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SPECIAL REPORT: Indian religious leaders strongly protest against South Korean government hounding of Shincheonji Church despite cooperation to contain COVID-19 spread

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | 09 August 2020 | Posted in , , , , , , , , ,

By Danish Ahmad Khan

The government of South Korea is pursuing a discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church while accusing it of COVID-19 spread. The church authorities have alleged that this is nothing but a witch-hunt against the church despite its voluntary cooperation, including the largest blood plasma donation in the world. The government alleged that Shincheonji Church is responsible for the spread of COVID-19.

On March 26, former Seoul Metropolitan Mayor Park Won-soon revoked his permission to establish "the New Heaven and New Earth, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony", which was registered in Seoul. Furthermore, on June 22, the city of Daegu, where the largest number COVID-19 cases were confirmed, filed a civil suit worth 100 billion won against Shincheonji Church. All the steps were taken by the government holding Shincheonji Church responsible for the spread of COVID-19 in South Korea.

On February 17, after the 31st patient was found infected in Shincheonji Church in Daegu, more than 5,000 church members tested positive for COVID-19. At the request of the government, the church provided a list of Korean and overseas church members. During a press conference the church also promised to cooperate with any request from the government. As soon as the first confirmed case in the church was found, Shincheonji Church shut down all of its buildings and facilities across the country for quarantine. It also switched all of its meetings to online.

In July, most of the church members recovered from COVID-19. Despite several voluntary cooperation including the largest blood plasma donation in the world, the government's discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church and the social conflict of fake news in the Korean media have resulted in more than 6,000 cases of religious discrimination and human rights violations against the church in just a few months, including forced resignation, domestic violence, compulsory conversion education, and breach and leak of personal information. With the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, members of Shincheonji Church are at war against another virus called "discrimination."

A recent statement issued by the families of the deceased and victims of COVID-19 stated: "The damage and deaths of Koreans reflect the failure of initial response by the government to contain the virus." It also states that the Minister of Justice, Choo Mi-ae “allowed COVID-19 patients from China to enter Korea, leading to a widespread outbreak of the virus across the country, which resulted in the deaths of the Korean people.” It also stated that the minister is trying to cover up her responsibility for the damage by “giving direct orders to prosecutors for raid and arrests against Shincheonji Church”.

Indian religious leaders condemn South Korean govt

Religious leaders in India have also come out strongly in support of Shincheonji Church and urged that the South Korean government should not handle the current pandemic situation with prejudice just because Shincheonji Church is a minority religious group.

Dr. Homi B. Dhalla, Founder President of World Zarathushti Cultural Foundation, said, “In February 2020, the South Korean government had permitted religious organizations to conduct gatherings as well as to hold religious services. At the same time, a number of tourists from China had also entered South Korea. It is now a known fact, globally, that the COVID-19 pandemic originated in China in October 2019. Therefore, it is crystal clear that the infection was brought into South Korea by these tourists. The citizens of South Korea have rightly blamed the government for permitting these tourists to enter the country. Under these circumstances, I would sincerely urge South Korean government to stop harassing Chairman Man Hee Lee and members of the Shincheonji Church.”

Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, President of World Organisation of Religions and Knowledge, cited a similar case that happened in India in his condemnation letter to Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea. He said, “Politicians around the world are searching for scapegoats to hide their faults. Often, they need to create an enemy to mobilize the support. More often they portray enemy is minority religion or ethnic of the country to win the support of the majority community.” 

“In India, the earliest infected people by covid-19 belonged to a Muslim religious sect called Tablighi Jamaat numbering about 80, and the social media started an organized campaign spreading rumors through morphed images and edited video clips that Muslims were intentionally spreading the disease.” he added. Surprised at knowing that discrimination to the Shincheonji Church has been imposed by the South Korea government, he urged, “Let the Democratic Party of Korea be truly democratic by taking steps to stop the persecution of religious groups and let all people enjoy religious freedom.”

Dr. Chand Kanwar Bhardwaj, General Secretary of Sawan Adhyatmic Satsang Society of India, said, “Regardless of the church's unintentional role in spreading the virus, we cannot put the blame of an entire country on a single organisation. The entire world is reeling through COVID-19 and Shincheonji Church, including its members, is also a victim of it. Treating them with contempt and charging legal proceedings against their organization and their faith, just because they are a minority religious group is a clear violation of constitutional rights.”

“Aren't the governments elected by the citizens to protect their rights? Discrimination in any form shouldn't be acceptable. This is high time for the world governments to come together and protect each individual and provide facilities on humanitarian grounds rather than blaming and targeting an individual or an organization. A Democratic Government should stand by its principal and act accordingly. If the Lawmakers don't follow the laws they made, then what shall we expect from the public?” asks Md. Irshad Ahmad, President of Minorities Forum for Deepening Democracy.

Gautam Patil, the state vice president of The Buddhist Society of India, said, “South Korea's strategy to control the coronavirus outbreak has heralded an exemplary response which the whole world has witnessed today. However, it is saddening to know that the country is exploiting human rights in regards to religious discriminations. An organization or a religious group cannot be blamed as the spreader of the virus. The use of religion in politics always leads to violation, exploitation, and discriminations among the minority which solely affects the human rights of the citizens.”

Ramchandra Das, Secretary of International Goudiya Vedanta Trust, pointed out in his letter sent on July 15th that the treatment by the government towards Shincheonji Church is clearly religious discrimination. “In terms of the peace of religion, we all believe in the same God and need to be in harmony and balance. We shouldn't be biased by looking at one side. In fact, to be honest, the church members are victims of COVID-19 and not perpetrators,” he said in his letter.

Center for Studies on New Religions and HRWF jointly hold webinar

There is also a view that a close relationship between the conservative and fundamentalist churches and the South Korean government had influence on the unusual repression of the government against Shincheonji Church. On July 20, a webinar titled “COVID-19 and Religious Freedom: Scapegoating Shincheonji in South Korea” was hosted by the Center for Studies on New Religions and HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers.  The new Christian movement by Shincheonji has become a target of “persecution from fundamentalist protestants” because of its successful religious expansion “from the conservative and fundamentalist protestants who see Shincheonji as competitors and want to destroy it," said Massimo Introvigne as an Italian sociologist of religion who studied Shincheonji before and after the COVID-19 pandemic and published the first account of the religious group in English.

Prior to the COVID-19 incident, two members of Shincheonji Church lost their lives by coercive conversion program operated by Christian Council of Korea. According to the Coalition for Victims of coercive conversion, the number of victims of this deprogramming is 1,507, and they have been exposed to assault, kidnapping, confinement, and forced leave from their work and schools. A voice of criticism for the coercive conversion program was also raised. Speaking about the discrimination towards Shincheonji Church by the Christian Council of Korea, Allama Syed Abdullah Tariq, President of World Organisation of Religions and Knowledge, also mentioned, “I fail to understand why the Christian Council of Korea opposes it tooth and nail when there are more than 25,000 registered denominations among the Protestants and every one of them at some point of time was a new entrant.”

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right of all people. In contrast, the act of the forced conversion of religion is the greatest violation of this right. The act of the forced conversion of religion has nothing to do with religion at all,” said Dr. Kamini Gogri, Head of Research on Ancient Scriptures, Eikam Resonance Foundation said. “We request to stop the violations of right and the atrocities committed by mainstream Christian churches to violate the same,” she added.

Recovered COVID-19 patients from Shincheonji Church donate $83 billion worth of Plasma for Vaccine development

The world should appreciate the $83 billion worth of Plasma donation for vaccine development by the 4,000 recovered COVID-19 patients from Shincheonji Church. Despite continuous discrimination, more than 4,000 members of Shincheonji Church showed their willingness for plasma donation for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The recovered patients voluntarily decided to donate their plasma and even refused to receive any monetary expenses including transportation charges. Starting from 17 July, 500 church members completed their donation. More members are waiting for their turn.

Dr. Avtar Singh Sethi, Advisor of The Kalgidhar Trust/Society, said, “The 4,000 infected members of Shincheonji Church voluntarily donated plasma after recovering from the virus. Their contribution to fighting the pandemic should be appreciated. At these times of crisis, let us all come together and fight the pandemic of COVID-19. I condemn the scapegoating of Shincheonji Church, and I urge the government to stop blaming any section of the society for spreading the virus, and to respect religious freedom,”

Rev Dr, C S Gabriel, the president of Christhava Nallenna Iyakkam says, “Although there is hatred towards them, I appreciate the sincere efforts made through the blood plasma donation by Shincheonji Church members, who were cured of the virus. This is alarming as it threatens other minorities in the country and globally too amid the pandemic. The infected ones are those who need to be protected, not blamed, and discriminated against.”

Religious persecution and stigmatizing must stop in the name COVID-19

The world is in a grave crisis now as it continues to battle Coronavirus pandemic. Fatalities continue to mount with several thousands having already lost their lives and many being affected by the disease. Millions of jobs have already been lost and the world economy is in dire straits. Whether it’s the United States, India or South Korea, the governments have miserably failed to effectively contain COVID-19 spread and lessen fatalities. According to reports, racism of the worst kind was on display in the USA. Black people were specifically targeted and allowed to die mercilessly due to the pandemic. In India, the largest Muslim minority group has been constantly under attack. The Coronavirus pandemic brought even more miseries for Indian Muslims as a religious sect Tablighi Jamaat was systemically targeted and its followers hounded while being accused of spreading the disease. And, the community’s stigmatization continues even today. What happened lately in South Korea by targeting Shincheonji Church is even more depressing and deplorable. Such anti-people behavior can only be expected from the governments who continue to fail to deliver. It’s high time that the world governments should stop religious persecution and stigmatization in the name of fighting COVID-19 pandemic.

[Danish Ahmad Khan is Founder-Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be reached on his Mobile # 9990179721 or at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]

Ram Temple foundation: A Jolt to Indian Culture

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

By V.K. Tripathi

On August 5, 2020, another nail was hammered on the chest of Indian culture when the Prime Minister laid the foundation of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. 

Next day (9 AM to 3 PM) I was walking through the streets of Seelampur, Jafrabad, Maujpur and Kardampuri in NE Delhi, giving fliers “Reach Out to Masses on Truth, Nonviolence and National Issues” to people and talking to them. Communal violence had taken place here on February 23-24, 2020. As I began, “Take this soul awakening flier. It says two things: Don’t fight among yourselves, fight the unjust laws/ movies of the state. Fight with truth and nonviolence,” people opened their hearts. Muslims said, “Very true. We have been living together but the government is breaking us.” They expressed their sorrow, their livelihood worries with not an iota of ill will. Their love overwhelmed me. Nitin, a motor mechanic, said, “You are speaking my heart. I don’t like hatred. Government is not doing good. By force it is building a temple and asking people to burst crackers.”  Vijay, a van driver, said, “Fliers won’t do. A year has passed, look at the conditions of people of J&K. This government will not allow people to live in peace.” This prompted me to talk in detail. I saw the real India, the India I had seen in villages. Similar was my experience on August 5 (the first day of our 11 day campaign) in Ajmeri Gate, Sitaram Bazar, Daryaganj area where in 1992 a group of six girls from Delhi University and I had met some hard headed communal traders. This time, while disbursing 1300 fliers in two days, joined by Ajay Sahay and Dr. Md. Inam, no one expressed joy over ceremony in Ayodhya. 

Indian culture has been a culture of living together. Our masses lived on honest earnings, truth, cooperation and respect for individuality/ freedom of each other. People followed different religions and practices with the same focus, Bhakti (dissolution of self). To the elite, however, religion and shrines have been an instrument of show off and assertion of superiority. They didn’t allow those who built them to enter. They turned them to propagate caste oppression and later religious hatred. 

The entire Ram temple movement has been a movement of the sectarian elite – the sections of market forces, officers, sadhus and NRIs. It has nothing to do with the masses. In fact it has been an onslaught on the culture and unity of the masses and democratic polity. It lowered the stature of Lord Ram, who is synonym to Almighty, Brahm and Allah, and reduced it to a figure of an angry archer, contrary to Lord Ram’s ‘karuna ke saagar’ image. It raised a storm of frenzy, not against Babur, but the working class masses –the weavers, farmers, artisans etc. It targeted a mosque where masses had offered namaaz of Ram for 400 years and pooja of Ram for 90 years. The shrine did not deter the multitude of Hindus and Muslims of Awadh to sacrifice their lives together in the first ‘War of Independence, 1857’ against the British imperialism. Bahadurshah Zafar, the last descendent of Babur, was the national figure of uprising, who was tortured and whose family was eliminated.

After the Supreme Court nod to build a temple over there, we urged the Prime Minister, to follow three principles. A) Shrine should inspire people to sublime their ego (a central goal of all religions and spirituality), hence must be simple, not daunting. B) It must detach itself from perpetrators of hatred and violence, the organs that built the movement. C) It must allow and welcome people of all faiths and castes to say their prayers in their own ways, commensurate with the spirit of Lord Ram (Ram sab ke hain, sab Ram ke hain). In Ram Charit Manas, Ram asks sage Valmiki to suggest a place in the forest where he could build a hut and live. The sage says. “Juinke kapat dambh nahin maaya, Tinke hraday basahu Raghuraaya” (live in the hearts of those who are free from cunningness, pride and me-others divide). Or else, the shrine would lose its inherent dignity and reinforce the imperialist polity. We did not receive any response. 

On August 5, Anuj Tripathi, Dr. Rohtash Singh, Dr. Inam, Sandeep, Dr. Rakhi Tripathi, VK Tripathi and over a hundred others (who sent their tweets) observed Fast for Unity, to awaken conscience of people to preserve secular democratic character of the state. Besides blot on Ayodhya, we were also pained by the suppression of democratic rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir that began on same date a year ago. The government fractured the unity of the nation by creating an euphoria against peace loving Kashmiri masses in the rest of India. 

Our flier brings out Gandhi’s goal of freedom movement – to change the imperialist character of the state and make it democratic, subservient to people and accountable. We talk of six issues, (1) Shutting down of economic activities of crores of people in one stroke of lockdown, (2) Democratic rights of people of J&K, (3) Citizenship Amendment Act, (4) Farmers’ woes and market, (5) Ram temple (6) Regimentation and Privatization of Educational institutions. Prof. Jagmohan Singh is preparing to distribute fliers in Ludhiana, Mr. Md. Sajjad in Muzaffarpur and Prof. Anil Sadgopal in Bhopal. Some friends have done it in New York. Many friends sent the fliers to their networks on net. 

[V.K. Tripathi is associated with Sadbhav Mission. He can be contacted on his Mobile # 9717309263 or email at tripathivipin@yahoo.co.in]

MANUU pays tribute to the doyen of Urdu Journalism Khan Lateef Mohd. Khan

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

IMO News Service 

Hyderabad: Prof. S M Rahmatullah, Vice Chancellor in charge, Maulana Azad National Urdu University has expressed his deep sorrow over the demise of Mr. Khan Lateef Mohammad Khan, Editor-in-Chief, Munsif Daily, Hyderabad. In his condolence message, he paid glowing tribute to his pioneering contribution in promoting Urdu journalism, describing him as a trend-setting editor. Through the revival of Urdu daily Munsif in late 1997 he gave a new direction to Urdu journalism, said Prof. Rahmatullah.

Prof. Siddiqui Mohammad Mahmood, Registrar in-charge, in his condolence statement, mentioned the close association of Mr Khan with Urdu University. Mr. Khan Lateef Khan visited MANUU on its foundation day in 2006 as a chief guest and also delivered a lecture. Describing him as the doyen of Urdu journalism Prof. Siddiqui reminded that he had instituted Khan Lateef Khan Gold Medal for the toppers of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism of MANUU to encourage the professional Urdu journalists. His support to MANUU specially in its formative years was enormous.

Prof. Rahmatullah and Prof. Mahmood Siddiqui conveyed their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members and staff of Munsif daily newspaper.

Obituary - Sadia Dehelvi dreamt for Indian Muslim Youth Movement

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , ,

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

I am awestruck seeing the obituary coverage of Sadia Dehalvi, a Delhi socialite in the media. Her multifaceted personality is brought out in all the media reports that points how important Sadia Appa was in the Delhi social circle.

Reading about Sadia Appa my memory compelled me to unburden my thoughts with an obit on her sitting here in Chennai where I am currently based.  I knew Sadia Dehalvi in the year 1985 - 86 when I was 22 years and now I am 58.

We were a bunch of AMU students who had come to Delhi with the ambition to crack the Civil Services exam. We discovered India Islamic Cultural Center (IICC) on the Lodi Road that provided us free accommodation and a library to pursue our civil services dream.

Every weekend there was a pep talk by some “big gun” organized at the IIICC for us the civil services aspirants under the meet the celebrity programme.  

It was in one of those meetings Madam Sadia Dehalvi had come to give a talk on socially relevant issues in India. I was floored by Sadia Appa’s grace, elegance, élan and sophistication of her personality.  She seems to be a well-read person and talked to us quite knowledgeable on several social issues. Her vibrancy and enthusiasm in engaging us in conversation made us demand her again and again and soon she became a regular visitor to the IICC.  

It was in one such meeting, we had engaged Sadia Appa in a discussion on the Muslim problems in India. I found she had some original thoughts on this issue. She hailed said educational reformers in the country and showered praises on them for uplifting the community from ignorance.

She then came to her original idea and said the primary goal should be social activism to transform the community. She told us that only social activism can take the community forward. Such activism has to be done at an All India level and should be in parallel to the administrative structure of the country.

She wanted the Muslim community to organize into Self Help Groups at the Panchayat- Blocks – Subdivision and districts levels all over country just like how the administrative division exists in the country.     

What she meant was Muslims should form an advocacy group and even coined the term IMYM or Indian Muslim Youth Movement. She said Muslims should not look towards the government for the development of community development but they should organize themselves under a strong platform that they can help, guide and prepare the community to stand up on its feet.

Sadia Appa’s ideas touch an emotional chord among many of us and generated lot of positive energy for such a futuristic vision for the uplifting of the marginalized Muslim community.

The idea of IMYM was very refreshing. It was beyond Madrasas and minority institutions or even technical learning schools. It was a call for a new social movement that was unheard and un-talked in India.  Many of us present there were impressed by her fresh thinking towards addressing the Muslim problems in the country. Her thought to organize the Muslim community under an umbrella organization was a grand vision for the development of the community.

Unfortunately her idea of IMYM could never take off. This was because there was a need for many dedicated persons resources and other such organizational requirements to take it forward and to be made into a movement.

I moved to JNU for my civil services mission and lost contact with Sadia Delvi. Nonetheless, I followed her in the media and it appeared to me that she too had other things to do and she remained busy in them.

Now when everyone is talking about her, I thought I may also enrich my reader a different personality of Sadia Dehalvi. I knew Sadia Appa was not taken seriously because her life style did not match someone who can be accepted for the development of the Muslim community.

It was such a rejection that the vision of IMYM went into oblivion. It was also because such an idea came from a lady who did not look like a female version of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, (beard and cap).

This is not to denigrate anyone’s contribution to the progress of the community but to underline the point that Muslim women too can take up the role of the leadership of the community. I am writing this because I cherish those memories of Sadia Dehalvi. Having come to know her from close quarters, I can say with some conviction that she was a faithful Muslim.

Her concern for the development of the Muslim community was no less than Muslim clergy and narrow, parochial and patriarchy rooted types of Muslims in India.

When I heard the news of the passing away of Sadia Appa, a stream of thoughts jogged down my memory lane. I felt compelled to unburden myself to narrate this anecdote that can have a transformative impact on the Muslim community. A change that is what is needed in the Muslim community and that was the vision of Sadia Appa. She wanted this to happen through IMYM.

Through this obituary note I like to say I am proud to have met such a visionary personality in my lifetime. I end this; Sadia Appa rest in peace, it was nice knowing you and I joined many others in a silent prayer saying 'Rest in Peace' Appa. RIP…

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com]

Kuwait expatriate body Indian Social Forum organizes Blood Donation Camp

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , , , ,

IMO News Service

Kuwait City: Indian Social Forum organised Blood Donation Camp in association with Central Blood Bank Kuwait on Friday, 7th August 2020. The camp was organised by ISF to support the high demand of blood in the context of COVID-19. 

All arrangements to maintain COVID-19 protocol were made in the camp including segregation of donors as branch wise batches along with strict safety measures of participants.

The members of ISF also donated blood to many patients during the lockdown period. Hundreds of people donated blood in the camp. The camp organised in Blood Bank, Jabriya, was successfully managed by Dr. Asma Rafat and leaders of ISF, including Aslam, Vice President; Sayyid Bukhari Thangal, Secretary; and prominent officials such as Moideen Koya, Khaleel, Aseem, Mohammed Sha, Shihab, and Naushad.

The Indian Social Forum also expressed deep appreciation and gratitude to the doctors, staff and management of blood bank, forum’s members and donors.

Simplify Life at Home with RoboVac G10 Hybrid

Posted by Indian Muslim Observer | | Posted in , , ,

IMO News Service

Cleaning is made effortless as Anker Innovations introduces the new eufy Robovac G10 Hybrid that takes on dust-busting around your home with multiple cleaning modes, moping and auto-clean scheduling.

Faraz Mehdi, Regional Sales Head at Anker Innovations MEA said, “The new intelligent super slim Robovac G10 Hybrid is a quiet, self-charging robotic vacuum cleaner that cleans hard floors and carpets a lot easier and delivers the most powerful clean with the latest sweep and mop technology. It offers twice the efficiency of standard robotic cleaners.”

The intelligent RoboVac G10 Hybrid operates quietly and comes with Smart Dynamic Navigation, cleaning report cards, Wi-Fi, voice control and 2-in-1 sweep and mop for a sparkling clean. The self-charging RoboVac may be ultra-slim, but it’s packed with a 3-point cleaning system consisting of a suction inlet, rolling-brush and side-brush.

This lean cleaning Machine boasts 2000Pa of superior suction power clearing dirt, dust, and crumbs. The Super-Slim 2.85” body effortlessly glides under furniture and into hard to reach areas.

Users can give instructions by voice or using your phone via the EufyHome app, Siri, Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. Post sales, eufy also provides 12 Months Warranty, friendly and easy-to-reach support. It is available in all leading electronic stores and amazon.ae.

Eufy as a brand has a wide range of appliances like Robotic Vacuum Cleaners, Cordless Handstick Vacuum Cleaner, Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaners, Smart Scale etc.

About eufy

eufy is a smart home brand by Anker Innovations, founded in 2016 with the objective of bringing the latest smart home technology to households across the country at attainable prices. Establishing itself as a leader in robovacs, hand held vacuum cleaners, baby monitors, and reliable smart home security products, eufy meets the growing demand in innovative smart home products and reliable security solutions that offers privacy and makes life easier and safer. Find more about eufy at www.eufylife.com.

About Anker Innovations

Anker Innovations is a global leader in charging technology and a developer of unique and innovative consumer products in audio, home automation, home entertainment and more. This innovation is being led by its five key brands: Anker, Eufy, Nebula, ROAV and Soundcore. More information about Anker Innovations, its brands and products can be found at anker.com. Representing these brands, Anker Innovations in Dubai, U.A.E, is behind the sales of the range of premium products and gadgets in the UAE, KuwaitOmanBahrainQatarIraq and other GCC countries and African countries.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Indian religious leaders strongly protest against South Korean government hounding of Shincheonji Church despite cooperation to contain COVID-19 spread

By Danish Ahmad Khan The government of South Korea is pursuing a discriminatory policy towards Shincheonji Church while accusing it of COVI...

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