Big changes in the Catholic Church?

I have just read with great interest an interview with the Vatican’s New Secretary of State Parolin on celibacy and democracy.

An excerpt from the National Catholic Reporter LINK

Do you mean that the approach to reform implies a return to early Christianity?

Yes, taking into account that we also have two thousand years of history. This history has not happened in vain. It is not simply about returning to the past, at least in the most radical way, but a return to the fundamental principles of the church. I want to underline the theme of continuity because sometimes it seems, and I don’t know if I’m exaggerating here, that Pope Francis is going to revolutionize everything, he is going to change everything.

Aren’t there two types of dogmas? Aren’t there unmovable dogmas that were instituted by Jesus and then there are those that came afterwards, during the course of the church’s history, created by men and therefore susceptible to change?

Certainly. There are dogmas that are defined and untouchable.

Celibacy is not –

It is not a church dogma and it can be discussed because it is a church tradition.

You have said that changes must be made without dividing the church. Don’t you think that a way to decide on its application would be by consulting the whole church, its bishops? Wouldn’t it be a democratization?

Certainly. It has always been said that the church is not a democracy. But it would be good during these times that there could be a more democratic spirit, in the sense of listening carefully, and I believe the pope has made of this one of his pontificate’s objectives. A collegial movement of the church, where all the issues can be brought up, and afterward he can make a decision

What a shame – Women of the Wall – home vandalized by ultra orthodox Jews!

Anat Hoffman and other Women of the Wall praying at the Wall.

Anat Hoffman has written an article “Answered Prayers” in which she announced “Judge Moshe Sobel of the Jerusalem District Court issued a groundbreaking ruling saying our group was not illegal and we would be allowed to pray at the Wall without fear of further detentions. That same week, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky sat with Women of the Wall to discuss his plan for new section that would be set aside for egalitarian prayer at the Kotel. I began to receive congratulations from around the world as if the struggle was over, but, as is often the case in politics, the devil is in the details.”

Today I received the following mail informing me that Ultra Orthodox Jews have vandalized the home of one of the Woman of the Wall. What is with the ultra orthodox Jews why can’t they allow Jewish women to pray at the wall wearing their tallit? This is shameful.


Dear Mark,

With Anat away on a speaking tour in the United States, I wanted to update you on some disturbing patterns we have been observing here in Jerusalem.

Since the landmark Sobel ruling in Jerusalem’s District Court, which enabled Women of the Wall to pray according to their customs at the Kotel, the backlash from the ultra-Orthodox community has been growing steadily. We witnessed a wave of violence at the Kotel last Rosh Hodesh. A week ago, Peggy Cidor, a board member of Women of the Wall, had her home vandalized with threatening graffiti.

The spiritual leader of the Shas political party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has threatened to bring 100,000 protesters with him on June 9th for Rosh Chodesh.  Hopefully, this will not lead to a repeat of last month’s violent outbursts at the Western Wall.

Given the increase in violent rhetoric coming from opponents of the Sobel ruling and the Sharansky plan, it is our duty to stay vigilant and take necessary precautions. Anat is the most visible leader in the Jewish world on this issue. Her safety is always our primary concern and we will make sure that all relevant security measures are in place, both at home and in the office, to enable her continue to lead us in the fight for equality and freedom.

Meanwhile, we need to keep up the flow of emails to the Prime Minister’s office until next week, letting him know that although the ultra-Orthodox can make a big show, we are still the majority of world Jewry.


Noa Sattath
Director, IRAC
Please write to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Thank you.

Ultra Orthodox Jews at the Wall threatening women of the wall who had gone to pray

Live Encounters Magazine April 2013

Live Encounters Magazine April 2013

–          Profiting from Pain – Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab takes on Roche in India Kalyani Menon-Sen. Trastuzumab is an effective drug for treatment of breast cancer.

–          Mama, don’t cut my vagina – Female Genital Mutilation over 180,000,000 little girls and women affected. Always performed by grandmothers, mothers and other women. Implements – Razor blades, pieces of cut glass, tin can covers, scissors and even in modern clinics!

–          Nothing’s Fair, a poem by Irish Poet & Playwright, Terry McDonagh

–          Chris Hedges, Pulitzer prize winner, journalist and author, writes on How to Think.

–          South African/Zimbabwean, Catherine Jane Birch, author of KORO speaks to Mark Ulyseas.

–          Ivo Coelho, Priest and Philosopher, exclusive article – Faith and Religion

–          Magic in Stone – Ancient Rock Carvings of Goa – Randhir Khare.

–          Ancient Food Forges Arab-Jewish Friendships – Natalie Wood

–          Human Rights Watch – Child and Forced marriages in South Sudan

–          Candess M Campbell, Entering Trance for Self Healing

Newsupdate – Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Foundation


AHA Foundation applauds passage of amendment making it illegal to take girl out of US for FGM

The AHA Foundation applauds passage of the “Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act”, which makes it illegal to knowingly transport a girl out of the United States in order to commit FGM.

This amendment was designed to address the all-too-common practice of “vacation cutting”, in which girls living in the United States are taken to their parents’ country of origin during school breaks to undergo the procedure. Those found guilty under the new legislation will be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment, the same penalty imposed on those who commit FGM within the United States.

A bipartisan group of legislators, Senator Harry Reid and Representatives Joseph Crowley and Mary Bono Mack, spearheaded the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act. The AHA Foundation commends their efforts, and applauds the President for signing this bill into law.

Read more here.

Implications of new anti-FGM law

TrustLaw, a leading legal news source, analyzes the new law against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and cites the AHA Foundation’s work in this area.

Read more here.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali criticizes Egypt President’s poisonous rhetoric against Jews

In the New York Times, Ayaan Hirsi Ali criticizes Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi for his vitriolic rhetoric against Jews.

Read more here.

Swedish court sentences teenager in “honor” killing case

A Swedish court has sentenced a 17-year-old boy to 8 years in prison for stabbing his sister to death in an “honor” killing. The 19-year-old sister had been stabbed more than 100 times with two knives and a pair of scissors in April 2012. In misplaced sympathy, the teen’s defense attorney called the sentence for the killer “incredibly harsh”.

Read more here.

Court in Georgia (United States) Upholds “Honor” Killing Sentence

The Supreme Court of Georgia has upheld the murder conviction and life sentence of a Georgia man accused of slaying his daughter in a so-called honor killing.

Chaudry Rashid was accused of strangling his 25-year-old daughter because she planned to divorce her husband from an arranged marriage.

Following an interview at the police department, Rashid asked to speak with his family. He spoke in Punjabi and Urdu and talked about his daughter’s death. During the conversation he said: “I put the rope around her neck and squeezed her.” “She disgraced our family.”

Read more here.

British Member of Parliament says aid professionals too reluctant in combating FGM

A British Member of Parliament has said too many British professionals, fearful of being accused of racism, are reluctant to take action to stop female genital mutilation.

Read more here.

Victims of “honor” violence in Wales are being let down because police and prosecutors do not understand the “shame culture” in Muslim cultures

Victims of “honor” violence are being let down by the Welsh justice system because police and prosecutors do not understand the “shame culture” in Muslim communities, an expert has claimed.

Shahien Taj, the executive director of the Henna Foundation, said the legal system in Wales is repeatedly failing victims of child abuse, rape and domestic violence.

And she said compared to England, those involved in the justice system in Wales are not using the guidance available to them and are unable to recognise cases where honour based violence (HBV) may be present.

Read more here.

Olympian swimmer seeks asylum in UK to escape forced marriage to 60-year-old man

An Olympian fears she will be killed if deported from Britain after living on the streets to escape an arranged marriage. Swimmer Ayouba-Ali Sihame, 18, represented the tiny African island nation of Comoros during the London Games. But she ended up in a prison cell after fleeing the athlete’s village in a desperate bid to avoid being wed to a twice-married 60-year-old man. Her mother told her she was being sold and must give up her sporting career just days before she flew to London. She said the sportswoman’s ‘celebrity’ status had pushed up her value in the poverty-stricken strict Islamic community.

Read Ayouba-Ali’s story here.

Naomi Conrad explores the Salafist scene in Bonn, Germany

Bonn, Germany, has a thriving Salafist movement that threatens women’s rights. Read Naomi Conrad’s investigative report here.

German police arrest 2 suspects after woman attacked in acid attack

German police have arrested two suspects after a young woman of Turkish origin suffered serious burns in an acid attack in western Germany.

The victim had reported the suspected attacker three times to the police for threatening her and using physical violence.

Authorities said the young man had been ordered to stay away from her.

Read more here.

Swedish government seeks Kurdistan co-operation in “honor” killing cases

Swedish police are seeking the cooperation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to hand over the father of a Kurdish 19-year-old, Maria Barin, who was the victim of an “honor killing”, as well as suspects in other similar crimes.

Read more here.

Success story of girl who escapes forced marriage

An Indian girl who fled a forced marriage has become a millionaire entrepreneur. Read Chanda Zaveri’s success story here.

Pakistani-born human rights activist Sabatina James explains dire situation of non-Muslims in Pakistan

Pakistani-born human rights campaigner Sabatina James explains the dire situation for those in Pakistan who do not accept Islam as their religion.

Watch Sabatina here.

British human rights campaigner Maryam Namazie lectures at the University of London on the threat of Sharia law to women’s rights.

Watch Maryam’s lecture here.

Israeli police under scrutiny for doing too little to combat ‘honor’ killings

The recent murder of a 16-year-old Israeli Arab girl by her brother for the sake of “family honor” has many criticizing the Israeli Police for doing too little to eliminate the phenomenon of so-called “honor killings.”

Read more here.

Suspect indicted in Israeli “honor” killing

An indictment has been filed with the Beersheba District Court against Ahman Alasam, 24, for killing his 16-year-old sister Aisha.

According to the indictment, Aisha moved out of the family home to reside with her partner in the city of Tayibe, but returned upon her family’s request. Some three weeks ago, Ahman slashed her throat with a knife and then reported the crime to the police.

Read more here.

Qatar bans women from working in boys’ schools; confusion ensues

An unexpected decision on ban women from working in boys’ schools in Qatar has left the establishments, teachers and staff struggling to readjust.

Read more here.

70-year-old Saudi man’s attempted wedding to unwilling 15-year-old girl sparks condemnation

The recent attempted marriage of a 70-year-old Saudi man to a 15-year-old girl has sparked condemnation from human rights and social media activists in the kingdom.

Read about the girl’s plight here.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas backs away from tougher “honor killing” laws

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has pivoted away from earlier promises to amend laws that offer leniency to men who use the “honor killing” defense.

Read more here.

Tanzania government claims it is powerless to stop FGM

In the face of circumcision of thousands of girls last month, the Tanzanian government claims it is powerless to end the complex traditional practice that has led to untold pain and even death for the victims.

Cracking down on the perpetrators was made even more difficult by a conspiracy between heads of clans and village leaders, who are paid for looking the other way as the traditionalists round up girls for the cut.

Read more here.

In Senegal, grandmothers are taking the lead in fight against FGM

In Senegal, like other West African countries, grandmothers are generally the ones who decide girls should be circumcised. Now the Grandmother Project is harnessing the support of grandmothers to stop female genital mutilation.

Read about the grandmothers’ efforts here.

Indonesia government told to do more to stop FGM

The Indonesian government has been told by humanitarian groups it must do more to stop Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Read more here.

Indonesia sees a rise of laws inspired by Shariah law

In recent years Indonesia has seen a rise of laws inspired by Shariah law, hurting women’s rights.

Read more here.

Afghan inmate kills wife during prison visit in “honor” killing

An Afghan prisoner murdered his wife when she went to visit him, allegedly because she had been unfaithful after he was jailed for killing her relatives, police said.

Read more here.

Urgent Message from Anat Hoffman Irac

January 28, 2013

Click here to write the Prime Minister

Dear Mark,

Israelis went to the polls last week and sent a clear message to the current Prime Minister. Netanyahu will remain Prime Minister, but in a roundabout way, with a greatly reduced party and without a solid majority. In the final tally of the votes, the right block has 61 seats and the left block 59 seats. Parties that advocate for internal-Israeli issues have gained strength at the expense of Netanyahu’s current coalition.

To many people around the world, the sight of 13 (!) political parties entering the Knesset can be confusing. They seem to stand for very narrow issues, a certain constituency, or just the personality of one person. It is also challenging for IRAC to navigate these unclear waters, but it is our job to get in front of as many potential legislators as possible to explain the issues that are important to us and to progressive Jews everywhere.

There is a phenomenon in Israeli politics that is somewhat unique to our country; new parties that burst onto the scene to fill a vacuum or to address a need that isn’t represented by the major parties. In recent years, some of these parties did so well that they ended up being the largest parties in the Knesset and, in one case; they even became the ruling party. But political fortunes in Israel can be fickle. Kadima was the largest party in the last Knesset but now they only have two seats.

In the new Knesset, former TV news anchor Yair Lapid’s “Yesh Atid” (there is a future) party is the second largest and is adding a strong new voice to the Israeli political field. We are optimistic that he will use his time on the national stage to affect the change he spoke about at the IMPJ’s Biennial less than a year ago. In one regard he has already made history. This is the first time that a major political party in Israel brings only new people into the Knesset; none of Yesh Atid’s 19 Knesset members have ever held this office before.

Over the next few weeks, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be busy forming a new government. The election results show that the public is looking for leaders that will push the country in a new direction. Hopefully politicians opposed to equality and pluralism will be retired in favor of a new beginning for pluralism in Israel.
Anat Hoffman
Executive Director, IRAC

Back to top

Action Alert: Write the Prime Minster!

Use this link to write current and future Prime Minister Netanyahu to urge him to form a government that will include parties committed to pluralism. Once you have finished you can forward the letter to your friends and post it on your Facebook page and other social media

Why burn the Koran?

 Mob burns alive man accused of desecrating the Koran- LINK

What is the difference?

Burn the Koran?

Burn the Bible?

Burn the Bhagavad Gita?

Burn the Torah?

Burn any “Holy Book”?

So what?

The Book is anyways printed and “made” by some human?

So why burn a man?

Is Our God so castrated that we need to take the Law into our own hands?

Is our God so useless that we need to use violence to protect Him?

Have we lost the Message of Love and Forgiveness?

Could it be that we are looking at the grammar and syntax instead of looking at the lyricism of Life?

Hopefully 2013 will be a year of Love and Understanding Respect.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Salaam Justice Markandey Katju you said it!

90 percent of Indians are idiots…



New Delhi: At least 90 percent of Indians are “idiots” who can easily be misled by mischievous elements in the name of religion, Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju claimed today.

“I say ninety percent of Indians are idiots. You people don’t have brains in your heads….It is so easy to take you for a ride,” he said at a seminar in the capital.

He said that a communal riot could be incited in Delhi for as meagre an amount as Rs. 2000. He said that all somebody has to do is make a mischievous gesture of disrespect to a place of worship and people start fighting each other.

“You mad people will start fighting amongst yourself not realising that some agent provocateur is behind this,” he said.

Justice Katju said that before 1857 there was no communalism in the country but the situation is different now. “Today 80 percent Hindus are communal and 80 percent Muslims are communal. This is the harsh truth, bitter truth that I am telling you. How is it that in 150 years you have gone backwards instead of moving forward because the English kept injecting poison,” Justice Katju said.

“The policy that emanated from London after the mutiny in 1857 that there is only one way to control this country that is to make Hindus and Muslims fight each other,” he said.

He said that then there was a propaganda that Hindi was the language of Hindus and Urdu of Muslims. “Our ancestors also studied Urdu, but it is so easy to fool you. You are idiots, so how difficult is it to make an idiot out of you,” he said.

Mr Katju said that he was saying these harsh things to make Indians, whom he loved to understand the whole game and not remain fools.