China expands website for religious workers in latest move to tighten control



International Desk
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China has expanded a website listing details of religious workers so that it now covers all five state-sanctioned religions – Beijing’s latest move to tighten control over their activities.

The website was launched in February, giving the public access to information on Buddhist and Taoist monks and clerics. The Communist Party’s United Front Work Department – which oversees religious activities in China – said at the time that the website could help to expose fraud being carried out by rogue Buddhist and Taoist monks.

It was expanded on Tuesday to cover all priests, nuns, pastors, clerics and other workers in government-approved Catholic, Protestant and Islamic institutions.

Their details – name, gender, photo, religion and denomination, position within the organisation and a government-issued registration number – are all publicly available on the website. Users must provide a telephone number to search for information on the site.

Religious workers who have not been approved and registered by the government are not listed.

The United Front Work Department in February said releasing this information was a way to make religious organisations more self-disciplined. It said the move could help to crack down on fake nuns and monks, amid reports of extortion and sexual abuse by impersonators.

The website is part of a broader campaign by China’s officially atheist ruling party to step up control over religious workers through the use of big data and cadres at the grass roots.

Since 2018, cadres have been assigned to units set up by township and street village committees to surveil the activities of people in religious organisations in their area. That move came after an overhaul that saw the former State Administration for Religious Affairs absorbed into the party system.

Authorities in some areas have also started using big data to help grass-roots officials control and monitor religious activities – including giving them access to information such as the venues, staff, activities and finances of religious groups in their area.

Laohekou, a city in the central province of Hubei, is one example. Its local government in February said hundreds of cadres had downloaded an app to keep track of the finances, security and activities of places of worship and their followers. The cadres are also tasked with disseminating government propaganda to visitors and staff of the temples and churches in their area.

Cameras have also been installed at some places of worship in Laohekou, and elsewhere in China, so that authorities can monitor them in real time. The cameras are connected to Xue Liang, or Sharp Eyes – a vast surveillance project aimed at public spaces in all villages, towns and counties.

Authorities in Xiangyang, which oversees the Laohekou government, said it wanted to expand the use of Sharp Eyes cameras to more religious premises.

   

18 lakh 33 thousand 146 people performed Hajj



Islam Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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In the current Hajj program, 18 lakh 33 thousand 164 pilgrims of the world have performed the holy Hajj, said the Minister of Hajj and Umrah affairs of Saudi Arabia. Tawfiq al-Rabia. The country's state news agency SPA reported this information.

In a press briefing on Saturday (15 Jan), he also announced that the stages of Hajj from Makkah to Mina and Arafat were successful without any hitches.

Meanwhile, according to the information of the General Authority for Statistics in Saudi Arabia, it has been reported that pilgrims have come from more than 200 countries around the world this time.

Among them, 63.3 percent of pilgrims came from Asian countries, 23.3 percent from Arab countries, 11.3 percent from Africa and 3.2 percent from America and Australia.

The number of domestic pilgrims in Saudi Arabia is 221 thousand 854 and the number of pilgrims from outside the country is 16 lakh 11 thousand 310. 9 lakh 58 thousand 137 were male pilgrims and 8 lakh 75 thousand 25 were female pilgrims.

15 lakh 46 thousand 345 pilgrims reached Saudi Arabia by air, 60 thousand 251 by land and 4 thousand 714 by sea.

It should be noted that the Hajj formalities started from Friday (June 14). After staying in Mina on Saturday, they will stay at Arafat Maidan and spend the night in the open desert of Muzdalifah. On the third day of Hajj on Sunday (June 16), pilgrims will throw pebbles, sacrifice animals, and shave their heads at the Big Jamarat.

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BJP Union Minister Suresh Gopi called Indira Gandhi 'Mother of India'



International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka:
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BJP's Union Minister of State for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Tourism Suresh Gopi has termed late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as 'Mother of India'. He also referred to former Kerala Chief Minister and Congress leader K Karunakaran as a brave administrator and famous Marxist leader of that state EK Nayanar as his 'political guru'.

According to an NDTV report, he paid his respects to the former Kerala Chief Minister at the Karunakaran Samadhi Murali Mandir on Saturday (June 15). He made these comments in response to the questions of journalists there.

Suresh won the Lok Sabha seat from the state of Kerala on a BJP ticket. Suresh Gopi won the Lok Sabha polls defeating Karunakaran's son and Congress leader Muralidharan. He contested the Thrissur Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket. K Muralidharan was third in the April 26 polls.

Suresh Gopi said he had a close relationship with Karunakaran and his wife Kalyanikutty Amma, as well as Marxist leader Nayna and his wife Sarada, a teacher. He went to Naina's house in Kannur. On June 12, he met his family members and cemented the relationship.

Suresh Gopi said that he sees Indira Gandhi as 'Bharathinte Mathavu' (Mother of India). Karunakaran was in his eyes 'the Father of the Congress party in the state'.

Suresh Gopi praised the administrative skills of the veteran Congress leader (Karunakaran) turned actor-turned-politician. He called him a 'brave administrator' of his generation.

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Passionate prayer for Palestine in Hajj sermon



Islam Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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The Imam and Khatib of Masjid Haram, Sheikh Maher Al Muaikili, delivered the Hajj sermon from Masjid Namira, located in Arafat Maidan, Makkah. Hajj sermon starts at 3:14 pm Bangladesh time.

The Imam of the Kaaba said in the Hajj sermon, O people! Obey Allah and His Messenger (PBUH), the Qur'an says, Allah will punish the wrongdoer.

He said, worship is only for Allah and law is only for Allah. And whoever adopts Taqwa will receive sustenance from places he cannot imagine.

He said, Allah is the owner of everything. He revealed the Qur'an as a mercy for us. The Qur'an is a book whose every verse is full of wisdom. This Qur'an shows people the straight path.

In the sermon, he said, Taqwa gives people success and emancipation, those who adopt Taqwa will be free from suffering on the Day of Resurrection. He will adopt taqwa and Allah will provide him with sustenance from places he cannot even imagine. Allah will reward him by forgiving his sins.

He said, Allah sent Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) as a mercy for the people of the world. Those who respect the Prophet (PBUH), believe and follow the rules of the Qur'an which Allah has revealed as guidance are the successful ones.

In the Hajj sermon, he prayed for mercy for the Muslims of Palestine and asked the audience to remember the oppressed Palestinians in their special prayers.

Highlighting the issue of Palestine in the sermon, he said that the Muslims of Palestine are under the grip of war. They are upset. They have no drinking water, no electricity, no food; they are deprived of all the comforts and happiness of the world. Pray for them. They owe it to the Muslim world.

He said, those who are helping Palestinians in various ways, trying to help, helping with ambulances, are also entitled to prayers. Also those who are serving the pilgrims are also entitled to prayers.

During the sermon, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ale Sheikh, and the head of the Holy Kaaba, Imam Sheikh Abdur Rahman Sudais, were present at the Namira Mosque.

Along with the main sermon of Hajj, its translation has been broadcast directly in 50 languages of the world including Bengali.

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Passenger ferry is starting between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka



International Desk, Barta24.com
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Passenger ferry service between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is going to be started. Discussions regarding this have already started between Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

This information was published in a report of The Daily Mirror on Thursday (June 13).

According to the report, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka want to start passenger commercial ferry service between themselves. This issue was discussed in the meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Ranil Wickremesinghe in New Delhi on the sidelines of the swearing-in ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said this in a message posted on Magic Media X post Wickramasinghe said, "I had a discussion with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina after the swearing-in ceremony of the Prime Minister of India in New Delhi. Various issues including development of relations between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, regional cooperation and potential investment came up in the discussion. Sheikh Hasina has promised to help develop Sri Lanka's agricultural system. She also mentioned that Bangladeshi investors will be encouraged to invest in this sector. I will soon send a delegation of Sri Lankan agronomists and experts to Bangladesh to observe the agricultural system in Bangladesh.'

In the X message, he also said, she (Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina) has invited me to the BIMSTEC summit. However, due to the election, Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardene and Foreign Minister Ali Sabri will represent me there.

It is to be noted that the launching of this first passenger ferry between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is expected to increase tourism and travel between the two countries. The Indo-Ceylon Express ferry operated between India and Sri Lanka until 1982. It was stopped due to the civil war in Sri Lanka. A new ferry between Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Kankesanthurai in Sri Lanka was launched in October last year, after nearly four decades of closure in between.

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