Posted by Kendall Harmon

Which brings us to the multi-layered complexity of the situation: How to help create a context such that people can return to their ISIS-occupied homes 30 miles away? We spent a lot of time listening. The words that kept coming: Rescue. Restore. Return. So we designed a long-term strategy, consistent with their environment, that builds on short-term impact:
Rescue: We wanted to help those in immediate need, providing relief to them so that they could make it totomorrow. In so doing, we were also able to discern who was doing the best work locally, like the Dominican Sisters, or Assyrian Aid Society (which is just incredible). Besides helping people, we found partners whose yes is yes, and no is no. We are in relationship with them. We trust each other in a part of the world where there is no trust.

Restore: All of those who have fled ISIS have been traumatized in some fashion. They need a way to address the internal if they are to become whole again, and thus serve as peace-builders in a post-ISIS world. So we have sought to invest in education as well as trauma training, seeking to build internal reconciliation such that external reconciliation might one day take place.

Return: This is the tricky part, on two counts....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is it accurate and/or expedient to use the word “genocide” to describe the persecution of religious minorities by the terrorist group known as Islamic State, Daesh or a variant of that name? Hypothetical as it might seem, that question is a real dilemma for people in high places in western Europe and America.

On January 20th, Federica Mogherini, the foreign-policy chief of the European Union, gave a speech to the European Parliament in which she deplored the suffering of Christians and other minority faiths in the Middle East but carefully stopped short of using the word genocide, to the great disappointment of many MEPs and religious-freedom campaigners.

Those campaigners took heart when another Strasbourg-based body of legislators, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), took a much firmer position. PACE is an arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe. The European Parliament, an organ of the 28-nation European Union and rather more important, will also vote on the IS-and-genocide question in a few days' time. The PACE resolution, passed on January 27th, denounced the wave of terror attacks on civilians in Europe and the Middle East

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those of us writing here at Providence share a common conviction about politics, namely that we should take human beings and human communities as they are and not how we would wish them to be. Human beings are broken creatures who are often driven by fear and greed. In political community, these propensities only become magnified and more volatile. This realism means that when we face problems such as aggressive nations and terrorism, we do so with sobriety that in order to stop certain people or groups from carrying out their harmful designs we must sometimes use military force. No amount of rational discussion or incentives will deter them from seeking to harm the innocent. Christians however bring to this sober realism the commitment to love their neighbors. To protect the innocent from the aggressor and to punish the aggressor is an act of love, not purely national interest or strategic benefit. This is what separates those who are realists from Christian realists.

As of late, I reckon, this take on politics has fallen on hard times. It’s hard to hold Christianity and realism together. We have Ted Cruz and Donald Trump preaching indiscriminate bombing campaigns to the applause of many. Bernie Sanders thinks that the Middle East is not a problem for Americans and that we should just let Syria burn. Most Christian voices in America are focused on the immigration crisis, with remarkably few Christians talking about intervention in Syria to protect the Syrian people and stabilize the situation. Marco Rubio has been one of the more nuanced and realistic candidates, and still his discussion of issues tends toward a more thoroughgoing realism than a Christian realism.

Into this current vacuum steps the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to deliver what might be one of the most rousing calls to a truly Christian realistic approach to the current civil war in Syria and the rise of Islamic radicalism in recent memory. The Archbishop delivered the brief speech at the General Synod of the Church of England at Westminster on November 24th. It should be noted that the Archbishop delivered this speech in a resolution that was unanimously approved by the Synod on the current immigration crisis in Europe, primarily calling for protecting immigrants and welcoming a portion to the UK.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Underneath the argument about social cohesion is one assumption that needs questioning. It is the belief that what provides cohesion and coherence in any given society is ethnicity. If we can retain just enough ethnic uniformity, runs the argument, then we can hope that society can just about hold together. Threaten that ethnic cohesion with too much diversity, and the whole thing will come crashing down in the chaos of racial and tribal conflict. And there is evidence that if that is all we do — extend the ethnic mix — social conflict can and often does arise.
The reality is that ethnic diversity runs not just between ethnic groups, but within ourselves. Very few of us are ethnically monochrome. We are all basically migrants. My own mother came over from Ireland to England in the 1940s. Her ancestors were refugees fleeing 17th-century religious persecution in the Rhineland. Everyone, somewhere in their ancestral history, has a connection to someone who lived somewhere else. All of us are the beneficiaries of the generosity of this country or of others, at a time when our ancestors were in desperate need of shelter, safety or simply wanting a better life.
The evidence suggests that ethnic uniformity does not create social cohesion. Historically and politically, nations that strive towards ethnic uniformity have often proven to be unstable and unsustainable. The very Middle Eastern countries in so much turmoil at the moment are more ethnically and religiously uniform than ours, with much lower rates of immigration, yet are riven with far more internal conflict than diverse societies such as the UK.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted February 3, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The fresh reshaping of alliances in the Middle East will be a major factor that decides what happens in the region in 2016, from dealing with so-called Islamic State (IS) to determining the future of Syria, says Middle Eastern Christian TV broadcaster SAT-7 in its Middle East Forecast for 2016.

This rapidly-changing face of the Middle East is already apparent, says SAT-7. The five key political concerns are:

The deepening clash between the Middle East’s superpowers, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The execution of a leading Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia before Christmas prompted international condemnation with the fiercest reactions coming from its longstanding rival in the region, Iran. A further complication is the lifting of sanctions against Iran. Both countries will want to maintain their client and ally relations in the region, including Yemen and Syria.

Increasingly assertive Russian involvement in the region. Russia has begun reaching out to the PKK and has attacked Turkish-backed groups in Syria. Turkey responded by making positive overtures towards Israel, stressing the importance of good relations, and began to build bridges with Saudi Arabia.

The conflict between Turkey and Kurdish militants. The collapse of the peace process with the PKK has brought a resurgence of violence and heavy-handed government crackdowns.

The continued status of Yemen and Libya as chaotic failed states. Both face acute humanitarian crises, with desperate food, water and electricity shortages, and air strikes taking a high toll on Yemeni civilians. They join Syria as the main sources of the region’s refugee crisis.

In North Africa, Tunisia and Algeria will see political changes and continue to have terrorism concerns.
However, both are enjoying relative stability in the state and political structures. Sadly, 2016 will continue to see high terror risks across Europe, linked to developments in the Middle East.

SAT-7 also believes there are three key issues for the church in the Middle East in 2016:

Read it all and the report referred to is here

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle East

1 Comments
Posted February 1, 2016 at 8:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the revolution first erupted, I argued that a political revolution would fail without an accompanying social (r)evolution, to dethrone the million "mini-Mubaraks," weed out endemic corruption, promote equality and egalitarianism, create a meritocracy and more. While the political revolution has stalled, the social and cultural one is in full swing. It has been spearheaded by workers demanding their rights, women struggling for equality, and the growing assertiveness of previously discreet minorities, such as atheists.

Young people have perhaps been the greatest agitators for change and have given their elders lessons in courage, determination and grit - schools have become breeding grounds for rebels.

Whether or not Egyptians heed the call of the shrunken ranks of activist to take to the streets once again, it does not mean they never will again. Egyptians have discovered their latent ability to move immobile mountains and have broken the fear barrier. When they do eventually rise again, a deep social revolution may enable them to unleash their creativity - perhaps even reinventing democracy to suit their needs.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For years, Texas megachurch pastor Bob Roberts has been building relationships with Muslims. Last year, after Franklin Graham argued that the US government should ban Muslims from immigrating to America, the NorthWood Church leader joined Muslim leaders in denouncing the comments. In October, he and imam Muhammad Magid hosted the Spreading the Peace Convocation, which was attended by nearly 200 imams and evangelical pastors.

This week, Roberts traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco, alongside more than 250 Muslim religious leaders, heads of state, and scholars, for a groundbreaking summit. On Wednesday, the Muslim leaders released the Marrakesh Declaration: a 750-word document calling for religious freedom for non-Muslims in majority-Muslim countries [full text in the linked full article].

“I’m blown away,” Roberts told CT from Morocco. “This is a Muslim conference put together by the top sheiks, ministers of religion, the grand muftis of the top Muslim majority nations, and they came up with a declaration, literally using the language of religious freedom to declare that violence cannot be done in the name of Islam.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sanctions have been lifted on Iran, and a moment of change has arrived. President Obama has called this “a unique opportunity, a window, to try to resolve important issues.” The brilliant ex-diplomat Nicholas Burns has said we are at a “potential turning point in the modern history of the Middle East.” And of course they are right. The diplomacy of the Middle East will now change, for better or for worse, forever.

But be very wary of anyone who claims anything more, and certainly be careful of anyone who claims anything more for Iran itself. President Hassan Rouhani is not Mikhail Gorbachev, and this is not a perestroika moment. Iran is not “opening up” or becoming “more Western” or somehow more liberal. Maybe Iran’s foreign minister will now pick up the phone when John Kerry calls. But other than that, the nature of the Iranian regime has not altered at all.

On the contrary, the level of repression inside the country has grown since the “moderate” Rouhani was elected in 2013. The number of death sentences has risen. In 2014, Iran carried out the largest number of executions anywhere in the world except for China. Last year, the number may have exceeded 1,000. Partly this is because Iran’s chief justice has boasted of the eradication (i.e., mass killing) of drug offenders, many of whom are juveniles or convicted on dubious evidence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 25, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Back in 2004, I got to visit a monastery and orphanage for boys that was in Al Qosh, a town about 31 miles northeast of Mosul, the modern Iraqi city that is across the Tigris from what was once Nineveh. The chapel, the old stone walks, a lovely fountain inside an enclosed courtyard; the whole place was a serene, beautiful spot. The tomb of the Old Testament prophet Nahum was nearby.

It was just one of several irreplaceable monasteries and holy spots in an area that goes back more than 25 centuries to the days of the Assyrian king Sennacherib. Recent years have brought true catastrophe in the form of the conquering hordes of ISIS that, among other violations, destroyed the tomb of Jonah in Mosul in 2014. So maybe it should not be a huge surprise that some time in the past 18 months, ISIS destroyed Iraq’s oldest monastery..

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2016 at 10:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Al-Monitor: From your perspective as the first Coptic woman to win an individual seat, what do Copts want from the parliament?

Gaballah: The attainment of parliamentary seats by 36 Copts in total, and my success as the first Coptic woman to win an individual seat since 1923, is proof that Egypt has overcome extremism. Therefore, I must now speak in my capacity as a deputy representing the nation and not just Copts. Laws must be enacted to do away with discrimination, and an anti-discrimination office should be established, as stipulated by the current constitution, to criminalize any activity deemed to discriminate between citizens.

There are other laws that must be drafted to achieve social integration, among them a unified law for the construction of places of worship to establish clear nondiscriminatory regulations relating to the building of mosques and churches.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Naghmeh Abedini is looking forward to reuniting next week with her husband, Saeed, the Iranian-American pastor freed on Saturday after more than three years in an Iranian prison.

But she’s not rushing the reunion.

In an interview at her parent’s home in Boise, Idaho on Wednesday, Abedini said that rebuilding their marriage after her husband’s imprisonment will take time.

The relationship, she said, has been strained in recent months by the publication of an email she sent to friends and supporters late last year. Her note described “physical, emotional, psychological and sexual” abuse by her husband, who she said was addicted to pornography.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPornographyPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2016 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group's relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

St. Elijah's Monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for U.S. troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel, worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ's name, were carved near the entrance.

This month, at the request of the AP, satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe tasked a high resolution camera to grab photos of the site, and then pulled earlier images of the same spot.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2016 at 10:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the Obama administration scrambles to confront the Islamic State and resurgent Taliban, an old enemy seems to be reappearing in Afghanistan: Qaeda training camps are sprouting up there, forcing the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies to assess whether they could again become a breeding ground for attacks on the United States.

Most of the handful of camps are not as big as those that Osama bin Laden built before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But had they re-emerged several years ago, they would have rocketed to the top of potential threats presented to President Obama in his daily intelligence briefing. Now, they are just one of many — and perhaps, American officials say, not even the most urgent on the Pentagon’s list in Afghanistan.

The scope of Al Qaeda’s deadly resilience in Afghanistan appears to have caught American and Afghan officials by surprise. Until this fall, American officials had largely focused on targeting the last remaining senior Qaeda leaders hiding along Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous border with Pakistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A child of London’s East End, White explained to his listeners from theological, journalistic, and policymaking circles how years in Iraq and the wider Middle East had made him happy in the face of unspeakable horror.

“There are the days when you are crying, saying ‘why Lord and there are days of immense joy,” the nattily-dressed, pink and blue bowtie-wearing White stated. His cane, indicating White’s multiple sclerosis, and his cross made of nails taken from the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed by German bombing in World War II, signified life’s harsher realities..

A singing White explained that he is even happier now than when he was resuscitating the dead from cardiac arrest as a London doctor before he joined the clergy. For “I know that I have got the love of Jesus with me all the time,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith leaders from across Britain have condemned a growing crackdown on Christmas in Muslim countries.

Brunei threatened yesterday to imprison for up to five years anyone who celebrates the Christian festival in public. The former British colony’s new penal code could also hand out $20,000 fines for any ceremony contrary to Sharia, including singing religious songs, sending festive greetings or putting up Christmas trees, crosses or candles.

Somalia’s leading clerics issued a similar edict in 2013, which they reiterated yesterday. Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, the religious affairs minister, said that “all events related to Christmas and new year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture”. They could “damage the faith of the Muslim community” and risk attracting terrorist attacks from Al Shabaab, he added.

In China, which has 70 million Christians and is set to overtake America as the world’s largest Christian country within a decade, large outdoor crosses on hundreds of churches have been dismantled by officials from the atheist Communist party. Some churches have been demolished in the eastern city of Wenzhou, dubbed the “Jerusalem of China”.

Read it all (requires subscription).




Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The killing of minorities by so-called Islamic State should be recognised as genocide, more than 60 parliamentarians have said in a letter to the PM.
They urge David Cameron to use his influence to reach an agreement with the UN that the term genocide be used.
This would send the message that those responsible would be caught, tried and punished, the letter adds.
IS has been systematically killing minority groups including Iraqi and Syrian Christians and Yazidis, it said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

anian Christian pastor Farshid Fathi was released on 21 December 2015 after five years in prison in Iran for his faith in Jesus Christ.

“We are deeply grateful for your faithful prayers for Farshid while he has been in prison,” Elam Ministries, whose mission is to help expand the church in the Iran region, said in a statement.

“We would like to request that you continue praying for Farshid today and in the coming weeks," Elam said. "Please pray especially for protection, his family and his adjustment to life outside prison.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s biggest Islamic organisation and its largest Muslim student group have undeclared links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist network that has at times incited violence and terror, a government report claimed yesterday.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body of more than 500 Islamic organisations, claims to be non-sectarian, but Brotherhood supporters are said to have “played an important role in establishing and then running” it, according to the review.

The Brotherhood, a movement that views western society as corrupting and “inherently hostile to Muslim interests”, has exerted “significant influence” on the MCB, the Muslim Association of Britain and “Britain’s largest Muslim student organisation”, understood to be the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis).

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tragically, present policy does not take into account the uniquely precarious situation of displaced Christians. Instead of receiving priority treatment, Christians are profoundly disadvantaged. For instance, the State Department has accepted refugees primarily from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, which oversees the large camps to which refugees have flocked, and where they are registered. Yet endangered Christians do not dare enter those camps.

George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote in the Telegraph in Britain in September that a similar protocol in the U.K. “inadvertently discriminates against the very Christian communities most victimised by the inhuman butchers of the so-called Islamic State. Christians are not to be found in the UN camps, because they have been attacked and targeted by Islamists and driven from them.”

U.S. missteps and missed opportunities in the region contributed to the crises that disproportionately affected Christians. America’s policy should immediately be amended to include these refugees at the top of the list. Opening America’s doors to them first is the right thing to do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a blogger in the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS (also known as ISIL) leaders there have issued a "fatwa" against children with Down syndrome and other birth defects.

The only source for the story is the Mosul Eye, self-described as a "blog … set up to communicate what's happening in Mosul to the rest of the world , minute by minute from an independent historian." It has been repeated by dozens of mainstream and niche news sites, from the British Daily Mail through Fox News to Breitbart.

According to the Mosul Eye's December 14 Facebook entry, "the Shar'i Board of ISIL issued an 'Oral Fatwa' to its members authorizing them to – in the fatwa's words, 'kill newborn babies with Down's Syndrome and congenital disorders and disabled children.'"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many Catholic and Orthodox countries, the most visible face of faith is commonly the Virgin Mary (think of Mexico’s ubiquitous Virgin of Guadalupe). Sur­prisingly—and counterintuitively—Mary is scarcely less venerated in Egypt, an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Unless we pay attention to Mary, we miss large portions of the religious faith and practice of the most populous Arab nation. That fact complicates many assumptions about the inevitable hostility between Christianity and Islam.

Egypt’s Christian population is variously estimated at between 5 and 10 percent, anywhere from 5 to 9 million individuals, and most are members of the ancient Cop­tic Church. These believers have often suffered from violence and persecution, most notoriously during the up­surge of violence that followed the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in 2013. Many churches were attacked, and the continuing insurgency in the country raises grave fears about future pogroms.

Despite that uncertainty, Egypt’s Christians still thrive and maintain their ancient churches and shrines. Almost certainly, historic Christian devotion to the Virgin Mary began in Egypt, which is home to countless churches dedicated to her and icons celebrating her. Egyptians point proudly to many sites that the Holy Family reputedly visited during Jesus’ childhood, some of which are major centers for pilgrimage and religious tourism. The Orthodox Christmas Day (January 7) is a national public holiday, on a par with the familiar roster of Islamic celebrations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted December 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syed Rizwan Farook was looking for a woman. A few years ago, not long out of college, he went online to find a match. He was slim, dark-eyed, 6 feet tall and living with a parent in Riverside, his dating profiles explained.

He was Chicago-born, with Pakistani roots. He didn't drink or smoke. He avoided TV and movies, preferring instead to tinker with old cars, work out and memorize the Quran. He had a $49,000-a-year government job as a health inspector and wanted a young wife who shared his Sunni Muslim faith.

"Someone who takes her religion very seriously and is always trying to improve her religion and encouraging others to do the same using hikmah (wisdom) and not harshness," he wrote on BestMuslim.com, one of several dating and matrimonial sites he used.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslims came to an Anglican church? ‘People respect faith in Iraq,’ says Sarah. ‘They can see he is sincere.’

So is it better to be a Christian negotiating with Muslims than to be secular, I ask. I’m always hearing that religion is the problem, not the solution, in Iraq.

‘Yes, absolutely,’ says White. ‘People say it’s important to keep religion out of the peace process in the Middle East, but you can’t have a peace process without religion. You can’t have politics without religion in the Middle East! It’s impossible. Faith is our common ground.’

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 200 churches or places of worship are attacked every single day, a vice-president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said this week, at a high-level meeting in Brussels investigating the persecution of Christians.

Mr Tajani, an Italian MEP in the Parliament’s European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) group, said on Tuesday that “every day, in every region of our planet, we register new cases of systematic violence and persecution against Christians. No other religious community is faced with such hatred, violence, and aggression as is the Christian community.”

A report prepared by the Parliament’s research unit highlighted the “paradoxical aspect of contemporary Christianity” in that, while Christians were in a majority across the world, they were in a minority in places of conflict.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So by calling for a "challenge" to the Saudis and Qataris, the archbishop is throwing down the gauntlet both to Salafism and the Brotherhood; he does not say which form of Islam he thinks should be encouraged instead, but "global mainstream Muslim leaders" sounds like a reference to products of the traditional theological schools of Egypt or Jordan which are conservative but not especially political or supportive of jihadism.

Some of the people who argue that terrorism in the name of Islam has a theological dimension (in other words, it reflects bad theology, which must be driven out by good theology) weaken their case by over-stating it. This exaggeration can be self-serving. Their implied message is that no other factors (social or economic woes, political or geopolitical grievances) are worth considering and that expert theologians, capable of correcting Islam's current pathologies, are the kind of people that the world needs most.

But Archbishop Welby is not over-stating the case, he is simply stating it, rather obliquely and politely. And it is a case that needs to be stated.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain on Wednesday night opted to join a U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria, with Parliament endorsing a push by Prime Minister David Cameron following a raucous debate marked by accusations that revived the ghosts of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war.

The vote put an end to an awkward year in the close military alliance between the United States and Britain, during which the Britons joined the Americans in bombing the Islamic State in Iraq but drew a line at the Syrian border. The British government had reasoned last fall that — unlike in Iraq — the Syrian government had not invited Western intervention.

But after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks last month that killed 130 people in Paris, Cameron vowed to expand his country’s military contribution to operations in both of the terrorist group’s main sanctuaries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 2, 2015 at 5:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Just War criteria have to my mind been met. But while they are necessary, they are not by themselves sufficient in action of this kind – where we can end up doing the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing.

To my mind there are three components which currently need more emphasis and to some extent are missing.

In this role, through visiting all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion, through the constant contacts we have with Muslim and Christian leaders in the region – as recently as three weeks ago in a conference at Lambeth Palace – I am constantly reminded that this is a global issue, to which we are addressing local solutions.

ISIL is but one head of the Hydra: religiously-motivated extremism is not restricted to one part of the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The test will obviously be the total mobilisation of effort in a focussed way that recognises the long-term needs of security for indigenous populations, and particularly the Christian populations, being harried out of the area at the time.

“For the first time in almost 300 years, we’re facing a conflict that has a distinct theological and religious element which we have not faced before. Recent studies demonstrate the theological basis of extremist groups behind jihadist thinking.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted November 27, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has overwhelmingly backed military intervention in Syria to establish safe routes for refugees. The general synod voted yesterday in favour of a motion that the Archbishop of Canterbury said committed the church to supporting the use of armed force. Justin Welby said that if the motion was passed the “implications are enormous”, adding that he supported it.

It comes as David Cameron today reveals his “comprehensive strategy” for taking on Islamic State in Syria, designed to allay fears that airstrikes alone will not solve the crisis.

The prime minister said there was no “perfect strategy” but added that the UK could not wait for the arrival of a stable government in Syria capable of tackling Isis. “There is a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom from [Isis], based in Iraq and Syria, planning attacks against our country,” he told MPs.

Read it all (requires subscription).



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 25, 2015 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world, killing more people in terrorist attacks in 2014 than ISIS, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.

The GTI attributed more than 6,644 deaths to Boko Haram in 2014, with most attacks occurring in northeastern Nigeria. ISIS killed 6,073 in terrorist attacks in the same year, according to the report.

The GTI noted a 317 percent increase of terrorism deaths in Nigeria, the largest increase ever recorded by any country, where newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to contain Boko Haram by the end of 2015.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonChadNigeriaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted November 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And what about the Christians from the Middle East? Are they part of a resettlement plan into Europe or the United States? Sadly, the Department of State does not support a “special” category to bring, for example, Assyrian Christians into the United States, even though private donors have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of Assyrian and other Iraqi Christians. It is a particularly absurd irony for U.S. government officials to say that Christian refugees from the Middle East will not be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is precisely their religious affiliation that makes them candidates for asylum based upon a credible fear of ISIS persecution.

To the consternation of the United States and European Union officials (and much of the mainstream media), several EU countries have said that they will admit refugees from the Middle East, but only those who are Christians, and no Moslems need apply. Slovakia is one such country, and I have been informed that intra-governmental task forces in at least two other European nations are contemplating similar action, though no official actions have been announced. However, EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breithard has stressed that EU states are banned from “any form of discrimination.” Thus, Christians from the Middle East have been driven out of their homes by ISIS and other terrorists, but are given little protection or safe havens as refugees, notwithstanding international law. Yes, we should watch and pray, but we must also remember our obligation from Galatians 6:10, which reads, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted November 20, 2015 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Most importantly, we shouldn’t allow our domestic controversy over refugees to cloud the larger issue of what is driving the refugee crisis in the first place—a death cult with aspirations of regional or global dominance. Christian communities that have been in the Middle East since literally the Book of Acts are in danger of extinction, as are those who are in need of hearing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

We cannot love our neighbors at the same we’re standing aside and watching them be slaughtered. The Bible grants the state the power and mandate to use force to protect the innocent. That means both engaging ISIS with a strong military response and doing what is in our power to shield the innocent from terror. Anything less is not a sufficiently Christian response.

We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in peril. And we cannot seal ourselves off from our mission field. An entire generation of those fleeing genocide will be asking whether there is an alternative to the toxic religion they’ve seen.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryImmigrationTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 19, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Theology

2 Comments
Posted November 19, 2015 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith-based groups, who play a key role in resettling refugees to the United States, say they are dismayed by the wave of anti-refugee fervor set off by the Paris terrorist attacks and are urging supporters to contact elected officials on behalf of victims of the Syrian civil war.

Evangelical Christians, as well as Christians more broadly, are a core group in the Republican electoral base and are among the most passionate advocates for aiding refugees.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once again, the world has been shocked by acts of unspeakable violence and brutality. Once again, the world mourns with the families and friends of victims of tragedy. Once again, the world searches for meaning and hope in the terrible wreckage left in the wake of such dehumanizing hatred, senseless bloodshed, and unparalleled loss.

In this time of grief, it is all too easy to see the path the world has laid out for us. It is the path of retributive justice, of reciprocate hatred, of fear and anger. This is the way the world moves; the way governments, militaries, and judicial systems function. But it is at this critical time that we must ask ourselves what our role must be in the aftermath of such tragedy.

The best we can possibly do is to look to the most enduring response to violence and death that there is. The death by crucifixion of Jesus Christ, some two thousand years ago. Unjust powers, motivated by anger and fear, murdered the very incarnation of God. What became of this greatest travesty? God forged it into the greatest triumph over evil that Creation has yet seen. And what of the one who became the victim in our place? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

In the very darkest hour, Jesus called upon God for forgiveness. We see this message in his teachings, and then echoed in his living and his dying. Profound forgiveness. Profound mercy. Profound grace.
In 2006, an armed man entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He shot ten girls between 6 and 13 years old, five of whom died, and then committed suicide. The response of the Amish community was swift. Within hours of the shooting, an Amish neighbor had visited the family of the gunman and offered comfort and forgiveness. Standing by the body of his murdered granddaughter, a grandfather told several young boys “We must not think evil of this man”. Some 30 of the Amish community attended the funeral of the assailant, and one of the few outsiders permitted to the funeral of one of the Amish girls was the man’s widow.

I sometimes wonder at the capacity of humankind for such forgiveness, but then I realise that I am merely wondering at God’s grace. I look back to the earliest words of the Bible and find that in Genesis 1:27 we were created in the image of God and that in verse 31 God saw everything that had been made and “it was supremely good”.
And, even though much has happened since God set those mighty intentions into play, I hold God’s words close from 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” And in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

Perhaps it is in the darkest hours that the light shines out the brightest, that the vision of the kingdom is clearest, no matter how distant. The path to that kingdom is never so clearly laid, but the vision is there. It is a vision of all nations streaming forward, all division cast aside, all conflict passed, Jew and Gentile together.

So today I mourn for all the victims of this unthinkable violence. I mourn for their family. And their family is this world. Every last person is their neighbor. Every last person is a victim of this tragedy—violence is indeed an evil which harms both victim and perpetrator. I pray for the citizens of Paris, for the country of France, for Europe, for every country the world over, as they bow their heads from the weight of death and useless violence as it continues to visit itself upon brother after brother, sister after sister. I pray for healing, for forgiveness, and for hope in the hearts of the affected families. Wrong has been done, and there is not one person on this world who is not a victim of it.

And I pray that through it all, the goodness of God will continue to shine through. The goodness that was there at the moment of creation, that was created anew in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that continues to be created as the kingdom of heaven struggles forth in the darkest of times and places.

I pray for forgiveness. I pray for grace. I pray for peace.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle East* Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 16, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The interview starts at about 43;30 in--watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq War* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

0 Comments
Posted November 10, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...ever-resilient Syrians strive to maintain some shreds of social cohesion amid an overriding sense of insecurity and uncertainty about the future.

Daily conversations on Skype, WhatsApp and other social media applications help people stay in touch with those scattered around the world. One exile has developed a cellphone app to show where his friends are, lights on the screen indicating far-flung locales.

"Every night we spend at least an hour on WhatsApp trying to catch up," says Elia Samman, who runs a waste management business in Damascus, the capital, but is a native of Homs, once the country's third-largest city.

Of nine Homs families his family was close to, he says, only three remain in Syria. The rest have left for Sweden, Germany, Egypt, Persian Gulf nations or other destinations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted October 18, 2015 at 7:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Calling directly on the Prime Minister to increase his current offer to accept 20,000 refugees over the next 5 years to 50,000 the Bishops write:

"We believe such is this country's great tradition of sanctuary and generosity of spirit that we could feasibly resettle at least 10,000 people a year for the next two years, rising to a minimum of 50,000 in total over the five year period you foresaw in your announcement. Such a number would bring us into line with comparable commitments made by other countries. It would be a meaningful and substantial response to the scale of human suffering we see daily."

In addition to "recognising and applauding" the announcements made by the Prime Minister the Bishops offer help from the Church of England in encouraging their churches to provide welcome, housing and foster care to refugees as well as to support the Government in its ongoing efforts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraqSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 17, 2015 at 5:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A British wife who took her five children to Syria to join Islamic State is trying to flee the country, complaining that the other women there have a violent “gangster” mentality.
Shukee Begum, 33, from Manchester, took her children, all aged under nine, to Syria last year to join her husband, Jamal al-Harith, an Isis fighter and former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
She later fled Isis territory, but said that she and her children were held by smugglers for a number of months in Aleppo and close to the Turkish border before they were released. The circumstances of her release are unclear. According to Channel 4 news, rebels from Nusra Front, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, intervened to facilitate it.
Ms Begum is trying to escape Syria, saying that she was shocked by the behaviour of single women in Isis, who revelled in its brutal executions.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, is travelling to Cairo to meet with the primates of the Global South and GAFCON movements. In a roundtable discussion organized by the Council on Foreign Relations held in Washington on 13 Oct 2015, Archbishop Welby stated he would be flying Cairo to join a meeting of the conservative and center-right primates of the Anglican Communion.

Archbishops from Asia, Africa, North and South America are meeting this week at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo, to discuss a common response to Archbishop Welby’s invitation to attend a primates’ gathering in January in Canterbury. Sources tell Anglican Ink that no decision has yet been reached, but the working understanding among the group is that they will act as a bloc.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted October 15, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oil is the black gold that funds Isis’ black flag — it fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours.
But more than a year after US President Barack Obama launched an international coalition to fight Isis, the bustling trade at al-Omar and at least eight other fields has come to symbolise the dilemma the campaign faces: how to bring down the “caliphate” without destabilising the life of the estimated 10m civilians in areas under Isis control, and punishing the west’s allies?
The resilience of Isis, and the weakness of the US-led campaign, have given Russia a pretext to launch its own, bold intervention in Syria.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 14, 2015 at 5:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Global South and Gafcon primates are scheduled to meet in Cairo on 13 Oct 2015 in Cairo, the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East tells Anglican Ink. Writing in response to a story released on 12 Oct 2015 that stated the primates had begun their meeting at All Saints Cathedral on 11 Oct 2015, Archbishop Mouneer Anis stated this was not the case, as not all of the invited leaders of the conservative and center-right coalitions were present and they had not yet begun their formal deliberations. The gathering of primates is expected to discuss the invitation extended by Archbishop Justin Welby for a primates gathering in January in Canterbury. Dr. Annis stated he had written to some of those scheduled to attend warning of the pressures they would face from partisans representing the various factions within the Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Members of the primates council of the GAFCON movement met yesterday in Cairo, sources tell Anglican Ink, and are understood to have discussed their response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to the January primates gathering scheduled for Canterbury. A source familiar with their deliberations said they would be communicating their decision first to Archbishop Justin Welby before any statement would be given to the media.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican PrimatesGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

2 Comments
Posted October 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the western-backed bombing of ISIL targets continues in Iraq and Syria, a leading British Jew has established a fund to resettle Christian refugees from the region.

The 96-year-old peer, Lord George Weidenfeld, was rescued from Nazi Germany by Quakers. Now he’s set up the Barnabas Fund, which has already freed 158 Christians enslaved in Syria.

His campaign comes amid further reports of crucifixions and beheadings of Christians and other minorities.

Listen to it all from the Religion and Ethics Report.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2015 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a mountainside in Iraq’s Kurdish region, at the end of a road that winds through sparse olive trees, stands the fourth-century Mar Mattai monastery. It is Iraq’s oldest monastery, named for the hermit monk who retired here at the dawn of Christianity. The forces of Islamic State are a little more than two miles away. When the weather is clear on the plain of Nineveh, you can see the Islamic State front lines defending Mosul about a dozen miles in the distance.

The vast monastery perched high on Mount Alfaf is hewed from stone, its passages, stairways and terraces exposed to the sun and weather. In the courtyard on the ground level live two families who fled Mosul and the persecution of Christians there.

Four monks live at Mar Mattai. There should be several dozen to judge by the empty rooms along the esplanade. But only these four remain, clad in their black robes and caps embroidered with white crosses. In the Eastern Rite church on the upper level, the monks are standing in the crypt at the far end, their eyes closed, intoning one of the “chants of the Greek church” described by Chateaubriand in his 1811 “Record of a Journey From Paris to Jerusalem and Back.” He admired the Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) with its notes “held by different voices, some bass, others treble, executing andante and mezza voce, the octave, fifth, and third.” Its beauty, he said, was enough to cure him of a fever.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2015 at 8:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Both Kunduz and Russia’s bombing are symptoms of the same phenomenon: the vacuum created by Barack Obama’s attempt to stand back from the wars of the Muslim world. America’s president told the UN General Assembly this week that his country had learned it “cannot by itself impose stability on a foreign land”; others, Iran and Russia included, should help in Syria. Mr Obama is not entirely wrong. But his proposition hides many dangers: that America throws up its hands; that regional powers, sensing American disengagement, will be sucked into a free-for-all; and that Russia’s intervention will make a bloody war bloodier still. Unless Mr Obama changes course, expect more deaths, refugees and extremism.

Having seen the mess that George W. Bush made of his “war on terror”, especially in Iraq, Mr Obama is understandably wary. American intervention can indeed make a bad situation worse, as odious leaders are replaced by chaos and endless war saps America’s strength and standing. But America’s absence can make things even more grim. At some point, extremism will fester and force the superpower to intervene anyway.

That is the story in the Middle East. In Iraq Mr Obama withdrew troops in 2011. In Syria he did not act to stop Mr Assad from wholesale killing, even after he used poison gas. But when IS jihadists emerged from the chaos, declared a caliphate in swathes of Iraq and Syria, and began to cut off the heads of their Western prisoners, Mr Obama felt obliged to step back in—desultorily.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Former Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to do more to help Christians in the Middle East saying "time is running out".

Lord Carey said more had to be done to support followers of Christ who face persecution or death at the hands of Islamic terrorism.

"Time is running out for Christians in the region," he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIranIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1975, as desperate Vietnamese sought to escape Communist rule, the U.S. embarked on what remains one of the greatest humanitarian rescue missions in history. Over the span of several weeks, Operation Frequent Wind, Operation Babylift and other missions by air or on sea saved and resettled tens of thousands of Vietnamese in the U.S., where they would become thriving American citizens.

Now another desperate population needs rescuing: persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Could there be an Operation Frequent Wind for them?

Mark Arabo thinks so. He is a Chaldean-American and the founder of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to get Iraqi Christians out before it’s too late. “There is historical precedent for this,” he says from his base in San Diego. “President Ford airlifted thousands during the Vietnam War and we need to do the same.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted October 3, 2015 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State combatants have shown themselves to be resilient, and the group is adept at attracting adherents through social media.

At least eight Islamic State branches in the Middle East and Afghanistan have cropped up in recent years or have redefined themselves as allies, such as the Boko Haram insurgency group in Nigeria.

At the same time, international efforts to combat the Islamic State’s online propaganda messaging has been an abysmal failure, according to a recent State Department assessment.

So far, the Islamic State’s violent narrative — promulgated through thousands of messages each day — has effectively “trumped” the efforts of some of the world’s richest and most technologically advanced nations, the State Department assessment said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMedia* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The crisis in Lebanon, where 1.2 million Syrian refugees are competing for limited resources with host communities, is a “ticking time bomb”, two aid workers gave warning this week.

The country, which is the size of Yorkshire, has the highest number of refugees per capita: a quarter of the population. Of these, 70 per cent live below the poverty line. Since the UN’s Syria regional-response plan is less than half-funded, and the influx costs the country a third of its GDP, communities are in crisis.

“It’s more than just tension: I think it is a ticking bomb,” the communications manager for World Vision in Lebanon, Patricia Mouamar, said on Tuesday. “It’s like the whole country of Greece moving into UK. . . If no funding is made available to us, it will explode at a certain time.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastLebanonSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With civil war in Syria, the emergence of ISIS, and the growing power of Iran, a new Middle East seems to be in the making. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become in some ways a sideline to these other developments. What do you see emerging out of these developments with regard to Israel/Palestine?

For the first time since the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000, I feel a small stirring of optimism and can see a way out. The defining conflict in the Middle East is no longer between Arabs and Israelis but between Sunnis and Shi‘ites. Much of the West hasn’t yet internalized this historic shift. The Saudis are now meeting regularly with Israelis and even allowing those meetings to become public knowledge. This is unprecedented.

During the Gaza War last year, even as anti-Israel demonstrations were happening in the West, Israel was receiving urgent messages from Sunni leaders demanding that it destroy the Hamas regime. Hamas is especially detested by many Sunnis for making common cause with Shi‘ite Iran—it’s the only Sunni Muslim Brotherhood organization to break ranks in the Sunni-Shi‘ite war.

All of which is to say that the Middle East looks very different from the Middle East than it does from the West. When Israelis looks around the region, what we see is that the most intact society left is Israel. I say that with more anxiety than pride, because this is the region in which I live, in which I’m raising a family. My prayer is for a Middle East in which all its peoples will find their safe place. Ultimately, the success of the Jewish homecoming depends on our finding our place in the Middle East.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIranIraqIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American families are under assault from an Islamic extremist group that is quietly turning young minds against their parents, against their religious faith, and against their country.

The group, the self-proclaimed Islamic State in occupied sections of Syria and Iraq, is using social media and the worldwide reach of the Internet in a sophisticated recruitment campaign that is making families feel helpless to stop a slow-motion kidnapping of their children.

So far this year, 58 Americans – more than half under 25 – have been arrested for attempting to travel to Syria or for plotting violence in the US. That is more than twice the number of similar arrests for the entire year in 2014, and more than twice the number for all of 2013, as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 28, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Vladimir Putin certainly knows how to steal a show. The Russian president will speak today at the UN General Assembly for the first time in a decade. The rapid build-up of Russian military force in Syria in recent weeks has turned Mr Putin into the centre of attention in New York, as rivals and allies both speculate about his intentions.

To his delight, he has managed to put the US on the back-foot. After a year of trying to freeze out Mr Putin over his military intervention in Ukraine, US President Barack Obama has decided he has little choice but to meet the Russian leader to discuss Syria.

The Russian intervention in Syria — in support of the isolated regime of President Bashar al-Assad — has come at a time when Washington’s own strategy for resolving the conflict is in tatters. The US-trained force of Syrian fighters numbers in the dozens, not the planned thousands, while air strikes have had only a limited impact on the Syrian operations of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeRussiaMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 28, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First we need to welcome and help refugees.

In order to do this we need to put more and more pressure on governments in developed countries to accept more refugees. Lebanon, such a small country, with a population of 5 million people and a weak economy is hosting 1.5 million Syrian refugees. The rest of the neighbouring countries did the same. In Egypt we accepted a quarter of a million Syrian refugees in addition to 2.5 African refugees. After welcoming refugees in the country the churches can then cooperate with the government and UNHCR to provide for the needs of the refugees in a more holistic way. I was so encouraged by the appeal of Pope Francis when he asked every parish to host refugee family. It is so important that these refugees may encounter the love of Jesus in us.

In our refugee program in Egypt and Ethiopia we deal with thousands of refugees. We help them to find accommodation and shelters. In fact some of our churches in Ethiopia became shelters for the thousands who walked in from South Sudan. We also have programs to build their capacities so that they can find jobs. And we provide education for their children as well as health care through our clinics. I am sure you [others] do better than us in these areas. Let us see Jesus in each one of them and let us hear Him saying, “I was a stranger and you invited me in” when we meet them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 28, 2015 at 5:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly 30,000 foreign recruits have now poured into Syria, many to join the Islamic State, a doubling of volunteers in just the past 12 months and stark evidence that an international effort to tighten borders, share intelligence and enforce antiterrorism laws is not diminishing the ranks of new militant fighters.

Among those who have entered or tried to enter the conflict in Iraq or Syria are more than 250 Americans, up from about 100 a year ago, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials.

President Obama will take stock of the international campaign to counter the Islamic State at the United Nations on Tuesday, a public accounting that comes as American intelligence analysts have been preparing a confidential assessment that concludes that nearly 30,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria from more than 100 countries since 2011. A year ago, the same officials estimated that flow to be about 15,000 combatants from 80 countries, mostly to join the Islamic State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After two days of denials, the Pentagon disclosed late Friday that a U.S.-trained and equipped proxy force in Syria had turned over some of its supplied weapons to an Al Qaeda affiliate.

U.S. officials said rebels told them a commander of a group of trained fighters gave six pickup trucks with mounted machine guns and a portion of their ammunition, or about 25% of their issued equipment, to Al Nusra Front in exchange for safe passage within their operating area in northern Syria.

The information "is very concerning and a violation of Syria train and equip program guidelines,” said Col. Patrick Ryder, spokesman of U.S. Central Command, which oversees the military effort in the Middle East.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Britain, Bishop Angaelos, has called on the Government to multiply its efforts to resettle Middle Eastern refugees in the UK.

Bishop Angaelos visited a transit camp for refugees on the border of Greece and Macedonia earlier this month, and said that the people he met were desperate to find a safer life.

He spoke on Tuesday about a conversation with a young Syrian. “He said: ‘In Syria we are used to quick deaths through bombs and bullets, but we are embarking on a slow death.’ He was referring to the trip by sea.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A London, Ont. church is raising money for Syrian refugees at lightning speed—thanks, at least partly, to a very Canadian household material.

As of Monday morning, St. Aidan’s Anglican Church had raised roughly $35,000 for refugee sponsorship after 15 days of its “Red Tape Challenge.” The appeal asks participants, after making their donations, to tear a piece of red duct tape and attach it to their vehicles, rural mailbox or other prominent place.

The point of the tape, says John Davidson, the St. Aidan’s parishioner who came up with the idea, is to pressure the federal government to reduce barriers to refugees in Canada – “to show Ottawa that yes, you can cut through red tape if you have the desire and the wherewithal, and you want to get the job done.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanadaMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 21, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a scathing statement, Canon White has now slammed Europe for its response to the migrant crisis. He says it is wrong to focus resources on those already in Europe, when those in real need are the ones left behind.

“I am disappointed by Europe’s response to the refugee crisis,” he said “Not enough is being done to help the most vulnerable, particularly those who have fled religious persecution.

“My charity is providing food, shelter and medicine for hundreds of Iraqi refugee families who have fled ISIS and are now in Jordan. Some have walked across the desert to find safety, with little more than the clothes on their backs.

“When I see angry young men clashing with border police in Hungary and demanding to be let into other EU countries, I feel that the wrong people are at the front of the queue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 19, 2015 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The year 5,775 on the Hebrew calendar ended much the way it began: with violence at Jerusalem’s holiest site. On the morning of September 13th, hours before the Rosh Hashanah holiday began, Israeli police raided the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. A group of Palestinian worshippers emerged from the al-Aqsa mosque to pelt them with stones, and the officers responded with tear gas and sound bombs. Similar scenes have played out on the next two mornings as well.

Police said the raid was a preemptive measure ahead of the holiday, which typically brings an influx of Jewish visitors. Gilad Erdan, the public-security minister, said that pipe bombs had indeed been found inside the mosque. Twenty-six people were injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. More than 1,000 Israeli Jews ascended anyway, in spite of the violence.

The plateau, occupied by Israel during the 1967 war, is Judaism’s most sacred site, believed to be the location of the Biblical temple. Muslims revere it as the place where the Prophet Muhammad made his night journey to heaven. Under a long-standing arrangement, Muslims have exclusive rights to pray there; Jews may visit at certain times, but must worship below at the Western Wall.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new exodus of Syrians is fueling the extraordinary flow of migrants and refugees to Europe, as Syria’s four-year-old war becomes the driving force behind the greatest migration of people to the continent since the Second World War.

Syrians account for half of the 381,000 refugees and migrants who have sought asylum in Europe so far this year, which is in turn almost a doubling of the number in 2014 — making Syrians the main component of the influx.

The continued surge through Europe prompted Hungary, Austria and Slovakia to tighten border controls Monday, a day after Germany projected that in excess of a million people could arrive by year’s end and began to impose restrictions on those entering the country.

How many more Syrians could be on the way is impossible to know, but as the flow continues, their number is rising.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 15, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church World Service (CWS), Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and other faith communities are urging the U.S. government to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees this coming fiscal year, in addition to increasing the total U.S. resettlement commitment to 100,000 refugees from other parts of the world.

The CWS and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service are cooperative ministries by churches based in the United States, including member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

“More than 60 million people have been displaced from their homes,” said Erol Kekic, executive director of the Immigration and Refugee Program for CWS. “Syria is the largest crisis we are facing but let’s not forget Somalia, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheran* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sam Espada led friends in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for his sombrero-wearing brother at a Mexican restaurant. After dinner, they saw the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

The five-story mall could have been anywhere in America, except that every storefront sign was in Arabic as well as English. The group was in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“This place is like Disneyland,” said Espada, a Christian from New Jersey. “But I don’t feel fully free. You can definitely tell you are living in a Muslim country.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastQatarSaudi ArabiaUAE (United Arab Emirates)* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted September 13, 2015 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Europe rallied on Saturday to express sympathy toward migrants seeking refuge in the region amid the largest migration of displaced people since the end of World War II.

About 30,000 people converged in Copenhagen, according to city police, carrying banners such as “Refugees Welcome.” The rally, as well as smaller gatherings in other Danish cities, was calm and peaceful, police said.

In Hamburg, Germany, more than 24,000 people demonstrated against xenophobia and racism, said a spokeswoman for the city’s police. She said they were mostly peaceful but police briefly used water cannons after some stones and firecrackers were thrown.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastIraqSyria

0 Comments
Posted September 12, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A little boy, drowned at sea and washed up on a Turkish beach has shaken and galvanised a response from the nations of the Western world to the plight of Syria's refugees. That it has taken so long for the sort of action that is being considered now is shameful. Nevertheless, the fact that our public discourse has turned so emphatically towards the need to make a real and lasting impact in the lives of those displaced by the Syrian conflict is very welcome and I applaud the government's decision to expand the refugee program.

At times like this, we must all act within our spheres of influence to raise awareness, build understanding, and work to ensure that our own good intentions have real and practical expression.

Australian Christians feel a particular heartache at the fact that those we consider as family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, have been singled out for persecution in Syria and Northern Iraq. Nevertheless, we would be very reluctant to see an expanded refugee program that uses religion as a discriminating factor. This is antithetical to the love of God for all people and the unmerited and non-discriminatory grace and mercy that is at the heart of the Christian gospel.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2015 at 5:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Does the Noble Lady accept, however, that 20,000 is still a very slim response in comparison to the figures given by the UNHCR and the European Commission, and to the other needs we see; and that it is likely that it is going to have to rise over the next five years, unless of course the driver – which, I hope she also accepts, is local conditions in the camps – is dealt with significantly?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mandatory quotas determining how many migrants each European Union country should take in are a "first step", German Chancellor Angela Merkel says.

She was speaking as the EU continues to grapple with a huge influx of migrants, which peaked at the weekend.

The European Commission is set to announce plans on Wednesday, including quotas, to distribute 120,000 migrants among member countries.

Germany says it can cope with more in the future but wants the burden shared.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyMiddle EastIraqSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 8, 2015 at 6:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Middle Eastern Christians]... are the most vulnerable and repeatedly targeted victims of this conflict. Indeed, a hundred years after the Armenian and Assyrian genocide, in which over a million Christians are estimated to have been killed by Ottoman Muslims, the same is happening today in the form of an ethnic cleansing of Christians in the region. Christians have been crucified, beheaded, raped, and subjected to forced conversion. The so-called Islamic State and other radical groups are openly glorifying the slaughter of Christians.

Britain should make Syrian Christians a priority because they are a particularly vulnerable group. Furthermore, we are a Christian nation with an established Church so Syrian Christians will find no challenge to integration. The churches are already well-prepared and eager to offer support and accommodation to those escaping the conflict.

Some will not like me saying this, but in recent years, there has been too much Muslim mass immigration to Europe. This has resulted in ghettos of Muslim communities living parallel lives to mainstream society, following their own customs and even their own laws. Isn’t it high-time instead for the oil-rich Gulf States to open their doors to the many Muslims who are fleeing conflict? Surely if they are concerned for fellow Muslims who prefer to live in Muslim-majority countries, then they have a moral responsibility to intervene.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraqSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 5, 2015 at 5:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain should "crush" Isil by taking part in military action in Syria, a former Archbishop of Canterbury suggests today amid mounting calls for further air strikes.

In an article for The Telegraph, Lord Carey says that it is "not enough" to send aid to Syria and admit thousands of refugees to this country.

He argues that Isil needs to be dealt with "for once and for all" and that "air strikes and other British military assistance" may be needed in Syria.

He also says Britain should be prioritising Christian refugees who are victims of "ethnic cleansing" and have been crucified, beheaded, raped, and subjected to forced conversion by Isil.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIraqSyria

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2015 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The heartbreaking picture of three-year-old Alan Kurdi lying lifeless on a Turkish beach has unleashed an outpouring of grief and anger, perhaps marking a tipping point in the refugee crisis that has been unfolding in Syria for five years. Calls that Western governments do something have become deafening and can no longer be ignored.

But it has also allowed emotion to overcome reason, and for assumptions to trump facts. Canada and its government are not responsible for this little boy’s death, even his mourning aunt absolved Canada of blame. Misinformation spread by social media unfairly vilified Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander. Neither has anything to apologize for.

However, Canada’s immigration system, designed to ensure those coming to settle have the qualifications to succeed, is not well suited to act quickly in a crisis. There is too much red tape and too many bottlenecks, some of which are the fault of transit countries and the United Nations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryCanadaMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2015 at 3:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A British jihadist who was a leading recruiter for Isis is believed to have been killed by a new clandestine drone programme designed to take out high-value targets in Syria.

Junaid Hussain, 21, from Birmingham, died when a drone hit the Isis-held city of Raqqa on Tuesday. He was third on an American list of Isis targets and is said to have played a key role as an instigator of lone-wolf attacks in Britain, Europe and the US.

He was jailed for six months in 2012 over a computer hack that gained access to Tony Blair’s address book.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted September 2, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Iran appears to have built an extension to part of its Parchin military site since May, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report on Thursday, as part of its inquiry into possible military dimensions of Tehran's past nuclear activity.

A resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Parchin file, which includes a demand for fresh IAEA access to the site, is a symbolically important issue that could help make or break Tehran's July 14 nuclear deal with six world powers.

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said:

"Since (our) previous report (in May), at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building" appeared to have been built.

The changes were first observed last month, a senior diplomat familiar with the Iran file said.

The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as "fabricated".

Read it all and for the earlier Associated Press report see AP Exclusive: UN to let Iran inspect alleged nuke work site and follow up here

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted August 28, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Father Abdel Massih Basit, pastor of the Church of the Virgin Mary in Mostorod, confirmed to Al-Monitor, “The terrorist operations did not affect the church festivities. On the contrary, the number of visitors was higher than any other year. Egyptians insist on pursuing their lives normally regardless of the intensification of terrorist incidents.”

Basit said he had expected the number of visitors to drop because of the hot weather, but he was wrong.

Asked about the security measures in the area around the church, Basit said that he is in constant contact with the security services and that there are always leaders from the Ministry of Interior in the church. “There is a security checkpoint in front of the church, and on Friday [Aug. 14], the celebrations were surrounded by major security measures, given the concurrence of the second anniversary of the raid on the two protests that were held in al-Nahda Square and Rabaa al-Adawiya Square,” he explained.

Basit said that the church relies on its own personnel to keep order inside the church and to inspect visitors at the electronic entrance gates.

He added that those most concerned with the safety of visitors during the Virgin Mary holiday are the area's Muslim residents, who financially benefit from the high turnout that brings business to local stores. Therefore, these people help security forces with the protection of the church. Security forces are deployed 24 hours a day during the festivities that last two weeks, said Basit.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

0 Comments
Posted August 27, 2015 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...Grainy security camera footage showed Khadiza and her two 15-year-old friends, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, calmly passing through security at Gatwick Airport for Turkish Airlines Flight 1966 to Istanbul and later boarding a bus to the Syrian border.

“Only when I saw that video I understood,” Ms. Khanom said.

These images turned the three Bethnal Green girls, as they have become known, into the face of a new, troubling phenomenon: young women attracted to what experts like Sasha Havlicek, a co-founder and the chief executive of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, call a jihadi, girl-power subculture.

An estimated 4,000 Westerners have traveled to Syria and Iraq, more than 550 of them women and girls, to join the Islamic State, according to a recent report by the institute, which helps manage the largest database of female travelers to the region.

The men tend to become fighters much like previous generations of jihadists seeking out battlefields in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. But less is known about the Western women of the Islamic State. Barred from combat, they support the group’s state-building efforts as wives, mothers, recruiters and sometimes online cheerleaders of violence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 21, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Army created the Human Terrain System — at the height of the counterinsurgency craze that dominated American strategic thinking in Iraq and Afghanistan late in the last decade, with much fanfare — to solve this problem. Cultural training and deep, nuanced understanding of Afghan politics and history were in short supply in the Army; without them, good intelligence was hard to come by, and effective policy making was nearly impossible. Human Terrain Teams, as Human Terrain System units were known, were supposed to include people with social-science backgrounds, language skills and an understanding of Afghan or Iraqi culture, as well as veterans and reservists who would help bind the civilians to their assigned military units.

On that winter day in Zormat, however, just how far the Human Terrain System had fallen short of expectations was clear. Neither of the social scientists on the patrol that morning had spent time in Afghanistan before being deployed there. While one was reasonably qualified, the other was a pleasant 43-year-old woman who grew up in Indiana and Tennessee, and whose highest academic credential was an advanced degree in organizational management she received online. She had confided to me that she didn’t feel comfortable carrying a gun she was still learning how to use. Before arriving in Afghanistan, she had traveled outside the United States only once, to Jamaica — “and this ain’t Jamaica,” she told me.

She was out of her depth, but at least she tried to be professional.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIraq* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 20, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. intelligence agencies have evidence indicating Islamic State used mustard agent against Kurdish forces for the first time at least two weeks ago in fighting in Syria, a tactic that the group may have repeated in two subsequent attacks in Iraq, U.S. officials said Friday.

The developments are fueling concerns that Islamic State has acquired a crude arsenal of banned chemicals that could herald a significant escalation of fighting in the region.

“It could be a pattern,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on the intelligence.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 15, 2015 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She was a cheerleader, an honor student, the daughter of a police officer and a member of the high school homecoming court who wanted to be a doctor.

He was a quiet but easygoing psychology student. His father is a well-known Muslim patriarch here, whose personable mien and habit of sharing food with friends and strangers made him seem like a walking advertisement for Islam as a religion of tolerance and peace.

Today, the young woman, Jaelyn Young, 19, and the young man, her fiancé, Muhammad Dakhlalla, 22, are in federal custody, arrested on suspicion of trying to travel from Mississippi to Syria to join the ranks of the Islamic State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

2 Comments
Posted August 14, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A recent substantial donation from the Church of the Epiphany in Doha, Qatar, has enabled Fr Faiz Jerjes, our priest in Baghdad, to serve the physical as well as the spiritual needs of the many internally displaced Iraqis who have fled Da’esh (ISIS)) in the Mosul and Nineveh Plain area and are now at and around St George’s.

Read it all and make sure to catch the pictures.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

0 Comments
Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So why would the smarter, more far-seeing leaders of the IRG see the deal as a good one? Certainly there are some attractive features from an Iranian perspective. There is the good news about the progressive dismantling of limits on Iran’s nuclear program. here are the cumbersome and weak inspection procedures that allow Iranian negotiators plenty of wiggle room for incremental cheats. There is the delicious reality that the drive to negotiate the deal has weakened the core alliances that are the heart of America’s strategic position in the Middle East. And there’s more: the prospect of an end to the conventional weapons embargo, the windfall gains from unfreezing assets and the boost to Iran’s economy that will come with the end of the sanctions.

But the real reason the deal is a gift to Iran isn’t in the language of the deal itself; it’s the path the deal opens up for Iran in the region. At a time of unprecedented crisis among Iran’s Sunni Arab rivals, the nuclear deal offers Iran a historic opportunity to aim for the hegemony of the Persian Gulf and to achieve the kind of world power that Shi’a religious enthusiasts and Persian nationalists believe is their due. God Himself, Iranian hardliners can tell the Supreme Leader, has opened this door for Iran; it is his duty and his destiny to walk through it.

So what’s Iran’s path? Simple, unfortunately. If Iran ratifies the deal, confines its cheating initially to the margins and then opportunistically pursues an agenda of regional expansion it can move towards the glittering prize that has dazzled Iranian nationalists since the time of the Shah: effective control over the oil resources of the Persian Gulf.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEnergy, Natural ResourcesForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted August 10, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A year after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled communities overtaken by Islamic State militants, their lives are on hold in exile: They won't go back to Iraq, saying it's not safe for Christians, but as refugees they're barred from working in temporary asylum countries such as Jordan. Expectations of quick resettlement to the West have been dashed.

"We've lost hope in everything," said Hinda Ablahat, a 67-year-old widow who lives with dozens of fellow refugees in plywood cubicles set up in a church compound in downtown Amman, the capital of Jordan. "We've been sitting here for a year and nothing's happened."

About 7,000 Christians from northern Iraq have found refuge in Jordan, including about 2,000 living in church-sponsored shelters.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 10, 2015 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the oil futures market is correct, Saudi Arabia will start running into trouble within two years. It will be in existential crisis by the end of the decade.
The contract price of US crude oil for delivery in December 2020 is currently $62.05, implying a drastic change in the economic landscape for the Middle East and the petro-rentier states.
The Saudis took a huge gamble last November when they stopped supporting prices and opted instead to flood the market and drive out rivals, boosting their own output to 10.6m barrels a day (b/d) into the teeth of the downturn.
Bank of America says OPEC is now "effectively dissolved". The cartel might as well shut down its offices in Vienna to save money.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSaudi Arabia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 8, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My argument thus far is that the policymakers in the West and especially in the United States and Britain do not just tolerate dictatorial regimes in the Middle East, but at a minimum, refuse to oppose them and often will actively support them because of a basic sense of insecurity about Muslims exercising self-autonomy and determination. There is a visceral but historically rooted fear of the bogeyman of a united Islam and of Muslims demanding to be treated as equals and not as colonial subjects. Muslims are still the faceless, indistinct mass of dark-skinned natives who cannot be trusted unless they speak, act, and even covet what their imperial masters teach them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 8, 2015 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to writing about your own experiences, you personally interviewed U.S., U.K., and Iraqi officials as well as clergy and religious leaders of all faiths. Can you describe some of the insight people of faith had on ISIS?

One of the terrible tragedies in Iraq is the fate of Christians, who were a central part of Iraq. I think there are more Iraqi Christians now in the state of Michigan than there are in Iraq. There were 1.2 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003; today there are 400,000, and most want to leave. I interviewed Reverend Canon Andrew White (vicar of the sole Anglican church in Iraq); he lost a quarter of his flock who were persecuted or forced to pay a tax or be killed. I asked myself, why has the Christian population gone down? It’s ISIS. The terrible violence, you wouldn’t believe it—what they did to people’s children, the churches they blew up and the number of people they have killed. I cite a report in the book about ISIS cooking a two-year-old Syrian girl and serving it to her family.

Can you describe what life is like in Iraq?....

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 7, 2015 at 5:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the White House and Congress prepare for a final showdown over the controversial Iran nuclear deal, three American prisoners and one missing American in Iran are awaiting their own fate.

One of the prisoners is Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American Christian pastor who has been detained in Iran since 2012. He has become the international face of the brutal persecution of Christians by the Islamic Republic.

Abedini was arrested by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps while visiting relatives and building an orphanage in the city of Rasht. Initially placed under house arrest, he was transferred to Iran’s notorious Evin Prison and later to Rajai Shahr Prison.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted August 7, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are facing growing persecution around the world, fuelled mainly by Islamic extremism and repressive governments, leading the pope to warn of “a form of genocide” and for campaigners to speak of “religio-ethnic cleansing”.

The scale of attacks on Christians in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America has alarmed organisations that monitor religious persecution, with most reporting a significant deterioration in recent years.

On his recent trip to Latin America, Pope Francis said he was dismayed “to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus”. He went on: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2015 at 12:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A veteran leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was so alarmed by the rising calls for violence from the group’s youth that he risked arrest to urge the movement to stay peaceful.

Already hunted by the police for his role in a banned organization when he released his online manifesto in May, the leader, Mahmoud Ghuzlan, conceded that shunning violence in the face of the government crackdown on the Brotherhood was “like grasping a burning coal.” But, he said, history taught that “peacefulness is stronger than weapons, and violence is the reason for defeat and demise.”

It was a losing argument, or so it now appears. The police in Cairo soon found and arrested him. A chorus of Islamists mocked him on social media as naïve, unrealistic and hypocritical.

And his manifesto for “peacefulness” was quickly drowned out by official statements that have come closer to endorsing violence than anything the organization has said or done in more than four decades — an ominous turn for both Egypt and the West.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 5, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

This region is characterised in much of the western media as a hotbed of religious persecution and violence, although the UAE stands out for the opposite reason. Christians and people of other faiths can worship here without fear of intimidation. So, what makes this country different?

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastUAE (United Arab Emirates)

0 Comments
Posted July 29, 2015 at 10:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Criticism: Thousands of Iranian centrifuges will keep spinning.

The deal doesn't dismantle or close Iran's two uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. It does require Iran to reduce its centrifuge inventory by two-thirds and eliminate 98% of its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran will be allowed to keep about 6,100 centrifuges for the next 10 years and continue some enrichment work.

White House response: Iran's inventory of centrifuges will be cut drastically from nearly 20,000, which is enough to create fuel for as many as 10 bombs. It will be left with only its oldest and least efficient models. No enrichment will be allowed at Fordow, and other activities will be restricted to producing uranium enriched to a level of 3.67%, far below the nearly 90% usually required to make a bomb.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 15, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iran and six world powers sealed a historic accord to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions, capping two years of tough diplomacy with the biggest breakthrough in relations in decades.

Diplomats reached the agreement in Vienna in their 18th day of talks, officials involved in the negotiations said. A final meeting was scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. local time.

The deal, if approved by the U.S. Congress, promises to end a 12-year standoff that has crippled Iran’s economy and drawn threats of military action from the U.S. and Israel. Full implementation would take months and be contingent on the pace at which Iran meets its obligations. It would enable the oil-rich nation to ramp up energy exports, access international funding and open its doors to global investors.

“This is probably going to go down in history as one of the biggest diplomatic successes of the century,” Ellie Geranmayeh, a policy fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations, said by phone from London.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran

5 Comments
Posted July 14, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“God Gave Them Over Into a Depraved Mind”
It is sad to hear that The US Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the United States. The excuse for this is promoting human rights and achieving equality. I think that this ruling is wrong and will have serious and destructive consequences on the American society and other societies, which will follow the steps of the United States. There is no doubt that this decision contradicts God’s purpose and plan for the creation in a clear way. We know that God created human on his image as male and female to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28) He also created man and woman to complement each other physically and psychologically.

God’s plan is the best for human being, however the ruling of same sex marriage which contradicts God’s plan, will lead to human misery and disintegration of the family hence the damage and collapse of the whole society.
-------
We urge all American and Western churches to adhere to the teachings of the scripture and God’s plan for relations; they should resist societal pressures to make same sex marriage a norm. The Church has to remain as the light that conquers the darkness and the evils of this world. Churches in the West should shape their society with their spiritual values and should not permit the opposite where society shapes the values of the Church. “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29)

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

3 Comments
Posted July 10, 2015 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Four children were killed when Islamic State blew up an historic church in Mosul, Iraq's second city.

The blast destroyed the Mother of Aid church, according to the Kurdish news site Rudaw.

Saeed Mamuzini, of the Mosul branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said the children happened to be near the church, which was more than 1,000 years old and was in central Mosul.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a tent city under a highway overpass in Baghdad, refugees from Iraq’s Sunni province of Anbar were unanimous about whom to blame for their misery.

“I hold Americans responsible for destroying Anbar,” said former policeman Wassem Khaled, whose home was taken over by Islamic State, or ISIS, after the Iraqi army fled from Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi last month.

“We all know that America is providing ISIS with weapons and food, and that it is because of American backing that they have become so strong,” added Abbas Hashem, a 50-year-old who also escaped from Ramadi and now lives in the makeshift Baghdad camp that is only occasionally supplied with water.

Such conspiracy theories about America’s support for Islamic State are outlandish, no doubt. But they are so widespread that they now represent a political reality with real-world consequences—making it harder for the U.S. and allies to cobble together Iraqi forces that could regain the country’s Sunni heartland from Islamic State’s murderous rule one day.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Islamic State seized Iraq's largest northern city of Mosul almost a year ago, tribal leader Hekmat Suleiman was sure the extremist militants wouldn't expand further into his hometown.

"We bet Islamic State won't have what it takes to last," Suleiman said in October during a visit to the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil, smoke rising from his shisha water pipe. "We've reached the beginning of the end of extremism."

He was wrong. His hometown of Ramadi fell last month, three days before Islamic State captured Palmyra, a 2,000-year-old UNESCO world heritage city on the Syrian side of its territory.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIranIraqJordanLebanonSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 14, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Iraqi city of Mosul fell to the Islamic State on June 10, 2014. When the militants laid out an ultimatum -- convert, pay a tax or be killed -- thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fled to neighboring cities, like the northern city of Erbil.

Even though it’s been more than a year, Erbil’s Chaldean Catholic leader, Bishop Bashar Warda, still vividly remembers what it was like to watch the streams of refugees enter his city.

“It was [a] really sad occasion,” Warda said in an interview with Vatican Radio. “The memories that we have is the queue of thousands of people arriving, tired, crying and leaving behind everything, memories and properties.”

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 12, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When jihadi forces over-ran Iraq’s strategic city of Ramadi last month, officials and analysts rushed to explain how militants could claim a major win nine months after the world’s most powerful military set out to destroy them. But for residents, the only surprise was how such a predictable attack caught everyone off guard.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (known as Isis) used the same playbook it employed when it shocked the world with its capture of Iraq’s second city Mosul last summer: it set up sleeper cells and assassinated security officials months before it blitzed across Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

“We knew they were coming,” says resident Abu Abbas. “Everybody in Ramadi knew where they were, and we warned security forces for months, but it was useless. Eventually they spread messages to civilians saying ‘Isis is coming to save you from the apostates’, and then the blasts came.” He fled Ramadi as at least five trucks driven into the city by suicide bombers exploded, and amid reports of the army retreating.

“Isis hasn’t changed at all,” Abu Abbas says, almost in disbelief. “They don’t need to.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) said he remained “deeply concerned” that the additional forces weren’t close enough to the front lines and couldn’t serve as spotters to strengthen the airstrike mission. “That is the kind of assistance the Iraqis need, but the president has refused to provide,” Mr. McCain said.

Members of Mr. Obama’s party were also unsettled. Rep. Adam Schiff, (D., Calif.) said that while he supports Mr. Obama’s move, he wasn’t hopeful about the political changes the Iraqis must make themselves in a country starkly divided along sectarian lines.

“In the absence of these reforms, there is little that we can do to convince Sunnis to cast out ISIL,” Mr. Schiff said, using an alternate term for Islamic State. Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), agreed, saying the U.S. can’t go it alone. “America possesses the greatest fighting force the world has ever known, but we can’t put the Middle East back together by ourselves.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Middle East crisis that peaked one year ago Wednesday when the Islamic State captured Mosul may result in the breakup of Iraq and an indefinite continuation of a war in Syria that’s already out of control, analysts say.

Yet still worse things could happen.

“The conditions are very much like 1914,” says Michael Stephens of the Royal United Service Institute in London. “All it will take is one little spark, and Iran and Saudi Arabia will go at each other, believing they are fighting a defensive war.”

Hiwa Osman, an Iraqi Kurdish commentator, was even more blunt: “The whole region is braced for the big war, the war that has not yet happened, the Shiite-Sunni war.”

Read it all.

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

2 Comments
Posted June 10, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hisham: "Daily life has changed in an indescribable way. Those who were in the military and day labourers no longer have any income because there are no jobs anymore. The rich have been relying on their savings, those with a salary are just about getting by, but the poor have been left to the mercy of God.

"I have lost my job and have been forced to abandon my studies. Like everyone else, I am denied my basic rights. According to IS, everything is 'haram' (forbidden) and so I end up just sitting at home all the time. Even simple leisure activities like picnics are banned now in Mosul, under the pretext that they are a waste of time and money.

"IS takes a quarter of everyone's salary as a contribution towards paying for rebuilding the city. People can't say no because they would face harsh punishments. The group controls everything. Rent is paid to it and the hospitals are for its members' exclusive use.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 9, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Days after seizing the Syrian desert city of Palmyra, Islamic State militants blew up the notorious Tadmur Prison there, long used by the Syrian government to detain and torture political prisoners.

The demolition was part of the extremist group’s strategy to position itself as the champion of Sunni Muslims who feel besieged by the Shiite-backed governments in Syria and Iraq.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has managed to advance in the face of American-led airstrikes by employing a mix of persuasion and violence. That has allowed it to present itself as the sole guardian of Sunni interests in a vast territory cutting across Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 5, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the United States gave more than 3,000 armored Humvees to Iraqi security forces over the past 12 years, U.S. officials could not have imagined that the humble utility vehicles would become a decisive weapon in the hands of Washington’s enemies from the Islamic State.

But that is exactly what has happened. Humvees were some of the 30 vehicles converted into mobile suicide bombs that the Islamic State used to blast through Iraqi security forces’ defenses during its three-day conquest of Ramadi in mid-May. The militants also used an armored bulldozer and at least one U.S.-made M113 armored personnel carrier. There’s a simple reason the militants are using Humvees and other armored vehicles as rolling bombs: Their protective armored plating prevents defenders from killing the trucks’ drivers before the militants can detonate their loads, while the vehicles’ capacity to carry enormous amounts of weight means the Islamic State can sometimes pack in a ton of explosives. Some of the bombs used in Ramadi contained the explosive force of the deadly Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 that devastated a federal office building and killed 168 people.

The attack on Ramadi was the latest assault in which the Islamic State used armored Humvees as shock weapons to breach security force perimeters, scare beleaguered Iraqi troops into fleeing their positions, and become the centerpieces of flashy videos the group released through social media to its supporters around the globe.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 4, 2015 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)