FaithWorld

UK Muslim leaders call for release of Briton held by Islamic State

(Iraqi Shiite militia fighters hold the Islamic State flag as they celebrate after breaking the siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants, September 1, 2014. Picture taken on September 1, 2014. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY))

(Iraqi Shiite militia fighters hold up the Islamic State flag, September 1, 2014. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)

Muslim groups across Britain called on Thursday for the release of British hostage Alan Henning, a volunteer aid worker captured in Syria whose life was threatened in a recent video released by Islamic State militants.

Henning was part of an aid convoy taking medical supplies to a hospital in northwest Syria in December last year when it was stopped by gunmen and he was taken away.

In a video released on Saturday which showed the beheading of fellow British aid worker David Haines, an Islamic State militant threatened to kill Henning if Prime Minister David Cameron continued to support the fight against them.

The man in the video is himself believed to be a British national and has been dubbed “Jihadi John” by UK media.

Jailed murderer in Belgium granted request to die under euthanasia law

(Cemetery in Bruges, Belgium

(Cemetery in Bruges, Belgium, 10 July 2013/Wernervc)

A Belgian murderer and rapist serving a life sentence is to be allowed to have doctors end his life following a ground-breaking ruling under laws in Belgium permitting people to request euthanasia.

Frank Van Den Bleeken had argued that he had no prospect of release since he could not overcome his violent sexual impulses and so he wanted to exercise his right to medically assisted suicide in order to end years of mental anguish.

“Over recent years, he has been seen by several doctors and psychologists and their conclusion is that he is suffering, and suffering unbearably,” his lawyer, Jos Vander Velpen, told state broadcaster VRT.

Egypt targets last bastion of Muslim Brotherhood dissent, Al Azhar University

(A student of Al-Azhar University walks along a wall covered with graffiti near a bus damaged by a bomb blast around the Al-Azhar University campus in Cairo's Nasr City district December 26, 2013. The bomb blast hit the bus on Thursday, injuring four people, a spokesman for Egypt's interior ministry told Reuters, two days after a car bomb killed 16 in the Nile Delta. That graffiti says, "Mursi is in our hearts and my President. Armed Forces General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi = Syrian President Bashar al-Assad." REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh )

(A student of Al-Azhar University walks along a wall covered with graffiti at the Al-Azhar University campus in Cairo’s Nasr City district December 26, 2013. The graffiti says, “Mursi is in our hearts and my President. Armed Forces General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi = Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh )

Egypt has moved to curb one of the last bastions of Muslim Brotherhood dissent with sweeping new rules to curtail violent protest at Al Azhar University, among the world’s most venerable centres of Islamic learning.

Egypt has banned the Muslim Brotherhood and jailed thousands of its supporters since July 2013, when then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president and a senior member of the group.

Gunmen in Pakistan kill Islamic studies professor who faced blasphemy accusations

(Karachi skyline from Clifden beach

(Karachi skyline from Clifton beach, 13 February 2013/Umer07)

Unidentified gunmen on Thursday shot dead a professor of Islamic studies in Pakistan who had faced accusations of blasphemy and threats from colleagues over his moderate views, police said.

Blasphemy is a crime carrying the death sentence in the mainly Sunni Muslim nation of 180 million people.

The south Asian country is experiencing a spike in the number of cases of blasphemy, which activists attribute to its growing use as a tactic to settle grudges or extort money.

In Albania, Pope Francis to celebrate religious revival and tolerance

(St Paul's Cathedral in Tirana

(St Paul’s Cathedral in Tirana, 26 July 2009/Gertjan R.)

Father Gjergj Meta’s grandfather managed to save the gold chalice and communion plate from his village church when it was razed like many others in Albania during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha half a century ago.

Hoxha, a hardline Stalinist, had banned religion in 1967, driving Albania’s Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim faithful underground in his drive to create what he boasted was the world’s first atheist state.

This Sunday, Pope Francis makes a day trip to Albania – his first to a European country – to pay tribute to followers of all religions who, like Meta’s grandfather, suffered some of the worst persecution in the 20th century, and to hold up the impoverished nation as a model of inter-religious harmony.

Mideast Christians urge Arabs lead the fight against Islamic State

(Displaced Iraq Christians who fled from Islamic State militants in Mosul, pray at a school acting as a refugee camp in Erbil September 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

(Displaced Iraq Christians who fled from Islamic State militants in Mosul, pray at a school acting as a refugee camp in Erbil September 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

Middle East Christian leaders called on Muslim governments and religious authorities on Tuesday to condemn Islamic State for its assault on minority religious communities and to take the lead in efforts to destroy its power in Iraq and Syria.

They told a news conference that the reaction so far from Arab countries had been “timid” to the militant group’s killings and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Christians in mnassacres against all religious and ethnic minorities.

Saudi Arabia’s top clerics speak out against Islamist militancy

(An aerial view of the Grand Mosque on the second day of Eid al-Adha in the holy city of Mecca October 16, 2013. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha to mark the end of the Haj by slaughtering sheep, goats, cows and camels to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

(An aerial view of the Grand Mosque in Mecca October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Saudi Arabia’s top clerical council, the only body in the country authorised to issue fatwas or Islamic legal opinions, declared on Wednesday that “terrorism is a heinous crime” under Sharia, and perpetrators should be made an example of.

The statement, days after Saudi Arabia and other Arab states pledged in Jeddah to combat militant ideology, was the most comprehensive attack the kingdom’s conservative clergy have made so far on Islamist radicalism and the Islamic State group.

CORRECTED: Factory gives model fighter jet to head of Russian Orthodox Church

(Aerobatic teams Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) flying Sukhoi Su-27 and Strizhi flying MiG-29 set off flares above the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Kremlin during a rehearsal for the May 9 victory parade in Moscow May 5, 2008. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin )

(Aerobatic teams Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) flying Sukhoi Su-27 and Strizhi flying MiG-29 set off flares above the Cathedral of the Annunciation in the Kremlin in Moscow May 5, 2008. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin )

(Corrects to make clear gift was a model jet)

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, was presented with an unlikely gift for a religious leader this week as he toured a factory in Russia’s far-east – a model of a single-seater fighter jet SU-35.

Kirill was presented with the model after giving workers at the civilian and military aircraft plant icons blessed by himself, the church said in a statement on its official website on Tuesday.

German Muslims invite all faiths to day of prayer against Islamic State

(A woman watches during her visit at the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab-Moschee mosque at Islamic Maschari-Center at Berlin's Kreuzberg district October 3, 2011. Mosques around Germany participate traditionally on the German unity day to open their mosques to the public. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch )

(A Muslim woman visit s the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab-Moschee mosque at Islamic Maschari-Center in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district October 3, 2011. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch )

More than 2,000 German mosques have invited Germans of all religions to join their Friday prayers to present a united front against the Islamic State to try to dissuade young Muslims from traveling to fight with radical Islamists in Syria and Iraq.

Germany’s four main Muslim groups announced their plan on Tuesday in response to concerns that German Muslims are joining IS and returning home with radical ideas and combat experience, posing a domestic security threat.

Chief Rabbi Korsia says French society has turned indifferent to anti-Semitism

(French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia meets with the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris, Sept.. 16, 2014//Tom Heneghan)

(French Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia meets with the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris, Sept.. 16, 2014//Tom Heneghan)

France’s government has reacted strongly to a rising tide of anti-Semitic acts this year but French society seems indifferent to the threat they present, the country’s newly elected chief rabbi said on Tuesday.

Haim Korsia, who was elected in June, recalled the huge crowds that demonstrated in Paris in 1990 after a Jewish cemetery was desecrated in the southeastern town of Carpentras.