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from FaithWorld:

Erdogan urges Turks in Germany to integrate, not assimilate

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(Confetti is released as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan leaves the stage following a speech to some 15,000 Turks living in Germany at an arena in Duesseldorf February 27, 2011/Wolfgang Rattay )

Turkish immigrants in Germany should integrate into society but not assimilate to the point where they abandon their native culture, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on a visit to Germany on Sunday. Speaking to some 10,000 members of Germany's large Turkish community in the wake of last year's heated debate over the place of foreigners in the country, Erdogan took up the theme of integration amid what he sees as persistent European xenophobia.

"You must integrate, but I am against assimilation ... no one may ignore the rights of minorities," he said, adding that individuals should have the right to practice their own faith.

On Saturday, Erdogan threw an even sharper barb at German immigration policy, telling the Rheinische Post newspaper that forced integration requiring immigrants to suppress their culture and language was an affront to international law.

from Good, Bad, and Ugly:

The wrong tomb?

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gbu pope tomb 490

You have the wrong information in a photo caption.

The Photo is Benedict XVI praying in front of tomb of John Paul I. John Paul II is buried in ground, and has a slanting tombstone.

Jason

Indeed. We corrected the photo caption: GBU Editor

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from Good, Bad, and Ugly:

An oxymoron?

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Mubarak likely to quit, Brotherhood fears coup

EGYPT/CAIRO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak looked likely to step down on Thursday after more than two weeks of protests against his 30-year rule and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood said it looked like there had been a military coup.

"Islamist Muslim Brotherhood" (in re Egypt and elsewhere) seems rather redundant, as the existence of a non-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood would seem to be something of an oxymoron.

from FaithWorld:

Saudis want more science in religion-heavy education

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(Secondary students sit for an exam in Riyadh June 15, 2008/Fahad Shadeed)

Saudi teenager Abdulrahman Saeed lives in one of the richest countries in the world, but his prospects are poor, he blames his education, and it's not a situation that looks like changing soon. "There is not enough in our curriculum," says Saeed, 16, who goes to an all-male state school in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. "It is just theoretical teaching, and there is no practice or guidance to prepare us for the job market."

Saeed wants to study physics but worries that his state high school is failing him. He says the curriculum is outdated, and teachers simply repeat what is written in text books without adding anything of practical value or discussions. Even if the teachers did do more than the basics, Saeed's class, at 32 students, is too big for him to get adequate attention. While children in Europe and Asia often start learning a language at five or six, Saudi students start learning English at 12. Much time is spent studying religion and completing exercises heavy with moral instruction.

from FaithWorld:

Bless me iPhone for I have sinned — an app for Catholic confession

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(Religion apps for the iPhone, photographed in New York, July 21, 2010/Tom Heneghan)

An iPhone app aimed at helping Catholics through confession and encouraging lapsed followers back to the faith has been sanctioned by the Catholic Church in the United States.

from FaithWorld:

Russian Orthodox Church clergy allowed to enter politics

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(President Dmitry Medvedev (C, bottom row), Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill (2nd R, bottom row) and Russian Orthodox Church hierarchs at the Kremlin in Moscow February 3, 2011/Alexander Nemenov)

Russia's Orthodox Church has allowed its clergy to enter politics in certain cases, in the latest sign of its growing presence in Russia's secular society. Endorsed by Kremlin leaders as Russia's main faith, the Church has grown increasingly powerful since communism fell two decades ago. Its role has drawn criticism from human rights groups who say it undermines Russia's constitution.

from FaithWorld:

Italy blocks EU religious persecution text ignoring Christians

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(Christians protest against what they say is the failure of authorities to protect them, in Cairo January 3, 2011/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

The European Union failed to agree on a statement against the persecution of religious minorities on Monday after Italy objected to the omission of any reference to the protection of Christians. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said a draft proposed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers expressing concern about increasing numbers of attacks on places of worship and pilgrims showed an "excess of secularism".

from FaithWorld:

Moscow prison opens first prayer room for Muslims

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butyrkaA prison where Soviet-era writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn was jailed and a third of inmates are Muslims from the North Caucasus and Central Asia, has become the first in Moscow to open a Muslim prayer room.

Nineteenth century Butyrka prison in central Moscow, which also held Adolf Hitler's nephew Heinrich among other high-profile prisoners, held its first prayers on Friday, in a hall near a Christian church that has operated since 1989.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, blasphemy, and a tale of two women

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blasphemyprotestFor all the bad news coming out of Pakistan, you can't help but admire the courage of two very different women who did what their political leaders failed to do -- stood up to the religious right after the killing of Punjab governor Salman Taseer over his call for changes to the country's blasphemy laws.

One is Sherry Rehman, a politician from the ruling Pakistan People's Party, who first proposed amendments to the laws. The other is actress Veena Malik, who challenged the clerical establishment for criticising her for appearing on Indian reality show Big Boss.  I'm slightly uncomfortable about grouping the two together -- the fact that both are Pakistani women does not make them any more similar than say, for example, two Pakistani men living in Rawalpindi or  London. Yet at the same time, the idea that Pakistan can produce such different and outspoken women says a lot about the diversity and energy of a country which can be too easily written off as a failing state or  bastion of the Islamist religious right.

from Oddly Enough Blog:

Are you high yet? Snort some more…

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Welcome back to our regular feature, Human Remains in the News.

It seems burglars tried snorting the cremated remains of a man and two dogs, taken from a Florida home,  in the mistaken belief that the ashes were drugs.

MEXICO/I swear I am not making this up. The ashes were stolen a month ago, along with some other stuff, and police learned about the snorting this week when they arrested five teens in connection with another burglary attempt.

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