FaithWorld

North Caucasus Islamist group prays for earthquake at Sochi Olympics

(The Olympic flame is seen after the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 7, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

A militant Islamist group has urged followers to pray for an earthquake in Sochi during the Winter Olympics to avenge Muslims who died there fighting “Russian infidels”.

The appeal was made by a local branch of the Caucasus Emirate, a group which is waging an insurgency for an Islamist state in Russia’s North Caucasus and called on supporters last year to attack the Games.

“All who are able to read this letter can supplicate that the Almighty destroys the land in Sochi with an earthquake, and makes the infidels ‘drunk of water’ before Hell and drown in a flood!,” said the appeal posted online on Monday.

“The Games of the atheists and pagans! The pigs are so arrogant that they decided to host the Games on the ground where our ancestors shed their blood to defend Islam and Muslims. Even the blind can see it!”

Indian publisher withdraws book on Hindus after court case

(A Hindu devotee looks on, his face painted with blue powder, before a pilgrimage to the sacred Batu Caves Temple during Thaipusam festival outside Kuala Lumpur January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said)

Penguin Books India has agreed to withdraw from sale all copies of a book that takes an unorthodox view of Hinduism, and will pulp them as part of a settlement after a case was filed against the publisher, the petitioners’ lawyer said.

“The Hindus: An Alternative History” by Wendy Doniger, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, was published in India in 2011. Its depiction of the religion drew criticism from both conservative Hindus and some scholars.

from The Great Debate:

In the Netherlands, bankers turn to God — by law

 

Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, once famously said he believed banks were doing “God’s work.” Now, the Netherlands is going one step further: starting later this year, all 90,000 Dutch bankers will have to swear an oath that they’ll do their “utmost to maintain and promote confidence in the financial-services industry. So help me God.”

It’s part of a major attempt by regulators and banks to clean up after the financial crash of 2008, and put behind them scandals that continue to blacken the financial service industry’s reputation. Just last October, the big Dutch cooperative bank Rabobank paid a $1 billion fine to settle charges in the Libor rate-fixing scandal.

Board members of the banks have already been required to swear the oath since last year, but now it’s being expanded to cover everyone who works in the sector. It consists of eight statements, including promises not to abuse knowledge and “to know my responsibility towards society.” There’s also a new banking code, a special declaration of moral and ethical conduct that all board members are required to sign, a “treat your customer fairly” initiative, and a “suitability” test for executive and non-executive directors of supervisory boards.

Mysterious Greek god Apollo held in Gaza Strip detention

(A bronze statue of the Greek God Apollo is pictured in Gaza in this September 19, 2013 picture provided by Gaza’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. Reuters/Gaza’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities/Handout)

Lost for centuries, a rare bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo has mysteriously resurfaced in the Gaza Strip, only to be seized by police and vanish almost immediately from view.

Word of the remarkable find has caught the imagination of the world of archaeology, but the police cannot say when the life-sized bronze might re-emerge or where it might be put on display.

Hungarian Jews threaten boycott of official Holocaust events they call one-sided

(Hungarian and German soldiers round up Jews in Budapest for deportation, 20./22. Oktober 1944/German Federal Archive)

Hungary’s main Jewish group voted on Sunday to boycott official Holocaust commemorations this year unless they more clearly show the role of local citizens in the Nazi deportation and killing of Hungarian Jews.

The Hungarian Jewish Congregations’ Association (Mazsihisz) decided to stay away from events marking the 70th anniversary of June 1944, when 437,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps within weeks, and set conditions for a change of position.

from Photographers' Blog:

Prayers during wartime

Midyat, Turkey

By Umit Bektas

Sunday mass has just begun in Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church. It is seven o’clock in the morning and the streets of Midyat, where the majority of the population is Muslim Kurdish, are empty.

But despite the calm outside, the historical church is overcrowded with a community of three hundred people, mostly children. Candles are lit, hymns are sung and prayers are made.

The reason that the mass is so crowded today is not because it is the festival of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. It is because for over two years now, Syriac Christian families escaping the bloody war in Syria just across the border have been joining the congregation, adding to the Turkish Christian citizens of Midyat.

Israel’s Sephardim abuzz at Spain’s expanded offer of citizenship

(Tourists visit Toledo’s XII century synagogue, Santa Maria La Blanca, in central Spain April 13, 2006. REUTERS/Victor Fraile)

The expansion of Spain’s offer of citizenship to descendants of Jews it expelled en masse in 1492 has sparked interest in Israel, where the so-called Sephardim make up around a quarter of the population.

While no one predicts an Israeli exodus to economically bruised Spain, a passport granting access to the wider European Union appeals to many in the war-wary Jewish state – especially its disproportionately large Sephardic underclass.

A year after resignation, ex-Pope Benedict has no regrets – Gänswein

(Pope Francis (L) embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he arrives at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence March 23, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano )

A year after his shock resignation, Pope Emeritus Benedict has no regrets and believes history will vindicate his tumultuous and much-criticised papacy, the man closest to him told Reuters in a rare interview.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who now works for the former pope as well as being the head of Pope Francis’s household, shed new light on how Benedict spends his days, his health, his feelings about his momentous decision and the relationship between the two popes.

Reuters Q&A with Archbishop Georg Gänswein in English and Italian

(Pope Benedict XVI and his personal secretary Georg Gänswein at the Vatican February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandra Tarantino/Pool )

Following is the Q&A text of our interview with Archbishop Georg Gänswein. The original Italian text is attached below the English. For the accompanying news story, click here.

Reuters:  This is a very particular anniversary for the Church but even for Benedict. How is he living these days and how is his health?

At prayer breakfast, Obama talks faith and foreign policy

(U.S. President Barack Obama bows his head in prayer during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Barack Obama pressed for greater religious freedom in China and offered prayers for U.S. prisoners in North Korea and Iran on Thursday during remarks at an annual prayer breakfast that highlighted his Christian faith.

Obama, who attended the breakfast at a Washington hotel with his wife, Michelle, used the high profile event to renew calls for the release of two men held by U.S. adversaries in Asia and the Middle East.