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October 8, 2016: Pakistani Christians have expressed great joy and fear on news that Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi- Pakistan’s most famous blasphemy law victim will finally have her long awaited Supreme Court appeal heard during the second week of October. Now it seems that the whole world is joining the protest.
To fight against the Pakistan Blasphemy law, Australia has also come forward to show their protest by organising a rally recently. The rally started at 11am on the steps of the Parliament House of NSW 6 Macquarie St Sydney. Followed by which a petition was presented to the Pakistani Consulate at 109 Pitt St Sydney at 12.30 pm – a short walk from Parliament house.
The plight of a Pakistani Christian mother of five who has been jailed for seven years under the notorious blasphemy laws of Pakistan, has led to a demonstration in Sydney Australia. The demonstration coincides with the start of a Supreme court appeal against the blasphemy charge laid against her.
— Be Heard Project (@BeHeardProject) August 11, 2016
We ask Australians to Step Up and involve themselves in the Campaign To Save Asia Bibi From the Blasphemy Death Sentence and oppose Sharia Law in Australia, says Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA). He has also made efforts to give voice to Asia Bibi’s sufferings:
“Asia Bibi has suffered the Injustice of five years imprisonment for a made up crime. A cultural faux pas and innocuous comment made while being attacked, led to her being raped her children sexually molested and her arrest under the draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan for good measure.
‘As a devout Christian, she continues to believe God will free her from her ignominious incarceration. She prays daily and has placed her life and her family before God.”
“I have spoken to Pakistani government officials and the judiciary. All I have spoken to are shocked at the ongoing abuse of her liberty. Yet her tragedy continues and I have come to the conclusion that all I have been receiving is diplomatic lip service, devoid of passion for justice.”
“Her story is one of oppression and discrimination and despite international pressure, statutory authorities and the Government of Pakistan have failed her, just as they have failed all minorities in Pakistan.”
Protesters are calling for the Australian Government to intervene on behalf of Asia Bibi, who they say was falsely accused of denigrating the Islamic prophet Muhammed. They seek diplomatic engagement between the Australian Government and Pakistani Government to ensure that Asia has a fair trial and that her family. the judiciary and legal team representing her are fully protected from any violence from hard-line Muslims in Pakistan.
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Demonstrators are also demanding the Australian Government ensures that the principle of ‘one law for all’ is maintained in their country. The preservation of the democratic nature of Australia as a nation and the condemnation of Islamic Sharia law for its imposition on the freedom and equality of adherents and non-Muslims, wherever Sharia is observed.
A letter with these aim is to be submitted to Parliamentarians based at Parliament House of New South Wales. The letter will also call for Australian Government to reconsider the $49 million dollars of aid given to Pakistan. With a desire that the aid be terminated unless Pakistan significantly improves its poor human rights record.
Australian Justice of the Peace, Michael Andjelkovic, said:
“This case demonstrates the cruelty, unequality and divisiveness of Blasphemy Law under islamic sharia law towards non muslims and is something that we do not want in Australia.”
During the protest Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, will lead a delegation to the Pakistan Consulate in Sydney, where a petition calling for freedom for Asia Bibi will be submitted. The electronic petition can be signed by(clicking here)
Wilson Chowdhry further said:
“Asia Bibi has suffered the ignominy of seven years of imprisonment on trumped up charges because her faith was offensive to Muslims.
“People of good conscience everywhere have demanded justice for Asia, moved by the plight of an innocent mother of five.
“Pakistan’s government have failed in their duty to Asia and the Christian minority amongst them as a whole, their failure has been a blight on Pakistan’s already tarnished reputation.
“Please pray that this appeal is expedited and that the judge is able to reach a rational verdict, based on evidence heard without any duress. “
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He added: “Major donors such as the UK and the USA are starting to use aid as leverage for better human rights, and as a major donor to Pakistan ($47 million), Australia can have a significant role to play.
“Australia’s official policy involves tackling poverty by generating sustainable growth and employment, as well as focusing on education and health, all worthy goals. Some of the poorest Pakistani citizens are Christians, and unfortunately they are typically kept there by a combination of debt-slavery and direct and systematic religious oppression, frequently including systematic sex slavery and targeting of Christian girls and women for kidnap, rape, forced conversion and marriage. Australia simply must use their aid budget to remove this social disparity.”
Asia Bibi is a Christian mum-of-two sentenced to death by hanging and currently on death row in a Pakistani prison. Her crime? She had been picking berries for paid work in the village of Itan Wali, Punjab, in June 2009. Then she offered water to a fellow human being after drinking at a rural well – without realizing followers of Christ were not allowed to relieve their thirst there, only Muslims. The harsh social norms of Pakistani culture means that Christians are ‘untouchables’ – the lowest. Many Muslims in the country believe, to put it crudely, that members of churches are akin to dogs. Christians are seen as a mat upon which you can wipe your feet.
Sounds harsh and unrealistic?
Asia Bibi’s story is a perfect example of the above ‘untouchable’ claims. She suddenly found herself in a heated discussion with local Muslim women who made fun of Christianity on that fateful day when she fetched water. Asia, defending her beliefs, asked: “Jesus died on the cross for us, but what has Mohammed done for you?” This simple statement caused a frenzy amongst her Muslim co-workers. They instantly called her pro-Christian comments ‘blasphemy’, although she had every right to discuss her faith under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (of which Pakistan is a signatory).
The horrifying result was that Asia was brutally beaten and raped. Her two daughters, one with special needs, were also abused by the mob and some reports suggest sexual assault was involved. Her husband and five children are now in hiding while she waits to be executed. An appeal was refused in October 2014 and Asia is vulnerable to attacks inside the remote prison – even though a death sentence is still levied against her. In spite of all she faces, Asia has stayed true to her Christian faith.
— Onlinemagazin (@OnlineMagazin) August 25, 2016
Pakistan’s Blasphemy law is an ever-present weapon of discrimination which looms over Christians in Pakistan. This is a law that we at the BPCA have constantly condemned because a significant reform, or abrogation, is desperately needed. As in the case of Asia Bibi, blasphemy charges are laid with flimsy evidence simply on the account of a Muslim witness against a non-Muslim (it is more complicated with Muslim-to-Muslim charges).
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Some 50 per cent of blasphemy charges are made against Muslims in blasphemy cases – and the other 50 per cent levied against non-Muslims who make up only five per cent of the population. These facts show the unbalanced hatred meted towards minority faiths. Christians makeup just 1.6 per cent of the overall population and yet 15 per cent of blasphemy charges are laid against followers of Christ. Recent figures indicate this percentage is set to grow.
-by NewsGram team
By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
The festive season is a time of joy. Some people truly love it, but for many, it can trigger feelings of loneliness and anxiety. Feeling lonely is common and completely normal -- whether or not we're living through this pandemic. The social pressure to "be happy" can be relentless, but it is important to take a proactive approach to meet not only our emotional needs but also to maintain our mental stability and well-being. With the pandemic, holidays are likely to be challenging, instead, meet them head-on with a renewed dedication and a proactive mindset to avoid 'holiday blues'.
Kanchan Rai, Mental and Emotional Well-being Coach, Founder, Let Us Talk, mentions ways to turn your loneliness into action this season:
Say yes to socializing: When we are experiencing loneliness, it can be easy to slip into the habit of saying no to social activities. Seclusion can make it challenging to feel driven and the mere thought of physically seeing people can lead to stress. Hence it is recommended to saying yes to mingling to help build your confidence. Something as simple as going for a walk with a friend or chatting with your loved ones over the phone can make a huge difference.
It is recommended to saying yes to mingling to help build your confidence | Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Devote your time to others: An effective way to beat loneliness amidst the holidays is by helping others who are less fortunate. The good cause will remind you of all you have to be appreciative for. This will help you to be a part of something larger, thus immersing yourself in the true spirit of the holiday season.
An effective way to beat loneliness amidst the holidays is by helping others who are less fortunate. | Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash
Make the most of technology: For those with distant loved ones, technology can prove to be an enabler in helping to keep family traditions alive. For instance, celebrate the festive cheer virtually or opening festive gifts on video calls amidst all family members. Taking a moment to network with someone, communicating about shared interests or fond memories, even if it's online, can play a major role in reminding us of the good times.
Taking a moment to network with someone, communicating about shared interests or fond memories, even if it's online, can play a major role in reminding us of the good times. | Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash
Get distracted with healthy coping strategies: Distraction can be useful when it's done with the intention of proactively giving yourself a break. For instance, it is recommended to watch a movie to take your mind off stressful thoughts instead of drinking many glasses of wine to forget aloofness. Taking a break will help prevent burnout and will enable you to deal with problems better.
Taking a break will help prevent burnout and will enable you to deal with problems better. | Photo by Johan Godínez on Unsplash
Don't be afraid to speak up: Confiding in reliable friends or relatives about how you feel can often lift the weight off your shoulders, thus making you feel less isolated. It can also be helpful to consult your counsellor if the seasonal isolation has been impacting your emotional well-being. Counselling can help in building your confidence and will facilitate you to discover coping strategies to process any issue. (IANS/ MBI)
Confiding in reliable friends or relatives about how you feel can often lift the weight off your shoulders, thus making you feel less isolated. | Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Keywords: Loneliness, action, socialise, technology, stress speak, share, friends
Ahead of the Windows 11 launch, Microsoft is rolling out some updates to Edge that include the addition of tab groups. Users will be able to assemble collections of tabs to make their browser a little less chaotic.
To create a group, hold the control button and choose the tabs you want to include, then select "Add tabs to new group" from the right-click menu, Engadget reported on Friday. Users can customise the label with a different colour for each group. When users hover over a tab, they will be able to see a preview of the web page as well.
Microsoft Edge is also getting some handy shopping features, the report said. The browser can give swift access to reviews and ratings for more than 5 million products. When users are on a product page, they can click the blue tag on the address bar and see expert reviews from reliable sources, as well as the average consumer star rating from various retailers.
When they do figure out what to buy, Microsoft aims to help them complete the transaction a bit faster. The new personalised news feed called Microsoft Start is integrated into the browser. Users will see headlines and articles relevant to their interests from a range of publishers when they open a new tab. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: microsoft, edge, update, tab groups, browser, shopping, address bar
When you think of the colours on your plate, do you ever think of black? Well, its time you do! As they are the new power food. We all know greens, yellows and reds are loaded with nutrients -- so are the lesser spoken about black ones too!
What are black foods? Foods with the pigments called anthocyanins are known as black foods. Anthocyanins are found in black, blue and purple coloured foods and have hidden nutrients and benefits galore. These pigments have rich anti-oxidant properties which promote health and have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. They play a huge role in immunity. They are fun, healthy, offbeat and make for a nice visual treat too.
Abhilasha V, HOD and Chief Clinical Nutritionist -- Cloudnine group of hospitals, Bengaluru, few interesting ones and their benefits:
Cultivated in South East Asian belt, this rice has a nutty flavour and can be used in many recipes. In China this was known as the Forbidden rice in ancient times as it was reserved for only royalty. Now, some parts of north East India grow black rice too. They are loaded with lutien and zeaxanthin and promote good eye health. They have cancer fighting properties due to their high anti-oxidant and fiber content. They can be used in puddings, stir fries, risotto, porridge, noodles, bread and even makes a great idea for a good kheer!
Cultivated in South East Asian belt, this rice has a nutty flavour and can be used in many recipes. | Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash
A closer to home surprise! Indians have used black dal since ages. They are used as gravies and in mixed dal preparations. They are rich in fibre, iron, folate and protein and can be quite delicious too.
A closer to home surprise! Indians have used black dal since ages | Pixabay
With the western influence on our eating habits, it has brought along a long list of good foods. Olives are one of them and they are versatile in their flavour. They can be added to salads, pastas, stir fries and some pickles and drinks too. Olives contain monounsaturated fats, Vitamin E, Polyphenols and oleocanthal -- which is a strong anti-inflammatory and pain-killer compound found in olives. This little power-packed food can protect your arteries from clogging, maintain eye health, prevent DNA damage, promote good skin health and also hair health.
Olives can be added to salads, pastas, stir fries and some pickles and drinks too. | Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash
Black sesame seeds
Commonly known as Til, they come with a huge bunch of benefits, loaded with fibre, protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcim, zinc, copper, selenium and Vitamin E. It also contains sesamin, which helps reduce inflammation and plays a vital role in joint pain. Yes! All of that in a daily allowance of 1-2 teaspoons can do wonders for your health. They can be used in salads as garnish, in laddoos, in breads, smoothies, soups, hummus, dips and even tahini. They can be consumed soaked, sprouted, baked or roasted too.
Commonly known as Til, they come with a huge bunch of benefits, loaded with fibre, protein, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcim, zinc, copper, selenium and Vitamin E. | Photo by Lluvia Morales on Unsplash
Known for their sweet taste and popular flavour, black grapes are a favourite for many. This seasonal fruit has a host of benefits to give us. Black grapes contain Lutein, Zeaxanthin which prevents retinal damage and macular degeneration. Resveratrol in grapes are known to have anti-cancer properties and have a huge protective effect on cardiac health by lowering LDL levels too. Proanthocyanidins present in this fruit has great benefits for skin health too. Use these grapes in salads, smoothies, jams, and even good old curd rice!
Black grapes contain Lutein, Zeaxanthin which prevents retinal damage and macular degeneration. | Photo by Tina Vanhove on Unsplash
Yes you heard that right. Well these aren't naturally found, but develop this colour due to a process that turns them black and used widely in Asian cuisine. It is regular white garlic that has been fermented or aged. It possesses a caramelized, savoury richness that adds flavour to stir fries, meat bakes, rice and noodles preparations and soups too. These have properties that prevent cell damage and hence protect us from cancers. Black garlic contains more anti-oxidants [almost 2X] than its white counterpart.So why wait -add them in small doses into your meals and let your health thrive.
Black Garlic possesses a caramelized, savoury richness that adds flavour to stir fries, meat bakes, rice and noodles preparations and soups too. | Wikimedia Commons
* Advantages: As mentioned above they come with a host of benefits such as anti-cancer, anti-ageing, good for eye, heart, skin and hair health too.
* Disadvantages: Nothing in particular. There are no real toxicities associated with these foods that are reported and are considered generally safe, but always do remember, too much of anything is not the rule in nutrition.
* Points to remember: Always ensure you have a balanced diet that contains all food groups, myriad colours, nutrients and varieties -- choose in moderation and build them into your daily meal plan with the help of a nutritionist. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Black, food, nutrition, black pulses, til, grapes, garlic, sesame, olive, rice