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21-year-old Christian Man Assaulted and Burned for Having Friendship with Muslim Woman

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Representational Image. Source-Pixabay

Sheikhupura, April 18, 2017: A 21-year-old Christian man was reportedly assaulted and burnt with hot iron rods, allegedly by the family of a Muslim woman in Sheikhupura district, for having “friendship” with her.

The victim had received severe burn wounds and after failing to get proper medical care in Sheikhupura, he was shifted to Mayo Hospital, Lahore, on Sunday for further medical treatment.

The incident happened earlier this month and a police case has also been lodged against the father and brothers of the woman, who were reportedly against the friendship between the two and allegedly tortured Ansar Masih, mentioned PTI.

According to the First Information Report (FIR) undersigned by Masih’s sister in Sheikhupura’s Saddar police station, Masih first established contact with the woman two years ago and their friendship grew with time and they often spoke on phone and Masih would also visit the woman neighbourhood to meet her.  When the woman’s family learned of the friendship, her father, Manzoor, and her brothers called Masih’s father asking him to tell his son to stay away from her, warning them of dire consequences if their instructions were not followed.

On April 1, Ansar’s mother sent him to run an errand in the woman’s neighborhood where Ansar was allegedly kidnapped by the accused and his two sons, the report stated, adding the three unclothed him, beat him and burned him using hot iron rods and then the accused had brought Ansar to his house and told his family that he had been in a traffic accident.

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Ansar’s family had then rushed him to Sheikhupura’s District Headquarters Hospital where, after gaining consciousness, he narrated the incident.

Subsequently, on April 5, his sister lodged the FIR following which the police took the accused into custody.

The victim’s father has alleged that the family was under pressure by the accused as well as the area police to reconcile and take back the case.

Ansar’s condition is reportedly stable now. However, his medical treatment is underway.

– Prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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24 years after Converting his Faith to Islam, 52-year-old Sheshadri from Mysore Returns to Hinduism

What was the reason for his conversion from Islam to back to his original religion Hinduism?

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Sheshadri originally belonged to a Brahmin family
(Representative image) Sheshadri originally belonged to a Brahmin family. Wikimedia
  • Sheshadri lost his mother when he was only 2 years old and he also lost his father while he was studying in class 10
  • No one from his community came to help him and to survive he had to take odd jobs at hotels in Mysore and Bengaluru 
  • He adopted Islam religion as he developed a liking for that religion

 Mysore, Karnataka, August 25, 2017:  Sheshadri, an old man from Mysore who is  59 yrs old and earlier belonged to a Brahmin family and Shree Vaishnava Pantha Brahmin community. He later adopted Islam religion. Now, after a long duration of time, Sheshadri and his 20-year-old son Syed Ateek have converted back to Hinduism.

Here’s how a Brahmin man who first converted to Islam and later came back to his own religion- Hinduism:

  • Sheshadri is a resident of Jakkanahalli (a small village which falls in Mandya district) town Shree Ranga Pattana in Karnataka. His profession is that of a lorry driver in Mandya.
  • His father’s name was late B Govindaraju, who was a priest and follower of Ramanujacharya, a Hindu theologian and held a belief in Vishishtadvaita (non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy).
  • His mother’s name was Kamalamma, who was a Shaiva Brahmin and follower of Adi Shankara’s Advaita Vedanta (a type of Hindu philosophy and religious practice, they believe that their soul is not really different from God). 
  • But his parents didn’t have an easy life as they had to leave the town as the community opposed their marriage.

ALSO READ: Tamil Brahmin’s transformation to urban middle class 

  • Sheshadri didn’t have a normal childhood. He lost his mother when he was only 2 years old and he also lost his father while he was studying in class 10.
  • During those tough days no one from his community came to help him, to survive he had to take odd jobs at hotels in Mysore and Bengaluru.
  • In 1993, he started working as a lorry driver with Syed Keezer from Kollegala. At that time, Sheshadri adopted Islam religion as he developed a liking for that religion.
  • Sheshadri married Fahmida, who was a relative of Syed Keezer and with her, he had two sons- Syed Ateek and Syed Siddiq.
  • But even his marriage didn’t last long as Fahmida left Sheshadri 2 years ago because of some conflict and after it, she started living with her parents and took her younger son Syed Siddiq along with her.
  • This event affected him in a huge way, leaving him frustrated and thus he decided to convert back to the religion he originally belonged to that is Hinduism.
  • His elder son Syed Ateeq joined him in conversion and changed his name to Harshal.
  • Sheshadri talked about the reason for conversion from Islam to Hinduism. According to Banglore Mirror report, he said “I embraced Islam and married a Muslim woman due to restrictions from our community. I was always eager to come back to Hinduism. I will now persuade my wife and the other son to convert to Hinduism.”
  • There was a Ghar Waapsi (homecoming) programme held for Sheshadri, conducted by Pramod Mutalik, Sri Ram Sene chief at the Arya Samaj Mandir, Mysore.

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Equal Yet Divided? Feminists Maintain Silence Over Muslim Woman’s Choice to Not Wear Hijab: What’s Wrong With Present Day Feminists

The Western activist-feminists today are undoubtedly absorbed in struggles to liberate themselves from the grasp of the oppressive male hegemony

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muslim women
Western feminists continue to defend a woman’s right to wear the hijab. Then why is little talked about girls who ‘choose’ to not wear it? Pixabay
  • Despite an active feminist movement, women in Islamic countries continue to remain outside areas of attention
  • Outrage emerged following Muslim chess player’s decision to not wear a hijab during a game, an issue that is yet to come under the radar of the Western feminists

August 22, 2017 : Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know the magnanimity of the worldwide feminist movement in support of women’s rights to be treated as equals irrespective of their nationality, religion or sexual orientation.

Upon comparison to the mainstream Western feminism, mentions of Islamic feminism do not occupy evident, or for what matter, visible part of conversations.

  • In 2014, artist Atena Farghadani was sentenced to an imprisonment of 12 years for posting a satirical caricature on Facebook as a protest against the proposed legislation against women’s rights and birth control. She was held guilty for ‘spreading propaganda’.
  • In 2015, 26-year old Iranian-British Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested in Tehran for trying to attend a men’s volleyball match.
  • In 2014, Loujain al-Hathloul, a human rights defender in Saudi Arabia was first arrested for driving cars in a kingdom where it is forbidden. She was more recently re-arrested in June 2017, the exact reason for which has not been made public. However, Amnesty International believes the arrest has been made to curb her peaceful efforts to defend women’s rights.

Today, Farghadani, Ghavami and Loujain al-Hathloul have been reduced to mere names on a list of millions of women whose basic rights have been mercilessly desecrated.

But American feminists are yet to speak up about these injustices- they continue to be too occupied with their own victimization to raise voice against the injustices meted out to women like Farghadani.

The Western activist-feminists today are undoubtedly absorbed in struggles to liberate themselves from the grasp of the oppressive male hegemony. However, in their fights against phantom epidemics and unnecessary grievances, the gender activists today have deviated from the real fight against inequality.

ALSO READ Exclusive: 12 Sexist Remarks that Every Woman can relate to!

In the last two years, Western feminists have often turned to social networking platforms to raise issues, draw attention and mobilize support. While the increasingly global reach of  online networking sites like Twitter, and Facebook, and the inherent power of ‘hashtag activism’ can largely assist women find solidarity , the latest trend has been a far cry from the real cause.

In the last two years, some of the widely used hashtags were #FreeTheNipples, #LesPrincessesOntDesPoils or #PrincessesHaveHair and #BigUndiesOutForSam.

The former was a campaign to de-sexualize women’s breasts and the next promotes acceptance of body-hair on women. The third campaign drew support from women in favor of comfortable under-garments for women. Imagine, if the imprisoned Muslim women of Iran and Afghanistan, who lack political rights and are vulnerable to physical violence because of their faith, were to tweet, what would they say about these struggles? Will these be the issues they would raise, I doubt.

The World Economic Forum asserts an inverse relationship between women rights and states with Islam as dominant religion.

The Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016 placed Islam as the dominant religion in the lowest ranking 44 states for women rights and equality (that means states un-supportive of womens’ rights). Evidently, in states that the report claims most supportive of women rights, the density of Islam followers is very low.

It will be wrong to say that because women in Islamic countries suffer at the hands of misogyny, the Western women should compromise with less serious prejudices. However, what needs to be highlighted is why feminist actions continue to be restricted to physical borders.  Women in different corners of the world today have one thing in common – their fight for basic rights as upheld in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Why then are the so-called liberal women’s rights activists only raising issues of one section of people and not for all?

In the Western liberal societies, the hijab has very recently emerged as a symbol of resistance to Islamophobia, against policies from President Trump’s administration aiming to establish divisions between ‘them’ and ‘us’.  Western feminists have, since long, defended a woman’s right to wear the hijab. However, very little is talked about girls who ‘choose’ to not don the veil.

ALSO READ:  Being feminine: How far are we from understanding feminism in its real form

In January, Dorsa Derakhshani, an 18-year old Iranian chess grandmaster refused to wear a hijab at a tournament in Gibraltar and instead chose to wear only a headband. Her decision to defy the Iranian law which calls upon all women to wear a headscarf in public drew massive flack from staunch radical Muslims, following which she was kicked out of the national team.

The Somali born Ex-politician and feminist critic, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who herself wore the burqa as a teenager, strongly believes that the debate over the controversial head covering is no more about religious or cultural practices but about the equality of women. “Expecting half of humanity to go around covered in black sacks is just evil sexism,” she had written for a report published in The Australian.

The author has repeatedly expressed her concern over the apathetic stance of western feminists in support of liberal Muslim women for which she has been increasingly labeled as ‘Islamophobic’.

However, what needs to be understood here is that raising questions on cultural practices in Islam does not make one Islamophobic.

American philosopher, Martha Craven Nussbaum had rightly pointed out that the feminist theory heeds diminutive consideration to struggles of women outside United States. While this may come across as demeaning to some, that does seem like the present day state of affairs.

The need of the hour is to shatter the dominant opinion which holds that Islam and feminism are not consistent and that one can either be a Muslim or associated with feminism but not both. This, however, can only stem from a larger understanding that human rights- including rights of women, are meant for all and not just a few and definitely must not be restricted by religion.


 

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