By Shafique Khokhar, AsiaNews – “Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – A new case of gang rape against a Christian minor in Pakistan. The rape occurred in broad daylight, for hours, in a private home where three young Muslims – all under 30 – abused a defenseless girl. A story, Fr. Bonnie Mendes tells AsiaNews that demonstrates ‘the powerlessness of the poor in Pakistan,’ which is reflected ‘in all its evidence in events such as the sexual abuse of Shumaila’ which took place on September 20 last, but has only now been revealed by the press. A story similar to that which occurred Sept. 4 – again in Faisalabad – when a 60 year old Muslim merchant has raped a Christian girl of 10. These episodes confirm the increase of attacks against children in Punjab, as evidenced by a survey carried out by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), covering the first five months of 2012, which documents 122 cases of violations in the province: among these, at least 40 sexual, 14 murders, 22 kidnappings, 14 corporal punishment, six forced marriages and 13 deaths due to lack of basic medical care.
Shumaila Masih, a native of Chak 226, Samundari, in the district of Faisalabad (Punjab), is the oldest of four children of a poor Christian family. On the morning of September 20 the girl was headed to the house of a wealthy Muslim, where her mother worked as a maid, to warn of sudden visit by some guests. On the way she met three young Muslims – Iftikhar Hussain 27, Shahid Munir and Muhammad Imran both 30 – who tried at first to persuade her to go with them. At her refusal, the three took her by force and locked her up in the house of Iftikhar Hussain, taking turns raping her for hours. The attack took place at 11 am, in broad daylight, but no one intervened to save Shumaila, despite the desperate cries and pleas for help. At about 5 pm the father Manzoor Masih, along with two cousins, began searching for the girl when she failed to return home. Arriving close to the house where she was being held they heard her cries. At the sight of the men, the three young Muslims fled, leaving Shumaila naked and in pain on the bed.” Read more.
Flashback: Pakistan: Study: 74% of Women From Minority Communities Suffer Sexual Harassment – “Around 74 percent of Pakistani women from minority communities — Christians and Hindus — were sexually harassed, while 43 percent faced religious discrimination at workplaces in 2010 and 2011, a study said. Around 27 percent of minority women faced discrimination in admission to educational institutions and were forced to take Islamic studies for absence of any alternative subject, said National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) executive director Peter Jacob.” Read more.
Flashback: Pakistan: Increasing Number Of Christian Girls Kidnapped By Muslims, Raped, Forced To Convert To Islam – “For the last several years there has been an alarming increase in the kidnapping and false conversion of Christian girls. According to a report from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), last year 1800 Christian and Hindu girls were forcibly converted to Islam. The police hardly registered any cases against the Muslim kidnappers and sometimes even supported them. On some occasions courts even used Islamic laws in favour of the perpetrators. This is a growing problem for Christians and Hindus and CLAAS has raised its concerns with the Pakistani government, but unfortunately it has fallen on deaf ears.” Read more.
Associated Press – “CAIRO — Coptic Christian families have fled their homes in a town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, fearing for their lives after receiving death threats from suspected Islamic militants, a local priest said Thursday.
Father Youssef Sobhi said that Islamic militants dropped leaflets on the doorsteps of shops owned by Copts in the city of Rafah near the border with Gaza and Israel, ordering them to leave town within 48 hours and making an implicit warning of violence if they failed to do so. Two days later, masked militants on a motorcycle opened fire on one of the shops before speeding off, Sobhi said. No one was hurt in the shooting.
When Christians met Tuesday with the province’s top government official, who was recently appointed by Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, the governor promised to facilitate the Copts’ move to the nearby city of el-Arish but did not offer to protect the community to ensure that it stayed in Rafah, according to the priest.
‘I was shocked at the governor’s response,’ Sobhi said. ‘This is simply displacement by the government’s consent.’
An Egyptian intelligence official confirmed that a number of Coptic families had fled Rafah because of a militant threat. Another security official denied the reports and said that no Christians were forced to leave. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.
It was not exactly clear how many Christians have left the town, but Sobhi said that the number of Copts in Rafah had dwindled from 14 families to two since the uprising that pushed longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011.
A first wave left Rafah after the only church in the town, The Holy Family Church, was looted, torched and destroyed in several militant attacks over the past year. The church is built on the site where Christians believe the Holy Family first stopped to rest after crossing into Egypt.” Read more.
Newly Discovered Comet May Blaze Brighter Than The Full Moon In Late 2013, Could Become One Of The Greatest In History
BY PETER GREGO, ASTRONOMY NOW – “A new comet has been discovered that is predicted to blaze incredibly brilliantly in the skies during late 2013. With a perihelion passage of less than two million kilometres from the Sun on 28 November 2013, current predictions are of an object that will dazzle the eye at up to magnitude —16. That’s far brighter than the full Moon. If predictions hold true then C/2012 S1 will certainly be one of the greatest comets in human history, far outshining the memorable Comet Hale-Bopp of 1997 and very likely to outdo the long-awaited Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) which is set to stun in March 2013.
The new comet, named C/2012 S1 (ISON) was found by the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) in Russia on 21 September when astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok captured it on CCD images taken through a 0.4-metre reflector. Its near-parabolic orbit suggests that it has arrived fresh from the Oort Cloud, a vast zone of icy objects orbiting the Sun, pristine remnants of the formation of the Solar System.
C/2012 S1 currently resides in the northwestern corner of Cancer. At magnitude +18 it is too dim to be seen visually but it will be within the reach of experienced amateur astronomers with CCD equipment in the coming months as it brightens. It is expected to reach binocular visibility by late summer 2013 and a naked eye object in early November of that year. Northern hemisphere observers are highly favoured. Following its peak brightness in late November it will remain visible without optical aid until mid-January 2014.
Comet brightness predictions sometimes exceed their performance. Amateur astronomers of a certain age may remember the Comet Kohoutek hype of 1973 – not quite the ‘damp squib’ it has been portrayed, since it reached naked eye visibility! Even if C/2012 S1 takes on the same light curve as Kohoutek it is certain to be spectacular, quite possibly a once-in-a-civilisation’s-lifetime event.” Source – Astronomy Now.
Hat tip to AHF for the link …