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August 26, 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.
Asia Bibi was brutally beaten after drinking water from a well, which was specifically for the use of Muslims in the highly discriminatory nation- Pakistan. Her mistake was to offer water from the same well to Muslim co-workers who started to beat Asia, whilst cursing her and her faith. Asia could not take the insults made against Jesus her Lord, so she simply said ‘My Christ died for me what did Muhammed do for you?” The male co-workers were told about this and Asia Bibi was gang-raped for her alleged crime of blasphemy, she was beaten to her home where her children were later sexually molested. For her crime of blasphemy which was induced by the demand of a local Imam, she was imprisoned under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. She has now been incarcerated since June 2009 and has been sentenced to death since November 2010.
Please help to free Asia BiBi and may God keep her out of the hands of Maulana Yousef Qureshi or the Taliban ! Pls RT
— FreeAsiaBiBi (@FreeAsiaBiBi) August 14, 2016
Asia could not take the insults made against Jesus (her Lord), so she simply said ‘My Christ died for me what did Muhammed do for you?” The male co-workers were told about this and Asia Bibi was gang-raped for her alleged crime of blasphemy, she was beaten at her home where her children were later sexually molested. For her crime of blasphemy which was induced by the demand of a local Imam, she was imprisoned under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. She has been incarcerated since June 2009 followed by a death sentence, that was announced in November 2010.
Pray for a Christian lady, Asia Bibi,
who has been in a Pakistan jail for many years
& use info to write her pic.twitter.com/w2YSDE4ViJ
— Ron Lewis (@RLewis77) August 13, 2016
After a failed appeal to the Lahore High Court on October 16, 2014, many thought freedom was beyond Asia Bibi. However, in a pre-trial hearing at Pakistan’s supreme court on July 22, 2015; the court has suspended her death sentence and permitted an appeal. In her appeal, Asia will ask the court to reconsider deficiencies in the case, which included poor investigation and manipulation of pieces of evidence by the local police.
— Onlinemagazin (@OnlineMagazin) August 25, 2016
The appeal was originally meant to take place on March 26, 2016. However, after the judiciary and Government of Pakistan decided to push through with the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri under anti-terrorism laws, they were forced to postpone Asia Bibi’s appeal hearing.
Mumtaz Qadri, who assassinated Salmaan Taseer, a former Governor of Punjab for his stance of calling for the abrogation of draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan and freedom for Asia Bibi. In the wake of Qadri’s death- a wave of protests included 100,000 Muslims, who gathered outside the Government buildings in Islamabad and demanded the termination of proposed reforms of the blasphemy laws of Pakistan and death sentence for Asia Bibi. The government caved in on the reforms which had passed through Parliament and were to be ratified by the Senate of Pakistan. Many Christians at this point thought Asia Bibi’s luck had run out and that the government had failed her and other minorities – especially when they postponed her case due to the scale of social schism.
— Be Heard Project (@BeHeardProject) August 11, 2016
Many Christians at this point thought Asia Bibi’s luck had run out and that the government had failed her and other minorities – especially when they postponed her case due to the scale of social schism.
However, news of the revised date for the appeal hearing has induced mixed feelings. Many Pakistani Christians believe the date will be postponed again when the Muslim protests for Asia Bibi’s death reassume. They still recall the 5 postponements before Asia Bibi had her Lahore High Court Appeal rejected.
Moreover, despite their joy and delight that Asia Bibi will have her day in court and a chance for justice, they fear that a community backlash will result in attacks on the innocent Christian communities across the country. Despite their fear, every Pakistani Christian stands with Asia Bibi and is praying for her release!
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
“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.”
“Freedom for Asia Bibi would be a watershed moment in the campaign for justice and freedom for minorities. Previous governments have failed miserably, but I believe the incumbent Government is genuinely attempting to return the balance. I hope that effective protection is provided to Asia and her family, the judiciary and all persons that could make this latest appeal a success. Any half-hearted approach will undermine Asia’s trial and create a blight on Pakistan’s reputation.”
BPCA believes there will be a large mob of Muslims baying for the blood of Asia Bibi outside the courts. We are calling on the Government to ensure that the known ring-leaders are rounded up and prosecuted under the countries incitement to hatred laws.
If these extremist elements are allowed to foment violence against any innocent people, then it is the government and security forces that should be implicated for their failure to provide adequate protection. This case will create schism and polarization among a population that has been inculcated with hatred, through a biased national curriculum. We pray that any ensuing infraction is controlled and curbed by security forces and that innocent Christian communities are protected during a time when their pariah status is set to reach epic levels.
We pray that any ensuing infraction is controlled and curbed by security forces and that innocent Christian communities are protected during a time when their pariah status is set to reach epic levels.
BPCA continue their appeal to support the Asia Bibi and her family. If you would like to donate towards our appeal please (click here).
Please sign and share our petition (click here)
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