PAKISTAN: TWO FEMALE NURSING STUDENTS ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY


Two female Christian students of Fatima Memorial Hospital’s nursing school in the Pakistani city of Lahore, have been accused of desecrating verses of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, days after their Muslim roommates desecrated a picture of Jesus Christ which they had hung in a shared hostel room, reports Dan Wooding and Sheraz Khurram Khan, special to ASSIST News Service.

ANS has learnt that some days back the Muslim nursing students took a strong exception to the hanging of Jesus’ picture on the wall.

Islamic tradition explicitly prohibits images of Allah, Muhammad and all the major figures of the Christian and Jewish traditions.

Muslim students desecrated the picture by tearing it up and hurling it down after the Christian students refused to remove it voluntarily.

The administration of the Nursing School allegedly took no action against the Muslim students, who committed the alleged profanity.

Christian-Muslim tension among students of the nursing school escalated on Feb. 13 when the Muslim students, who still harbored acrimony against their Christian roommates, accused them of desecrating Quranic verses.

The National Director of Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), Mr. Joseph Francis, and Chief Coordinator of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, Mr. Sohail Johnson, visited scene of the incident after a Christian woman Fouzia informed Sohail by phone about the incident on Saturday morning (Feb. 14).

Talking to ANS by phone, Mr. Sohail Johnson, pointed out a dichotomy between the versions of the Muslim Medical Superintendent, Ayesha Nouman, and the Christian hostel warden, Martha.

In an apparent bid to cover up the matter, Ayesha told the visiting activists that things had returned to normal and the Christian girls who were accused of blasphemy were at the hostel.

Martha, the Christian hostel warden, however, disputed her superior’s version, claiming that the Christian girls accused of blasphemy were not currently staying at the hostel, Sohail told ANS.

“She expressed ignorance about the whereabouts of the nursing students and would not speak any further on the subject for fear of getting into possible trouble herself,” said Sohail Johnson, whose ministry primarily works for Christian prisoners.

ANS further learnt that an “anti-blasphemy” demonstration was staged in front of Iqbal Avenue Hostel near Shaukat Khanum Cancer Memorial Hospital in Lahore on Feb. 13. The demonstrators included Muslim nursing students and people, who were not students of the Nursing School. The angry protesters demanded stringent legal action against the Christian nursing students, one of whom has been identified as Sitar.

Giving out statistics, Sohail said the Fatima Memorial Hospital Nursing School enrolled some 160 nursing students for year 2009.

“I regret that the two Christian students have to face blasphemy accusation. Of course, they managed to get enrolment at the nursing school after a cut-throat competition with Muslim students,” said Sohail Johnson. “The nursing school, Sohail said received some 1400 applications for 2009 session.”

In May 2007, four female Christian Nursing students of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad, were accused of blasphemy. The blasphemy charges were dropped as the committee that was constituted to probe into the blasphemy allegations found the Christian girls innocent.

Sohail Johnson expressed concern over recent abuse of the law by educated people.

He stated, “One could see why ignorant or illiterate people could abuse the law but the misuse of the law by the educated people is a cause of serious concern and has made non-Muslims more vulnerable to the rampant abuse of the law.”

He hailed Christian nurses’ services in the medical sector.

“By implicating Christian nurses in blasphemy cases, it appears some elements want to discourage Christian women from entering medical sector,” he feared. He underscored the need for drawing up a strategy to deal with blasphemy complaints.

Asked how one could expect the police to exercise their duties in an impartial manner while handling blasphemy-accused or blasphemy-related complaints, the human rights activist suggested that workshops should be offered to them (Police) with a view to reform their attitude towards people accused of blasphemy.

“The police often play in the hands of the influential people that also include politicians,” alleged Sohail.

Asked how the international community could influence the Pakistan government to scrap laws perceived as discriminatory by minorities, Sohail Johnson said it could do a number of things. The concerned people, he said, could write letters to the ambassadors of Pakistan in their respective countries.

Report from the Christian Telegraph

MANLY SMASH THE MELBOURNE STORM IN NRL GRAND FINAL


Having tipped the Storm to win back to back premierships, I am still in shock at the hammering Manly dished out to Melbourne in the NRL Grand Final yesterday. In fact the victory was the largest winning margin of NRL Grand Final history, with a 40-0 thumping of the Storm.

It was a match that signalled the end of various careers, especially that of Steve Menzies (349 games) for Manly and Matt Geyer’s for Melbourne. Menzies (known as ‘Beaver’) completed his NRL career on top, while Mat Geyer will remember his last game as a heart-breaking loss.

Having been the best team in the competition until the final series, Melbourne began their fall from premiership glory with a loss to New Zealand in their first finals match of the season. Having barely defeated Brisbane in the following game, the Storm beat Cronulla before advancing to the Grand Final.

Questions are now being asked as to the immediate future of the Melbourne Storm – is this the beginning of the end of Melbourne’s NRL domination, will they make the finals next year, etc? However, all of this talk of a declining Melbourne side seems a little premature at this stage. Certainly they performed well below their best during the final series, but they remain a great side, though they will loose some great players before next season. Mat Geyer, Michael Crocker and Israel Folau will all be gone from the Storm next year.

The Manly side finished the year on the same points as Melbourne (as did Cronulla), though Melbourne were the Minor Premiers on for and against. Manly were the deserved winners of the Grand Final and were by far the superior team in the finals series.

Manly prop Brent Kite took out the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match. Matt Orford was the Dally M Player of the Year.

BELOW: Cooper Cronk Speech after loosing the Grand Final

 

NRL FINAL SERIES


With the NRL final series now having arrived, it is now time to put my nominally followed team to bed – the Parramatta Eels. What a disappointment the Eels have been yet again! So much talent with so little performance was the result for 2008.

Already this weekend the Brisbane Broncos, Cronulla Sharks and the Manly Sea Eagles have won having defeated the Sydney City Roosters, the Canberra Raiders and the Saint George Dragons. This means that the Saint George Dragons are gone for this season. Remaining in the first weekend of the final series is the Melbourne Storm – New Zealand Warriors match, which has the minor premiers up against the team that pipped the Newcastle Knights for the final spot in the top 8 for 2008.

As has been my tip for the entire season it is difficult to go past the Melbourne Storm not only for the match today, but for the premiership title for 2008. There seems very little hope for the Warriors as they come up against the might of the Storm, a team which is a class above the others in the competition.

As I say, it is difficult to go past the Melbourne Storm for the title.

Visit: http://www.nrl.com.au/

In the video below, the Melbourne Storm’s Billy Slater scores a hat trick of tries against the New Zealand Warriors in March 2008.

 

 

 

BALLS OF STEEL: THE PAIN MEN – DIY Tools


When I was recovering from the injuries I sustained in my car accident earlier this year, I tried to watch as much of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition as I could. One night while waiting for the cricket to come on, I happened across a particularly stupid program called ‘Balls of Steel.’ This is a comedy show on television which is really quite crude and not very funny anyway (in my opinion). What I saw first up was the following clip based on ‘The Pain Men.’ It has to be seen to be believed – unbelievable what some people will do to try and get a laugh.

Coming Back to the Field… Competition at Last!


In my last post before the Australian-Indian test series in Australia, I was concerned at the lack of competition for Australia in cricket. Australia has of course won the series 2-1, however, the series was extremely close in the end and the second test which was won by Australia was sadly decided by poor umpiring in reality. India would probably have won that one if not for the poor umpiring.

Still, the good news is that cricket is becoming a competition again, with Australia coming back to the field somewhat. With the retirement of Glen McGrath, Shane Warne, Damien Martin, Justin Langer and now Adam Gilchrist, the Australian team is definitely coming back to the field – though clearly they are still very good and the best team in the world.

Brett Lee has stepped up and is the spearhead of the Australian attack – and is one of the best bowlers in the world. Stuart Clark is usually a brilliant partner in the Australian attack for Brett Lee and is another class bowler. However, the bowling stocks seems to fall away after these two, with Mitchell Johnson being a little too erratic at this stage (though he seems effective still in the way of wicket taking) and Shaun Tait being disappointing. Stuart MacGill is not the bowler he was and there is therefore no effective replacement for Shane Warne in the area of leg spin, with no seemingly effective fulltime spin bowlers of any form.

In state sides there is Bollinger in New South Wales, who seems to be the goods at such an early stage of his first class career, but there seems little more apart from Nathan Bracken (also from New South Wales).

With the departure of Adam Gilchrist there is now an opportunity for Brad Haddin to step up to the Australian team. After Haddin there seems to be daylight in the way of wicket keeper batsmen.

The future for Australian batsmen seems to be fading also, though there is still an extremely strong top order in the current Australian team. Matthew Hayden has indicated he will be sticking around for a little while, which is good news for Australia as there seems to be quite a dropping away of talent in the way of opening batsmen after Phil Jacques, with Simon Katich seemingly too old to be around much longer (though he is arguably in the best form of his career).

Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds are a class above many other batting combinations around the world, with not a real lot seemingly to step up to the lofty standards these four have now set. Certainly Michael Clarke seems a clear choice for a future Australian captain, but what sort of team will he lead – a question that will be answered in time to come with much interest.

Certainly Australian cricket is very healthy and is probably the strongest in the world, yet admitting the great talent in Australian cricket, the Australian team is coming back to the rest of the field and we can look forward to more competitive cricket – or so it seems. The future will tell the story and it wouldn’t be at all surprising that with future retirements from the team, other players from the Pura Cup will step up and have grown into the same class that has set the Australian team above the rest of the world for so long.

Howzat! … Cricket is Loosing its Appeal.


Following the lacklustre two test series between Australia and Sri Lanka, which Australia dominated, Australia will soon play a three match one day series (The Chappell/Hadlee Cup), followed by a four match test series against India.

The Chappell/Hadlee Cup One Day Series is looking little more than a whitewash affair for Australia, with reports that New Zealand Cricket is in disarray. It is hardly the news that Australian cricket fans want to hear. Following the dismal Sri Lankan Two test series easily won by Australia, Australians were hoping for some competitive cricket from New Zealand and then India.

News concerning India is beginning to filter through, with reports that a good number of players are unfit and some can’t even throw a cricket ball properly. This with the declining abilities of Laxman, Tendulker and co. as they age, does not lend itself to a promising test series against India. Are we to see the same brand of uncompetitive cricket that Australian cricket fans have come to expect in recent years? One would certainly hope not, for cricket is beginning to loose its appeal among its heartland in Australia.

Twenty20 cricket may well be the only thing that can breath new life into cricket for Australian cricket fans, but this may well be only possible if Australia begins to play matches against Australia A (and perhaps Australia B) on a regular basis.

If the current forgone conclusion cricket continues, the likes of Richie Benaud and Bill Lawry, might as well begin to look for other employment or consider retirement, for Australian are loosing patience with national sport. Most are clearly satisfied with the regular drubbing of England, but where are the opposition teams of earlier times? We long for a challenge such as that presented by the West Indies through the 1970s and 1980s.

Bring on some competition please!!!