Pope Francis thrills small Gulf Catholic community with big Mass in Bahrain

News Network
November 5, 2022

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Pope Francis said Mass for thousands of Catholics in Bahrain on Saturday, thrilling members of the small foreign Catholic community from around the Gulf and urging them to show kindness to their hosts, even if they feel sometimes badly treated.

The crowd of about 30,000 people that filled Bahrain's National Stadium was the second-largest gathering for a papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula, following one that drew more than 100,000 in the United Arab Emirates in 2019.

"This is a miracle," said Mary Grace Fortes, 36, a Filipino who works at the reception of a hotel in Bahrain. "So important for us."

Like many Filipino women who work outside their country, Fortes is married and sends money back home to help support her family, including her husband and 16-year-old son.

Hundreds of Catholic foreign workers were bussed in over the 25-km (16 mile) King Fahd Causeway that links Bahrain with Saudi Arabia, where there are no churches and where Catholics cannot worship openly.

"The Bahrainis arranged everything perfectly for us," said Jos Chazoor, 53, who is from Kerala in India and works as a manager for a medical equipment company in Saudi Arabia.

Chazoor's 75-year-old mother was too overcome with emotion to respond to a reporter's questions just before the pope arrived in the packed stadium to an enthusiastic welcome by faithful waving yellow-and-white Vatican flags.

"She is too thrilled to talk," said Chazoor, who drives with his mother over the causeway from Saudi Arabia regularly to attend Mass in one of Bahrain's two churches, which provide pastoral care for the some 160,000 Catholics in Bahrain.

In his homily, Francis appeared to praise Bahrain's relatively open policy towards non-Muslims.

"This very land is a living image of coexistence in diversity, and indeed an image of our world, increasingly marked by the constant migration of peoples and by a pluralism of ideas, customs and traditions," he said.

Foreign workers, many of them from Asia, provide the backbone of Gulf economies, working in sectors such as construction, hospitality, transport and the oil and gas sector.

The International Labour Organisation says the Gulf's migrant workers have long faced problems including exploitation by recruitment agencies and employers, poor work conditions, limited access to justice and limited or no freedom of association.

Francis urged his listeners to be kind even to those native people in the Gulf area who do not treat them well, saying this was key to the Gospel message of loving your enemies.

He said they should always be "persevering in good even when evil is done to us, breaking the spiral of vengeance, disarming violence, demilitarizing the heart".

As Francis was driven on a open popemobile through the crowd on the stadium's pitch just before the start of the Mass, a speaker on the altar platform shouted "God bless the pope, God bless the royal family."

A Bahrain government spokesperson said 111 nationalities attended the Mass in the island state, where foreigners comprise about half of Bahrain's population of roughly 1.5 million.

The prayers of the faithful during the Mass were read in languages spoken by foreign workers including Tagalog, Swahili, Malayalam, Tamil and Konkani.

The Mass was attended by one of the sons of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and several government ministers. 
 

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News Network
February 4,2023

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Kasaragod: The Customs officers in Kasaragod arrested a person, allegedly with around 1.3kg of gold worth around Rs 75 lakh he tried to smuggle in from Dubai on Friday.

The arrested person has been identified as Mohammed Fahiz P M (33), a resident of Citizen Nagar in Kasaragod's Chengala grama panchayat.

"He works as an accountant in a construction company in Dubai and is coming home for vacation after a year," said P P Rajeev, Customs superintendent in Kasaragod.

Fahiz was acting as a carrier. His handlers bought him free air ticket and gave him Rs 35,000, said the officer.

Fahiz landed at Kannur International Airport on Thursday. He managed to slip past the scanners and officials at the airport.

From Kannur, he boarded a train and got down at Kasaragod railway station, where the Customs officers were waiting for him. "We got specific information that Fahiz was smuggling in gold," said Rajeev.

The gold was ingeniously concealed in a metallic case used as the base of an electric bread-maker's rotating armature, Rajeev said. The gold weighed 1.3kg. 

In the past two years, Kasaragod Customs have seized 32kg of smuggled gold worth Rs 18 crore, the department said. 

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News Network
January 28,2023

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Mangaluru, Jan 28: Karnataka Lokayukta has served a notice to city police commissioner N Shashi Kumar to examine the allegations of corruption at Ullal police station and submit a report.

The Lokayukta ordered that the investigation report and other documents should be produced by February 14. The notice is served based on the complaint lodged by social worker Mohammed Kabeer, a resident of Ullal.

The complaint alleged that the Ullal station inspector Sandeep and sub inspector (SI) Pradeep have nominated a broker to take bribe from ganja mafia, sand mafia and hotel owners. The two police officers demand money from every citizen and Ullal residents are fed up with their actions, he claimed.

Though a complaint through email was sent to heads of various departments, chief secretary, DGP, Anti-Corruption Bureau, ADGP and Dakshina Kannada deputy commissioner, no action had been taken so far, the complaint to the Lokayukta said. 

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News Network
February 6,2023

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Early Monday morning (February 6), an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck south-central Turkey and Northwest Syria, reported AP. Buildings across the region were seen tumbling down, sparking a mad scramble to find survivors in the rubble and amidst an ongoing snow storm in many places.

Early reports have put the number of fatalities over 600 with thousands injured, reported AP. This event is likely to be a humanitarian catastrophe in a region already ravaged with over a decade-long civil unrest and a refugee crisis.

The magnitude of the quake

Many survivors have claimed that this is the strongest quake they have felt in their lives. “I have never felt anything like it in the 40 years I’ve lived”, Erdem, a resident of the Turkish city of Gaziantep, near the quake’s epicentre, told Reuters. Videos of buildings being razed to dust have been circulating on social media.

A magnitude of 7.8 on the Moment Magnitude scale is indeed really strong. According to experts, the quake is the joint largest on record (since roughly 1900) in Turkey. It has the same magnitude as one that killed about 30,000 people in December 1939 in northeast Turkey, tweeted Stephan Hicks, a researcher in seismology at the Imperial College London.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was centred about 33 km from Gaziantep, around 18 km deep, reported AP. This is a highly populous region, exponentially increasing the likelihood of casualties. The effects of the quake were felt across West Asia, Northern Africa and South Eastern Europe with residents of Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Egypt also reporting tremors, wrote The Guardian.

Measuring a quake’s magnitude

The earth’s crust is broken up into tectonic plates that are constantly moving, slowly, often getting stuck at their edges due to friction. When the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake that releases energy in waves that travel through the earth’s crust, resulting in the vibration felt.

A network of seismographs are used to record earthquakes with each individual seismograph recording and measuring the movement of the ground in its location. A seismograph is securely mounted onto the surface of the earth so that when the earth shakes, the entire unit shakes with the exception of the mass on the spring, which remains in its place because of inertia.

During shaking, the recording device on this mass records the relative motion between itself and the rest of the instrument, thus recording the ground motion. According to the USGS, these mechanisms are no longer manual, but instead work by measuring electronic changes produced by the motion of the ground with respect to the mass. 

Measuring the intensity

In many ways, the intensity is an even more important measure of an earthquake as it is related to the tangible impact a quake has. Intensity scales, like the Modified Mercalli Scale and the Rossi-Forel scale, measure the amount of shaking at a particular location.

An earthquake causes many different intensities of shaking, depending on how deep it is located on the earth’s crust and how far it is from its epicentre. Earthquakes of lower magnitude can be more intense if they are located in more shallow ground or if the area where they occur has more loose soil, etc.

The Modified Mercalli Scale, the most commonly used intensity scale, ranks earthquake intensity on a scale of I. (not felt) to XII. (extreme). The maximum intensity measured in today’s Turkey earthquake is IX. or violent – “Damage is considerable in specially designed structures; Damage is great in substantial buildings, with partial collapse. Buildings are shifted off foundations. Liquefaction occurs. Underground pipes are broken”, according to the USGS website.

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