December-10-2018 Sarawak Christmas parade
10,000 Christians join Sarawak Christmas parade
8 December 2018
by Sulok Tawie
KUCHING, Dec 8 — About 10,00 Christians from various denominations participated today in a colourful annual Kuching Christmas Parade in the city of Kuching.
They came in all sorts of bright shirts; some were wearing traditional costumes of Sarawak natives.
The participants, who included children and elderly persons, were accompanied by uniformed voluntary organisations, such as the Scouts and school bands.
Floats decorated like church buildings and Christmas trees were also part of the parade.
“The parade is a joy and peaceful as you see, not just this evening but also in the previous years,” explained Pastor Nicholas Ningkau of the Sarawak Grace Assembly Church of Kuching when met by Malay Mail.
“When Christians take part in the parade, it has always been peaceful as we sing Christmas songs,” he said.
An excited Tiong Hie Mey said, “We are lucky this evening because the weather is kind to us,” as she, like others, brought a raincoat since Kuching has been experiencing rains over the past few evenings.
The 4km parade started from Kuching City South Council’s Jubilee ground before proceeding to Jalan Padungan, then Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Temple Street-Wayang Street-Jalan Tabuan -Jalan Ban Hock and back to the Jubilee ground.
The participating churches were the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Methodist Church SCAC, Methodist Church SIAC, BEM (SIB) Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Salvation Army, Sarawak Baptist Church, Blessed Church, Sarawak Grace Assembly Kuching, Hope Church Kuching, Calvary Family Church, Good News Fellowship, City Harvest Church, and Fellowship of Evangelical Students (FES).
The parade was organised by Association of Churches of Sarawak and Kuching Ministers’ Fellowship, while Methodist Church SCAC was the hosting church.
December-03-2018 Feminist Bible?
In the #MeToo era, theologians publish ‘Women’s Bible’
27 November 2018
GENEVA, Nov 27 — Tired of seeing their holy texts used to justify the subjugation of women, a group of feminist theologians from across the Protestant-Catholic divide have joined forces to draft A Women’s Bible.
As the #MeToo movement continues to expose sexual abuse across cultures and industries, some scholars of Christianity are clamouring for a reckoning with biblical interpretations they say have entrenched negative images of women.
The women we know from translations and interpretations of Bible texts are servants, prostitutes or saints, seen dancing for a king or kneeling to kiss Jesus’ feet.
But while many feminists have called for The Bible, Christianity and religion altogether to be cast aside, an eclectic group of theologians instead insists that if interpreted properly, the Good Book can be a tool for promoting women’s emancipation.
“Feminist values and reading the Bible are not incompatible,” insisted Lauriane Savoy, one of two Geneva theology professors behind the push to draft Une Bible des Femmes (A Women’s Bible), which was published in October.
The professor at the Theology Faculty in Geneva, which was established by the father of Calvinism himself in 1559, said the idea for the work came after she and her colleague Elisabeth Parmentier noticed how little most people knew or understood of the biblical texts.
“A lot of people thought they were completely outdated with no relevance to today’s values of equality,” the 33-year-old told AFP, standing under the towering sculptures of Jean Calvin and other Protestant founders on the University of Geneva campus.
In a bid to counter such notions, Savoy and Parmentier, 57, joined forces with 18 other woman theologians from a range of countries and Christian denominations.
The scholars have created a collection of texts challenging traditional interpretations of Bible scriptures that cast women characters as weak and subordinate to the men around them.
Parmentier points to a passage in the Gospel of Luke, in which Jesus visits two sisters, Martha and Mary.
“It says that Martha ensures the “service”, which has been interpreted to mean that she served the food, but the Greek word diakonia can also have other meanings, for instance it could mean she was a deacon,” she pointed out.
Overturning religious orthodoxy
They are not the first to provide a more women-friendly reading of the scriptures.
Already back in 1898, American suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a committee of 26 other women drafted The Woman’s Bible, aimed at overturning religious orthodoxy that women should be subservient to men.
The two Geneva theology professors say they were inspired by that work, and had initially planned to simply translate it to French.
But after determining that the 120-year-old text was too outdated, they decided to create a new work that could resonate in the 21st century.
“We wanted to work in an ecumenical way,” Parmentier said, stressing that around half the women involved in the project are Catholic and the other half from a number of branches of Protestantism.
In the introduction to the Women’s Bible, the authors said that the chapters were meant to “scrutinise shifts in the Christian tradition, things that have remained concealed, tendentious translations, partial interpretations.”
‘Lingering patriarchal readings’
They take to task “the lingering patriarchal readings that have justified numerous restrictions and bans on women,” the authors wrote.
Savoy said that Mary Magdalene, “the female character who appears the most in the Gospels”, had been given a raw deal in many common interpretations of the texts.
“She stood by Jesus, including as he was dying on the cross, when all of the male disciples were afraid. She was the first one to go to his tomb and to discover his resurrection,” she pointed out.
“This is a fundamental character, but she is described as a prostitute, ... and even as Jesus’s lover in recent fiction.”
The scholars also go to great lengths to place the texts in their historical context.
“We are fighting against a literal reading of the texts,” Parmentier said, pointing for instance to letters sent by Saint Paul to nascent Christian communities.
Reading passages from those letters, which could easily be construed as radically anti-feminist, as instructions for how women should be treated today is insane, she said.
“It’s like taking a letter someone sends to give advice as being valid for all eternity.”
The theologians’ texts also approach the Bible through different themes, like the body, seduction, motherhood and subordination.
The authors say they consider their work a useful tool in the age of #MeToo.
“Each chapter addresses existential questions for women, questions they are still asking themselves today,” Parmentier said.
“While some say that you have to throw out the Bible to be a feminist, we believe the opposite.” — AFP
As for the author, please refer to my previous postings (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/itunalily2/archive?word=Douglas+Murray).
Concerning this topic, please refer to my previous postings (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/itunalily2/archive?word=Islamophobia&of=50)(http://d.hatena.ne.jp/itunalily2/archive?word=Islamophobia).(Lily)
The ‘Islamophobia’ problem
by Douglas Murray
This is a good time to bury bad news. And sure enough it turns out that a cross-party group of MPs and peers that includes the failed MP Baroness Warsi has chosen this moment to try to persuade the government to adopt their own definition of ‘Islamophobia’.
Long-time readers will know that I have no sympathy for this term. The most succinct summary of the problem is often erroneously attributed to the late Christopher Hitchens. It is that, Islamophobia is ‘a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.’
That ‘Islamophobia’ was created by fascists is provable: the term was conjured up and pumped into the international debate around politics and religion decades ago by the Muslim Brotherhood. The claim that it is used by cowards slightly lets others of its users off the hook. For it is not only used by cowards. It is also used by sinister and sectarian figures who wish to protect their own religious patch from any and all discussion or scrutiny. That it intimidates cowards is evident from every day’s news.
But now, at a crucial juncture in this nation’s history, this group of MPs and Peers are attempting to push through an agenda of their own. As Tim Shipman described it in the Sunday Times the group is proposing a set of ‘tests’ of what is ‘Islamophobic’. Let us take them in turn:
– ‘Does it stereotype Muslims by assuming that they all think the same?
Well let us see. Would it be Islamophobic to say ‘All Muslims believe that the Quran is the revealed word of God, that Mohammed was the messenger of Allah and that this revelation has been revealed for all time as the unalterable, final revelation from God?’ It would appear so. And yet it would also be true. There are certain things which all Muslims do agree on. There are many other generalisations that one could make that are more critical. Yet to say so would be ‘Islamophobic’.
– ‘Does the criticism consist of generalising about Muslims in a way that excludes them?’
An interesting one. Let’s try a couple out. How about ‘All Muslim majority countries are either dictatorships, despotisms or countries where the army remains on standby at any moment to wrestle back control from religious zealots’? Or how about ‘Muslims tend to be bad at understanding and advocating minority rights unless they happen to be in a minority themselves’? Both of these statements are at least highly defensible. I would suggest they are also true. Yet they undoubtedly ‘generalise’ in certain ways, and if just one Muslim said that they felt ‘excluded’ by people failing to talk up the pluralism and freedom in the Islamic world we would have to agree that both statements are indeed ‘Islamophobic’.
– ‘Is the behaviour or practice being criticised in an offensive way so it makes Muslims rather than the issue the target?’
Well it rather hinges on two things, doesn’t it? One is the question of ‘what is offensive’. Who is to judge? Who is to say? Is a cross-party coalition of low-grade MPs and Peers to make this judgement? Who would like Sayeeda Warsi to make this call? Or Labour’s Wes Streeting, who is also supporting this sinister move? Does anyone feel that either individual’s intellect, knowledge and skill at impartially weighing up matters makes them fit for the task of deciding what the rest of us can think, write or say? Then there is the question of determining whether ‘Muslims rather than the issue are the target?’ Again, are the brains behind all this sufficiently huge to make this judgement call? If one draws attention to certain aspects of the private life of the man who invented Islam is one aiming the point at Muslims or the issue of, say, historical attitudes towards child abuse? Who is to say? I can guess at least some of the applicants for the role.
– ‘Does the person criticising really care about the issue or is he or she using it to attack Muslims?’
There is nothing sweeter than the sound of totalitarian ideology presented in the lingua franca of social justice. Do you ‘really care about the issue’? Who the hell is to say? And why should it matter? Let us say that I object to Islamic anti-Semitism. Let us say that I cite the considerable stream of examples (both current and historical) which I could bring to my aid to explain there is a problem here. Do I care? Or do I not? And who should decide?
Sayeeda Warsi says that some people use criticism of Islam’s approach to gays and women as a clever cover – a sort of ploy – for attacking Islam. ‘I’ve never known homophobes care so much about gay people and misogynists express such support for women as when they are criticising Muslims’ she is quoted as saying.
And that is interesting isn’t it? Firstly because there is again the question of ‘who is to judge’. If these criticisms are indeed legitimate – and even Baroness Warsi in her more liberal moments might agree that they’re not conjured up wholly out of air – who decides which person is allowed to say a truth and which person is not? Are gays allowed to criticise Islamic homophobia? If so am I – as a fully signed up, equity card-carrying gay – allowed to go to town on Islam whenever I like? My own experience and observation has often suggested not. So who can? Is a gay who raises a really very mild objection, filled with caveats and ‘in a very real sense-isms’ allowed to dip their gay toe in this Muslim water? I suppose we shall see.
But really it is – as so often – not a matter of absolutes. After all, one reason why people who might not be big on gay marriage, or don’t swallow every claim made about the ‘gender pay-gap’ might be voluble about Islamic homophobia and Islam’s attitudes towards women is that there is a question of degree. It includes the difference between whether you’re allowed to marry somebody of the same gender or whether you should have a wall pushed on you. And it is a matter not of whether, if you add up pay differentials taking pregnancy and other life-factors into account, women are still under-renumerated in certain sectors or whether all women are now and for all time (and should be) second class citizens. There is a difference is there not? A difference about the size of an ocean where plenty of people might peaceably swim.
Apparently the Home Secretary is being pressured – for reasons of optics – into signing up to this sinister and sectarian agenda. The rest of the government could be forgiven for having much else on its mind. I hope all relevant members of the government realise in their spare moments that this matters very much indeed. Future freedoms – including freedom of religion and freedom of speech in this country – will depend very much on this ugly agenda not being deployed.
November-28-2018 Sri Mahah Mariaman Temple
Sri Mahah Mariaman Temple rioting incident — MCCBCHST
26 November 2018
NOVEMBER 26 — The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) condemns in strongest terms the rioting incident which took place at the Seafield Sri Maha Mariamman Temple early morning today where according to media reports a large group of attackers who were armed with machetes, sticks and other sharp weapons had shown up unwarned before holding up a temple priest and about a dozen devotees.
The MCCBCHST calls upon the Police to leave no stones unturned in bringing to justice all those who were involved in this ugly incident. Such act of violence must never be condoned. A temple is a house of worship and its sanctity must be maintained at all times.
The MCCBCHST urges calm among all peace loving Malaysians while allowing the police to carry out their duties professionally.
A united and harmonious existence has been our strength in building this great nation and we must not allow it to be compromised at any cost.
・Statement issued and endorsed by: Datuk Mohan Shanmugan Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS), Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim Christian Federation Malaysia (CFM), Sardar Jagir Singh Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC), DaoZhang Tan Hoe Chieow Federation of Taoist Associations Malaysia (FTAM) and Venerable Sing Kan Malaysia Buddhist Association (MBA)
・This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.
November-26-2018 Asia Bibi incites Islamists
As for this author, please refer to my previous postings (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/itunalily2/archive?word=Ida+Lichter). (Lily)
The Australian (https://www.theaustralian.com.au/)
Release of alleged blasphemer Asia Bibi incites Islamists
by Dr. Ida Lichter
24 November 2018
The acquittal of Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, exposes the perilous religio-political faultlines in Pakistan and potential for violent aftershocks. Her predicament challenges the UN and Western countries that flaunt their commitment to freedom of speech and religion, and minority rights.
In 2009, Bibi, a Catholic farmhand in the Punjab, was charged with blasphemy after drinking from a cup reserved for Muslims and an argument that followed.
The impoverished, illiterate mother of five was beaten almost unconscious by a mob before she was arrested and later sentenced to death by hanging. In her defence, she said she was falsely accused to settle a private dispute.
After Bibi’s eight years on death row, and several appeals and delays, three judges of the Suprem¬e Court overturned her conviction for lack of credible evidence.
Prior to the landmark decision, the Islamist group Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan threatened a nation¬wide lockdown if she were freed. In the riots that followed the verdict, mobs led by the TLP called for the dissolution of government and execution of the three judges who freed Bibi. A bounty was placed on her head.
Initially, Prime Minister Imran Khan defended the ruling but the government soon surrendered to Islamist groups that threatened crippling protests unless Bibi was barred from leaving Pakistan, all arrested rioters were released, and a petition to reverse her acquittal proceeded. Following death threats, Bibi’s lawyer, Saif ¬Mulook, fled to The Netherlands.
During 2011, two politicians were murdered for speaking in her defence and trying to change the blasphemy code. Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, and minister for minority affairs, was assassinated. Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab, was shot dead by his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, whose trial and execution sparked violent mass protests by extremists and spawned formation of the TLP.
Although no one has been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, more than 65 alleged offenders have been murdered since 1990. Ahmadi Muslims, Hindu and Christian minorities are vulnerable.
Muslims are not immune. Last year, university student Mashal Khan was lynched by an irate mob for allegedly offending Islam.
Apart from Pakistan, capital punishment is imposed by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania, but charges of blasphemy also abound in Egypt, India, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Indonesia. In Bangladesh, the principal of a college was arrested because the school ¬library owned a copy of Shame, the story of a persecuted Hindu ¬family. Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen was forced to flee due to death threats.
Increased risk of Islamist extremism in Pakistan in the 1980s followed the Islamisation measures of president Zia ul Haq, and the radicalisation that took hold in the Soviet Afghanistan era. They were superimposed on long-standing ties between the Pakistan military and Islamist groups.
Blasphemy allegations and persecution of minorities intensified after 1987, when Article 295c, mandating capital punishment for blasphemy, was added to Pakistan’s penal code.
Aiming to embed international penalties for criticising Islam, Pakistan introduced non-binding “defamation of religions” resolutions to the UN Human Rights Council from 1999 onwards. They were sponsored by the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation — a large Muslim bloc in the UN.
Defamation of religions, however, was unacceptable to Western countries, which recognised defamation against a person but not against a concept.
A joint effort between the Obama administration and the OIC crafted a new resolution more palatable to the West. Resolution 16/18, introduced by Pakistan in 2011, represented defamation of religion in terms of incitement to religious hatred, and basically equated the two. Incitement was left open to a broad interpretation that effectively limited freedom of speech.
Few journalists questioned the resolutions, in particular 16/18, when Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, then secretary-general of the OIC, spoke at the National Press Club in Canberra in 2012.
Some of the notions of defamation have penetrated the West. The European Court of Human Rights found Austrian Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff guilty of offensive speech during her seminars on Islam.
Bibi’s case has received attention from the Pope and the EU, which has linked the future of Pakistan’s free-trade status with her fate.
Notably, the feminist movement has not campaigned in her defence. Italy, France and Spain have reportedly offered asylum to Bibi but Britain capitulated for fear of civil unrest and attacks on its embassies abroad.
There is no easy solution to Pakistan’s woes, and religio-political tremors in this politically volatile nuclear power and Western ally could threaten the region and international order.
Yet the UN and the West should defend Bibi, her lawyer, the three judges, and reformers such as Bhatti and Taseer. NGOs could stand with many in Pakistan who object to the blasphemy laws because they are archaic, barbaric, and often misused to settle scores.
Western values and freedoms are at risk unless leaders declare such laws anathema to UN human rights treaties, and are willing to expose the expansion of blasphemy laws.
Exoneration of Bibi presents an opportunity for urgent reform of the extremist ideology that decrees capital punishment for blasphemy, and promotes persecution of minorities, vigilante mob violence, and extra;judicial killing of reformers.