Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Dear Friends in Christ,

Many of us have been following with alarm the persecution of Christians in various countries of the Middle East and Africa. Concern has been expressed within our diocese by priests and laity of the need for us to have a diocesan response to this current crisis.

At our Diocesan Council Meeting last week all concurred that as Bishop I would appoint an upcoming Sunday to be set aside for specific prayer and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in the midst of this persecution as well as a day for fasting on their behalf. I have appointed September 14th as a Sunday for such diocesan wide intercession. It is the Sunday nearest to Holy Cross Day which is transferred this year to be observed on Monday, September 15th.

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States has made the same mistake in evaluating fighters from the Islamic State that it did in Vietnam — underestimating the enemy’s will, according to James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

Clapper’s comments came in a telephone interview Wednesday, in which he summarized the elements of a new National Intelligence Strategy released this week. Clapper also answered some broader questions about intelligence issues confronting the country.

Read it all.



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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That the majority of ISIL’s victims are Muslim does not exclude it from being a religiously motivated movement. For ISIL is part of the group within Islam whose motivation is religious - namely, the removal of apostasy.

We should take our opponents self-identity seriously. They are waging war in the name of Islam and in accordance with their Islamic beliefs. They wish to create the Caliphate. Their commitment is more than a power grab for land – it is a religious zeal and if we ignore it, we will seriously underestimate them.

We must not try to conform Islam to Christian ideals of religion. Jesus and Mohammed were very different in their life as well as in their teaching. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey to be executed, a week later, for our sins. Mohammed arrived at Mecca in front of an army of 10,000 soldiers to take the city by force. In countries where Christianity has dominated, mosques can be built, the Qur’an can be read and studied and preached in the streets, and citizens can change religion without fear of persecution, let alone execution. None of these corresponding freedoms are available for Christians in countries where Islam holds sway.

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Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

None of that makes the religious heritage of Europe sound very appealing. But it is essential to remember that in Europe, with the Reformation, Enlightenment, Emancipation, we’ve moved on. Those of us who still practise a faith – Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew – preserve a sense of sanctity without killing each other over it. Crucially, we’re no longer theocrats: the C of E may tell me adultery is sinful, but the state won’t stone me to death over it. But in moving on too fast, we’ve also lost the religious literacy that tells us why people look to priests and saints for guidance in the first place. There will always be those for whom the post-modern world just seems a bit too fractured, a bit too liberal, frankly, in all its dazzling, confusing choices, a bit too frightening. If we want to keep young Muslims from religious violence, the answer is not secularism, but religious alternatives. The violent history of Christianity shouldn’t be a reason to discredit our religious impulse, but to demonstrate the impossibility of repressing it completely.

And to despite the State Department’s best efforts, we can’t build the moral case against Isil simply by pointing out the cruelties it inflicts upon its enemies. As Professor Ian Robertson points out, that’s not how out-group/in-group dynamics work. Religious fanatics have always slaughtered their enemies – and for radical Sunnis, that includes the Shia. Instead, it is the mundane misery of Isil’s ideal state that should horrify the world. Amira Karroum isn’t scared of being beheaded, because she doesn’t think of herself as an infidel. But once the glamour of war is gone, does she really want to live in an eternal shroud, forbidden from leaving the house, denied an education? Do young British men – one of whom notoriously asked “Do the mujahideen play footy and that?” – understand that a state ruled by blasphemy laws is a state where a wise crack at the local cleric could cost you your life? Many states are forged in war – not all of them then ban music, art and history in peace time.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many displaced Christians now see no future in Iraq, home to one of the most ancient Christian communities anywhere.

"Now we know there is no more security in this country," said Father Bahnam Lalo, pastor of Bartella's St. George Church, who, like most of his parishioners, fled to Irbil, capital of the relatively safe semiautonomous Kurdish region. "We love this land, we're rooted to this land, but it's hopeless."

International attention last month focused on the plight of the Yazidis, another minority group, and their harrowing escape to Mt. Sinjar. But about 100,000 Christians also have fled the Sunni militants since June, church leaders say.

Multitudes of displaced Christians are now hoping to join relatives in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere.

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Australia's prime minister says intelligence that Islamic State supporters were planning to carry out a killing to demonstrate its abilities led to counterterrorism raids in Sydney.

Australian police detained 15 people Thursday in a major counterterrorism operation, saying intelligence indicated a random, violent attack was being planned on Australian soil.

About 800 federal and state police officers raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney as part of the operation — the largest in Australian history, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin said. Separate raids in the eastern cities of Brisbane and Logan were also conducted.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian minorities are in danger of being eradicated in the Middle East, leaders of evangelical and Protestant denominations in Syria and Lebanon said in a joint statement Aug. 29.

Leaders of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, the highest representative body of all the Evangelical and Protestant denominations in the two countries, issued a “state of emergency” to preserve “what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence” in the region “and to circumvent its complete demise.”

“The issue of Christian presence in the Middle East has gone beyond the stage of calling for equal rights and protection from persecution,” the statement said. “It has become a cry of warning before further events cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.”

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Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.

“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sketched out scenarios in which U.S. Special Forces might need to embed with Iraqi or Kurdish troops engaged in direct combat with Islamic State fighters.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Dempsey acknowledged that Obama has vowed not to send U.S. ground combat forces back into Iraq, less than three years after the president fulfilled a campaign promise to extricate the military from a long, costly and unpopular war there.

But the general revealed that U.S. commanders have already sought permission, on at least one occasion, to deploy small teams of U.S. advisers into battle with Iraqi troops. Dempsey also suggested that, while Obama has held firm, he might be persuaded to change his mind.

Read it all from the Washington Post.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Please note--be warned this contains content that is very disturbing--KSH.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian fathers told to convert to Islam or watch their children lose their heads.

Christians fleeing their communities shot, their dead bodies lined up on the ground, then rolled over by a bulldozer as their loved ones watch.

These are just some of the stories Canon Andrew White and Dr. Sarah Ahmed shared at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Monday.

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police are trying to track down young women whom they believe have been lured over the internet to travel to Syria by Islamic State (Isis) with the promise of cash for babies.

At least three Somali families in Minneapolis have female members who have disappeared in the past six weeks. They are all from the St Paul area of the city. At the end of last month, a 19-year-old Somali woman from St Paul, who left home saying that she was attending a bridal shower, instead flew to Turkey and joined Isis in Syria.

On Friday, Shannon Conley, 19, from Colorado, pleaded guilty to trying to travel to the Middle East to enrol in Isis. She was arrested at Denver International airport in April with a one-way ticket and had been recruited online by a male militant in Syria.

Read it all (subscription required).


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Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French President François Hollande was set to order reconnaissance flights over Iraq on Monday as he kicked off an international conference aimed at shoring up a coalition to fight Islamic State militants.

On opening the conference, Mr. Hollande noted U.S. President Barack Obama's call for countries to join a broad military coalition to combat the militant group, which has seized territory straddling Iraq and Syria.

"Many countries have responded in the region and beyond. France will do its part," Mr. Hollande said, flanked by Iraqi President Fouad Massoum.

Read it all from the WSJ.

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are various pieties that politicians observe in the wake of some barbarity committed by Islamic fundamentalists and duly David Cameron observed them in his statement yesterday about the murder of David Haines. Of the perpetrators, he observed:
‘They are killing and slaughtering thousands of people – Christians, Muslims, minorities across Iraq and Syria. They boast of their brutality. They claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters.’
I really wish he wouldn’t. It doesn’t add anything whatever to our understanding of Isis to say that they are not Muslims but monsters. They may not be our preferred kind of Muslims – my own preference is for the C of E sort you used to get in the former Yugoslavia – but they are, unquestionably Muslims of a particularly unattractive stamp. Calling them monsters is an impolite way of abnegating any effort to understand them.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking to BBC News in Bristol, where he is on a diocesan visit, Archbishop Justin said: "What we have seen in this dreadful video is an act of absolute evil, unqualified, without any light in it at all. There is a sense that within this area, and in many places in the world where this kind of thing is being done, that the darkness is deepening. It's being done in the name of faith, but we've heard already today faith leaders from Islam across the world condemning this.

"What's going on is a power-seeking activity. Faith is often used as a hook on which to hang other desires, and this is a desire for power and influence, and faith is being twisted to enable it to be used to gain power and influence for their own unspeakably evil ends. So today there is that sick sense of horror at the wickedness we see, a deep sense of compassion for the family, and prayer that they may be comforted by the presence and light of Christ in a very, very dark time indeed."

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 3:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

TARIN: What I think U.S. Muslims are doing, their feeling is that ISIS again has hijacked their faith. We saw this on 9-11, we saw this repeatedly with Al Qaeda. ISIS is again using religion to put forth political and social goals in the region. And I think American Muslims are coming out in staggering numbers. The leadership across the country has come out saying, “This does not represent us. This is not who we are.

And we will stand against you using our faith to push a political agenda in the region.”

LAWTON: Is there something, though, the community can do beyond just words? Is there something concrete, maybe, to stop this?

TARIN: Yes. Communities around the country are making sure that the Internet is not a place where young people are being influenced. Because the message of ISIS is black and white. It says the West and America is at war with Islam. And so what our communities are doing, our institution has launched a program called Safe Spaces, where we are making sure that our young people are civically engaged and are not vulnerable to the black and white message of ISIS and groups like it.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are three reasons for this invisibility. The political left in the West associates Christian faith with dead white male imperialism and does not come naturally to the recognition that Christianity is now the globe’s most persecuted religion. And in the Middle East the Israel-Palestine question, with its colonial overtones, has been the left’s great obsession, whereas the less ideologically convenient plight of Christians under Islamic rule is often left untouched.

To America’s strategic class, meanwhile, the Middle East’s Christians simply don’t have the kind of influence required to matter. A minority like the Kurds, geographically concentrated and well-armed, can be a player in the great game, a potential United States ally. But except in Lebanon, the region’s Christians are too scattered and impotent to offer much quid for the superpower’s quo. So whether we’re pursuing stability by backing the anti-Christian Saudis or pursuing transformation by toppling Saddam Hussein (and unleashing the furies on Iraq’s religious minorities), our policy makers have rarely given Christian interests any kind of due.

Then, finally, there is the American right, where one would expect those interests to find a greater hearing. But the ancient churches of the Middle East (Eastern Orthodox, Chaldean, Maronites, Copt, Assyrian) are theologically and culturally alien to many American Catholics and evangelicals. And the great cause of many conservative Christians in the United States is the state of Israel, toward which many Arab Christians harbor feelings that range from the complicated to the hostile.

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In discussions of the threat posed by the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, a spinoff from al Qaeda in Iraq), some Western pundits have argued that the terror organization poses only a distant threat, not a near one. They have claimed that the Islamic State's goals are mainly territorial and focused on the Middle East, as compared to al Qaeda's, which are transnational and focused on attacking the West. On June 30, the US State Department referred to the ISIS' strategy as that of creating a regional caliphate.

That general view was fairly widely held until recently, when the Islamic State executed two American hostages, which brought home to the West that its citizens are at risk. But in addition to committing shocking crimes in Syria and Iraq against civilians, security forces, and Western captives, the group has also developed an international following. The Islamic State's growing international presence demonstrates the dangerous fallacy of the argument that the group has primarily only regional goals.

National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen said on Sept. 3 that the US currently has "no credible information" that the Islamic State is presently planning to attack the homeland. But that assurance is not a signal to dismiss the threats presented by the group. Although the IS arguably has reason to avoid crossing American 'red lines' as it attempts to solidify gains and develop infrastructure, it must be regarded as a formidable organization with sweeping global ambitions.

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why was there such a wave of opposition? In part because Americans had no confidence their leaders understood the complications, history and realities of Syria or the Mideast. The previous 12 years had left them distrusting the American foreign-policy establishment. Americans felt the U.S. itself needed more care and attention. By 2013 there was a new depth of disbelief in Mr. Obama's leadership.

But there was another, powerful aspect to the opposition.

Evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics who would normally back strong military action were relatively silent in 2013. Why? I think because they were becoming broadly aware, for the first time, of what was happening to Christians in the Middle East. They were being murdered, tortured, abused for their faith and run out of the region. And for all his crimes and failings, Syria's justly maligned Assad was not attempting to crush his country's Christians. His enemies were—the jihadists, including those who became the Islamic State.

In the year since, the brutality against Middle Eastern Christians, and Islamic State's ferocious anti-Christian agenda, has left many Christians deeply alarmed. Jihadists are de-Christianizing the Mideast, where Christianity began.Read it all.

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Posted September 13, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To defeat a disciplined and fanatical insurgency inspired by ideological fervour anywhere, disciplined leadership is fundamental. Without such leadership the security forces are reluctant to engage. When rampant corruption is added to the mix, it is no wonder that West Africa’s putatively most powerful military force has been unable and unwilling to reduce Boko Haram to the pitiful state in which it existed four years ago. Now that the security forces have the benefit of outside help and sophisticated surveillance techniques, it should be easy. But if armies are not fully at one with their political leaders, and if armies believe themselves to be abused, there is no fight.

Victory over Boko Haram is only possible if Mr. Jonathan makes such a victory a national cause and if he and his close followers find a way to strengthen the legitimacy of the state and of key state institutions such as the military. This would involve Mr. Jonathan demonstrating a real belief in the integrity of the nation, casting aside party and ethnic considerations, and showing that he really is the leader of all Nigerians, not just southerners, Christians or the denizens of Abuja.

Until and unless Mr. Jonathan rises to as yet untouched heights of leadership, Maiduguri may well be overrun, and a jejune and greedy movement constitute Nigeria’s first breakaway state. The 19th-century Kanemi-Bornu emirate will then have been recreated in the guise of a fanatical caliphate with no real indigenous roots.

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thanks to the Jay report, however, we can say that the Hodges rejoinder is not entirely true. The Rotherham problem​—​which we’ll call Childhood Sexual Exploitation, or CSE, because everyone uses that jargon​—​was the subject of repeated scrutiny throughout the period when 1,400 girls fell victim to it, not only by the local government itself but also by social services, private charities and their consultants, the National Health Service (NHS), and the police. The girls were abandoned only partly because so many made a cowardly choice to let a crime go unreported when they could not think of a “non-racist” way to describe it. They were also abandoned because of the way that these agencies tried to do good. The process of “caring for children” was already bad; the distortions and systematic mendacity encouraged by the ideology of multiculturalism and racial and gender theorizing made it worse.

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

French Muslim leaders called Tuesday for the nation's imams to use their pulpits against the Islamic State group and offer a message of support for Christians in the Middle East.

Christians and other minorities there are fleeing the militant organization by the thousands as they face a choice between converting or death.

On Tuesday, moderate Muslim leaders called on French mosques nationwide to offer prayers on Friday for endangered Christians.

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

DREW HINSHAW: That’s right. What they’ve been able to do here is empty out an entire countryside. The very far northeast part of Nigeria. Town after town after town is abandoned and Boko Haram has been able to do that just by sort of constantly, like you said, starting with hit and run attacks and eventually moving entire units into these towns scaring lots of people out.

You hear over and over again when you talk to people from these towns, the only people left in those towns are basically the elderly people, who don’t really want to move, or can’t move and don’t really pose a threat to Boko Haram. What’s interesting is they are raising their flags in some places, not all places. They’re not really sticking around and governing them, like you had in northern Mali.

They kind of go in, they make some weak effort to impose Sharia law, they tell women how to dress and then they go back into the caves and mountains and forests where they’re camped out. They don’t want to be sitting ducks in these towns.

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State (IS) continues its rampage through Iraq. The US air force has done its best to attack their onslaught from the sky. In particular they have targeted preventing IS from reaching the Haditha Dam. The Dam generates power for much of the country and is only 150 miles from Baghdad. Destruction of this Dam would destroy much of Baghdad and this is what the US Air force has been trying to prevent.

Iraqi society continues its daily life despite great opposition, if you move to the North of the country things remain very different. There are still hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced People who have been forced to move from Mosul and Nineveh. A large number of these people are Christians. Our work supporting these people providing relief has been huge. We have provided food, medical care, wheel chairs, baby’s cots and much more.

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Posted September 8, 2014 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In this one day Justin Welby has explained with clarity and forcefulness much which many of us have longed for the British government to articulate; to publicly acknowledge the truth and extent of the situation for those minorities who have been systematically targeted by IS. And of these minorities Christians have suffered by far the most.

These are the words that could and probably should have been spoken by our Foreign Secretary by now. But even if they had come from Philip Hammond, they would have not had the same weight and authority as they did coming from Justin Welby. This is not because of any religious position the Archbishop holds. Instead it is because he has far more on-the-ground experience of conflict than any member of our government. Nor has any one of them come close to sacrificing as much personal risk, time and energy for the sake of reconciliation and peace as he has.

Even before he was ordained, as an oil executive Justin Welby was witnessing first-hand the deadly conflict raging between Christians and Muslims in Central Nigeria that continues to this day. In 2002 he was appointed as Canon of Coventry Cathedral and co-director of its world-renowned International Centre for Reconciliation (ICR), taking over from Canon Andrew White who went on to become vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad. During his time in the position he worked closely with Andrew White on peace missions in Iraq. He also regularly visited Nigeria where he often risked his own life conducting delicate negotiations between militant groups in an effort to free hostages, risking his own life in the process. While in Nigeria he was repeatedly blindfolded, held at gunpoint and arrested. Of those experiences Justin Welby has said: ‘On three occasions it looked like I was going to get killed. One plan was to shoot me.’

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 12:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of Islam’s most revered holy sites – the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed – could be destroyed and his body removed to an anonymous grave under plans which threaten to spark discord across the Muslim world.

The controversial proposals are part of a consultation document by a leading Saudi academic which has been circulated among the supervisors of al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, where the remains of the Prophet are housed under the Green Dome, visited by millions of pilgrims and venerated as Islam’s second-holiest site.

The formal custodian of the mosque is Saudi Arabia’s ageing monarch King Abdullah.

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Janine Morna arrived in northern Nigeria in March to study child abductions by local militias, few outside the region had any idea of the scope of the problem.

That changed abruptly on the evening of April 14 - 15, when members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram stormed a secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok and captured some 300 teenage girls.

Suddenly, child kidnappings in northern Nigeria — which had concerned human rights researchers like Ms. Morna for years — were global front-page news. Around the world, nations pledged aid and counterterrorism assistance, while #BringBackOurGirls floated to the top of trending topics on Twitter. It gave many who live and work in the region hope that change was imminent.

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States is preparing to launch a "major" border security program to help Nigeria and its neighbors combat the increasing number and scope of attacks by Islamic extremists, a senior U.S. official for Africa said Thursday.

Nigerian insurgents have begun attacking villages in neighboring Cameroon and have been seizing land in northeast Nigeria where they proclaimed an Islamic caliphate.

Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a meeting of U.S. and Nigerian officials in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that "Despite our collective efforts, the situation on the ground is worsening.

"The frequency and scope of Boko Haram's terror attacks have grown more acute and constitute a serious threat to this country's overall security," she said. "This is a sober reality check for all of us. We are past time for denial and pride."

Read it all.

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Posted September 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian groups and other faith were out in force to support a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution to urgently explore abuses of international law in Iraq committed by the Islamic State and associated terrorist groups.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to the United Nations in Geneva told Vatican Radio he believed the meeting came as direct consequence of Pope Francis' letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The letter was regarding the need to take action to protect those persecuted by IS terrorists.

Read it all.

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Posted September 4, 2014 at 4:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the "extreme religious ideology" behind the persecution of Christians and others in the Middle East. He also condemned the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff and called for the perpetrators of violence in the region to be held to account.

Justin Welby was speaking at Lambeth Palace after a meeting with 20 leaders and representatives of Middle East churches before joining other faith leaders for a prayer vigil outside Westminster Abbey to show solidarity with the people of Iraq.

Welby admitted it took the west some time to realise how serious the situation was.

"It took the barbarism of jihadist militants to wake us up," he said.

Read it all.

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Five months after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in Nigeria’s Borno State, the Islamic extremist group has begun occupying churches in the country’s northeastern region, church officials there said.

The militant group, which church leaders and analysts view as an African variation of the Islamic State, is also beheading men, forcing Christian women to convert to Islam and taking them as wives, officials said.

“Things are getting pretty bad,” said the Rev. John Bakeni, the secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Nigeria. “A good number of our parishes in Pulka and Madagali areas have been overrun in the last few days.”

Read it all.

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Posted September 3, 2014 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach has called for special prayer this Sunday, August 24, for those suffering in Iraq and Syria, and the ACNA has put together a special prayer resource.

The short prayer service includes: A responsive reading from Psalm 83; An Opening Prayer; Time for personal or corporate prayer (with optional prayers provided) and a Closing Prayer.

The optional suggested prayers include prayers: For Our Enemies, For Muslims, Against Evil, Against Jihad, For Those Martyred, For the Church Catholic

You can find Archbishop Foley's exhortation here
The prayer resource is available as a PDF file or as Word Doc. Please pray and please share this widely! The elves


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Posted August 24, 2014 at 8:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The pattern is becoming all too familiar to residents of Nigeria’s embattled northeast: Gunmen believed to be members of the militant Islamist sect Boko Haram descend on a village, burn houses, round up scores of young people, load them onto trucks and then drive away.

Four months after Boko Haram shocked the world by abducting nearly 300 girls from a rural school, fighters shouting “God is great” snatched dozens more young people from another village in recent days, according to officials, local journalists and Nigerian news media.

This time, the target was boys and young men, who were waved into trucks at gunpoint, prompting fears that they would be hauled off and forced to fight for the militants in their war against the Nigerian state.

Read it all.

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Posted August 16, 2014 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Christ Church congregation listened in silence as Canon Andrew White talked about one of his parishioners who had been visiting Mosul when Isis overran it. After the jihadis had robbed this widow of her life savings they forced her wedding ring from her fingers. She was lucky. The ring came off. People with stickier rings have had their fingers chopped in half, then been ordered to flee to save their lives.

Many haven’t saved theirs. On his Facebook page Andrew White told of a Christian family of eight who had been shot through their faces after refusing to renounce their faith. A photo that was too horrific for him to publish captured the blood-soaked scene and the family Bible on the couch — still open but never to be read by them again. Elsewhere in Mosul there is a park where the heads of children who’ve been cut in half are put on a stick to warn others that anyone, however young, who refuses to convert to Islam will be put to the sword.

Mr White didn’t stay in Guildford for long. He keeps returning to the most dangerous place on earth and his explanation is simple: you can’t abandon the people you love. It is to the enormous shame of Britain and America that we did not live by the Andrew White principle. America stayed in Germany and South Korea for decades to help to ensure they became the stable nations that they are today. Iraq needed a similar level of commitment. It didn’t get it.

Read it all (if you click on the picture it enlarges).

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Posted August 10, 2014 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our politicians are at last speaking about the terror, torture, mass murder and genocide being meted out upon Christians and other minorities by the Islamic State in Iraq. Their assessment of the situation ranges from "completely unacceptable" to "barbaric". Cardinal Vincent Nichols astutely calls it "a persecution of immense proportions". The Archbishop of Canterbury calls it "evil". And not only is it evil, but "part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith". And he refers specifically to Northern Nigeria, Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that his subject is radical Islam and the malignant Saudi-backed Salafist strain.

Archbishop Justin knows a thing or two about evil: he has stared it in the face down the barrel of a gun while trying to bring peace and reconciliation to the warlords, bandits and murderous thugs of Africa. When you expect to die and phone your wife to say goodbye, you may begin to grasp what it is to agonise, grieve and suffer because of evil.

Archbishop Justin says that this "evil pattern around the world" is brutally violating people's right to freedom of religion and belief. It is, in fact, killing them for their faith in Jesus Christ. It is persecuting them for heresy, apostasy and infidelity to the temporal objectives and literal truths revealed by Mohammed. The Salafi-Jihadists or Jihadi-Salafists who agitate for a caliphate may constitute less than 0.5 percent of the world's 1.9 billion Muslims, but that still numbers them around 10 million - sufficient to establish an evil pattern of hard-line Islamisation around the world.

Read it all.

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Posted August 10, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller, called for a united effort to help Christians in the war-torn country.

"It's really very important for the world at large to be supportive of Christians in Iraq," he said. "Christianity has been in Iraq for a very long time and what I have observed is that people are now being beheaded for their faith.

"The main Christian town has had most Christians expelled from it, like they did with Jewish people during the Nazi era.

"They are marking the houses of all the Christians with the letter 'N' because it comes from following Jesus of Nazareth. It's profoundly shocking."

Read it all.

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State1 on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.

In an interview today, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.

“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptised his child in my church in Baghdad2. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”

Read it all.

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Posted August 9, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States dropped food and other supplies by air to besieged Iraqi civilians Thursday and President Obama authorized possible airstrikes against Sunni Muslim extremists who punctured Kurdish defenses in a powerful offensive in northern Iraq.

Obama, in a late-night statement delivered at the White House, said that strikes would be launched against extremist convoys “should they move toward” the Kurdish capital of Irbil. “We intend to take action if they threaten our facilities anywhere in Iraq . . . including Irbil and Baghdad,” he said.

The authorization for airdrops, an initial round of which was completed just before Obama spoke, and for potential airstrikes was a major new development in the Iraq crisis that began in early June.

Read it all.

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Posted August 7, 2014 at 9:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – the group otherwise known as ISIS – is no more. It hasn’t been defeated; if anything it’s stronger and more murderous. But now it’s known simply as the Islamic State, because it doesn’t recognise the old national borders. The New York Times reported that, at the weekend, it crossed into Lebanon. Its fighters have seized control of Iraq's biggest dam, an oilfield, and three more towns. And the Islamic State is now worth at least two billion US dollars in cash and assets. With that wealth, it’s pursuing a purist and violent dream of a fundamentalist caliphate. And it’s radicalising young men, including, as we’ve seen from the headlines this week, some young Australians. Australian journalist Martin Chulov, Middle East correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, has been face to face with the zealots and warriors of the Sunni "Islamic State"; and they're facing off against the proxies for Shi'ite Iran. Martin explains the impact this conflict is having on the region.

Listen to it all.

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Posted August 7, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Warning--this is very hard to watch, make sure to be in a proper frame of mind to take it in; all of her words are translated in subtitles. When you are ready then watch it all.

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Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thousands of Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority's biggest town in Iraq.

The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh in Nineveh province overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

An international Christian organisation said at least a quarter of Iraq's Christians were leaving Qaraqosh and other surrounding towns.

IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria to create an Islamic caliphate.

Read it all.

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Posted August 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Karim had time to do just one thing: burn all the documents that connected him to America—photos of him posing with Army officers, a CD from the medical charity—in case he was stopped on the road by militants or his house was searched. He watched the record of his experience during the period of the Americans in Iraq turn to ash, and felt nothing except the urge to get to safety.

By 9:30 A.M., Karim and his extended family were crowded into his Toyota Camry, his brother’s car, and his father’s pickup truck. They’d had no time to pack, and for the drive through the heat of the desert they took nothing but water, bread, canned milk for Karim’s two-year-old son, and their AK-47s. At first, Karim’s father refused to go along. A stubborn man, he said, “Let them kill me in my town, but I will never leave it.” Fortunately, the father’s paralyzed cousin, who had been left behind by his family, pleaded with him, and at the last minute the two old men joined the exodus. Karim’s twenty or so family members were the last to get out of the area by car, and they joined a massive traffic jam headed northwest. Thousands of other Yazidi families had to flee on foot into the mountains: “They couldn’t leave. They didn’t know how to leave. They waited too long to leave,” Karim said.

Read it all.

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indonesia has issued a ban on the teachings of the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, being propagated online through a YouTube message encouraging locals to sign up with extremist movement.

Djoko Suyanto, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, told journalists Monday that the ban was reached after a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in mainly Muslim Indonesia, ucanews reports.

"The ISIS teachings are not a religious issue," he said. "The government and the State reject and ban ISIS teachings from growing in Indonesia.

Read it all.

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stranded on a barren mountaintop, thousands of minority Iraqis are faced with a bleak choice: descend and risk slaughter at the hands of the encircled Sunni extremists or sit tight and risk dying of thirst.

Humanitarian agencies said Tuesday that between 10,000 and 40,000 civilians remain trapped on Mount Sinjar since being driven out of surrounding villages and the town of Sinjar two days earlier. But the mountain that had looked like a refuge is becoming a graveyard for their children.

Unable to dig deep into the rocky mountainside, displaced families said they have buried young and elderly victims of the harsh conditions in shallow graves, their bodies covered with stones. Iraqi government planes attempted to airdrop bottled water to the mountain on Monday night but reached few of those marooned.

Read it all.

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Posted August 6, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Italian officials on Tuesday (Aug. 5) moved to expel a Moroccan imam who was caught on video inciting violence against Jews during Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said he had ordered the imam, Raoudi Aldelbar, to be expelled “for seriously disturbing the peace, endangering national security and religious discrimination.”

The imam was filmed during a Friday sermon in a mosque near Venice last month calling for Jews to be killed “one by one,” according to the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, which published the video on its website.

Read it all.

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Posted August 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s a pattern of territorial expansion that has now become familiar. After the Islamic State captured Sinjar on Sunday, came the executions. Then arrived the orders to convert or die, the flash of the movement’s black flag, the fleeing of thousands — and, finally, the jubilant and chilling images on social media.

One showed a destroyed Shiite shrine, which had long sat in the ancient city of Sinjar in northwestern Iraq. Another depicted the executions of several blindfolded men. There was an image of two masked men who had climbed a tall building, enshrouded its edifice in a black Islamic State flag, and blasted a pistol into the air. Then there was a picture showing a masked jihadist hoisting a gun at the desk of the town’s mayor — a portrait of a famed Kurdish guerrilla leader looming behind.

The armed movement, which has surged in wealth, manpower and resources in recent weeks, also just took the town of Wana on Sunday, according to The Washingon Post‘s Loveday Morris. The Islamic State routed a once-proud Kurdish army and forced an exodus of Kurds the United Nations said numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Calling the situation a “humanitarian tragedy,” a top U.N. envoy to Iraq said in a statement that their expulsion was “dire.”

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Posted August 4, 2014 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The apparent inability of the Iraqi military to dislodge Islamists who have imposed an increasingly proscriptive Caliphate on a large part of the country is raising fears that Christianity could disappear in the area altogether.

The Chaplain of St George's, Baghdad, Canon Andrew White, told the BBC that "things are desperate; our people are disappearing. . . Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed, come what may. We will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near." Canon White said that Iraqi Christians were "in grave danger. There are literally Christians living in the desert and on the street. They have nowhere to go."

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, echoed these views, saying that it was "an outrage that a community established in the early centuries of the Christian era should face expulsion from their own land, simply for their faith". The Australian government, the international community, and the UN, he said, "must not stand by while such persecution continues unabated".

Read it all.

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Posted August 3, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a "betrayal of Britain's moral and historical obligations".

A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron's intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.

On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.

Read it all.

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Posted August 2, 2014 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How, then, should Christians respond to Isis?

First of all, they need to respond with steadfast witness to Christ and the truth of the Gospel. The Book of Revelation is concerned with how the powers of evil that assault God’s people are defeated and what it tells us is that this is achieved through Christians remaining faithful to Christ to the point of death. ‘And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death’’ (Revelation 12:10-11).

Secondly, they need to pray. As Revelation also makes clear, it is ultimately God who sustains his Church and defeats its persecutors and so Christians need to take seriously Jesus’ injunction to ‘ask, seek and knock’ (Matthew 7:7-8) and pray hard for those who are suffering because of the activities of Isis. The charity Open Doors, for example, has asked for prayers:

for God to change the hearts of those who are persecuting Christians;
for God to uphold Christian refugees who are weary and exhausted through the support of the body of Christ;
for God to give wisdom and strength to the government in Baghdad to resolve this crisis.

Thirdly, they need to give to support those in need because of Isis’ activity, such as the Christians who have been forced to flee their homes in Mosul.

Read it all.

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Posted August 1, 2014 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, once the most powerful capital of the ancient world, has special importance for anyone familiar with the Bible. It was the setting for the book of Jonah, a place to which God sent the prophet to warn its inhabitants of impending destruction unless they repented of their evil ways.

Today it is known as Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq. And last week, almost unnoticed amid the horrific stream of news about violence in the Mideast, a fresh casualty of Islamic extremism was the towering structure that contained the tomb of Jonah. Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham who blew up the prophet's tomb either didn't know or didn't care that it was Muhammad himself who, in the Quran, described Jonah as "a righteous preacher of the message of God."

It is remarkable that Jonah achieved significant importance in the religious traditions of all three major monotheistic faiths. His biblical book is short, all of four chapters, totaling 48 sentences. In the Christian Bible, it is found in the section called "The Minor Prophets." In the Jewish version, Jonah is lumped in with 11 others in the work known as "The Twelve."

Read it all.

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wearing long hijabs, the anonymous women squeeze quietly into crowds, barely noticed.

One slipped in among students gathered Wednesday at a notice board of a college campus in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. She detonated a hidden bomb, killing herself and at least five others, wire services reported.

On Sunday, a 15-year-old female suicide bomber blew herself up near a temporary university site, with no other casualties. Another pushed into a queue of women buying kerosene at a fuel station Monday, detonating a bomb that killed herself and at least three others. Hours later, an 18-year-old woman approached a shopping mall and detonated a bomb. She killed only herself.

No group has claimed responsibility for the rash of daily attacks in Kano, but experts say they bear the marks of the Islamist extremists led by Boko Haram. Police in adjacent Kastina state arrested a 10-year-old girl wearing a suicide vest Tuesday, government spokesman Mike Omeri said Wednesday. Two other Boko Haram suspects were arrested, he said.

Read it all.

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Nigeria Most Reverend Nicholas D. Okoh has urged the Boko Haram insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue to stop the bloodletting that has pervaded the country.

Addressing newsmen at the sidelines of its second synod organised by the Diocese of Kubwa in Lugbe at the weekend, Rev Okoh said the best way to have a comprehensive end to the insecurity in the country was for the gunmen to come forward and "discuss issues as is done in civilized environment".

He said the attempt on the life of former Head of State Retired General Muhammadu Buhari last Wednesday in Kaduna forebodes worse days ahead.

"It sends signal of insecurity. And again, its sends another signal that is let everybody, east, west, north, south, Christians, Muslims, African traditional religionists put hands together and stop this terrorism. Nobody is spared, nobody is free, and nobody is safe," said the Anglican Primate.

Read it all.

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Posted July 30, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Human rights lawyer Nina Shea described the horror in Mosul to me: "(ISIS) took the Christians' houses, took the cars they were driving to leave. They took all their money. One old woman had her life savings of $40,000, and she said, 'Can I please have 100 dollars?', and they said no. They took wedding rings off fingers, chopping off fingers if they couldn't get the ring off."

"We now have 5,000 destitute, homeless people with no future," Shea said. "This is a crime against humanity."

For the first time in 2,000 years, Mosul is devoid of Christians. "This is ancient Nineveh we are talking about," Shea explained. "They took down all the crosses. They blew up the tomb of the prophet Jonah. An orthodox Cathedral has been turned into a mosque. ... They are uprooting every vestige of Christianity." University of Mosul professor Mahmoud Al 'Asali, a Muslim, bravely spoke out against ISIS' purging of Christians and was executed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 30, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How easily the world forgets. It has been only three months, but it feels like a lifetime since more than 200 Nigerian girls were snatched from their school in the dead of night by the brutal Boko Haram. Vigils and marches around the world marked the girls’ 100 days in captivity, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan managed to emerge from his cocoon to finally meet the parents of the abducted girls. I guess we should thank God for his small mercies. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his role as a UN global ambassador, tried to keep up hope for the girls’ return on the bleak anniversary, but his words had a hollow ring.

“The world has not forgotten these girls. Not in a 100 days. Not for one day,” Brown wrote.

Yes it has. The universal outrage that greeted the abduction, and the massive effort to mobilize the global community to confront the terrorists and rescue the girls, has dissipated. Western governments talked tough, promised big, but in the end, did precious little to help save the girls. A world-wide Bring Back Our Girls campaign led by politicians, religious leaders and celebrities swept across continents and energized people. There was hope, but it was only fleeting. Once the sad faces that tugged at our heartstrings disappeared from our TV screens, the outrage faded, and governments moved on to the next crisis in the headlines, promises forgotten. People returned to their busy lives, and the Bring Back Our Girls campaign fizzled. More than 200 girls are brazenly abducted, and what the world does is to shed a little tear, then shrug its shoulders and move on. It is hard to imagine the horror that confronts these girls every waking moment. The terror, the helplessness and the feeling of abandonment must be excruciating.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 29, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Vicar of Baghdad' Canon Andrew White has warned that Christianity in Iraq could be close to extinction. And he has called on the British government to do more to help Christians fleeing Iraq.

Canon White, on a weekend visit to the UK where he visited churches including the Chiswick Christian Centre and The Church of the Ascension in Balham, said numbers in St George's Baghdad had decreased from 6,500 to 1,000.

Many fled to Mosul, across the river Tigris from the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. Now they have been forced by ISIS to flee Mosul also, most escaping to Kurdistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We visit the Islamic Center of Greater Miami to look at the rising number of Latino Muslims in the US—as many as 250,000, according to estimates. Some of the converts say that in Islam they have found theological simplicity and “no intermediaries with God.” The Islamic Circle of North America reports that more than half of the US Latino converts are women. “I just felt that the minute I put my head down to the ground,” says Nadia Echevrria, “I felt like I was really talking to God.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2014 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Police had warned the B.C. Muslim Association to keep an eye on Hasib Yusufzai long before the Burnaby man was charged with leaving Canada to join a terrorist group in Syria.

"The authorities contacted us a long, long time ago about this individual, saying that they were concerned about him and just kind of warning us," Aasim Rashid, a spokesman for the association, said in an interview Friday. His group is the largest Sunni Muslim organization in the province, representing about 80,000 Sunnis.

Yusufzai, 25, had attended the Al-Salaam mosque in Burnaby before leaving Canada in January, but Rashid said he was not a member. RCMP allege he left the country to join an group of Islamist fighters and charged him on July 17 with acting "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted July 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Sudan frequently face arrests, impromptu questioning and expulsion. But this month, conditions worsened after the government announced a ban on the construction of new churches.

Shalil Abdullah, the Sudanese minister for guidance and religious endowments, made the announcement on July 12, sparking criticism from top Christian clerics who warned of shrinking worship space in the mainly Muslim and Arab north.

After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, many Christians moved to the newly formed country, which has a large Christian population. But a sizable number remained.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--North Sudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 26, 2014 at 3:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. pastor who took it upon himself to fly to Sudan to meet with and pray for imprisoned persecuted Christian mother Meriam Ibrahim was among those celebrating her freedom Thursday. He credited the 27-year-old married mother's release to the outcry of people from around the world who were captivated by her steadfast Christian witness in the face of impending death.

"Praise God for that," Pastor William Devlin told The Christian Post in response to Ibrahim's early morning flight out of Sudan, where she had been held imprisoned for nearly one year. Devlin returned to New York City on July 20 after a week-long trip to Sudan, where he says he spent an hour and a half with Ibrahim, her husband Daniel Wani and their two children.

"I think it was really the outcry of people from around the world," added Pastor Devlin, commenting on what he thought led to Ibrahim's release just days after his visit with her at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. Indeed, the young woman's case resonated with many around the world and many were moved to petition for her release. One such petition, published on Change.org, had more than one million supporters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted July 25, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Allegations in the so-called "Trojan horse" letter of an organised attempt by some governors and senior staff to impose a hardline, politicised Islamic agenda on a group of Birmingham schools were largely true, the report of a top-level investigation into the letter's claims, published on Tuesday, says.

Sent anonymously to Birmingham City Council last November, and leaked to the press earlier this year, the letter was originally dismissed by the council as a hoax designed to disturb community relations in the city. The allegations were comprehensively denied by those involved.

But, as further complaints surfaced, a former Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, commissioned Peter Clarke, a former head of counter-terrorism in the UK, to conduct an inquiry.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted July 25, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Iraqi city of Mosul is empty of Christians for the first time in the history of the country, the country's most senior Chaldean Catholic said.

Patriarch Louis Sako said the city’s Christians – who until last month numbered a few thousand – were fleeing for the neighbouring autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Christian families abandoned homes and belongings and some were robbed of their vehicles by the jihadists and forced to flee on foot. Some Dominican nuns based in nearby Qaraqosh said that the jihadists had demanded the Christians hand over money, personal documents, passports, cars, and all valuable items.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted July 24, 2014 at 11:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN says militant Islamist group Isis has ordered all women and girls in Mosul, northern Iraq, to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM).

UN official Jacqueline Badcock said the fatwa, or religious edict, applied to females between the ages of 11 and 46.

She said the unprecedented decree issued by the Islamists in control of the city was of grave concern.

Iraq is facing a radical Isis-led Sunni insurgency, with cities in the north-west under militant control.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted July 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family landed in Italy en route to a new life in the U.S.

A woman in Sudan who faced the death sentence for refusing to renounce Christianity safely landed in Italy en route to the U.S. on Thursday after the international community intervened to secure her safe exit, NBC News reports.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, was imprisoned for apostasy in February under Sudan’s strict Islamic law, after converting from Islam to marry her Christian husband, a U.S. citizen. Born to a Muslim father but raised Orthodox Christian, she refused to convert back under threat of death.

Read it all.

Update: Per Catholic News Service--#PopeFrancis spent 30mins with #Meriam&family. Thanked her for her "constant witness" to faith. She thanked him for church's prayers,support

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted July 24, 2014 at 7:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head of Iraq's largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako led a wave of condemnation for the Sunni Islamists who demanded Christians either convert, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy or face death by the sword.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted July 22, 2014 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, has condemned the latest action of Islamic State militants who ordered all Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul to leave the city over the weekend or face execution.

“The persecution and treatment of Christians in Mosul is unprecedented in modern times,” he says. “This latest forced exodus of Christians further shows why Western governments and the people in the West need to cry out in support for religious freedom in the Middle East and elsewhere. If this does not move us concerning the near extinction of Christianity in the Middle East, it’s likely nothing else can.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, adds: “Too many of us thought that forced conversions and expulsions of entire religious communities were part of a distant, medieval past. There was little that we could do to stop this horrible episode.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted July 22, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his weekly Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis mourned the fleeing of the last Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul, who were told by ISIS forces last week to either convert, pay the Jizya tax or leave.

“They are persecuted; our brothers are persecuted, they are driven out, they have to leave their houses without having the possibility of taking anything with them,” Pope Francis voiced in his July 20 Angelus address.

“I want to express my closeness and my constant prayer to these families and these people,” he continued. “Dear brothers and sisters who are so persecuted, I know how much you suffer, I know that you are stripped of everything. I am with you in the faith of the one who has conquered evil!”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraq’s prime minister on Sunday condemned the Islamic State extremist group’s actions targeting Christians in territory it controls, saying they reveal the threat the jihadists pose to the minority community’s “centuries-old heritage.”

The comments from Nouri al-Maliki come a day after the expiration of a deadline imposed by the Islamic State group calling on Christians in the militant-held city of Mosul to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Most Christians opted to flee to the nearby self-ruled Kurdish region or other areas protected by Kurdish security forces.

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control, reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Carrington of Fulham (Con): My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. With some young British Muslims being radicalised, does she agree that it is very important that they are taught at a very young age, either in school or elsewhere, to understand the similarities between all religions, in particular the shared values of the Abrahamic religions, so they can understand that Christianity and Judaism are not the enemies of Islam? Can she suggest the best way to make this come about?

Baroness Warsi: My Lords, it is important that all people, especially young people, have an understanding of the diverse communities in which we live, including different faith communities. My noble friend may be heartened to know from surveys, including a DCLG survey from a few years ago, that 90% of Muslims agreed that people from different backgrounds get on well, as opposed to 87% of the general population; 89% of Muslims agreed that it is possible to fully belong to Britain and maintain a religious identity, compared to 72% of the general population; and 74% of Muslims believe that there should be more mixing between different communities and different ethnic and religious groups, compared to 71% of the general public.

Lord Patel of Bradford (Lab): My Lords, will the Minister say what plans the Government have to work with the media to encourage them to stop publishing demonising articles about whole communities because of the actions of a handful of terrorists?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is one of those beautiful Sunday mornings England seems to do so well: sunlight streams across wet grass and the air is filled with the busy chatter of sparrows and the sweet, milky smell of the calves across the way. In hundreds of churches people will be gathering, as we ourselves will gather, to sing the praises of God, ask his intercession and celebrate his sacraments. It is a world away from the horrors of war and exile; but war and exile is precisely what many people are experiencing. There are over 50 million refugees in the world today, and yesterday their number was increased as Christians fled Mosul, Iraq, and those who could, fled northern Gaza.

I find it heartbreaking that we as a nation are standing by as the ancient heartlands of Christianity are ripped apart and destroyed....

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted July 20, 2014 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian families streamed out of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Saturday after Islamist fighters said they would be killed if they did not pay a protection tax or convert to Islam.

“For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,” Patriarch Louis Sako lamented as hundreds of families fled ahead of a noon deadline set by Islamic State for them to submit or leave.

The warning was read out in Mosul’s mosques on Friday afternoon, and broadcast throughout the city on loudspeakers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted July 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A lawsuit brought by a Sudanese Muslim father against a Christian woman to formally establish her as his Muslim daughter was dropped on Wednesday, the lawyer handling the case said, a move that could allow her to depart for the United States.

The case of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, raised an international furore when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by the Sudanese Muslim family. The Muslim family denies that and insists she belongs to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

hen Boko Haram invaded her village last year, the Islamist extremists burned the churches, destroyed Bibles and photographs and forced Hamatu Juwanda to renounce Christianity.

"They said we should never go back to church because they had brought a new religion," the 50-year-old said. "We were going to be converted to Islam."

The head of the village, a Muslim, presented her with a thick nylon hijab to cover her head and renamed her Aisha.

She submitted, smarting with rage. Women who didn't wear the hijab were beaten.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 16, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria's president has accused activists of "playing politics" after his meeting with parents of the abducted schoolgirls was called off.

The #BringBackOurGirls group should be ashamed of manipulating "the victims of terrorism", he said.

Mr Jonathan had been due to hold his first meeting with some of the girls' parents on Tuesday.

Islamist group Boko Haram captured more than 200 girls during a raid on their boarding school in Chibok in April.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States and other western nations have ignored the religious motivation of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and must understand the theological dynamics in Nigeria in order to curb terrorism in the western African country, the archbishop of Nigeria's Anglican Church told Baptist Press.

For a long time, "the United States did not come out to say anything about Boko Haram," Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Church of Nigeria, said in an interview. "They kept talking about economic problems, [saying] that Boko Haram is fighting because of economic problems. That is not true ... The United States deliberately ignored the fundamental issues of religious ideology."

Based in northeast Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed an estimated 10,000 people since 2002 with an escalation in murders recently. In April the group received wide media coverage for kidnapping 273 schoolgirls, 219 of whom remain missing and may be enslaved as wives of Muslim men. Loosely translated, the phrase Boko Haram means "Western education is sinful."

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 6:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram sect yesterday invaded the Dille Village in Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State, killing five civilians and setting ablaze three churches including the Church of Brethern in Nigeria, EYN, as well as shops and residential buildings.

Unconfirmed reports revealed that unspecified number of the attackers were also killed by military fighter jets that arrived the scene of the incident and bombed them.

This was even as the Nigerian Army High Command yesterday declared that the battle against Boko Haram and terrorism will be defeated though it urged the citizenry to be patient as the development was a new phenomenon whereas the army is a conventionally trained force.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2014 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years, especially since 9/11, the world of Islam has become a strange and fearful place. Muslim extremists avow their faith even as they violate the sacredness of Ramadan, perverting a month meant for prayers and contemplation with warfare and wanton killing. Those who do not speak out against this unholy violation are also turning away from God's gift.

Violence is not a monopoly of any one people or culture. But many Muslims have given it a new meaning by making their violence inseparable from their belief. This then is a measure of how great the distance is now between many of those who wear the mantle of Islam and the message Muhammad delivered. The Prophet likely foresaw the time ahead when some followers would make a mockery of Islam and warned, "Islam began as a stranger and will become once more a stranger."

Yet within Islam itself lies the cure for the malady that grips those Muslims and their leaders who think that through violent jihad, or holy war, they will reconstruct their imagined glorious past.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese court in May sentences a Christian woman married to an American to be hanged, after first being lashed 100 times, after she refuses to renounce her Christian faith.

Muslim extremists in Iraq demand that Christians pay a tax or face crucifixion, according to the Iraqi government.

In Malaysia, courts ban some non-Muslims from using the word “Allah.”

In country after country, Islamic fundamentalists are measuring their own religious devotion by the degree to which they suppress or assault those they see as heretics, creating a human rights catastrophe as people are punished or murdered for their religious beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr Samina Yasmeen: Let me first look at his action, and I think they are anything but Islamic. They really grow out of this belief that anyone who provides a notion of what it means to be a Muslim and has weapons to support it can go to the extent of being as barbaric as he has been and as he has encouraged his own group members and followers to be. Once somebody is convinced of the authenticity of their idea of Islamic notions and identity and if they have weapons they engage in completely barbaric acts.

Noel Debien: And more specifically on the claim to be a "Caliph"?.

Dr Samina Yasmeen: The whole notion of Caliph really is so sophisticated and it's historically based, that for anyone to get up and claim that he's a Caliph really needs to be laughed at. To give you a sense of how the whole institution of Caliphate involved, it really evolved after prophet Muhammad passed away and the question of succession engaged as to who should be the Caliph. Among the Shias and the Sunnis the division existed because some argued that it was in the family line and so they supported Ali to be the next leader and others argued Abr Bakr should be. But essentially based on that experience, the first four Caliphs, there's a relatively general consensus that Caliphs are not agents of Allah because that would give them the same status as prophets. The next most accepted position is that Caliphs are the agents of the prophet, so they carry the message and the activity and the actions that Prophet Muhammad established while he ruled Medina as the Muslim leader. There are others that argued that the Muslim community is really the whole basis for the Caliphate, so Caliphs are agents of the Muslim community, so the Muslim community's rights and responsibilities in some ways even override the Caliph's opinions. Given that, the question is which aspect of Caliphate is he assuming to be appropriate for him?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 10, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, on Monday, observed that Christians living in the Northern part of Nigeria are at greater risks of being killed by the Boko Haram Sect.

The group said over 258 Northern Nigerian Christians have been killed by the deadly sect within the last seven days, with the aim to eliminate Christians in the entire Nigeria and imposing Islamic Religion on Nigeria.

In a statement signed by the chairman, Board of Trustees of the organization, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi and released to journalists in Awka, Intersociety alleged that the ethno-religious cleansing campaigns launched in July 2009 was also targeted at forcing the federal authorities in the country to return the presidency to core northern Muslims.

Read 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* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 1, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last Sunday, for the first time in 1600 years, no mass was celebrated in Mosul. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized Iraq’s second largest city on June 10, causing most Christians in the region to flee in terror, in new kinship with the torment of Christ crucified on the cross. The remnant of Mosul’s ancient Christian community, long inhabitants of the place where many believe Jonah to be buried, now faces annihilation behind ISIS lines. Those who risk worship must do so in silence, praying under new Sharia regulations that have stilled every church bell in the city.

The media has largely ignored the horrifying stories that are emerging from Mosul. On June 23, the Assyrian International News Agency reported that ISIS terrorists entered the home of a Christian family in Mosul and demanded that they pay the jizya (a tax on non-Muslims). According to AINA, “When the Assyrian family said they did not have the money, three ISIS members raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father. The husband and father was so traumatized that he committed suicide.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 30, 2014 at 9:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Algeria coach Vahid Halilhodzic refused to divulge which of his Muslim players are observing Ramadan ahead of Monday's World Cup last-16 meeting with Germany.

The 30-day dawn-to-dusk fast began on Sunday and Halilhodzic, 61, bristled at a routine question about the subject in his pre-match news conference.

"This is a private matter and when you ask this you lack respect and ethics," said the Bosnian.

"The players will do as they wish and I would like to stop this controversy."

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted June 30, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The few available survey measures of religious identity in Iraq suggest that about half the country is Shia. Surveys by ABC News found between 47% and 51% of the country identifying as Shia between 2007 and 2009, and a Pew Research survey conducted in Iraq in late 2011 found that 51% of Iraqi Muslims said they were Shia (compared with 42% saying they were Sunni).

Neighboring Iran is home to the world’s largest Shia population: Between 90% and 95% of Iranian Muslims (66-70 million people) were Shias in 2009, according to our estimate from that year.

Their shared demographic makeup may help explain Iran’s support for Iraq’s Shia-dominated government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ms. Ibrahim's story bears uncanny parallels to another Christian story involving young African mothers who did become Christian martyrs, during the early third century: the story of Felicitas and Perpetua, executed for their faith in the Roman port city of Carthage in today's Tunisia. Vibia Perpetua was a well-educated young woman, not unlike Ms. Ibrahim, who is trained as a doctor. Felicitas was a slave in an advanced state of pregnancy when she was thrown into prison along with Perpetua and other Christians to await their deaths by wild animals in the Carthage arena. Perpetua, like Ms. Ibrahim, went to prison along with a baby son. Felicitas, like Ms. Ibrahim, bore a baby daughter before her execution date.

The most dramatic parallel is the simple affirmation that Ms. Ibrahim gave in court that led to her death sentence: "I am a Christian." Those also were Perpetua's words, as they were of many martyrs in Roman times. Like Perpetua, Ms. Ibrahim, who was brought up in the Ethiopian Orthodox faith of her mother, also refused to recant.

This isn't just a matter of ancient and modern coincidences. More significantly, the Roman world of the third century was strikingly like today's secularized West in its contempt for Christians and indifference to their persecution.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan--South Sudan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past two weeks, the specter that has haunted Iraq since its founding 93 years ago appears to have become a reality: the de facto partition of the country into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish cantons.

With jihadists continuing to entrench their positions across the north and west, and the national army seemingly incapable of mounting a challenge, Americans and even some Iraqis have begun to ask how much blood and treasure it is worth to patch the country back together.

It is a question that echoes not only in Syria — also effectively divided into mutually hostile statelets — but also across the entire Middle East, where centrifugal forces unleashed by the Arab uprisings of 2011 continue to erode political structures and borders that have prevailed since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 27, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A court convicted an Egyptian Christian to six years imprisonment for blasphemy and contempt of religion on Tuesday.

The Luxor court issued its verdict against Kerolos Ghattas, 30, after his arrest earlier this month for posting pictures deemed insulting to Islam on his Facebook page.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 25, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted more than 60 women and girls, some as young as three, in the latest kidnappings in northeast Nigeria and over two months since more than 200 schoolgirls were seized.

Analysts said the kidnapping, which happened during a raid on Kummabza village in the Damboa district of Borno state, could be an attempt by the Islamist group to refocus attention on its demands for the release of militant fighters.

Boko Haram has indicated that it would be willing to release the 219 schoolgirls that it has held hostage since April 14 in exchange for the freedom of its brothers in arms currently held in Nigerian jails.

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

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Posted June 25, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On June 10, the city of Mosul fell to the forces of ISIS, the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams. Politically, this is a catastrophe for American hopes of preserving the settlement they had uneasily imposed on the region, while a humanitarian catastrophe looms. Particularly hard hit are the region’s Christians, who have no wish to live under jihadi rule. A heartbreaking story in the The Telegraph recently headlined “Iraq's beleaguered Christians make final stand on the Mosul frontline.”

So much has been widely reported, but what has been missing in media accounts is just how crucially significant Mosul is to the whole Christian story over two millennia. Although the destruction of Christian Mosul has been drawn out over many years, the imminent end is still shocking. The best way to describe its implications is to imagine the annihilation of some great European center of the faith, such as Assisi, Cologne, or York. Once upon a time, Mosul was the heart of a landscape that was no less thoroughly Christ-haunted.

Mosul itself was a truly ancient Assyrian center, which continued to flourish through the Middle Ages. No later than the second century AD, the city had a Christian presence.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of a Nigerian ministry supported by Christian Aid recently shared this update on their work. Along with providing necessities for refugees, they share the Gospel with Islamic militants who are curious about Christ.

“We were able to give out 45 of ‘The Treasure’ audio Bibles to Muslims who were ready to hear. Some of them assured us we shall hear from them when we come back,” the leader shares in his report. “Pray for one new convert who accepted Christ after listening to the Gospel of John.

“This is a great tool for reaching Muslims.”

However, these indigenous missionaries are not immune to danger. The ministry leader says Boko Haram attacks continue daily.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sectarian violence in Iraq on Monday showed both sides in the conflict at their brutal worst, as Iraqi police officers were reported to have killed scores of Sunni insurgent prisoners along a highway in the south, and militants in the north turned over the bodies of 15 Shiite civilians they had killed, including women and children, only to bomb the cemetery during their funerals, according to one account.

In a third episode without clear sectarian links, a family of six, including three children, was found fatally shot in Tarmiya, a Sunni area in Baghdad Province north of the capital. There was no confirmation about who was behind their deaths.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two British jihadists who appeared in a terrorism recruitment video urging Muslims to fight in Syria were followers of an austere sect which is the fastest growing branch of Islam in Britain, it emerged last night.

Nasser Muthana and Reyaad Khan, both 20, went to the Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, which is aligned to the ultra-conservative Salafi wing of Islam.

Jailed and banned radical preachers, including the convicted terrorist Abu Hamza and the terror suspect Abu Qatada, are also followers. The Salafis, who are hostile to music, television and even birthdays, are poised to control half of mosques within a generation, a study of the sects comprising British Islam found.

Read it all (subscription required).

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

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Posted June 24, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a country of crippling poverty, ethnic fault lines and decades of war, Islamic piety offers many Afghans a rare thread of national solidarity. To reject Islam is seen as tantamount to treason.

“Religious identity is the only thing that Afghans can claim,” said Daud Moradian, a professor at the American University in Afghanistan. “They do not have a national identity, they do not have an economic identity, and there is no middle or working class here.”

That leaves Josef almost nowhere to turn for protection. The police would be no help. Converts report being beaten and sexually abused while in custody. His family in Afghanistan is also a dead end: His uncles are hunting for him now, too.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 22, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Berlin thinks it is making religious history as Muslims, Jews and Christians join hands to build a place where they can all worship. The House of One, as it is being called, will be a synagogue, a church and a mosque under one roof.

An architecture competition has been held and the winner chosen. The striking design is for a brick building with a tall, square central tower. Off the courtyard below will be the houses of worship for the three faiths - the synagogue, the church and the mosque. It is to occupy a prominent site - Petriplatz - in the heart of Berlin.

The location is highly significant, according to one of the three religious leaders involved, Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin. "From my Jewish point of view the city where Jewish suffering was planned is now the city where a centre is being built by the three monotheistic religions which shaped European culture," he told the BBC.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchArchitectureReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamJudaism

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Posted June 22, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a darkened living room in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, a gray-haired militia commander picked up his phone Friday to read a text message from one of his colleagues on the battlefield.

“Captured six ISIS members in an ambush,” it said, referring to militants from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al-Qaeda splinter group whose advance over the past 10 days has nearly brought the Iraqi state to its knees. “At dawn I killed two, four I gave to the army.”

The message was an example of what members of Iraq’s Shiite militias describe as growing cooperation with the country’s army. As Iraq spirals into chaos, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is now relying on the militias, which once carried out hundreds of attacks on U.S. soldiers, to help him cling to power.

The lines between Shiite militias and the Iraqi armed forces have been increasingly blurred since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone seems to agree that the Sunni extremists who are striving to carve out a caliphate in Syria and Iraq have upended the region, but there is no consensus on what to call the militant group, in English at least.

Many news outlets, including The New York Times, have been translating the group’s name as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS for short. But the United States government and several news agencies call it the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or I.S.I.L. (The BBC, curiously, uses the ISIS acronym, but “Levant” when spelling the name out.)

Neither way is an exact rendering of the group’s Arabic name, الدولة الاسلامية في العراق والشام, or al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil-Iraq wa al-Sham. The difficulty comes from the last word.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMedia* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the first day of the assault on Mosul, 40,000 pro-Isis tweets were unleashed, according to analysis by JM Berger, an author who researches extremism and social media, in a co-ordinated campaign of Twitter hashtags and digitally manipulated imagery.

Mr Berger this week discovered that Isis has its own web app, catchily named the Dawn of Glad Tidings. Downloadable by its digital footsoldiers, it allows Isis’ social media command to beam co-ordinated messages into their Twitter feeds, allowing a diffuse, but co-ordinated, mass messaging programme.

“They have used social media to great effect,” says Nigel Inkster, former assistant chief of MI6, the UK intelligence service, and now director of transnational threats at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank. “And its success was undeniably one of the factors in the collapse of the Iraqi army – they have been comprehensively psychologically bested.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The militant group that exploded on to the scene in Iraq this year has been carefully cataloging its list of brutalities over recent years in an annual report published online, according to a think tank that has analyzed the latest publication.

The report from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — known as ISIL or ISIS — records in explicit detail the number of assassinations, suicide bombings, knifings and even “apostates run over,” according to the analysis by the Institute for the Study of War.

The report doesn’t trace violence only. It also tracks “apostates repented,” a reference to winning over fellow Sunnis in areas that the group has seized.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Dr Ali Gomaa, and the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, were invited to give the keynote addresses at the inauguration of the Studies of Inter-Religious Relations in Plural Societies Programme (SRP) at the Nanyang Technological University, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore from 5-11 June 2014. During their visit to Singapore, they shared their Egyptian experience in "working together as a way of promoting national unity in Egypt."

The President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan, received Dr Ali and Bishop Mouneer and was keen to hear about the situation in Egypt, especially as their visit coincided with the installation of the new President of Egypt, el-Sisi. He assured both of them that Singapore will stand with Egypt at this very important time. The Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, also received them and wrote in his Facebook page, "I could see that Sheikh Dr Ali Gomaa and Archbishop Dr Mouneer are good friends, working closely together to promote peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians there."

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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