Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As priests chanted and smeared vermilion on Narendra Modi’s forehead, the opposition leader prayed that India would make him its next prime minister.

Modi came to this Hindu holy city late last year to worship at a site that has been contested by Hindus and Muslims for centuries. Just yards from where he stood, a two-story wall of metal bars separated the historic temple from a mosque.

Modi has been a polarizing figure in India for years. Now his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has surged in the polls as a discontented electorate has embraced his message of economic growth and corruption-free government. Voters have begun to cast their ballots in national elections, which will continue in stages until May 12.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsHinduismIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 15, 2014 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One hundred and thirty five civilians have reportedly been killed in North East Nigeria since Wednesday. The killings, which took place in the State of Borno, were carried out in at least three separate attacks.
The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement. Human rights organizations say that at least 1,500 people, half of them civilian, have been killed in the region this year.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos in Plateau State which is also in the North Eastern region of Nigeria. Archbishop Kaigama appeals for help and support in tracing the roots of the Boko Haram group in what could prove a necessary attempt to reveal who is behind the group, who provides its militants with arms, what is its scope beyond wreaking fear, death and destruction…

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In February, the 20 or so Christian families still living in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa were given the same choice. The cost of protection is now the equivalent of $650 in Syrian pounds, a large amount for people struggling to make ends meet in a war zone. The other two options remain unchanged. This time the offer came from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an extremist antigovernment group that seized Raqqa in May 2013 from more-moderate rebel brigades and declared the town the capital of its own Islamic state.

Most of Raqqa’s 3,000 Christians had already fled the fighting, leaving just a few families in a place suddenly run by a group known for its violent tactics in both Iraq and Syria, including beheadings and floggings–tactics so ruthless that even al-Qaeda has disowned the group. The number had fallen even further by the time ISIS commanders promised the Christians that as long as they paid the levy, the one church that had not already been destroyed in the fighting would be left untouched and the Christians would not be physically harmed. They would have the right to practice their religion as long as they didn’t ring bells, evangelize or pray within earshot of a Muslim.

Church leaders urged Raqqa’s Christians to pay the militants. “[ISIS] told me that all I need to do is pay the taxes, and they will protect me,” says George, a 17-year-old Christian music student still living in Raqqa. “I know that under the Caliphate, Christians got a lot of things in return for paying taxes. The Christian community was left in peace.” That hasn’t been the case so far in Syria’s new Caliphate. When ISIS arrived in town, it warned Christians to stay out of sight and hide their crucifixes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Social scientists have learned you can't always believe what people tell you. An analysis of 3 places in the Muslim world examines whether peoples' reports of religious behavior match what they do.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSociology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunmen have killed 135 civilians in north east Nigeria since Wednesday, a senior official from the region has told the BBC.

Borno state senator Ahmed Zannah said the killings took place in at least three separate attacks in the state.

The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Concern is being expressed for the people of Kessab, an ancient Armenian christian village in Syria. Reports in recent days have claimed that Islamist rebels captured Kassab from government forces, causing residents to leave. Today's Zubeida Malik has been talking to one of the residents of Kessab, an Armenian christian who we are calling ''Panos''.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Will Ross reports on the challenge of fighting Boko Haram, and watches rare footage filmed by the group of a recent attack.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the row over the use of the word Allah still simmering, Anglican Christians in Sarawak said they will go all out to defend their right to use the word in worship.

Datuk Bolly Lapok, Anglican Archbishop for Southeast Asia, said they were willing to abandon their calling to be peacemakers and reconcilers, if “turning the other cheek to the provocateurs and extremists in political Islam that are relentlessly stoking the fire of hatred and bigotry is tantamount to sending a wrong message to them”.

He said this in a statement after a mass gathering of its Iban speaking congregation in Sri Aman today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Pakistani Christian man has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, in a case which sparked fierce rioting in the eastern city of Lahore last March.

Sawan Masih was convicted of using derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in a row with a Muslim friend.

Hundreds of Muslims attacked the city's Christian Joseph colony, torching homes, when the allegations surfaced.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

4 Comments
Posted March 28, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nicholas Orogodo Okoh, believes strongly that the on-going National Conference must not fail, saying it is a great opportunity to resolve the challenges faced by Nigeria. He also speaks on the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed many lives and affected the Church in the North-east and the controversial anti-gay law.

Excerpts from interview:
There are allegations lately that corruption has crept into Christianity with some men of God accused of sharp practices. How do you react to this?
I think you used an omnibus word ‘sharp practices’. I don’t know what it means because it could mean so many things. Can you be more specific?
Corruption has one definition, unethical practice. That is exactly what I am talking about.

Read it all (from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 26, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No amount of investigation about the weather or the mechanical condition of the Malaysian Airlines plane will yield the truth if that is not the problem. From where I sit, it seems to me that there was a hijacking, either by passengers on the plane or a choice by the pilot(s) to fly somewhere else. Now that possibility is finally being examined, lots of information is surfacing. It may be that investigating a pilot with radical politics will yield answers. Perhaps examination of lax security will yield answers, but it appears that radicalism is at the heart of the situation either way. Now as that is investigated, there are all kinds of tidbits of information surfacing. I suspect that not just radicalism, but probably Islamic radicalism, will emerge as the cause. At least it is now being examined.

In Northern Nigeria, no amount of inquiry into “ethnic conflict” will produce answers. It is not an “ethnic conflict.” It is jihad by radical Muslims against Christians. It is Christians who are being attacked and killed. It is the homes and businesses of Christians that are being burned. It is Christians who are having to flee to preserve their lives. It is not tribal, it is not ethnic, it is not economic, it is a spiritual war. It has to be addressed for what it is if there is going to be any answer.

So…what are we to do?

We need to remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:10) We need to cultivate our relationship with the Lord through worship and time in the Word of God. We also need to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit by being obedient to what the Lord requires and commands us to do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Pew Research has conducted a pair of our own surveys of Muslim Americans, most recently in 2011.

That study found that Muslims in the United States account for just under 1% of the population, according to 2011 data. The share of Muslims in the country is expected to grow in the coming decades. By 2020, we’ve projected that there will be more than 4 million Muslim Americans (1.2% of the population), and by 2030, more than 6 million (1.7%).

The relatively small group is diverse in several ways. For example, no single racial or ethnic identity applies to more than 30% of the Muslim American population. And as of 2011, a majority of Muslim American adults (63%) were born outside the United States — coming from at least 77 different countries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Obama visits Saudi Arabia next week, he will have an opportunity to follow through on his inspiring words at the Feb. 6. National Prayer Breakfast. There, he told thousands of Christian leaders that "the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose" is central to "human dignity," and so "promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy."

The freedom so central to human dignity is denied by the Kingdom. The State Department has long ranked Saudi Arabia among the world's most religiously repressive governments, designating it a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act. Yet the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has not pressed Riyadh to respect religious freedom.

Saudi Arabia is the only state in the world to ban all churches and any other non-Muslim houses of worship. While Saudi nationals are all "officially" Muslim, some two to three million foreign Christians live in the kingdom, many for decades. They have no rights to practice their faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The groundbreaking agreement to work closely together across the different faith communities was signed by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo on behalf of Pope Francis. The Argentinian bishop is chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences which brought together a broad coalition of anti-trafficking experts for a workshop last November. He was joined by New Zealand Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre here in Rome and representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy See. Also on hand to sign the founding declaration was Dr Mahmoud Azab, representing the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, one of the most important centres of Sunni Islam located in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

The other key figure who put his signature to the document was Australian businessman Andrew Forrest, founder of a philanthropic organisation called the Walk Free Foundation. Set up after Forrest’s daughter travelled to Nepal where children were being caught up in a trafficking for prostitution ring, its aim is to stamp out this modern form of slavery by galvanizing and supporting action at local, national and international level. Planned actions include urging governments to publicly endorse the establishment of the Global Fund to End Slavery and persuading multi-national businesses to commit to eradicating slavery from their supply chains. By mobilizing the world’s major faith communities, this new Network hopes to bring an end by 2020 to what Pope Francis has dared to call a crime against humanity.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireSexualityViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 18, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the women's militia of an Al Qaeda splinter group recently raided a high school in the northern Syrian city of Raqqah, it found a range of violations of its strict interpretation of Islam.

Ten young women were deemed guilty of donning a face veil that was too transparent, having visible eyebrows or wearing a hair clip under her hijab, or head covering. Each student was whipped 30 times, said one opposition activist, who asked to remain unidentified because he is wanted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the militant group that until recently was affiliated with Al Qaeda.

Even as it is pushed out of many northern Syrian towns by other opposition forces fed up with its aggression and extremist tactics, the group, also known as ISIS, has created a stronghold in Raqqah province and is seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate ruled by harsh religion-inspired edicts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Imam-Priest exchange initiative for 2014 opened at Al Azhar al Shereef, at the invitation of the Grand Imam. The 30 imams and 30 priests who participated in the initiative in 2013 shared what they learnt and were presented with certificates.

This initiative aims at reducing religious tension through practical dialogue. The need for dialogue has become
more critical after the 25 January 2011 Revolution because of the inter-religious strife leading to incidents of tragic sectarian violence. It is clear that religion will play a significant role in shaping Egypt’s future. Muslim Imams and Christian leaders need to address religious harmony and the importance of unity, because it is known how fragile the inter-religious relationships are and the dangerous consequences of the alternative for Egypt’s future.

‘Together for a New Egypt: the Imam-Priest Exchange,’ is an interfaith initiative which brought together 30 priests (from different denominations) and 30 imams (selected by Al-Azhar) for four weekends in 2013. As a result of these meetings, the participating imams and priests built friendships and engaged together.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The religious slaughter of animals should be banned if Muslims and Jews refuse to adopt more humane methods of killing, the new leader of Britain’s vets has said.

John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, said that the traditional practice of slitting animals’ throats and allowing them to bleed to death for halal and kosher meat caused unnecessary suffering.

He urged Jews and Muslims to allow poultry, sheep and cattle to be stunned unconscious before they are killed. If the two faiths refuse, Mr Blackwell wants ministers to consider following the example of Denmark by banning the slaughter of animals that are not stunned first.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

His co-workers may have not seen past his beard, but the jury did.

A Muslim American man from Ypsilanti, Mich., has won a nearly $1.2-million jury award after successfully arguing he was harassed, taunted and discriminated against at work because of his religion, race and appearance - most notably, his long scruffy beard.

Ali Aboubaker, 56, a U.S. citizen and Tunisia native with four advanced degrees, was awarded the judgment on Thursday following a two-week jury trial in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

"We were stunned," said Aboubaker's lawyer, Shereef Akeel, who stressed to the jury that his client had several strikes against him.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Radical Islamist rebels running the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have made the Christians living in the area an offer they can’t refuse: pay for protection, convert to Islam, or “face the sword.”

In a statement posted to Jihadi websites and signed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-designated emir of the future Islamic caliphate of Raqqa, as well as the founder of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] rebel brigade, Christians are urged to pay a tax in order to continue living under ISIS’s protection. The terms are simple: twice a year wealthy Christians must pay the equivalent of half an ounce of gold — about $664 by today’s market value. Middle-class Christians have to come up with half that sum, and poor Christians can get away with paying a quarter, or about $166.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Unfortunately, in the eyes of many Central Asians, America’s interest does not extend beyond gas and oil. Washington’s decision to pull back from Afghanistan in 2014 will likely erode American influence at the very moment when it could do the most good — especially as rising prosperity increases pressure for governments to loosen their grip. Greater freedom presents great dangers, as the disillusions of the Arab Spring have so sadly demonstrated.

Yet it may be in Central Asia, rather than the Middle East, Pakistan or Indonesia, where the ideals that both Presidents Bush and Obama have espoused will be most actively pursued in coming years. This is not to suggest that Washington pay less attention to the Arab world, but perhaps it is time for us to listen to our own lectures on the possibilities of a peaceful and intellectually open version of Islam, and to back those societies that are trying most successfully to advance it today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted February 27, 2014 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Brunei's all-powerful sultan, stung by rare criticism, has ordered social media users to stop attacking his plans to introduce harsh Islamic criminal punishments in the placid oil-rich kingdom.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah -- one of the world's wealthiest men -- announced last October that Brunei would phase in sharia law punishments such as flogging, severing limbs and death by stoning beginning April 1.

The move has sparked a growing outcry on social media, the only outlet for public criticism of authorities in the Muslim country where questioning the 67-year-old sultan is taboo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaBrunei* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 26, 2014 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in Central African Republic are caring for thousands of Muslims who have been trapped in a cycle of revenge attacks, perpetrated by a pro-Christian militia.

Since December, Anti-Balaka militias have been emptying Muslim quarters and avenging earlier attacks by the Seleka, an Islamist militia. The Seleka rampaged through the country in early 2013, terrorizing Christians and ransacking churches, hospitals and shops.

Now that the Muslim president Michel Djotodia has stepped down, Seleka is being forced to withdraw from its strongholds, as the center of power shifts, amid a mass exodus and displacement of Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church in Egypt has joined the growing number of groups who have condemned Christian attacks on Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR).

In a Tuesday statement, The Reverend Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Episcopal and Anglican Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and the President Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, said he hoped the international community would respond to “stop this humanitarian disaster”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted February 19, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Alum Rock, a neighborhood of Birmingham, looks the way Pakistan might, if Pakistan were under gray northern skies and British rule.

The streets are lively but orderly, with shops that provide the largely South Asian population with most of its needs. The huge Pak Supermarket, with its 10-kilogram bags of spices and rices, is matched by the nearby Pak Pharmacy. Nearly every face is South Asian, and people wear a vibrant mixture of clothing, from Western styles to head scarves, knitted caps and full-face veils, or niqabs.

But the Muslims of Alum Rock, Washwood Heath and Sparkbrook, who make up most of the more than 21 percent of Birmingham’s population who declare Islam as their religion, are newly uneasy, they say. The backlash from the killing of a white soldier, Lee Rigby, in London in May by two fanatical young British Muslims, combined with anxieties about the flow of jihadis between Britain and Syria and the sometimes harshly anti-immigrant tone of leading British politicians have combined to create a new wariness among British Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

1 Comments
Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New York City is moving to close school for two Muslim holidays and the Lunar New Year — but Mayor de Blasio isn’t so sure about the Hindu festival Diwali.

Appearing on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday, the mayor said he hadn’t taken a position on whether Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated in India and other South Asian countries, should be a day off from school.

But he said he’d move forward with closing schools for Lunar New Year and for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, Muslim holy days.

“It is complicated in terms of logistics and school calendar and budget. But it’s something I want to get done in a reasonable time frame,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 5, 2014 at 7:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Christian family in Algeria has been refused permission to bury their son in the local public cemetery because he was not a Muslim.

“The leaders of the mosque demanded that I would have to follow Islamic burial rites if I was to bury my son in the cemetery,” said the father of 24-year-old Lahlou Naraoui, a University student.

Naraoui’s family, who live in Chemini in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria, said they could not follow the Muslim leaders’ demands and instead chose to bury their son on private land.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted February 5, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Harvard Law School, one of the most prestigious institutions of its kind in the world, has posted a verse of the Holy Quraan at the entrance of its faculty library, describing the verse as one of the greatest expressions of justice in history.

Verse 135 of Surah Al Nisa (The Women) has been posted at a wall facing the faculty’s main entrance, dedicated to the best phrases articulating justice:

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mosques across Egypt have witnessed the first Friday sermon on a set theme chosen by the government as part of newly introduced controls on Muslim places of worship.

The policy is controversial in a country that is deeply polarised after the army overthrew President Mohammad Morsi last year after mass protests, amid deep resentment against his single year in power.

The Ministry of Religious Endowments is the official Egyptian body which will decide what imams or preachers should tell the millions who attend the weekly prayers, known in Arabic as salat al-jummah. Attendance is obligatory within Islam for Muslims without a valid excuse such as sickness.

Starting from Friday 31 January, all Egyptian mosques are to abide by the weekly topic posted on the ministry's website.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted February 1, 2014 at 8:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We encourage Anglican Christians everywhere to understand the faith of Muslims, to love them, befriend them, and witness to them, building upon what Muslims already know of Jesus Christ in order to lead to what they do not yet know: that is the fullness of the Christian Gospel.

Gathered as we are in Kenya, we rejoice that Muslims are free to worship and to practice their faith in countries like Kenya, and lament that this is not so for Christians and others in the Islamic world.

We commit ourselves to pray and support the persecuted churches throughout the world.

Our churches need both to campaign for greater freedom of belief and expression in Islamic lands, as well as for material, spiritual and social support for converts and others who suffer because of their beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Late in the evening of November 28 last year, Habila Adamu was at home with his wife and kids in the Yobe state of Northern Nigeria when visitors stopped by. He opened the door, shocked to find gunmen wearing robes and masks.

They demanded he step outside and they peppered him with questions. What was his name? Habila Adamu. Was he a member of the Nigerian police? No. Was he a soldier? No. Was he a member of the state security service? No. He told them he was a businessman.

OK, are you a Christian?” they asked.

“I am a Christian,” Habila said.

Initially fearful, Habila came to terms with the realization that it was the day of his death. He began praying for strength, forgiveness and salvation.


Read it all.

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Posted January 28, 2014 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through US Africa Command (AFRICOM), US Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAFRICA), and the Office of Security Cooperation in the US Embassy in Abuja, the United States will be helping stand up the NASOC by providing training and a limited amount of equipment.

From the information I have, it sounds like NASOC will have a force up North to deal with Boko Haram, a force in the South to deal with security in the Niger Delta, a headquarters force to focus on hostage rescue, and an expeditionary force for external use – perhaps to contribute specialized capabilities for peacekeeping operations.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the precise size of NASOC or of its component forces.

Read it all.

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Posted January 25, 2014 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last summer, as unrest raged in Cairo, Egypt’s small Anglican community started looking for a way out. One family made for Canada, another went to Australia, and several emigrated to the United States.

As exoduses go, Anglican emigration has been small compared to the torrent of fleeing Coptic Orthodox migrants, but with approximately 3000-4000 congregants, the Anglican Church’s problems over the past few years have mirrored those of the wider Christian population.

When modern Egypt’s worst bout of sectarian violence erupted in August, few Anglicans were left untouched by the fallout. Two of the Anglican community’s 15 churches were attacked, while only the timely arrival of the army spared a third, and those inside it, from an irate mob intent on setting it alight.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted January 21, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the Central African Republic the world's next Rwanda? That's the question some are beginning to ask about a crisis that has been going on for most of this year but has only just burst through into the mainstream international mass media.

Warlords ruling the countryside by terror, a government that is almost toothless and the collapse of institutions have forced 0.4 million people to flee their homes and left a million dependent on aid.

And now reports of Muslim and Christian communities engaged in inter-communal violence have sparked concern about a slide into religious conflict. The "G-word" -- genocide -- has even been floated as a real risk by some observers.

Read it all.

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Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almost a tenth of babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim, a breakdown of census figures shows.

The percentage of Muslims among the under-fives is almost twice as high as in the general population. In an indication of the extent to which birthrate is changing the UK’s religious demographic, fewer than one in 200 over-85s are Muslim.

One expert said it was foreseeable that Muslims who worshipped would outnumber practising Christians. “It’s not inconceivable,” said David Voas, Professor of Population Studies at the University of Essex.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ITV News has found evidence that children are being targeted in one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars.

Many have suffered horrific injuries, as violence in the Central African Republic sinks to what the United Nations calls a "vicious new low".

Read it all and note the many video links available.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christianity is the largest and most widely spread faith in the world, with 2.2 billion followers, or 32 percent of the world population, according to a survey by the U.S.-based Pew Forum on religion and Public Life.

It faces restrictions and hostility in 111 countries, ahead of the 90 countries limiting or harassing the second-largest faith, Islam, another Pew survey has reported.

Michel Varton, head of Open Doors France, told journalists in Strasbourg that failing states with civil wars or persistent internal tensions were often the most dangerous for Christians.

"In Syria, another war is thriving in the shadow of the civil war -- the war against the church," he said while presenting the Open Doors report there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEschatology

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Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the first time, German public schools are offering classes in Islam to primary school students using state-trained teachers and specially written textbooks, as officials try to better integrate the nation’s large Muslim minority and counter the growing influence of radical religious thinking.

The classes offered in Hesse State are part of a growing consensus that Germany, after decades of neglect, should do more to acknowledge and serve its Muslim population if it is to foster social harmony, overcome its aging demographics and head off a potential domestic security threat.

The need, many here say, is ever more urgent. According to German security officials and widespread reports in the German news media, this past semester at least two young Germans in Hesse — one thought to be just 16 — were killed in Syria after heeding the call for jihad and apparently being recruited by hard-line Salafist preachers in Frankfurt.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted January 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that twelve Christians were brutally murdered by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria over the weekend. According to reports, these Christians were killed in two attacks on separate Christian villages in Nigeria's Muslim majority state of Borno.

The first attack took place on Saturday, December 28, in the Christian village of Tashan-Alede where eight people attending a wedding celebration were killed when militants connected with Boko Haram opened fire on the Christians gathered. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, "One attack took place at a pre-wedding bachelor party. Suspected fighters from Boko Haram opened fire on the group, killing eight people."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 2, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As many participate in religious celebrations at this time of the year, our country, the Central African Republic, remains on the brink of religious warfare. In a place that most of the world struggles to find on a map, more than 2 million people, nearly half of the nation’s population, are in desperate need of aid. As we write, approximately 40,000 people without shelter or toilets are crammed into the airport compound in the capital, Bangui. In just the past week in Bangui, hundreds have been killed, including patients dragged out of hospitals and executed. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that he is “gravely concerned about the imminent danger of mass atrocities.” We fear that without a wider international response, our country will succumb to darkness .

As the most senior faith leaders of our country’s Christian and Muslim communities, respectively, we recognize our responsibility to help define a path away from violence. Our colleagues, priests and imams alike, have paid the ultimate price for taking on their own part of this responsibility, and we fear the worst is yet to come.

Read it all.

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Posted December 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Rahma and Ugbad Sadiq packed their school bags as they did every morning, and left the family home in Kolsås, Norway, where their parents immigrated in 1996 to escape war in their native Somalia.

But by 5 p.m. that day, Oct. 17, the teenage sisters hadn't returned to help prepare dinner. An email was waiting for the parents in their inbox.

"Papa, we're on our way to Syria. It isn't enough to stay in Norway while Muslim people are in huge trouble. We have to deal with them in their daily life to help them," it said.

Their mother fainted, hitting the floor, her husband, Juma Sadiq, recounted....

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted December 26, 2013 at 8:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prince of Wales’s powerful intervention last week on the persecution of Christians is a reminder that ancient Christian communities, pre-dating Islam, are on the verge of disappearing from their homelands in the Middle East.

After years of bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in dialogue, Prince Charles admitted that in spite of many such efforts, “fundamentalist Islamist militants” were “deliberately” targeting Christians.

This is something that Western governments have been strangely and inexplicably reluctant to confront. In a recent House of Commons debate on the issue, the Government response was full of denial that this was a problem uniquely affecting Christian communities. But, then, successive governments have done little to speak up for Christians facing human rights abuses in Africa and the Middle East.

Read it all.

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Posted December 24, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For myself, I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East. It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ. Their church communities link us straight back to the early Church, as I was reminded by hearing Aramaic, Our Lord's own language, spoken and sung a few hours ago.

Yet, today, the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world – just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.

This has an effect on all of us, although, of course, primarily on those Christians who can no longer continue to live in the Middle East: we all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back two thousand years begins to disappear. It is, therefore, especially delightful to see such a rich panoply of church life here to-day, including the Antiochian, Greek, Coptic, Syrian, and Armenian Orthodox Churches, the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean, and Roman Catholic Churches, as well as the Church of the East, and Churches established, dare I say it, somewhat more recently, including the Anglican Church!

Read it all.

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Posted December 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN says more than 1,200 people have been killed in Islamist-related violence in north-east Nigeria since a state of emergency was declared in May.

The UN said the figure related to killings of civilians and the military by the Islamist group Boko Haram in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

It also includes insurgents killed by security forces repelling attacks.

Read it all.

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Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Egyptian criminal court convicted three Christians Saturday of killing a Muslim man, a judicial official and the state news agency said, in a dispute that that left nine people dead in some of this year's worst sectarian violence.

Six Christians died in the clashes, which took place in a small town just outside Cairo in April, but no one was arrested or convicted for their killings, lawyers said.

In its ruling, the criminal court of Qalubiya province sentenced one Christian man, Hani Farouk Awad, to life imprisonment and two others to 15 years for the killing of a Muslim resident of Khosoos, where the violence took place. Nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties while 32 were acquitted, the official said.

Read it all.

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Posted December 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An attack by suspected Islamist militants on a Nigerian air force base indicates the Boko Haram group retains its military capacity even after a seven-month offensive by government forces.

“It is a big deal, it shows the capability of Boko Haram is growing,” Murtala Touray, senior Africa analyst at IHS Country Risk in London, said today by phone. “For Boko Haram to plan this attack, it shows they are a force to be reckoned with, they can take on the Nigerian army.”

The pre-dawn raid took place yesterday in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, about 860 kilometers (535 miles) northeast of the capital, Abuja. Two air force personnel were wounded, 24 attackers were killed and three military aircraft and two helicopters were damaged, military spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement e-mailed to journalists....

Read it all.

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Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram militants launched a daring raid against Nigerian troops on Monday in an attack that indicates the Islamist group is still capable of deadly strikes in spite of a six-month military crackdown.

The onslaught by what witnesses described as “hundreds” of militants against a military barracks and an air force base in Maiduguri, the capital of the north-eastern state of Borno, where Boko Haram is strongest, left scores dead, helicopters burnt and barracks destroyed, according to local news reports.

The authorities responded by imposing a 24-hour curfew across the state, and Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, summoned senior military officials to a meeting.

Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).

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Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

EU humanitarian chief Kristalina Georgieva said the country faced the twin risk of a state collapse and potential genocide because of the increasing tit-for-tat killings between the Christian majority and Seleka-backing Muslims.

Speaking at his residence in Camp de Roux, a colonial military camp on a hill that overlooks the Oubangui River, Djotodia attributed the violence to settling of scores between those loyal to the previous government and some Seleka elements.

"We hear people talk of inter-religious war, sometimes they talk of genocide. What group wants to exterminate the other? Who is planning to exterminate the other?" Djotodia asked.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite this relative calm in urban areas, Boko Haram killings and kidnappings have not diminished. Recent analysis of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker indicates that they have in fact increased.

Fighting has instead shifted to rural areas. The media reports Boko Haram efforts to cut off access on the road between Kano and Maiduguri by targeting truck drivers, whom they behead using chain saws.

There are also media reports of Boko Haram carrying out forced conversions to Islam in rural areas, with the alternative being death.

Read it all.

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Posted November 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the gloom of a hilltop cave in Nigeria where she was held captive, Hajja had a knife pressed to her throat by a man who gave her a choice - convert to Islam or die.

Two gunmen from Boko Haram had seized the Christian teenager in July as she picked corn near her village in the Gwoza hills, a remote part of northeastern Nigeria where a six-month-old government offensive is struggling to contain an insurgency by the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group.

In a new development, Boko Haram is abducting Christian women whom it converts to Islam on pain of death and then forces into "marriage" with fighters - a tactic that recalls Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in the jungles of Uganda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Granada was of course, in 1492, the last Moorish city to surrender to the “Catholic Kings”. The return of Islam today has loud historical resonances. The Grand Mosque of Granada, as it calls itself, is now celebrating the 10th anniversary of its controversial opening.

It is the brainchild of Abdalqadir as-Sufi, born in Scotland in 1930 and christened Ian Dallas. He became a Muslim in 1967 and spent years seeking permission from the city council of Granada to build a mosque here.

What I had not realised, until I read a fascinating chapter in In the Light of Medieval Spain (Palgrave, £61), is that, down the hill, a mosque had long been functioning in Granada that is more open to the mainstream of Islam than the cliquish Albaicín mosque. Near the Plaza Nueva, next to the Oasis Backpackers’ Hostel, stands the al-Taqua mosque. It has been there since the 1980s.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeSpain* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted November 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christianity is at risk of extinction in some parts of the world due to growing persecution of minority communities, a minister has warned.

Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.

Syria's civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastEgyptIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Department of State designated Boko Haram and a spinoff group called Ansaru as foreign terrorist organizations Wednesday (Nov. 13).

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” is responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria, according to the State Department.

The group has stated that it desires to establish a Shariah-law theocracy in Nigeria.

Boko Haram has attacked churches, local police stations, the United Nations building in Abuja, local security offices and an agricultural college. In September, a single attack in northeastern Benisheik killed 160 civilians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 15, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here in Africa’s most populous country, where an insurgency by the brutal Islamist group Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in recent months, it is easy to despair over sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians – and between Muslims.

Yes, easy to despair, were it not for the remarkable example set by an imam and pastor in Nigeria, an oil-producing country on the West African coast whose population is evenly split between Muslims and Christians. The two men are former militia leaders whose forces directly fought each other, yet they reconciled after each was moved by a sermon on forgiveness – one preached in a mosque, and one in a church. They have been spreading the practice of tolerance and reconciliation for nearly two decades since forming the Interfaith Mediation Center here in Kaduna, in northern Nigeria, where I train staff in dialogue techniques that bridge divides of ethnicity and religion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the drafting committee entrusted with creating Egypt's new constitution, which is to be put to a national referendum next month, races against time to conclude its final product, concern runs high in most rights quarters about what the expected bill would bear for civil, political and other liberties.

Despite the active engagement of the Coptic church in the committee, representing the vast majority of Egyptian Christians, serious concerns remain in numerous Coptic quarters about the new bill's ability to attend to the grave citizenship issues that have plagued them in past decades – not least of which those added during the Muslim Brotherhood's one-year rule and its now suspended 2013 constitution, on whose drafting committee the liberal forces and representatives of the Coptic church had walked out.

"We are concerned, and for a very simple reason: in its entirety, the text of the proposed constitution – as we have been able to figure out depending on the access we have to the committee's work – is not at all successful in eliminating the key causes for compromised citizenship rights that Copts, and Christians in general, have been facing," said Coptic activist Marceiliano Youssef, a member of the Maspero Youth Union and the Egyptian Centre for Human Rights.

Read it all.

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Posted November 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Syria are accusing al-Qaeda-backed Islamists of having carryied out one of the worst atrocities of the war so far, and killed more than 40 members of the minority Christian community during their occupation of the town of Sadad, north of Damascus. The Syrian government announced last week that its forces had regained control of this strategic town.

In a report by the news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Agenzia Fides, the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, said: "Forty-five innocent civilians were martyred for no reason." It was, he said, the "biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two-and-a-half years".

The Archbishop said that he was shocked at the way in which the world was allowing the killing of Christians in Syria to continue. "Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers?"

Read it all.

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

David Cameron’s plans to issue sharia-compliant bonds open the way to Islamic law being enforced at the heart of government, a senior clergyman has warned.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, said proposals to make Britain the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that complies with sharia could trigger a series of “unforeseen consequences”.

He also voiced broader fears that Christianity was being increasingly excluded from the administration of law, after one of Britain’s most senior judges said members of the judiciary were “secular” figures serving a “multicultural community”.

Read it all.

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“’God of life, lead us to justice and peace’ has become a prayer around the world.” These were words of Dr Wedad Abbas Tawfik about the theme of the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly. She shared her experiences and hopes for social and political stability as a Coptic Christian in her country, Egypt.

Tawfik, who was one of the speakers at the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, made special reference to the situation of Christians in the Middle East, Egypt and Syria in particular, inviting prayers for peace for the region.

Tawfik was addressing a plenary session of the WCC assembly on 31 October.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living alongside and evangelizing Muslim neighbors has been a recurring theme at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) meeting this week in Nairobi, Kenya. Relations between Anglican Christians and Muslims have been made more complicated in recent years with the rise of radical Islamists and key differences in how Christians and some Muslims understand moral codes and public law.

“Our arguments should have validity and strength in the pubic square, people should see it is focused on love, truth and graciousness,” declared Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali at a GAFCON mini-conference session on Islam held on Thursday. The former bishop of Rochester, England explained that Christians and Muslims have a different attitude about power.

“Islam believes you change the world by gaining power, Christians believe you change the world by a willingness to give up power,” Nazir-Ali assessed. Yet temptation to theocracy, he reported, is everywhere.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & PrimatesGACON II 2013* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wedding party stood outside the church, eagerly awaiting the ceremonious arrival of the bride. Instead, drive-by shooters killed four, including two children and the groom's mother, and injured 18.

Beyond its poignancy, the attack in Cairo's industrial neighborhood of Warraq was significant for being one of the first to target Egypt's Christians specifically, versus the now-common attacks on their church buildings.

"Since the revolution, this is the first instance Coptic people were targeted randomly in a church, with weapons," said Mina Magdy, general coordinator for the Maspero Youth Union, a mostly Coptic revolutionary group formed in response to church burnings in 2011 after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Read it all.

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Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On 22nd of September 2013, around 500 persons gathered for Divine Sunday Service including another 64 children who were present in the Sunday School Center in the Church compound. Two suicide bombers entered in the compound and exploded themselves while the worshipers were coming out at the end of the Service at All Saints Church, Kohati Gate in Peshawar.

This city is the Provincial head and a main town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which has borne the brunt of a bloody Islamist insurgency in recent years.

This bloody blast took almost 130 lives and injured 169 persons. 120 People are still in the different hospitals. 12 women become widows, 24 children become orphan and amongst them 18 children lost both parents.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Brotherhood was toppled in Egypt in a July military coup, and former president Mohammad Morsi will go on trial in November. The coup is also threatening the 6-year-old rule of its Palestinian branch, Hamas, in neighboring Gaza, because the Egyptian military has closed smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, depriving Hamas of millions of dollars in foreign donations and customs revenue. In several Gulf Arab states, the movement has been targeted in a crackdown, and Tunisia's Brotherhood-dominated government faces a backlash.

"They fail to make the transition from a closed organization into an open and broad-based transparent government," Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center of the London School of Economics, said of the Brotherhood. "They behaved, while in government, exactly as they behave internally."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 18, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the smoke that hung over the Westgate Shopping Mall has dissipated, a quiet tension still lingers in the air throughout the capital.

Last month’s attack by al-Shabab militants on a mall frequented by Westerners in the capital city, left at least 67 dead. But the burning of a Christian church in the majority-Muslim city Mombasa just two weeks later suggests the nation is on the precipice of more conflict between Christians and Muslims.

This is dispiriting for many in a country that for years enjoyed relative peace between the two monotheistic religions that dominate the region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 16, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Malaysian court ruled on Monday that a Christian newspaper may not use the word "Allah" to refer to God, a landmark decision on an issue that has fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights in the mainly Muslim country.

The unanimous decision by three Muslim judges in Malaysia's appeals court overturned a 2009 ruling by a lower court that allowed the Malay-language version of the newspaper, The Herald, to use the word Allah - as many Christians in Malaysia say has been the case for centuries.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Egyptian Government to do more to prevent mob attacks on the country’s Coptic Christian minority.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the circumstances for Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up about about 10 per cent of the nation’s population, were “life-threatening”.

More than 200 Christian-owned properties have been attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged across the country, according to an Amnesty International report out...[this week].

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most important goal in comparative theology is to create a symmetrical model, that is, a structure that compares the traditions of each faith without misrepresenting or idealizing one over the other. This is perhaps the greatest challenge to anyone who does comparative studies, and in this case there are some instances where more fruitful comparisons could have been made. One of the asymmetrical comparisons in this book comes from the use of sources. On the one hand, academic debates about Christology by pluralists (including non-Christians) are portrayed as if they were normative for Christianity. Yet their views are compared with traditional Islamic thinkers. In another instance, the book gives a detailed historical-critical assessment of Jesus but nothing about the historical Muhammad. Eliminating these skeptical analyses of Jesus, or adding them for Muhammad, would actually put the two figures in closer symmetry.

One value to Siddiqui’s book is its honest Islamic inquiry into the relationship of Islam to Christianity. We need more Muslims making honest attempts to understand Christianity. Reading Christian sources and taking them actually to mean what they say is an important step in entering dialogue. This attitude is taken for granted in Western cultures, but it needs to be taught at the popular level in the Islamic world, where polemics still pervade the mindset of religious communities. Finally, Siddiqui’s book is welcome because it encourages Muslims to read the Bible in order to understand the context of their own scripture. Siddiqui’s analysis of the Bible and what Christians believe is important, despite some analytical asymmetries. Instead of repeating polemical mantras of the past, Siddiqui has put forward a book demonstrating that Muslims and Christians are in dialogue. Books like this should be encouraged from academia and the wider Islamic community.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyChristology

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Posted October 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By his own admission, San Antonio youth minister Gavin Rogers has a knack for making his parents worry.

In 2012, as minister to youth and families at Trinity Baptist Church, he observed Lent by living as a homeless person, dodging cops, sleeping under bridges and wrestling with hunger.

Rogers, 31, has pushed the envelope of parental stress again, this time by making a five-day visit to Egypt just a few weeks after violent, deadly riots swept over the nation.

“When I told my parents about the homeless journey, my mom was really worried,” Rogers said. “With this one, my dad wasn’t too happy.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 4, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ever since 9/11, the struggle against terrorists has focused too much on killing them rather than their message. That may change with a new public-private effort to counter the appeal of jihadists with a grass-roots campaign aimed at young and vulnerable Muslims....

[Last] Friday, Turkey and the United States announced plans to raise more than $200 million for a global fund to counter the “local drivers of radicalization to violence.” Much like campaigns against illiteracy or the child sex trade, this one has dozens of countries behind it. A coalition called the Global Counterterrorism Forum will build on the expertise of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Indonesia that have successfully “deradicalized” captured terrorists.

Lessons from those rehab programs can be applied by civic groups and governments to prevent radicalization of Muslims. At the heart of these efforts will be moderate Muslims, such as Islamic scholars or former terrorists, who can effectively deliver the message that Islam does not justify the purposeful killing of innocents.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 2, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than two months after the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood was driven from power and the country's army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, surged to the fore, Egypt remains deeply divided about the role of religion in public life. Whether in fiery mosque sermons, slow-moving constitutional deliberations or triumphal military statements, the banner of heaven is being waved by all sides.

"Religion is being more or less used the same way by the military as it was by the Brotherhood," said Ahmad El Azabawy, a former political science professor who is now an independent analyst. "Just with more subtlety, because now, of course, people are just coming out of a bitter experience with an Islamic regime."

Religious minorities make up about 15% of the population, and Islam is the state religion. It pervades daily existence in Egypt as surely as the muezzin's call echoing through dusty streets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 2, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We may not like it, but Christians are not God's 'favourites'; and we may like even less the fact that God loves terrorists as much as he loves well-behaved little me. This is not to suggest turning a glib, blind eye to evil or injustice, far from it; but it is to suggest that any Christianity worth preserving, defending or celebrating is (if at times with gritted teeth or a broken heart) to strive to forgive to the last breath.

"The last will be first and the first will be last", said Christ. A strident demand for Christianity to be pushed to the front of the queue in our present age may well turn out to be counterproductive. In the West Christendom had over a thousand years to make its point, its mouth close to the only microphone in town. In our global, post-Christian times a gentler, kinder voice will need to be used, and we may even thereby find a way of changing Terror itself into hope and reconciliation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 1, 2013 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. The group was founded by a firebrand cleric called Mohammed Yusuf

Boko Haram is a Sunni terrorist organization that claims links to Al Qaeda and other groups of a similar ideological bent, both in the region and internationally. The group’s current incarnation was founded in 2003 under the leadership of a young Islamic cleric named Mohammed Yusuf. He was killed during a failed uprising against the Abuja government in July 2009 that spread across four northern states, but was successfully crushed by security forces. During the crackdown, Yusuf was arrested and killed while in custody. Since his death, his former deputy Abubakar Shekau has taken Boko Haram’s reins of power and launched a violent campaign largely targeting police stations, federal institutions and Christian villages across northeast Nigeria.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

BISHOP JOSEPH COUTTS (Catholic Archbishop of Karachi): Because of our colonial past Christianity has been, is being identified with colonialism.

Joseph Coutts, Catholic Bishop of Karachi

[FRED] DE SAM LAZARO: With the West.

COUTTS: With the West in general. We are sort of linked with being products of the West.

DE SAM LAZARO: That has made Christians targets for all kinds of grievances against the West—whether a drone strike in the region or an anti-Islamic pronouncement in Florida.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hiding the Christian name on his ID with his thumb, Joshua Hakim approached the gunmen and showed them the plastic card. “They told me to go. Then an Indian man came forward, and they said, ‘What is the name of Muhammad’s mother?’ When he couldn’t answer they just shot him.”

That’s the way it went inside the Westgate Premier Shopping Mall in Nairobi last Saturday. If you said when asked that you were Muslim, you were let go. If you answered no, you stayed. And maybe died.

More than 60 patrons in that upscale mall in Kenya’s capital breathed their last that day, shot dead by Islamist militants from Somalia who call themselves al-Shabab. The massacre was not al-Shabab’s first attack on non-Muslims....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The heroic man was]...Abdul Haji, the son of a former security minister in the Kenyan government, who had rushed to the mall after getting a text message from his brother who was trapped inside.

"We saw a lot of dead people. Very young people, children, old ladies, you cannot imagine," Mr Haji told the Kenyan television station NTV.

"From what they were doing, you could tell that these were not normal people. The fact that he was making a joke out of this whole thing made me much more angry and determined to engage them, and to shame them."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders of the nation's largest Somali community say some of their young men are still being enticed to join the terror group that has claimed responsibility for the deadly mall attack in Kenya, despite a concentrated effort to shut off what authorities call a "deadly pipeline" of men and money.

Six years have passed since Somali-American fighters began leaving Minnesota to become part of al-Shabab. Now the Somali community is dismayed over reports that a few of its own might have been involved in the violence at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

"One thing I know is the fear is growing," said Abdirizak Bihi, whose nephew was among at least six men from Minnesota who have died in Somalia. More are presumed dead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMenReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenyaSomalia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian de Chergé was a Trappist monk who, with six of his monastic brothers, was killed in Algeria in 1996. The exact circumstances of their deaths remain disputed. They were abducted by a band of radical Islamists, in the midst of a horrendously violent period of civil-religious strife. Only their severed heads were subsequently recovered. To what degree did the Algerian army play a role in their deaths, and with what assistance from French security advisers, wittingly or unwittingly?

Rather, de Chergé gave his life as a reconciling gift thrown into the midst of the hostility and violence associated with antagonistic diversities. His was a witness made quintessentially within our late modern culture of fragmented “globalized” hopelessness....

Christian Salenson’s Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope (a translation of the 2009 French original) follows in step with the temper of the times, and takes up the [interest in the] Christian-Muslim... [angle of his thought]. Although this approach has its limitations, the volume, in all of its austere precision and accessibility, is of the highest quality, and deserves to be read as a necessary introduction to de Chergé’s thought. SRead it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooks* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeriaEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American hopes of winning more influence over Syria’s fractious rebel movement faded Wednesday after 11 of the biggest armed factions repudiated the Western-backed opposition coalition and announced the formation of a new alliance dedicated to creating an Islamic state.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the lead signatory of the new group, which will further complicate fledgling U.S. efforts to provide lethal aid to “moderate” rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has drawn attention to the fact that Christians in Peshawar were talking of forgiveness immediately after suicide bombers attacked All Saints Church on Sunday.
But he added that Christians in Peshawar are also ‘crying out vigorously’ for justice and protection following the worst attack on Christians in Pakistan’s history.
The attack, which was launched as people were leaving Sunday Mass, killed 85 people and injured more than 120.
Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One today, the Archbishop described the bombing as ‘an absolutely appalling attack’ and called on Pakistan’s government to ensure that minority citizens are given proper protection and that all people are treated equally under its law.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The night ended with historian Tom Holland declaring sadly that we are now seeing the extinction of Christianity and other minority faiths in the Middle East. As he pointed out, it’s the culmination of the long process that began in the Balkans in the late 19th century, reached its horrific European climax in 1939-1945, and continued with the Greeks of Alexandria, the Mizrahi Jews and most recently the Chaldo-Assyrian Christians of Iraq. The Copts may have the numbers to hold on, Holland said, and the Jews of Israel, but can anyone else?

Without a state (and army) of their own, minorities are merely leaseholders. The question is whether we can do anything to prevent extinction, and whether British foreign policy can be directed towards helping Christian interests rather than, as currently seems to be the case, the Saudis.

The saddest audience question was from a young man who I’m guessing was Egyptian-British. He asked: ‘Where was world Christianity when this happened?...’

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With its Muslim-style minarets topped by a large black cross, the All Saints Church in Peshawar has for more than a century offered a daring architectural expression of Muslim-Christian harmony and cohabitation....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has become an all too familiar narrative: Muslim militants in some majority Islamic country going out of their way to kill and intimidate the local Christian populace.

What happened this past Sunday in Pakistan, however, has shocked even the most jaded and cynical observers.

Peshawar’s All Saints Church is an Anglican parish that has existed since 1893. Around noon, after services this past Sunday, two suicide bombers, each wearing 13 pounds of explosives, forced their way past two police guards and detonated their devices. At least 83 people have died from the blast, including 34 women and seven children, with more than 175 people injured. The attack decimated entire families.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 24, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A senior judge, leading members of Parliament and human rights activists are calling for an urgent debate on the explosive issue of whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear veils when they testify in court.

The call for national debate follows Judge Peter Murphy’s Sept. 16 ruling that a 22-year-old Muslim woman standing trial on charges of intimidating a witness at a north London mosque must remove her facial veil, called a niqab, when testifying so the jury can better evaluate her facial expressions.

If she refuses, the woman – known only as Defendant D – could face a prison sentence for contempt of court.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

9 Comments
Posted September 22, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An acid attack on a Roman Catholic priest in Zanzibar is heightening fears of increased religious tensions on the Tanzanian islands, where Christian clergy, churches and some Muslim leaders are being targeted.

On Sept. 13, the Rev. Anselm Mwang’amba, 61, suffered burns on his face, chest and arms when acid was thrown at him as he left an Internet cafe. The attack came barely a month after acid was thrown on two British teenage tourists, Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee.

“We are urging Christians not to retaliate,” said the Rev. Cosmas Shayo, diocesan chancellor. “We are depending on the police for security. They say action has been taken, but we are not satisfied since the attacks are continuing.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaTanzania* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indisputably, there is today a Coptic nation. But it is not a nation that seeks to achieve independence and statehood. That nation is neither racial nor, after the loss of the Coptic language, is it based on a distinct language or on purely religious lines. Instead, it is a nation that is founded on the unique history of a church. It is a nation, as S.S. Hassan described it, whose topography is invisible. The nature of the dangers facing that nation have varied throughout its history from assimilation in an imagined liberal Egypt, to the erosion of Coptic uniqueness, the threat of Protestant missionaries and of modernity and its discontents.

Today, this nation faces a more serious threat. It can fight back against persecution, although overwhelming odds lined up against it assure its defeat. It can accept dhimmitude and live as second-class citizens, or it can withdraw inside the walls of its ancient church finding comfort within those walls.

The prospects for Copts in Egypt are, to say the least, bleak. Unlike the Jewish emigrants escaping Egypt in the 1940s and 50s, for Copts driven out of their ancestral homeland there is no Israel to escape to. Nor does their overall percentage in Egypt allow them to play a key role in shaping its future. The only option in front of them is to pack their bags and leave, putting an end to two thousand years of Christianity in Egypt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted September 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The terrorist attacks that happened 12 years ago...[yesterday] changed several things about the world, like airport security and the national sense of safety — not to mention the subsequent wars touched off at least in part by the events.

For Muslims like [Iman] Meyer-Hoffman, non-Muslims around her suddenly took an interest in their religion, as it is widely believed a radical Islamist group carried out the attacks.

Michigan is home to one of the largest populations of Muslims in the U.S., with The Islamic Center of America in Dearborn. The Fenton area is home to several families that attend the mosque in Burton.

Read it all from yesterday's TC Times paper.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 12, 2013 at 7:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fighting between security forces and rogue Muslim rebels seeking to declare an independent state escalated in a southern Philippine city on Thursday and spread to a second island, officials said.

U.S.-trained commandos exchanged gunfire with a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) holding dozens of hostages in Zamboanga City, on the southernmost island of Mindanao, army spokesman Domingo Tutaan said.

The violence illustrates the security challenge potential investors face in the impoverished south of the majority Roman Catholic country despite a strong nationwide economic performance in the second quarter.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPhilippines* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted September 12, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, president of the FVAMC, told The Christian Post that they are "thrilled" by the interfaith partnership and plan to move into the Avon property soon.

"We hope to move in in the coming weeks. Since we're leasing the facility, we're keeping the modifications to the bare minimum needed to accommodate our activities," said Abu-Hasaballah. "The facility has been de-consecrated by the bishop and the altar removed. We are also relocating some pews to free up enough space for Muslim congregational prayers."

Prior to the agreement over the building, FVAMC members had used various the church's facilities for events and prayer, Abu-Hasaballah told CP.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

2 Comments
Posted September 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A federal judge ruled Monday (Sept. 9) that the Abercrombie and Fitch clothing chain violated federal anti-employment discrimination guidelines when it fired a Muslim employee in 2010 for not removing her religious headscarf, or hijab, for work.

Abercrombie asserted that as part of its business plan, it not only employed sales-floor personnel, but “models,” had a “look policy” that gave employees certain grooming and appearance guidelines, and sought to give customers an “in-store experience.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2013 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the mid-August day that Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of Islamist protesters, throwing the country into deeper turmoil, the ultraconservative religious Salafist Nour Party released a statement positioning itself as the sole voice of reason.

"We warned a long time ago against the danger of bloodshed and against mobilization and counter-mobilization," the group said.

Nour called on both the nation's military rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood that had been ousted from power to stop the violence, saying that the only option for peace was a political solution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2013 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Coptic Orthodox priest would talk to his visitor only after hiding from the watchful eyes of the bearded Muslim outside, who sported a pistol bulging from under his robe.

So Father Yoannis moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how it was torched by Islamists and then looted when they took over this southern Egyptian town following the ouster of the country's president.

"The fire in the monastery burned intermittently for three days. The looting continued for a week. At the end, not a wire or an electric switch is left," Yoannis told The Associated Press. The monastery's 1,600-year-old underground chapel was stripped of ancient icons and the ground was dug up on the belief that a treasure was buried there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christ Episcopal Church closed December of 2012 and the question has remained for the better part of this year what would become of the church property.

Now The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut has announced the decision to partner with the newly formed Farmington Valley American Muslim Center (FVAMC) organization to turn the Harris Road church into an interfaith hub. The partnership will bring interfaith educational programming to the facility, which the Diocese plans to lease to the FVAMC. The move aligns with the Diocese's renewed effort in "recommitting itself to interfaith initiatives in new ways," the Diocese said in the press release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 8, 2013 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Syrian civil conflict is both a proxy war and a combustion point for spreading waves of violence. This didn't start out as a religious war. But both Sunni and Shiite power players are seizing on religious symbols and sowing sectarian passions that are rippling across the region. The Saudi and Iranian powers hover in the background fueling each side.

As the death toll in Syria rises to Rwanda-like proportions, images of mass killings draw holy warriors from countries near and far. The radical groups are the most effective fighters and control the tempo of events. The Syrian opposition groups are themselves split violently along sectarian lines so that the country seems to face a choice between anarchy and atrocity.

Meanwhile, the strife appears to be spreading. Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq is spiking upward. Reports in The New York Times and elsewhere have said that many Iraqis fear their country is sliding back to the worst of the chaos experienced in the past decade. Even Turkey, Pakistan, Bahrain and Kuwait could be infected.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptLebanonSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fresh video has emerged from Egypt showing the storming of a Coptic church, apparently proving claims that supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi have been laying waste to Christian churches.

The shocking footage shows a Muslim mob storming the church in the southern Egyptian city of Sohag, smashing furniture and walls and torching cars as they go.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The] Rev. Isaac Onwusongaonye of St. James Anglican Cathedral, of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), told Morning Star News that at about 6 p.m., as he and six other church leaders were meeting for Bible study preparation and the choir was about to begin rehearsal, a church member told them that someone was arguing with the young man in charge of the church-run water borehole, Peter Aleku.

"When we enquired of the water seller what happened, he said that a girl, a (Muslim) neighbor, came and bought water worth 20 naira (1 US cent) and did not pay," Onwusongaonye said.

He added, "Shortly after, the girl's sister came and fetched water worth 5 naira and paid 20 naira and demanded 15 naira in change. But the water seller told her that, for the change, to meet her sister who bought water earlier and did not pay."
The girl was upset and told her mother about the exchange, the clergyman said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted August 29, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Multiple attacks by Islamists on St George’s has prompted the Iraqi government to set up three checkpoints to protect the church.

The new security measures make it virtually impossible to attack the building and show “the government here cares about us,” Canon White - known as the “vicar of Baghdad” - says.

However the violence targeted against Christians in Baghdad and elsewhere in the region continues.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 27, 2013 at 4:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Indonesian pastor remains in a tortured psychological state as a legal case against him lingers on.

Palti Panjaitan, who runs the HKBP Filadelfia church in the village of Jejalen Jaya, east of Bekasi, was accused by an Islamic leader of assaulting him on Christmas Eve of last year.

The pastor has always maintained that he did not assault Abdul Aziz Bin Naimun and was in fact the subject of intimidation and death threats by his accuser.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted August 27, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two former militant groups offered to call off street protests if the government agrees to ease its pressure on Islamists, a move that underscores how a onetime strong Islamist movement is now bowing to an unprecedented crackdown by security authorities.

The proposal comes after the military rounded up hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and other Islamists in the wake of the country's worst bout of violence, which followed the Aug. 14 clearing of two sprawling sit-in camps housing protesters calling for the reinstatement of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 27, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Egyptian military has enlisted Muslim scholars in a propaganda campaign to persuade soldiers and policemen that they have a religious duty to obey orders to use deadly force against supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi.

The effort is a signal that the generals are worried about insubordination in the ranks, after security forces have killed hundreds of their fellow Egyptians who were protesting against the military’s removal of the elected president — violence by the armed forces against civilians that is without precedent in the country’s modern history.

The recourse to religion to justify the killing is also a new measure of the depth of the military’s determination to break down the main pillar of Mr. Morsi’s support, the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, after ousting Mr. Morsi in the name of tolerance, inclusiveness and an end to religious rule, the military is now sending religious messages to its troops that sound surprisingly similar to the arguments of radical militants who call for violence against political opponents whom they deem to be nonbelievers.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

The past week has been traumatic for Egyptians. We witnessed bloodshed on our streets, vandalism and the deliberate destruction of churches and government buildings in lawless acts of revenge. One of our Anglican Churches was attacked, and other ministries received threats. We praise God that our churches and congregations are safe, but we grieve for the loss of life and for the churches which were burnt over the past week in Egypt.

The Anglican Church in Egypt serves all Egyptians, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized, through our educational, medical and community development ministries. We seek to be a light in our society, and we continue to serve our neighbours in the difficult situation which surrounds us. Unemployment is at a record high, there is a lack of security on the streets, the economy is in decline, and poverty is crushing for many people in Egypt.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Muslim Brotherhood is on the run.

Its leaders, including its Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, are in prison. Badie’s only son, Ammar, was killed during the military’s clearing of protests last week. Badie’s deputy, Mahmout Ezzat replaced him, and is apparently free for now, but others are imprisoned or sought for arrest. Its protestors have been scattered by police and the army, losing hundreds of lives in the process. The cancellation of its legal status is now being discussed by the military-backed government. Former President Hosni Mubarak’s release on Thursday, from jail to house arrest, is salt in a wound. As they fall from the heights of leadership, so the old and reviled leader climbs, if shakily, out of the pit.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted August 25, 2013 at 11:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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