Tag Archives: Church

ISIS burns 1,800-year-old church in Mosul

Militants from the radical jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have set fire to a 1,800-year-old church in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, a photo released Saturday shows.

The burning of the church is the latest in a series of destruction of Christian property in Mosul, which was taken by the Islamist rebels last month, along with other swathes of Iraqi territory.

Read more » Al Arabiya News
http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/07/20/ISIS-burns-1-800-year-old-church-in-Mosul.html

Why St George is a Palestinian hero

By Yolande Knell, BBC News

As England celebrates the day of its patron saint, many Palestinians are gearing up for their own forthcoming celebrations of the figure they also regard as a hero.

A familiar flag flaps in the wind above a Palestinian church in the West Bank village of al-Khadr.

The red cross on a white background has been associated with Saint George since the time of the Crusades.

It is the national flag of England and is also used as an emblem by other countries and cities that have adopted him as their own patron saint.

However, Palestinians have particular reason to display the symbol and revere the early Christian martyr. For them he is a local hero who opposed the persecution of his fellow Christians in the Holy Land.

“We believe he was a great martyr for his faith who defended the Christian faith and values,” says Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna.

“By making sacrifices for his faith he was able to defeat evil. We take St George as a patron for people living here – and as he was born in historic Palestine, we pray to him to remember us and this holy land.”

St George was a Roman soldier during the Third Century AD, when the Emperor Diocletian was in power. It is said that he once lived in al-Khadr near Bethlehem, on land owned by his mother’s family.

While the saint’s father is usually traced back to Cappadocia, an area in modern Turkey, it is believed his mother was Palestinian from Lydda – now Lod, in Israel.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27048219

 

Pakistan: Hundreds of Muslims and Christians form human chain around St Patrick’s church in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with those affected by the Peshawar Church bombing.

Religions unite to protest Peshawar church bombing

Hundreds show interfaith solidarity by forming human chain in Karachi. Muslims, Hindus and Christians form a human chain around St Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi, Sindh.

Hundreds of Christians and Muslims joined hands in Karachi on Sunday to form a human chain in a rare show of unity in the wake of the September 22 terror attack on a church in Peshawar.

At least 85 people were killed and more than 140 wounded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at All Saints Church in Peshawar immediately after Sunday Mass in what has been described as one of the most deadly attacks on the beleaguered religious minority in Pakistan.

Read more » http://www.ucanews.com/news/religions-unite-to-protest-peshawar-church-bombing/69358

Christian Church opens doors to Muslims

By Divya Talwar, BBC

St John’s Episcopal Church has opened its doors to Muslims for Friday prayers

On a bitterly cold and snowing afternoon in Aberdeen, the doors of St John’s Episcopal Church are open to hundreds of Muslim worshippers, arriving for daily prayers.

The familiar sounds of Christian hymns have been replaced with Islamic prayer in the chapel this Friday lunchtime and the church priest with the imam from the neighbouring mosque.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-21953899

Cries for a lost home(land)

By Xari Jalil

LAHORE, March 9: “Burn us too!” wails a woman, her hands repeatedly hitting her head. “Did they leave us alive to see all this?” Her tears stream down her face and her nose is red and swollen. In one of the doorways, a mother and son stand hugging each other and weeping as if someone has just died. “They took everything from us…” sobs the boy. “Those robbers took everything we had worked hard for.”

Not many of the homes in Joseph Colony are left intact. They are now skeletons, empty shells, housing nothing but ashes.

The Christian families, who had been shifted one night ago for ‘safety’ as the police told them, only came the next day to find out that all of their belongings and all their assets – in fact everything that they owned had been ransacked, robbed, and the rest mercilessly burnt to the ground. All because one man from among them was accused under Section 295-C: an accusation which has not been proved.

While the police remain guarded, only carefully revealing any kind of information to the media, and the Muslim community prefer to remain mute, the Christians are ablaze with fury.

“There are about 250 families in total,” says Aslam Masih. “Each family has faced a loss of about Rs0.8 to Rs0.9 million, and this figure is the lowest I am talking about.”

Mariam Bibi stands in her doorway peering inside. She cannot step inside because the ashes are still white and burning, and acrid, black smoke fumes out angrily.

“We saved every penny to collect for my daughter’s dowry,” she sobs. “In one night they have left us homeless and out on the streets. Where will we sleep now?”

Continue reading Cries for a lost home(land)

Exploiting the Prophet

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

“PISS CHRIST,” a famous photograph partly financed by taxpayers, depicted a crucifix immersed in what the artist said was his own urine. But conservative Christians did not riot on the Washington Mall.

“The Book of Mormon,” a huge hit on Broadway, mocks the church’s beliefs as hocus-pocus. But Mormons haven’t burned down any theaters.

So why do parts of the Islamic world erupt in violence over insults to the Prophet Muhammad?

Let me try to address that indelicate question, and a related one: Should we curb the freedom to insult religions that are twitchy?

First, a few caveats. For starters, television images can magnify (and empower) crazies. In Libya, the few jihadis who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens were vastly outnumbered by the throngs of Libyan mourners who apologized afterward.

Remember also that it’s not just Muslims who periodically go berserk, but everybody — particularly in societies with large numbers of poorly educated young men. Upheavals are often more about demography than about religion: the best predictor of civil conflict is the share of a population that is aged 15 to 24. In the 19th century, when the United States brimmed with poorly educated young men, Protestants rioted against Catholics.

For much of the postwar period, it was the secular nationalists in the Middle East who were seen as the extremists, while Islam was seen as a calming influence. That’s why Israel helped nurture Hamas in Gaza.

That said, for a self-described “religion of peace,” Islam does claim a lot of lives.

In conservative Muslim countries, sensitivities sometimes seem ludicrous. I once covered a Pakistani college teacher who was imprisoned and threatened with execution for speculating that the Prophet Muhammad’s parents weren’t Muslims. (They couldn’t have been, since Islam began with him.)

Continue reading Exploiting the Prophet

A decaying state kills its minorities

By Khaled Ahmed

The people who target religious minorities in Pakistan had been nurtured as the state’s proxy warriors; the state then surrendered to them its monopoly of violence

A 150-strong mob of pious Muslims in Islamabad committed vandalism, baying for the blood of a mentally challenged Christian child Ramsha because they thought she had burned the Quran. The police had her under arrest pretending it was for her own security. Earlier, a mad ‘blaspheming’ man in Bahawalpur was taken out of jail and burned to death. After the imposition of the Blasphemy Law the first major case was also against a 14 year old Christian boy in Gujranwala who had to be smuggled abroad to prevent him from being killed.

According to World Minority Rights Report 2011, Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country after some African states in respect of safety and rights of minorities. This includes non-Muslims, those the state has dubbed non-Muslim, and women. Ironically, this behaviour also includes persecution of non-Muslims through forced conversion to Islam, through forcible marriages of non-Muslim girls to Muslims, and apparently willing conversion of non-Muslims to Islam to secure themselves against persecution.

Hindus of Sindh have tried to migrate to India. (Nearly 568 FIRs for forced marriages were lodged last year across 40 districts of Pakistan, with the majority of such cases having been filed in Sindh.) Instead of sympathising with such fugitives, the liberal PPP government suspected them of being disloyal to Pakistan and stopped them – for some time – from visiting India. Hindus are the largest minority community in Sindh.

The minister who did that himself fears being killed by the elements who hunt Pakistan’s Hindu community. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter has identified an ongoing exodus of Hindu families from Quetta too due to fear of kidnappings for ransom, yet the Balochistan government does not seem to be doing much to address this problem.

Continue reading A decaying state kills its minorities

Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

KAZAN, Russia — A string of violent attacks by Islamic militants has shattered this city’s reputation as a citadel of religious tolerance and unnerved federal officials in Moscow, who have worked for decades to prevent the spread of radical Islam out of the southern borderlands and into places like this city 500 miles east of Moscow.

Officials have long sought to contain Islamic fervor in the Caucasus to the south while insisting that places like the republic of Tatarstan, where Kazan is the capital, were different, representing a moderate “Russian Islam,” said Aleksei Malashenko, the co-chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s religion, society and security program.

But that comfortable assumption began to crumble just before the start of Ramadan in late July, when a senior cleric in charge of education was shot outside his apartment building on Zarya Street. Roughly an hour later, the city’s chief mufti survived a bomb attack that demolished his Toyota Land Cruiser. A previously unheard-of group, the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, claimed responsibility.

Continue reading Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

Pakistan’s assassinated Catholic politician Clement Shahbaz Bhatti may be declared a saint, says Cardinal Keith O’Brien

Shahbaz Bhatti may become a saint, says cardinal

By Ed West

Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani politician murdered a year ago, might one day be declared a saint, according to Britain’s most senior cleric.

In a statement issued on the first anniversary of Mr Bhatti’s death Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, said he hoped that the Church would consider one day canonising Mr Bhatti, the Pakistani federal minister for minorities who was assassinated after numerous threats were made to his life.

Cardinal O’Brien said: “When that time comes I believe the Church should very seriously examine the question of whether Shahbaz Bhatti might be declared a saint.

“It would be wonderful to think that… Shahbaz Bhatti could become a patron for Justice and Peace in Pakistan or indeed Asia.”

He added his hope that El Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero might one day become one of the patron saints of Central and South America as well.

Cardinal O’Brien’s comments were made in a statement to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which is one of the organisers behind an event in central London honouring the Pakistani politician.

The peace rally and concert on March 10 will led by the British Pakistani Christian Association, and commemorates the anniversary of Mr Bhatti’s death. The organisers are calling for an end to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the way they are abused. The rally wil begin outside the Pakistani High Commission at 11am.

Cardinal O’Brien said: “From what we know of his life and work Shahbaz Bhatti appears to have been a true man of God, who led a life of heroic virtue. His final interview reveals that he foresaw that he might die for what he believed in and was not afraid to join his Lord on the cross.

“His commitment to Christ suggests that here is an individual whose life and faith is worthy of examination [to see if he might be declared a saint] and it may be that in the fullness of time Shahbaz Bhatti is raised to the dignity of the altars.”

Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, Chairman of the International Affairs Dept of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “I want to join with many others across the world in remembering and paying tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti. He was killed because he rejected hatred and violence and instead embraced the Gospel values of reconciliation and fidelity to truth. In his work as Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti had a vision for a more tolerant society, formed by his own deep faith. His heroic witness serves as an inspiration and a challenge to us all.”

Courtesy: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/03/02/shahbaz-bhatti-may-become-a-saint-says-cardinal/#.T1JMSzr8ytp.twitter

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Christian jihad against Christians in the 11th century – Christians perpetrating genocide on Christians

Cathars and Cathar Beliefs in the Languedoc

Afrikaans Kathaar, Catalan càtar, Czech Albigenstí, German Katharer, Eesti Katarid, Spanish Catarismo, Esperanto Katarismo, French Cathares, Italian Catari, Dutch Katharen, Norwegian Katarer, Polish Katarzy, Portuguese Catarismo, Slovenian Albigénstvo, Finnish Kataarit, Swedish Katarer.

The Cathars were a religious group who appeared in Europe in the eleventh century, their origins something of a mystery though there is reason to believe their ideas came from Persia by way of the Byzantine Empire, the Balkans and Northern Italy. Records from the Roman Catholic Church mention them under various names and in various places. Catholic theologians debated with themselves for centuries whether Cathars were Christian heretics or whether they were not Christians at all. The question is apparently still open. Roman Catholics still refer to Cathar belief as “the Great Heresy” though the official Catholic position is that Catharism is not Christian at all. ….

Read more » http://www.cathar.info/

Christian protest over church burning turns deadly in Egypt

– By Samer al-Atrush and Ines Bel Aiba, AFP

Twenty-three people, mostly Coptic Christians, died in clashes Sunday between Coptic Christians and Egyptian security forces, the health ministry said, sparking fears of renewed sectarian strife.

A total of 174 people were injured in violence during a Coptic Christian protest in central Cairo, which saw a curfew imposed on the centre of the capital, said official statements broadcast on public television.

A previous toll had put the number of dead at 16 protesters and three soldiers, and 156 injured. …

Read more → YahooNews

Canadians losing faith in religion

– Many link traditional institutions with religious conflict, survey finds

By Teresa Smith

It’s no secret fewer Canadians attend church today than 20 years ago, but what may be surprising is almost half of Canadians believe religion does more harm than good, according to the results of a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid.

Explanations from experts vary – from fear of extremists and anger toward individuals who abuse positions of power, to a national “forgetting” of Canadian history.

“In the past few years, there have been several high-profile international situations involving perceived religious conflicts, as well as the anniversary of 9/11, and I think when people see those, it causes them to fear religion and to see it as a source of conflict,” said Janet Epp Buckingham, associate professor at Trinity Western University in Ottawa.

Religion seems to be a key player in many of today’s top stories, from stand-alone events – such as the 2005 riots in the suburbs of Paris linked to the French government’s proposed burka ban, and rightwing Christian Anders Behring Breivik’s shooting rampage in Oslo, Norway – to more drawn-out sagas, such as child abuse in the Catholic Church, and the perception that Christians are constantly campaigning against gay marriage and abortion. ….

Read more:→ http://www.timescolonist.com/life/Canadians+losing+faith+religion/5420900/story.html#ixzz1YUqS2IDX

 

The true victims of religious extremism

– By Dr. Manzur Ejaz, DAWN.COM

He is a polygamist religious leader who married many women, including underage girls, and raped a minor. He banned parades, dances and magazines like the Sports Illustrated and Car and Driver and yet revelled in the company of multiple wives.

If this description brings to mind an Arab sheikh or a Taliban leader, you are way off the mark. The man is neither an Asian Muslim of Arab or Afghan descent nor is he from a primitive society. Rather, he is Warren Jeffs, 55, a Caucasian who was heading the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in America. The Christian sect, with a membership of 10,000, preaches that “polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.” But Mr Jeffs’ idea of reaching to the heaven was pretty botched up, with him marrying and raping underage girls. …

Read more → WICHAAR.COM → DAWN.COM

Fanatics kill 8 in attack on UN workers in Afghanistan; two beheaded as mob chants “Islam is religion of peace”

Seven killed in worst-ever attack on UN workers in Afghanistan

Seven United Nations workers have been executed in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, two of them by beheading, by demonstrators protesting the burning of a Koran at a church in Florida.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi and Farhad Peikar in Kabul

The victims of the worst-ever attack on UN personnel in Afghanistan included five guards from Nepal, and civilian staff from Norway, Sweden and Romania. Four local residents were also killed.

UN officials told The Daily Telegraph the final toll could rise as high as 20, and there were unconfirmed reports that the head of the United Nations Military Assistance Mission (Unama) in Mazar-e-Sharif had also been seriously injured …

Read more : The Telegraph.co.uk

Jesus was a socialist and also the world’s greatest revolutionary

What would Jesus do? – by Mehdi Hasan

Conservatives claim Christ as one of their own. But in word and deed, the son of God was much more left-wing than the religious right likes to believe.

Was Jesus Christ a lefty? Philosophers, politicians, theologians and lay members of the various Christian churches have long been divided on the subject. The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev once declared: “Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind.” The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, went further, describing Christ as “the greatest socialist in history”. But it’s not just Russian ex-communists and Bolivarian socialists who consider Jesus to be a fellow-traveller. Even the Daily Mail sketch-writer Quentin Letts once confessed: “Jesus preached fairness – you could almost call him a lefty.”

That conservatives have succeeded in claiming Christ as one of their own in recent years – especially in the US, where the Christian right is in the ascendancy – is a tragedy for the modern left. Throughout history, Jesus’s teachings have inspired radical social and political movements: Christian pacifism (think the Quakers, Martin Luther King or Bruce Kent in CND), Christian socialism (Keir Hardie or Tony Benn), liberation theology (in South America) and even “Christian communism“. In the words of the 19th-century French utopian philosopher Étienne Cabet, “Communism is Christianity . . . it is pure Christianity, ” …

Read more : Newstatesman

Murdered Teenage Christian housemaid Shazia Masih Cries for Justice in Pakistan

By Nazir S. Bhatti

Lahore: November 23, 2010. (PCP) Her father was crying, her Mother was crying and her Siblings were crying on her tortured dead body in Jinnah Hospital Lahore, it was January 2010. But soul of Shazia Masih was smiling as confident victim that Justice will be ensured, her rapist will be punished and her murderer will be hanged to death also because many human right activists, media camera men, line of reporters and doctors were witnessing 27 wounds on her dead body.

Again on walking to her final eternal journey lying in coffin in Cathedral Church Lahore, her soul was satisfied because her Christian brother Federal Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was there, Provincial Minister for Minorities Kamran Michael was present, members of various political and religious parties and a large number of people from the Christian community were in her funeral ….

Read more : All voices

Muslims and Islamophobia

Separating Church and Hate: Irrationality and Anti-Muslim Stereotyping

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding

By Cynthia Boaz

Let’s just be frank. The demonization of Islam as a religion and of its adherents as individuals has reached the level of hysteria within the United States. Although the fear of Muslims is usually cloaked in condescension or indignation, the source of this most recent version of bigotry is transparent and utterly predictable. There must be a nameless, faceless, sinister “other” upon whom we can hang our deepest anxieties and frustrations as a people. This kind of paranoia is not unique, but as its perpetrators on right-wing radio, FOX “News” and the far-right blogosphere can attest, it still works like a charm. …

Continue Reading — Cynthia Boaz