of religious structures in their respective districts and decide on it. They have been asked to send their decisions to the high court within six months.
That is the way to go. Charity is easy. The pursuit of justice is not easy. It is time consuming, expensive, and needs a dedicated core team which will not accept defeat. Kandhamal needs such a pursuit of justice.
- john dayal
Kandhamal day to be observed on 25th August
Orissa, August 24, 2012: ‘Kandhamal Nyaya, Shanti o Sadvabana Samaj’, a platform of adivasis, dalits, Hindus, Christians, survivors, among others, announced it will observe Kandhamal Day on August 25 at Lohiya Academy, Bhubaneswar. It also decided to hold a symbolic dharana in Bhubaneswar on Sunday in front of the Odisha Assembly to register their discontents before the government and put forth their just demands.
“The violence continued for several months uninterruptedly. More than 52,000 people had to run away and hide in forests for weeks, almost 6,000 houses burnt into ashes, more than 300 worship places, schools, hospitals and other institutions destroyed, and perhaps as many as 100 persons, including women and children, were killed in the most horrendous manner,” the Samaj recalled in a note.People are waiting for justice in-spite of all odds and obstacles – faulty investigations, terrorized victims, frightened/deceived witnesses and unfriendly court environment.
“Hundreds of families still have no house. Many of those were forced out of their livelihoods; still they are roaming for an employment. Many children had to drop their studies and become child laborers, and those who could continue studies lost their vigor.”
After four years, the Samaj declared, time has come to make the civil society, opinion builders, media people, intellectuals, policy makers to look back for once what changes have occurred in the question of justice, peace, compensation, rehabilitation and others. It is reported that out of 3,300 complaints filed by victims in the local police stations only 831 have been registered as FIRs. The cases registered against the miscreants are being tried in two fast track courts.
Nepal, August 22, 2012: The minister of a church in Nepal that was bombed by an extremist Hindu group in 2009 has been threatened with another attack amid demands for Christians to leave the country.
Three people were killed and more than a dozen injured in the attack by the Nepal Defence Army (NDA) on Robin Rai’s church in Lalitpur, south of Kathmandu. On 8 August, he received a sinister phone call by a man claiming to be Sangharsha, the new leader of the NDA.
Mr Rai said:
The Hindu extremist said that he would plant a bomb at our church if we did not help his group. But when I asked what type of help he wanted he hung up.
Other Christian leaders have also received threats, and the NDA has been circulating leaflets ordering Christians and Muslims to leave the country.
Sundar Thapa of the Federation of National Christians-Nepal (FNCN) was told by Sangharsha that Nepal is a Hindu nation where Christians and Muslims are not welcome. The Hindu leader ordered him to dissolve FNCN and leave the country.
Police in Nepal are taking the threats seriously and have launched an investigation. Lalitpur Police Superintendent Basanta Panta said that police would protect places of worship and other vulnerable sites.
The NDA carries out sporadic attacks against Christian targets. In November 2011, the group was behind a bomb blast outside the offices of the United Mission to Nepal, an association of Christian organisations devoted to social justice and poverty alleviation, in Kathmandu. Pamphlets signed by the group demanding that Nepal become a Hindu state, all churches in Kathmandu be closed within 50 days and all missionary organisations leave Nepal, were found by the police.
The NDA is also thought to have committed the murder of church leader John Prakash in 2007.
The group wants to reinstate the country’s Hindu monarchy and establish a Hindu state, and it uses violent tactics towards this end. On 7 August, police foiled a series of plots by seven NDA members to attack public buildings.
Until 2006, Nepal, which is around 75% Hindu, was a Hindu kingdom, but it is now secular and in something of a state of limbo, as political parties have been unable to agree a new constitution.
- barnabas team
Manglore, August 23, 2012: Mangalorean, Prof Lancy Lobo, SJ the Founder Director of the Centre for Culture and Development (CCD) at Vadodara along with several thinkers and intellectuals, many with connections to Mangalore ; supported by Indian Council of Social Science Research (Ministry of HRD – Government of India) are organizing two days National Seminar on “Indian Federalism: Intergovernmental Relations Revisited: Towards a Fresh Balance of Power” on 24th and 25th August, 2012 at the Conference Hall of CCD at Sevasi in Vadodara. This should interest and spur the intelligentsia of Canara and all over the country too.
An official Press Note states: The keynote address will be delivered by renowned constitutional expert Dr. Subash Kashyap. Her Excellency, the Governor of State of Gujarat Shrimati Dr. Kamala Benival will deliver concluding address. Prof. Lancy Lobo, Dr. Jayesh Shah and Dr. Mrutyunjay Sahu will co- ordinate the seminar. Eminent scholars Prof. A. M. Shah, Prof. Ghanshyam Shah, Prof. Samir Joshi, Prof. J.S. Bandukwala, Prof. Biswaroop Das and Achyut Yagnik will give their expert comments.
In a period of widespread corruption, discontent of economic growth and in the midst of all the tumult in the Indian polity, the issue of Center-state debates is back again. Centre for Culture and Development wishes to initiate a discussion and debate among academicians, social activists, research scholars and organizations that are genuinely committed to federalism and enable the emergence of a common platform to bring about a restructuring of Centre-State relations. The two day seminar will focus on Center-state relation in India. Topics will be discussed on: (1)Theory and Practice of Indian Federalism (2)Federalism and Decentralization (3)Fiscal Federalism (4)Internal Security and Federalism (5)Regionalism and Federalism and (6) Resource Federalism. After independence, India adopted the federal structure for, perhaps, administrative convenience. The Constitution of India is federal in form but is more unitary in character. Therefore, Centre- State relations, i.e. the arrangements between the Union Government and the States in regard to their powers, functions and responsibilities, have always been a crucial issue.
The framers of the Indian Constitution were keen on federalism as a functional instrument for the creation of an Indian nation and a strong, cohesive state. The framework of Centre-State relationship had worked fairly smoothly till eighties and the institutions created under or inspired by the Constitution for this purpose enjoyed complete trust and respect of all concerned. Sixty five years of Independence have witnessed tremendous changes and there is immediate need to have a fresh look in an introspective spirit at the Centre-State relations. All is not well with the present federal system. Over the years the Central government adopted increasingly interventionist practices in the States. There are a number of issues that need to be constantly addressed to keep the fine balance of power between the Centre and the states in a federal structure. Centralized planning, through the Planning Commission appointed by the Centre, considerable preponderance in legislative power for the Union, the financial dependency of the states on the Centre’s mercy, the administrative inferiority of the states, aggravated by the appointment of strategic instruments like Governors, Election Commissioner, Comptroller and Auditor General and Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, without reference to the states, make them meek and weak. Also, recent rise of regionalism, NCTC and militancy and naxalite movements needs adequate attention to strengthen Indian federalism. The failure of any one party to gain majority in the Parliament, and the growing dependence of national parties on regional parties to run the government at the centre, has given more elbow room for the federal units to bargain and influence important decisions at the centre. The challenge of environment i.e., green federalism and also water sharing disputes between different states have also been challenged the federal structure of the Indian Constitution.These are some of the issues will be discussed during the process of seminar.
Leading international and national scholars and researchers will be participating and presenting their research papers. Few among them, Prof, Balveer Arora, Padamshri Mr. Prakash Singh, Ex- DG of BSF and Ex-D.G. of Assam, Prof. P.M. Patel, , Prof. S.N. Sangeeta, Dr. Ligia Noronha, Fr. Cedric Prakash, Mr. Nagindas Sanghvi, Prof. R. C. Popat, , Prof. Harihar Bhattacharyya, Prof. Surya Narayan Misra, Dr. Dhananjay Tripathi, Prof. Susmita Sen Gupta, Prof. Debasish Bhattacharjee will present their research papers during the seminar on various issues. Website: -www.ccdgujarat.org, Email: email@example.com.
- mangalore today
Pakistan, August 24, 2012: It is rare for a case of anti-Christian persecution to attract such widespread and sympathetic media coverage and international condemnation. But the severe beating and subsequent arrest of an 11-year-old Christian girl with Down’s syndrome in Pakistan over a flimsy and false blasphemy accusation is so shocking as to outrage even the most disinterested of people.
Both the United States and France have spoken out, calling for the Pakistani authorities to take action. And voices from within Pakistan have also made bold statements.
One of the country’s most high-profile politicians, Imran Khan, described the detention of Rimsha Masih as “shameful”, and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan summed up the sense of utter disbelief that a vulnerable young girl could be so inhumanely treated:
The fact that the girl is a juvenile and suffers from Down’s syndrome only makes the charge more preposterous and barbaric… It is deplorable that the country’s political leadership refrains from speaking out against extremism and the injustices towards non-Muslims.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari ordered a report into the matter and called for the protection of the vulnerable, especially those who may suffer from misuse of the blasphemy law. Police have since filed a case against 150 people over violent protests against Rimsha; they were charged with destroying public and private property, damaging cars and blocking roads by burning tyres.
While the statements of condemnation are both fitting and welcome, will they turn out to be just hot air once attention to this particular case has died down? How many Rimsha Masihs, Aasia Bibis, andAslam Masihs will there need to be before someone in a position of authority has both the courage and the support to effect real change regarding Pakistan’s pernicious “blasphemy laws” and the mistreatment of the country’s Christians?
The blasphemy laws, which prescribe the death penalty for “defiling the name of Muhammad” and life imprisonment for desecrating the Quran, are routinely used against Christians and other non-Muslims. The accused become targets of Muslim citizens, who often respond with threats and violence, even if the person is cleared by the courts. Some have even been killed.
Those who have campaigned for reform have been silenced by extremists in one way or another, most notably Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who were both assassinated last year over their opposition to the blasphemy laws.
Sustained pressure from both outside and within Pakistan is now required for the government to take the decisive action required.
The international community, especially Western governments, need to work actively to promote change by putting the plight of persecuted Christians and other minorities at the forefront of their relations with Pakistan, until the country demonstrates both its willingness and its ability to uphold human rights.
And Muslim leaders within Pakistan need to show responsible and constructive leadership. Instead of promoting peace and communal harmony, mullahs often incite aggression in their communities over blasphemy allegations. In Rimsha’s case, the accusation against her was broadcast over the loudspeakers of the mosques in the area, provoking local Muslims to beat the young girl and attack other Christians and homes. And in an utterly deplorable act, one Muslim cleric called for the youngster to be publicly burned.
Can you imagine the indignation if a Christian leader in any country expressed such venomous intent towards any Muslim, regardless of the nature of their offence, let alone a child with Down’s syndrome who had been falsely accused?
Few Muslim leaders in Pakistan appear to have spoken up for Rimsha. They need to take heed of calls such as this from World Muslim Congress president Mike Ghouse, who said on Tuesday (21 August):
We urge Muslims in Pakistan and around the world to focus on this particular topic and seek to abolish the blasphemy laws… Blasphemy has become a source of harassment and to a few who have nothing better to do than create chaos… We ask the people of Pakistan to seriously debate the blasphemy laws.
- barnabas editorial
One stormy night many years ago, an elderly man and his wife entered the lobby of a small hotel in Philadelphia. Trying to get out of the rain, the couple approached the front desk hoping to get some shelter for the night.
“Could you possibly give us a room here?” the husband asked. The clerk, a friendly man with a winning smile, looked at the couple and explained that there were three conventions in town.
“All of our rooms are taken,” the clerk said. “But I can’t send a nice couple like you out into the rain at one o’clock in the morning. Would you perhaps be willing to sleep in my room? It’s not exactly a suite, but it will be good enough to make you folks comfortable for the night.”
When the couple declined, the young man pressed on. “Don’t worry about me; I’ll make out just fine,” the clerk told them. So the couple agreed.
As he paid his bill the next morning, the elderly man said to the clerk, “You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I’ll build one for you.”
The clerk looked at them and smiled. The three of them had a good laugh.
As they drove away, the elderly couple agreed that the helpful clerk was indeed exceptional, as finding people who are both friendly and helpful isn’t easy.
Two years passed. The clerk had almost forgotten the incident when he received a letter from the old man. It recalled that stormy night and enclosed a round-trip ticket to New York, asking the young man to pay them a visit.
The old man met him in New York, and led him to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. He then pointed to a great new building there, a palace of reddish stone, with turrets and watchtowers thrusting up to the sky.
“That,” said the older man, “is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.”
“You must be joking,” the young man said.
“I can assure you I am not,” said the older man, a sly smile playing around his mouth.
The older man’s name was William Waldorf Astor, and the magnificent structure was the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
The young clerk who became its first manager was George C. Boldt. This young clerk never foresaw the turn of events that would lead him to become the manager of one of the world’s most glamorous hotels.
The Bible says that we are not to turn our backs on those who are in need, for we might be entertaining angels. Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch than the things you acquire…
- fwd: hazel remedios
A couple in the United States says a Baptist church has refused to marry them because they are black.
The First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs in Mississippi cancelled the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson a day before the ceremony, the Press Trust of India reported quoting US media.
Pastor Stan Weatherford said the church had never hosted black couples since it was opened in 1883 and some church members objected breaking that precedent. They threatened to remove him as a pastor.
The couple said they had to move their ceremony to another church, only days before the July 21 wedding.
While the Wilsons were not members of the church, they often attended services there.
Te’Andrea’s uncle is an employee of the church and her father is a member. Charles Wilson said the couple had planned to join as members after their wedding.
- indian express
Egypt, July 24, 2012: A new report has found that the cases of Christian girls and women disappearing, being forcibly converted to Islam and married against their will in Egypt have escalated since the Arab Spring uprising.
The report, Tell My Mother I Miss Her, released on 18 July, was co-authored by Nadia Ghaly, an Egyptian Christian human rights activist, and Michele Clark, a professor at George Washington University.
It found that the Christian community has “become more vulnerable to persecution on account of the upsurge of militant Islam following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak”, with women in particular at greater risk. The numbers of disappearances and abductions are rising, with fewer girls returning to their families; minors and mothers of young children are increasingly being targeted.
The title of the report was a direct quote from a victim made in a recorded phone conversation to her father after her abduction. “D” disappeared on 20 May 2011. Her mother reported the 19-year-old missing, and later that evening the police came to the family home and told them that D had married a Muslim man.
A month later, D managed to phone her father. Crying down the line, she asks him to tell her mother that she misses her before the teenager is interrupted by someone entering the room. The line goes dead, and when the father calls back, a man answers, saying:
She is unconscious now but let me tell you something, this girl is more important to me than anything else. I swear to God, if something happens to her, I will kill all of you and I will burn the church. You know that I can do that.
D has since phoned her father eight times, saying that she is abused and mistreated, and asking for help to escape. In desperation he told her to cut herself so that she would be taken to hospital, where her family might be able to see her. But a doctor was brought to the house, where she is imprisoned in a room, instead.
D’s case was one of 14 that human rights lawyer Stefanos Milad Stefanos brought before the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior in September 2011, requesting investigations, but there had been no follow-up by the time he met with the report’s authors.
Four lawyers reported over 550 cases asking for the restoration of Christian identity following disappearances, forced marriages and forced conversions over a five-year period, with cases escalating since 25 January 2011, when Arab Spring protests began.
Tell My Mother I Miss Her follows a report written by the same authors in November 2009 called The Disappearance, Forced Conversions and Forced Marriages of Coptic Christian Women in Egypt. While that report comprehensively outlined the problem, cases are often disregarded by both the Egyptian authorities and the international community; detractors claim that the disappearances are “nothing more than petulant acts of young women seeking to leave oppressive home environments and that there is no criminal activity involved”.
The aim of the new report is to challenge the notion that the testimony of victims is made up of mere allegations, and calls for investigations and strong preventative measures.
- barnabas team