Oscar award and religion

Mahershala Ali got oscar award for the best supporting actor for his acting in the film ‘Moonlight’. Instead of congratulating him and discussing his performance many are discussing his religion.

Is he a real Muslim ?

In Pakistan Ahamadiyyas are not considered as Muslims.  So the Pakistan’s UN envoy had to delete her congratulatory re tweet because it mentioned him as first Muslim actor to get an oscar.

As Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim actor to win Oscar for his role in Hollywood flick ‘Moonlight’, Pakistan’s Representative to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi tweeted in support of his achievement. However, Lodhi’s tweet came under fire for promoting Ahmadiyyas considered to be ‘non-Muslims’ in Pakistan. Lodhi removed the tweet soon after the post. Ali, a Muslim convert since 1999, joined the minority Ahmadiyya Community, a move seen as heretical by other Islamic sects in 2001.

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Did Trump do a Modi ?

The executive order on immigration that President Trump came out with immediately after him taking over power was widely criticised in USA.  He was accused of being discriminatory towards Muslims and citizens of certain nations. But another proposed discriminatory law on immigration that came out from another democratic country did not get that much attention.

Image credit: TOI

Image credit: TOI

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Sham miracles an affront to scientific temper


Hey, why do you bother when a church establishment which you do not believe in, makes one of its dead members Saint with pomp and publicity ? Since it does not involve you,  why make a fuss out of it ?

This is a question many atheists faced in connection with the canonization of Mother Teresa.

There are several reasons why it bothers me and other atheists. The Vatican is not just issuing a sainthood certificate. To make a guy or gal Saint, the Pope should be convinced  that they have done two miracles on this earth after their death.  It is thus openly questioning science and scientific methods by proclaiming the alleged miracles to be true. Thus the Catholic Church is wilfully indulging in spreading superstitions. It is misleading people and make them turn away from science and scientific methods.

Miracles, according the Church, are supposed to be happenings that do not have any credible scientific explanations. Let us for a moment concede that the alleged miracles has really no scientific explanation at present. Does that mean the Saints did it from heaven? Or does it mean Science has yet to find a good reason for it ? Science has found credible explanations for many things that were considered miracles thousand years ago. So will the Church take away the Sainthood when the “miracle” get a scientific explanation ?

Image credit - Oxford oratory website

Image credit – Oxford oratory website

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“Please do not interfere in our religious customs”!

This is our traditional religious practice. We are following this for hundreds of years. Please do not interfere in our religious customs. Government should not try to change it.

In India we hear this again and again from believers of all religions. Recently when there was a discussion about having a Uniform civil law regardless of religion, many Muslims were against it. They were arguing that as a minority they have the right to practice their religion as per their traditions. They do not want to raise the legal age for marriage or to ban polygamy or triple talaq. When some women protested against entry ban in some Hindu temples, government was asked not to interfere in religious customs.

This is not something new. Throughout the history of humankind, change, especially in religious beliefs and customs, was resisted quoting traditions. Many archaic and cruel customs found proud defenders. Those who want to reform were termed apostate aiming to destroy religion.

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Incredibly religious and misogynist India

Incredible India is the tag line used so often by many agencies to promote tourist attraction to India. If there was a tourist present in the legislative assembly hall of Haryana state of “secular” India yesterday, she might have felt “incredibly” disgusted.

They would have witnessed a completely naked man, sitting on the dais above the seats of Governor and Chief Minister of the state, and giving a lecture to the people’s representatives. That man’s name was Tarun Sagar, a famous monk of Digambara sect of Jainism, an ancient Indian religion. He said:

The control of dharma (morality) over politics is essential. Dharma is the husband and politics is the wife. It is the duty of every husband to protect his wife and it is the duty of every wife to accept the orders (discipline) of her husband,”  “if there is no control of dharma over politics, it will be like an elephant out of control,”

Image Credit - Indian Express

Image Credit – Indian Express

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‘Liberal’ France imposes outfits ‘respecting’ secularism on beaches

Liberté, égalité, fraternité or Liberty, Equality, Fraternity is the national motto of French Republic.

Article IV of Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a fundamental document of French Revolution reads like this:

Liberty consists of doing anything which does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of each man has only those borders which assure other members of the society the enjoyment of these same rights.

Now see some recent news reports from France.

On Tuesday a 34-year-old mother of two, whose family have been French citizens for at least three generations, told French news agency AFP she had been fined on the beach in Cannes, 18 miles from Nice, for wearing leggings, a top and a headscarf.

The former air-hostess from Toulouse was issued a ticket saying she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”.

“I was sitting on a beach with my family,” she said. “I wasn’t even planning to swim, just to dip my feet.”

This was more shocking.

Armed police have forced a woman on a beach in Nice to remove her burkini as part of a controversial new ban.

The incident occurred on the beach at the city’s Promenade des Anglais, the location of the lorry attack on Bastille Day in which 84 people were killed last month.

Photographs show four police officers armed with handguns, batons and pepper spray standing round the woman who was lying on the beach wearing a blue headscarf and matching top.

After speaking to the woman, she appears to remove the blue long-sleeve top.

She is thought to have been issued with a fine and warned about the new dress code on the beach.

Several women have now been fined in France for wearing the swim wear.

It seems the French authorities believe wearing a burkini traumatise others while banning it do not infringe on the right of Liberty enshrined as the motto of their republic.

I feel any woman, whatever be the religion, born and brought up in South Asia, may feel more comfortable in a burkini than a bikini. Is it not better to allow the person concerned to choose their attire ?

Imposition of dress code by religion has to be defeated. But State doing the same will not help that cause.

France is shamefully violating the very same ideals on which the French nation was established.

France is walking backwards by imposing dress codes.

Hazaras massacred for not being true Muslims

One after another, the bodies arrived on the steep hill in western Kabul.

For much of Sunday afternoon, an excavator was flattening the dusty area as men with shovels and pickaxes dug graves — four rows of 20 or so, packed so close that if the dead could stretch out their arms, they would touch those next to them.

ethnic Hazara man cries next to empty caskets on Sunday during burial ceremonies at a cemetery in the Omid-e-Sabz Township near Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

The ethnic Hazara man cries next to empty caskets on Sunday during burial ceremonies at a cemetery in the Omid-e-Sabz Township near Kabul, Afghanistan. Credit Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

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Hindu temple to accept stock market shares as donations

Most Hindus are very superstitious, especially the business class. So when they invest in shares or a project they usually give a part of it to temples as donations believing foolishly that it will bring them luck. Until now they were giving such donations as cash. Now the most famous Hindu temple in India’s commercial capital Mumbai is having something new to offer. Instead of cash they have started accepting equity shares of companies as donations. The temple authorities hope to cash in on the superstition of Indian investors and there by get several blue chip shares.

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Indian Church refuses to heed the last wish of a believer

Mary John Akhouri, a Christian Catholic lady died the other day in Mumbai, India. She was 94. Her last wish was to be buried in the premises of a church in which she was baptised at  her native place in Kerala next to her father’s grave.

But when her body was brought for burial the church authorities refused permission. Their objection was she had married a Hindu man.  They said that those who do not follow the Christian way of life will not get buried in the church.

Normally this issue might not have got much publicity,,but for the fact that the lady was the grandmother of a celebrity, the Bollywood film star Priyanka Chopra.

The actress Priyanka Chopra with her granny Mary John Akhouri

The actress Priyanka Chopra with her granny Mary John Akhouri

Church trustee Abraham PV told NDTV, “We could not bury her because after her marriage she lived like a non Christian – like a Hindu. After that she never came back to join us again. If she had given us a petition while she was alive, we would have done everything we could.”

The family was shocked. They insisted she was always a Christian.

 They insist that she was a regular church-goer and had even gone for confession and partaken of the Holy Eucharist just a couple of years ago in the very same church which refused to bury her next to her father, as per her last wish.

No amount of pleading could change the heart of the clergy. The family was about to go back to Mumbai with the body. Hearing their sorry plight, a Bishop arranged for burial at another church some distance away. Thus the funeral happened, not as per the wish of the deceased , but still in a church premise.

But then came a shocker. The kind hearted Bishop was suspended from his duties, allegedly for facilitating the burial.

Then the final twist. Fearing a backlash of bad publicity the church head reinstated the Bishop the very next day.

And still some people will say religions are humane !