Gent-Sint-Pieters – Leuven

14 January 2017


Tram 21 to Zwijnaarde


Tram 21 to Zwijnaarde


Tram 4 to UZ


Platform 2 IC train to Brussel/Eupen via Leuven

14 January 2017




Dijle in between Sluisstraat and Vaartstraat

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Gentbrugge – Dampoort – Koningin Elisabetlaan

Gentbrugge Dienstencentrum
07 January 2016


Terminus of Tram 22 to Kouter via Sint-Pieters
I took bus 3 to Dampoort

Gent Dampoort
07 January 2016

After my meeting at the Islamitische Faculteit
I went from Dampoort via Sint-Pieters to Leuven


Gent-Dampoort – Diesel train to Eeklo




Gent-Dampoort – Diesel train to Eeklo


EMU to Poperinge and Lille Flandres (France)
The train will be split in Kortrijk,
part of it continues to Lille / Rijssel,
part of it continues to Ieper and Poperinge

Gent Koningin Elisabetlaan
08 January 2016


Gent – Elisabethlaan/Van Monckhovenstraat
Tram 1, 21 and 22 all via Korenmarkt

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Human Right Without Frontiers International – Russian anti-cultist Alexander Dvorkin attacks Hindus, 01 February 2017. This is the second scandal with the involvement of FECRIS vice-president Alexander Dvorkin that effects Russian-Indian relations.

The story begun more than year ago and involved the Center for Promotion of Conservation and Development of Indian Culture “Shri Prakash Dham” founded by Hindu Shri Prakash Ji in Moscow area and officially registered by the Ministry of Justice of Russia in 2002. Shri Prakash Ji has lived in Russia for more than 27 years.

The Russian federal news agency Rosbalt wrote that Hindus have accused the Orthodox theologian of discrimination on religious grounds.

Referring to Prasun Prakash (son of Shri Prakash Ji) the news agency wrote: “…he and his family were subjected of attacks by the President of “Russian Association of centers for study religions and sects” and the “Center for religious studies in the name of the Holy Martyr Irenaeus” headed by Alexander Dvorkin, as well as his “accomplices”.

Russian Indian claims that Dvorkin systematically “defiles Hinduism as a world religion and hurts the feelings of hundreds of millions of believers around the world” on its Internet-resource and in social media.

In this regard, Prasun Prakash calls his friends, acquaintances and public in general, including people who could somehow influence the situation, ‘to pay attention to the activities carried out by Alexander Dvorkin and his associates which is illegal and undermines friendly relations between Russia and India'”

After an attack in December 2016 on the home of Prasun Prakash and his family, he initiated online petition: “I humbly urge the heads of both states, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries, Mr. Sergey Lavrov and Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, and the representatives of the Embassy of India in Russia, to turn their attention towards this urgent issue, and enable the Hindus in Russia to lead a peaceful life with assurance of safety against any kind of persecution from radical elements like Mr. Alexander Dvorkin and his accomplices.”

It should also be noted that Shri Prakash Ji, acting within the legal framework, is seeking protection from the religious extremists in court. The last hearing took place on 19 January 2017, but it has been rescheduled for 13 February, Prasun Prakash said on his Facebook page:

“The hearing supposed to be the final and the whole community waited for our victory this day. But the public is also aware of how the radical elements in person of Alexander Dvorkin love to use petty tools by which they manage to delay the process.

This is done to gain time and utilize it to continue spreading slander through paid publications and TV shows. Also a second goal is pursued, attracting false witnesses who do not even know against whom and what they testify.

Thus, the mud is used as advertising to attract witnesses-actors or in the case of our hearing, the actor who plays the role of the new administrator the RACSRS’s web-site [the web-site of the Russian Association of Centers for Study Religions and Sects – our note].

In this regard, the hearing was postponed on February 13. Considering the fact that before the hearing Alexander Dvorkin and his attorney had long time negotiation with the new administrator, I have no doubts that this is another shameless attempt to win time for new attacks on my religion, my Father and family, as well as on our cultural center and millions believers of Hinduism around the world.”

Details on the mechanism of protraction of the judicial system have been explained by a correspondent of the Moscovskaya Pravda newspaper, who was present at the hearing:

“It became clear that Anna Nikolaeva [secretary of Dvorkin – our note] has no more to do with the web-site, because she resigned from her post, and from December 9, 2016 the administrator is a different person.

But if get former administrator out of the trial, there are no legal basis to continue the trial in the Lublin District Court because the new administrator is registered in the Vladimir Region. So the legal proceedings has to start in another region – essentially from scratch. But interest of the plaintiff is to get final decision without delay.”

Modified by HRWF

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KQED News – Interfaith Vigil Provides a Safe Space in Fresno

Alice Daniel

Fresno, California, 22 January 2017. On the eve of the 45th presidential inauguration, Muslims, Christians, Jews and Sikhs sit side by side in the front pews of Fresno’s First Congregational Church. Religious leaders as well as congregants take turns at the podium offering prayers and pleas.

“We stand here to unite in prayer and solidarity with each other and for each and every group that is marginalised in our community. We pray for peace that is rooted in justice,” says Reza Nekumanesh, director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno. “Without justice, peace is nothing but a seductive illusion.”

Justice is the thread that weaves this crowd together. It’s an interfaith vigil, sponsored by Faith in the Valley and Faith in Fresno, to unite people who feel threatened by President Trump’s stance on Obamacare, religious freedom and immigration.

Reverend Akiko Miyake-Stoner of the United Japanese Christian Church tells a story of another divisive time in America’s history, when Japanese Americans were put in internment camps during World War II. She says a Methodist Pastor in Fresno, Melvin E Wheatley, moved into the empty home of one family to protect it from vandals and looting.

“He tells this story of being home at night and hearing gunshots outside of his house and receiving death threats,” she says.

Miyake-Stoner says she will follow in Wheatley’s footsteps and ask her Japanese-American congregation to stand in solidarity with another group that currently feels threatened: Muslims.

It’s fitting, she says, that “Japanese-Americans stand with our Muslim American brothers and sisters who have received so much hate and pain.”

Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel asks the audience, “what can we do as individuals, as people?” He suggests they turn to each other and explain how they will fight injustice.

Jess Fitzpatrick and his husband Jordan turn around to face two Sikhs.

Fitzpatrick says he’s seen his share of bullying and won’t tolerate it. “If I ever see somebody being verbally or physically assaulted, I will be willing and ready to step in and put myself between the person being hurt and the attacker,” he says.

Fitzpatrick, a member of the First Congregational Church, says he wants to learn more about other religions. Amrik Singh Virk, of the Sikh Council of Central California, says he is always welcome at a Sikh temple. Sikhs have an open kitchen, he says. They’ll feed anyone who is hungry. They believe any human encounter is a chance to help.

“Even if a person is stuck on the road, it is my duty that I stop and check with him,” says Virk. “This is a basic human instinct that we must fulfill our duty towards other people of helping.”

Estefania Torres served as the host for the event and introduced all of the speakers. She is a Fresno State student, and the only one of her siblings who is undocumented. She says she’s terrified she will be deported and wonders how her younger brothers and sisters would manage.

“Just because we’re so close,” she says. “So if something were to happen to me, I know it would really hurt them and my parents as well.”

It’s why she’s here tonight, she says, to speak out.

”Knowing that the community is all here to support each other, I’ve decided I would raise my voice as well,” she says. “I wanna support others and let other people know they’re not alone. I kind of wanted that reassurance for myself tonight. So not only did I do it for the other people but for myself.”

Halmaal – Bevingen – Sint-Truiden

16 December 2016


Bevingen N80
I decided to turn left ….

16 December 2016


Sint-Truiden – Naamsesteenweg


Sint-Truiden – Naamsesteenweg – Poonam shop


Sint-Truiden – Naamsesteenweg – Poonam shop


Sint-Truiden – Naamsevest


Sint-Truiden – Tiensevest

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Gent: Lippensplein & Rabotstraat, Cultuurkapel

Lippensplein & Rabotstraat
7 december 2017


Lippensplein – Tram 4 to Muide
No through services due to works in the Muide area


Tram 21 to Melle Leeuw
Points for trams to/from Barabantdam/Kouter

Pictures taken in the evening on the way to the ‘Cultuurkapel’


Rabotstraat – Rabot – Tram 1


Rabotstraat – Rabot

7 december 2017


Interfaith dinner at the Cultuurkapel
Schepen Resul Tapmaz welcomes us


Interfaith dinner at the Cultuurkapel
Schepen Tom Balthazar, a cook and dominee Marc Loos

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Gentbrugge, De Lijn Trams – Zwijnaardsesteenweg, Deux Chevaux – Gent-Zuid – Gentbrugge, Braemstraat – Leuven, Keizersberg

Gentbrugge, De Lijn Trams
16 November 2016


Gentbrugge Park & Ride – Tram 21 to Melle Leeuw

Deux Chevaux
18 November 2016


Lelijke Eend / Deux Chevaux in mint condition

18 November 2016


Gent Zuid – buses to Gent-Sint-Pieters


Buses via Dampoort

Gentbrugge Braemstraat
19 November 2016


Gentbrugge – Braemstraat

Leuven, Keizersberg
19 November 2016


Leuven – Keizersberg
Arashdeep & Simran

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Gent Kazemattenstraat & Sint-Truiden Nagar Kirtan

Gent Kazemattenstraat
21 October 2016


Turkish Mosque

Sint-Truiden Guru Nanak Nagar Kirtan
23 October 2016


Waiting for the train to take me to Sint-Truiden


Halmaal Gurdwara
In line to pay respect to the Guru Granth Sahib


Halmaal Gurdwara


Halmaal Gurdwara


Halmaal Gurdwara
Panj Piare and flagbearers

Gurdwara Sangat Sahib
20 Halmaal Dorp
B-3800 Sint Truiden

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Human Rights Without Frontiers International – Egypt: Who are the Coptic Orthodox?

HRWF, 12 December 2016. The Orthodox Churches are among the oldest Christian bodies in the world. The Coptic Orthodox Church, which is the particular focus of this chapter, traces its origins to Saint Mark, one of Jesus’ apostles in the first century CE. It is led by the Patriarch of Alexandria, also known as the Coptic Pope.

The Egyptian port city of Alexandria was an important intellectual and cultural centre for centuries. It was also a prominent Christian centre until the Arab conquest of the seventh century. Even the word ‘Copt’ is derived from the word for ‘Egypt’ in the ancient language of the Egyptians.

The Copts are the indigenous Christian people of Egypt. With about twelve million adherents, it is the country’s largest church, although today it comprises less than eight percent of the overall population.

There is also a sizable diaspora of Coptic Orthodox in several African and Middle Eastern countries. Worldwide the Church has nearly twenty million members.

Coptic Christians played a visible role in the 2011 Arab Spring revolt which demanded the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. They were frequently caught in the crossfire of the various political groups vying for power during that turbulent period.

When Pope Shenouda III died the following year, there was widespread speculation over the future of Muslim-Coptic relations, as tensions remained high at that time. In November 2012, the 118th Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Tawadros II, was chosen according to ancient tradition, his name picked by a blindfolded child from a glass bowl where the names of two other candidates had also been placed.

Relations between the Coptic Church and the majority Muslim population remain fragile, especially with the rise of extremist narratives in the region over the past few years. In February 2015, militants claiming loyalty to ISIS beheaded twenty-one Coptic Christians on a beachfront in Libya.

They were Egyptian workers and are now considered saints and martyrs by the Church.


At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE, the Coptic Church took a different position over a fine point of Christology that led to its separation from the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, a schism which exists to this day. The precise nature of the conflict is still disputed by historians.

What is not under dispute is that the Coptic tradition has remained firmly rooted in the historic Orthodox Christian faith with an ardent devotion to its apostolic origins. It emphasises the foundational teachings of the Church Fathers, creeds, and early Church councils and the centrality of the Sacraments, holiness of life, and the importance of prayer.

Monasticism is still a prominent dimension of Coptic faith. Like in other Orthodox traditions, priests are permitted to be married, and bishops are drawn from monastic communities and remain celibate.

Throughout its history, the Coptic Church has known great suffering for its beliefs. Under the Emperor Diocletian, nearly one million men, women, and children were killed. Other waves of persecution and mass killings were to follow.

Notably, the Church has consistently refused any favoured relationship with successive governments of Egypt, upholding in principle the separation of religion and the state.


Coptic Orthodox Christians find themselves in an increasingly hostile religious environment. In Egypt, politico-religious convulsions in recent years are bound to produce unpleasant circumstances for religious minorities of any sort.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is particularly vulnerable, however, not so much for its actual teachings as it is for its visibility as Egypt’s most sizable religious group in an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim majority nation.

The Copts’ historic presence in Egypt provides scant protection against conservative Islamist violence and a failed judicial system that will not bring perpetrators to justice.

It is true that Copts are especially exposed to vaguely-worded criminal charges, such as blasphemy, insulting the Prophet or ‘causing harm or damage to the public interest.’ Accusations of this nature have led to angry reactions, massive riots, and pogroms against the Coptic community.

Even when no offense was intended, any hint of mockery toward Islam or discussions over the life of Prophet Muhammad can trigger an extreme response from people who are looking for places to vent their rage.

Orthodox in Prison in Egypt

In 2015, six Coptic Orthodox Christians were in prison on fabricated or false blasphemy charges.

Kirollos Shawki ATALLAH was arrested in 2014 and sentenced to three years in 2015 for posting photos on Facebook deemed defamatory to Islam.

Bishoy Armia BOULOUS (until his conversion Mohammed Hegazy) was arrested in 2013 and sentenced in 2014 to five years in prison for filming demonstrations against Christians. He was declared not guilty by an appellate judge on 28th December 2015. However, he remains in prison for charges of blasphemy filed against him in 2009.

Makram DIAB was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to six years in prison for telling a Salafi Muslim that Muhammad had more than four wives, resulting in an argument.

Bishoy KAMEEL KAMEL GARAS was sentenced in 2012 to six years in prison: three years for allegedly defaming Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, two years for insulting the president and one year for insulting Mohamed Safwat who made the allegations against him. The offenses were made on a Facebook page falsely posted in his name.

A hearing for his acquittal was set for September 2015 then delayed until early 2016.

Gamal Abdu MASSOUD was sentenced to three years by a juvenile court (he was then sixteen years old) for posting cartoons mocking Islam and the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook in December 2011 and sharing them with other students. He was released in April 2015.

Ishaq MEDHAT was initially charged in August 2015 with ‘inciting sectarian strife’ and ‘harming national unity’ and later with ‘insulting religion.’ He was distributing Bibles on the street when he was arrested.

There is no law that makes the act of attempting to convert illegal, but Article 98 of the penal code is often used to criminalise the use of religion for the purposes of ‘inciting sectarian strife and harming national unity and social peace.’ He was kept in pre-trial custody for at least two weeks. No further details are known of his case.


Salafist influence in the Middle East and beyond has contributed to the fragmentation of Egyptian society, a society which has traditionally been associated with tolerance for religious diversity.

The toxic environment of political rivalry, deep social hostility, restrictive government policies and abusive practices of police and security forces has made the country untenable for many Egyptians today and especially minority groups such as Coptic Orthodox Christians.

This has limited freedoms for Copts to practice their faith without fear of judicial or violent consequences. The current Egyptian government has a particular role to play in ensuring the freedom of religion or belief as guaranteed by its constitutional law.

This can only be safeguarded by a judiciary that functions independently of any partisan or state influence. Judicial reform of this nature must become a greater priority of the el-Sisi government if it is to achieve the progress toward democracy to which it aspires.

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Dawn – In Pakistan, the efforts of a few have preserved fragments of forgotten Hindu links

Haroon Khalid

There is quiet struggle going on in the city of Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, the birthplace of Guru Nanak.

Facing Gurudwara Janam Asthan, built on the spot where the first Sikh guru’s home once was, is a large mosque with a tall minaret.

Over the last few years, on each visit I make to the city, I find that the length of the minaret has increased. Its construction seems never-ending, and perhaps it is. The minaret is a symbol, an assertion of an identity that believes it is under threat.

Leaving home

After Partition, no Sikh families were left behind in Nankana Sahib. Its holiest shrines, associated with Guru Nanak, were abandoned and came to be occupied by tall grass and drug addicts.

Over time, with the situation worsening for the Sikh community in the tribal areas following the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, a few Pathan Sikh families moved to Nankana Sahib.

The numbers increased exponentially with the emergence of the Taliban in the tribal areas and their demand for Jizya, a tax historically levy on non-Muslim subjects in a Muslim state.

As the community’s population in Nankana Sahib grew, there emerged a confidence and collective sense of identity that Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan’s Punjab had been robbed of at the time of Partition.

This reflects in the ever-increasing scale of celebrations during Guru Nanak Jayanti, when a festival is held here in November to celebrate the guru’s birthday.

Empowered local Sikhs and foreign-currency wielding pilgrims meant better care of gurudwaras in the city. The government of Pakistan woke up to the potential of Sikh religious tourism and started renovating and protecting Sikh places of worship.

Nankana Sahib once again emerged as a significant Sikh city in the eyes of Pakistanis and the rest of the world, even though there are only a few thousand Sikhs living here compared to hundreds of thousands of Muslims.

On the surface, they share a harmonious relationship, with local vendors benefiting from the surge of the tourists and local Sikhs merging into the economy of the city.

However, a little bit of probing reveals the tensions.

One example is that of religious purity. Many restaurants refuse to offer food to members of the Sikh community, fearing that their contact would yield their utensils impure.

In 2012, a young Sikh from the city, Dhavinder Singh, was killed, leading to tensions between the Sikh and Muslim communities.

Further, there is property running into hundreds of acres linked to the gurudwaras of Nankana Sahib, most of which is now under the control of Muslim traders. As a result of this, tensions between the communities remain high.

It is in this context that the tall minaret of the mosque facing Gurudwara Janamasthan should be seen. The minaret is an exertion of dominance, of asserting that one religion is superior to the other.

Lost heritage

In this engagement between these two communities the Hindu heritage is ignored. It is conveniently forgotten that there was once a thriving Hindu community here as well, which has left behind an equally remarkable architectural heritage.

When I first spotted the turret of a temple from the roof of Gurudwara Tambu Sahib in Nankana Sahib, I was drawn to it like a magnet.

It was a lone structure surrounded by houses, domes of the gurduwaras and minarets of mosques. It was the only one brave enough to fight for space in an already-contested land.

Following the turret, I walked through the streets of Nankana Sahib, passing several Sikh pilgrims gathered around the gurudwaras.

Unlike other streets, this was quiet. The quest for the turret led me to a wooden door with a chain on the top. I knocked the chain on the door, and in an instant, the door opened, as if someone was already waiting inside.

“Please come in,” said a middle aged man wearing a white shalwar kameez, not even asking me my name or the purpose of my visit.

His name was Amjad and he was a professor at a local government college. He led me past a narrow staircase to the top floor of his house.

The temple was on the roof, a tall turret with a small room underneath. Outside, at the entrance, there was an idol of Hanuman. Surprised, I turned towards Amjad.

“No one worships here, so I saw no point in destroying the idol,” he said.

Islam is regarded as an iconoclast religion. Mahmud Ghaznvi’s invasion of Somnath temple in the religio-nationalist discourse is projected as a heroic action.

It is the same tradition that the Taliban followed in Afghanistan when they destroyed thousands of years old Buddha statues at Bamiyan.

After Partition, most Hindu temples of Punjab were taken over by migrants who had come from India or property grabbers and were severely damaged. Their idols were removed and destroyed. Frescoes depicting Hindu deities were chiseled out.

Some of these temples were used as houses and were whitewashed to remove all trace of their Hindu past.

So this was a rare instance of residents making an effort to preserve the sanctity of the temple that gave way to their house.

The main shrine was unoccupied but clean. Its frescoes – mostly floral patterns but also sacred scripts – were well-preserved.

“Hundreds of rioters gathered outside our home in 1992 after the destruction of the Babri Mosque,” he said. “They wanted to destroy the temple. But my father dissuaded them. He told them it is not a temple but our house.”

Remnants of the past

The story reminded me of another tale I heard hundreds of kilometers away, in the heart of Margalla Hills near Islamabad, where the mighty city of Taxila once thrived. The ruins of the ancient city are scattered along its vicinity.

The Taxila museum next to the ruins contains hundreds of items unearthed from these ancient sites. Almost exclusively Buddhist, the museum contains some of the most iconic depictions of the Buddha.

I was on my way out of the museum when, in the middle of the contemporary city of Taxila, I saw the turrets of a Hindu temple. I knew I had to visit the shrine.

Driving through the crowded streets of the city I found myself at the gate of the temple, a black structure with three turrets.

I was greeted at the gate by a young Pasthun boy named Muhammad Ali. “There are three families living in the complex of the temple but the main shrine which was upstairs is unoccupied and locked,” he told me.

“One day when I was sleeping with my feet towards the temple, an old man with a white beard appeared in my dream who told me to respect the sanctity of the temple. He also told me that I should regularly clean it. Since that day, every morning I open the temple and clean it. I also pray here sometimes and know god is listening to me.”

On the outskirts of the historical city of Bhera in the Punjab province, a great learning centre when the Chinese traveler Fa Hien arrived here in the fourth century CE, is a lonely structure of a small Shiv temple, a little out of place in the midst of newly constructed brick houses.

Sometime in the fourth century BCE, the city was razed to the ground by the forces of Alexander the Macedonian.

In the 16th century, it faced the wrath of the Mughal King Babur. It was then renovated by Afghan king Sher Shah Suri*, in the 1940s. Sher Shah Suri had established the Sur dynasty after he deposed Babur’s son, Humayun, to become king.

Just outside the walled city, there is a historical mosque believed to have been summoned by the Afghan king.

Standing on a vacant plot, the Shiv temple is a single-storey structure, with a shivling in the centre. There were blackened lamps around it, showing that they had been recently lit.

A teenage boy followed me into the temple and told me that it was an abandoned shrine till a few years ago, when some people from the city noticed an old man – a saint with long, white hair and a beard – sitting inside.

He sat there into the night. “It was then that the people realised this place was sacred and started lighting lamps here.”

* Sher Shah Suri lived from 1486 – 1545.

This article was originally published on Scroll

Haroon Khalid has an academic background in Anthropology from LUMS. He has been traveling extensively around Pakistan, documenting historical and cultural heritage.

He is the author of ‘A White Trail’: A journey into the heart of Pakistan’s religious minorities and ‘In Search of Shiva’: A study of folk religious practices in Pakistan.