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First gay Muslim wedding in the United Kingdom

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Gay Muslims, 24 year old Jahed Choudhury and 19 year old Sean Rogan, who got married are the first ever to do so in Britain.

Jahed from West Midlands grew up feeling ostracized by the Muslim community because he was gay. Because of his sexual preference, he was considered the black sheep of the family and was sent on a religious pilgrimage hoping that would ‘cure’ him of being gay.

 

After years of being bullied, he contemplated taking his life and was sitting on a town bench in Darlaston, crying, when he met Sean.

Sean comforted him and they began dating. They finally got married in a ceremony in Walsall registry office, both wearing traditional Bangladeshi wedding clothes.

Jahed said: “I was crying on a bench and Sean came over and asked if I was okay. He gave me hope at one of my lowest points and he’s stood by me all the way. I stood out like a sore thumb – I never liked football, I preferred watching fashion shows on TV. I remember feeling trapped. It went all over school, people would spit on me, empty the rubbish bins on me, call me pig and the Muslim people would shout ‘harum’ – which is a very nasty insult in my language.”

Jahed was made to date girls, change his social circle, take medication and even go on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh in a bid to change his sexual orientation but nothing worked. Until he overdosed on pills and sat on that bench crying, that was when his life turned around. His wedding to Sean was well attended by family and friends of both men. Jahed’s mother, sister, older brother and cousin witnessed the wedding, as did Mr Rogan’s mother, two sisters and older brother.

Jahed said: “My mum has always been so supportive. Without her I would not be here today. It was lovely for both out families to be there. We get on really well. It was just close friends and family who were invited as I did not want a big wedding. It was just perfect the way it was.”

After the wedding, Jahed said they will have a huge party in Darlaston then go to Spain for a week of honeymoon. He further disclosed that Sean is considering converting to Islam, but that they would struggle to find a mosque. He said he told Sean to convert on his behalf and also to wear the Bangladeshi traditional attire for their wedding and he agreed to both.

He said: “The outfits are traditional Muslim-Bangladeshi outfits. Everyone wears them for a wedding at home. I told Sean I thought it would be very nice to wear them and he agreed. Also, they look very pretty. Sean is considering converting to Islam. I asked him if he would on my behalf. We would not be able to find a place of worship however. We would not be welcomed by any mosques. I have heard about the liberal mosque in Berlin that opened recently where they are a lot less traditional. It sounds fantastic. I really want to visit, and wish we could have somewhere like that here.”

The newlyweds and their families have received a number of death threats since the wedding, but they are determined to ignore them.

Jahed said: “We have had death threats against us and our families. People telling me they are going to kill me and that I should never have been born. They are really vile, horrible comments. But we are so happy we are able to just brush them off. We’ve had an awful lot of support too.”

He added: “I want to say to all people going through the same thing that it’s okay – we’re going to show the whole world that you can be gay and Muslim.”

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Coronavirus: Pope Francis’ twin prayers for an “end to the pandemic”

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Pope Francis left the Vatican on Sunday to visit two important pilgrimage sites in Rome to pray for the city and the world, in the midst of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Two intense moments of prayer: one before the ancient icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and the other at the foot of a wooden crucifix that protected Rome from a great plague.

Pope Francis spent his afternoon on the Third Sunday of Lent seeking to underline his closeness to those who suffer by imploring the special protection of Our Lady.

Mary before the Cross

The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, announced the Pope’s visits in a communique on Sunday.

“This afternoon, just after 4 PM, Pope Francis left the Vatican and made a private visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, to offer a prayer to the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, where her icon is kept and venerated. Then, after taking a walk along the Via del Corso – as if making a pilgrimage – he visited the church of San Marcello on the Corso, where a miraculous crucifix is housed. In 1522 it was carried in procession throughout the neighborhoods of the city so that the “Great Plague” might cease in Rome. With his prayer, the Holy Father pleaded for an end to the pandemic that has struck Italy and the world. He also implored the healing of the many sick people, remembered the numerous victims of these past days, and asked that their families and friends might find consolation and comfort. His prayer intention was also extended to healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and all those working in these days to guarantee the smooth functioning of society. The Holy Father returned to the Vatican around 5:30 PM.”

Devotion to the Marian icon

Pope Francis’ special devotion to Our Lady Salus Populi Romani is well-known. He visits her icon on major Marian feast days, and makes a point to stop in for a prayer both before and after his international Apostolic Journeys.

In 593 Pope St. Gregory the Great carried the icon in procession to stop a plague. And in 1837 Pope Gregory XVI invoked her to put an end to a cholera epidemic.

Miraculous crucifix

The Pope’s second stop on Sunday was also significant, considering the critical moment the world is going through.

The church of San Marcello on the Corso houses a venerated wooden crucifix from the 15th century, which scholars hold is the most realistic in Rome. It even survived a fire, and saved the city from a plague. Pope St. John Paul II embraced that same crucifix to mark the culmination of the Day of Forgiveness during the Jubilee Year of 2000.

From the ashes

The numerous traditions of miracles attributed to the “Most Holy Crucifix” began on 23 May 1519.

On that night a large fire completely destroyed the church that bears Pope Marcel’s name. The entire building was found in ruins the next morning. But from the ashes emerged the crucifix of the main altar, untouched. A small oil lamp still burned at the Crucified’s feet.

The scene greatly touched the faithful of Rome, and several began to meet every Friday evening to pray. Pope Leo X ordered the rebuilding of the church in 1519.

To stop Rome’s great plague

Three years after the fire, Rome was hit by the “Great Plague”.

The faithful carried the crucifix in procession – despite the bans understandably put in place by the authorities to halt the spread of the contagion. The crucifix was carried through the streets of Rome toward St. Peter’s Basilica. The procession lasted 16 days: from 4 to 20 August 1522. As it progressed, the plague showed signs of retreating, and every neighborhood sought to keep the crucifix as long as possible.

Finally, as the crucifix reentered the church, the plague ceased altogether.

Since 1600, the procession from the church of San Marcello to St. Peter’s Basilica became a tradition repeated during Holy Years. The names of the Popes who called each Jubilee are inscribed on the back of the crucifix, along with the year.

*From Vatican News

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How Deputy CP, reporter died during Shi’ites protest

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A Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar, in charge of Operations at the Federal Capital Territory Police Command, was reportedly shot dead after a protest by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, known as  Shi’ites, in Abuja on Monday turned violent.

FELLOW PRESS learnt that two of the protesters were killed, while a member of the National Youth Service Corps reporting for  Channels TV was hit by a stray bullet as many more were injured during alleged exchange of fire between the sect and security forces.

The reporter, Precious Owolabi, was rushed to the National Hospital, Garki, where he later died on Monday evening.

The protest, which started from NITEL Junction at Wuse 2, was aimed at forcing the Federal Government to free their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015.

Umar was reportedly shot as he tried to pacify the protesters who went on the rampage.

The protesters also destroyed vehicles.

One of our correspondents,  who was at Force Headquarters, saw officers mourning Umar,  who they described as a very kind man.

A police Inspector said, “The DCP was a very good man. We were at the mosque on  Friday when he saw one Inspector looking haggard. The man told him how he had not been paid for over 14 months because he was unable to complete his IPPIS (Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information).

“On hearing that, DCP Umar hugged him and immediately made calls to the officer in charge of the platform and budget office. Today, the Inspector has been directed to come to the IPPIS office for enrollment on the platform. His death is so shocking.”

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Lack of schools toilets hampers girls’ education – NGO

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The Wheels of Hope Rising Foundation, an NGO, has said that the absence of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in schools was a major challenge to girls’ education in Nigeria.

The NGO said that this is because the lack of such facilities posed a great challenge for girls and was a risk factor especially when they are menstruating.

Mr Adigun Temitope, the President of the foundation in a statement said it was discovered that most schools did not have any in place to support girls in ensuring menstrual hygiene during school hours, especially in the rural areas.

According to him, this makes a lot of girls in rural schools absent themselves from school during their monthly period.

He said it was discovered that traditional materials and inappropriate disposal of pads were common in the school and menstruating girls also experienced many restrictions, especially from religious activities.

Temitope said that the organisation had recently distributed sanitary pads to 532 students of Odewale Community High School, Ifo, Ogun State, after providing the beneficiaries with menstrual education.

He said that the project was organised in partnership with Always Nigeria’s #APadAGirl2025 Initative and Procter and Gamble Nigeria.

Temitope said that during the event, there was a health talk by medical experts on puberty, menstrual cycle and menstrual care.

“They were told that menstrual hygiene should always be discussed with high priority among girls and young women to guide them in menstrual care.

“Parents were encouraged to extend the new knowledge they had acquired to helping their daughters when faced with menstrual challenges so they see it as normal and natural occurrence,’’ he said.

The health experts said that boys and parents should also be involved in debunking myths and reduce the stigma associated with menstruation.

Temitope said that more needed to be done by stakeholders collectively in strengthening menstruation hygiene initiatives and programmes in rural areas and schools.

“Education on awareness, access to hygienic sanitary pads and deposal of pads need to be addressed accordingly.

“Schools WASH environment should be improved, which includes separate toilets for girls, water and cleansing materials and safe disposal of soiled materials.’’

Temitope said that the aim of the project was to sensitise girls between ages of 11 and 16 and young women between ages of 18 and 24, on the importance of using sanitary pads as against other unhealthy options.

“The event witnessed a mass turnout of students alongside teachers and some parents to understand the impact of menstruation education in promoting menstrual hygiene and care among girls.

“It is also to clear the taboos around menstruation for girls and young women.

“Our foundation recognises that menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and wellbeing of women, girls, and an important part of the basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health services to which every woman and girl has a right.’’

The foundation is a rural-based NGO which focuses on unlocking sustainability development through education for all initiative and facilitating quality healthcare support.

It has been in existence since 2008 and the main objective is to  give hope to the less privileged including persons with disabilities.

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