FaithWorld

Britain bans Saudi cleric who supports jihad in Syria

(Iraqi security forces display vehicles, weapons and ammunition confiscated from the Sunni militant group 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) in Samarra, June 6, 2014. Iraqi helicopters bombed the city of Samarra after insurgents overran parts of it early on Thursday, bringing them within striking distance of a Shi'ite shrine the destruction of which in a 2006 attack unleashed a bitter sectarian war. The offensive is part of an escalating conflict between Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim-led government and Sunni Islamist militants who have been regaining momentum in the past year, particularly in the west of the country bordering Syria. REUTERS/Stringer )

(Iraqi security forces display vehicles, weapons and ammunition confiscated from the Sunni militant group ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) in Samarra, June 6, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer )

Britain has banned Mohammed al-Arifi, a conservative Sunni Muslim cleric from Saudi Arabia with over 9 million Twitter followers, as it tries to deter young Muslims from going to join Islamic militants in Syria.

Arifi, who has called for jihad against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, has visited Britain several times. British newspapers said this week he had preached in a Cardiff mosque attended by three young Muslims who have traveled to Syria to fight.

“We can confirm Mohammed al-Arifi has been excluded from the United Kingdom,” said a Home Office spokesperson in an emailed statement.

“The Government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they represent a threat to our society. Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who seek to subvert our shared values,” the statement said, without elaborating.

Three European courts grapple with end-of-life dilemmas

(Marie-Genevieve Lambert (L), the half sister, and Francois Lambert (R), the nephew of Vincent Lambert, who is tetraplegic and currently on artificial life support, leaves the court after the verdict in a judicial case at the Council of State (Conseil d'Etat) in Paris, June 24, 2014. France's top administrative court ruled on Tuesday that doctors should be allowed to take a tetraplegic man off life support after nearly six years in a coma, siding with his wife in a case that has revived a debate about euthanasia. The Council of State ruled that doctors had the right to end the medical support that has kept Vincent Lambert, brain-damaged and in vegetative state, artificially alive since a motorbike accident on the way to work plunged him into a coma in September 2008. The verdict follows a heart-rending battle between Lambert's wife Rachel, seeking to let the former psychiatric nurse die, and his parents, who took legal action last year to halt plans by his doctors to do that. REUTERS/John Schults)

(Marie-Genevieve Lambert (L), the half sister, and Francois Lambert (R), the nephew of Vincent Lambert, who is tetraplegic and currently on artificial life support, leaves the court after the verdict in a judicial case at the Council of State (Conseil d’Etat) in Paris, June 24, 2014. REUTERS/John Schults)

Three European courts stepped carefully around delicate end-of-life issues on Wednesday, with one rejecting assisted suicide, another delaying it and a third acquitting a doctor from charges he murdered dying patients.

The varied rulings by Britain’s Supreme Court, the European Court of Human Rights and a regional French court reflected the difficulty of drawing a clear legal line between aiding terminal patients to die in peace and committing murder.

Sudan summons U.S., South Sudan envoys in row over Christian convert

(St. Matthew's Cathedral, Khartoum)

(St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Khartoum, 5 October 2013/Shmyg)

Sudan has summoned the U.S. and South Sudanese ambassadors over the new detention of a Christian convert who was trying to fly to the United States with her family after being released from death row, the state’s top security service said on Wednesday.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim was freed on Monday after an appeals court canceled the death sentence imposed for having converted from Islam to marry her Christian husband, after the government came under what it called unprecedented international pressure.

But she was detained again on Tuesday for trying to use documents issued by the embassy of South Sudan to fly out of Khartoum with her American-South Sudanese husband and their two children – deepening the diplomatic wrangle over her case.

India’s Hindu holy men to advise on Modi’s Ganges river cleanup

(An Indian Hindu takes a dip in the polluted waters of river Ganges in the northern Indian city of Allahabad June 5, 2005. The devastating impact of mankind on the planet is dramatically illustrated in pictures in the "One Planet, Many People" atlas published on Saturday showing explosive urban sprawl, major deforestation and the sucking dry of inland seas over less than three decades. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash )

(An Indian Hindu takes a dip in the polluted waters of river Ganges in the northern Indian city of Allahabad June 5, 2005. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash )

India’s new government will seek the advice of Hindu holy men on how best to carry out an ambitious plan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clean up the Ganges, a river that is sacred to the majority Hindu population.

Hindus bathe in the Ganges in an act of ritual purification, yet the 2,500 km (1,600 mile) river stretching from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal is full of industrial effluent and untreated sewage, its banks strewn with garbage.

Wear white to protest Singapore pink gay rally, religious groups say

(Participants dressed in pink enjoy a picnic before taking part in the forming of a giant pink dot at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 29, 2013. About 21,000 people took part in the Pink Dot Sg event to promote an acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore, the organizer said. REUTERS/Edgar Su )

(Participants dressed in pink enjoy a picnic before taking part in the forming of a giant pink dot at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park in Singapore June 29, 2013. REUTERS/Edgar Su )

Some Christians have joined Muslims in Singapore urging followers to wear white this weekend in protest at the sixth annual “Pink Dot” gay rights rally, which attracted a record 21,000 people last year.

Singapore is seeing growing anger over issues ranging from immigration and rising living costs to gay rights – all in a country where dissent is actively discouraged and political gatherings require a permit regardless of how many people are involved.

UPDATE – Sudan re-arrests Christian woman one day after release from death row

(St. Matthew's Cathedral, Khartoum)

(St. Matthew’s Cathedral, Khartoum, 5 October 2013/Shmyg)

UPDATE ON TUESDAY -

Sudanese authorities re-arrested a Sudanese woman on Tuesday hours after she was freed from death row, and detained her and her family as they tried to board a plane in Khartoum, a security source and her lawyer said.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, sentenced to death last month for converting to Christianity from Islam, was released on Monday after what the government said was unprecedented international pressure.

The security official said he did know the reason for the re-arrest. One of Ibrahim’s lawyers said she was being held at a security building outside the airport with her husband and two children.

Influential Muslim cleric calls for Sunni-Shi’ite dialogue in Iraq

(Egyptian Cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, gives a speech during Friday prayers, before a protest against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, at Al Azhar mosque in old Cairo December 28, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

(Egyptian Cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, gives a speech during Friday prayers at Al Azhar mosque in old Cairo December 28, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

An influential Sunni Muslim cleric said on Monday that only dialogue could solve Iraq’s crisis, sounding a conciliatory note on the threat posed by Sunni Islamist insurgents that could further polarise the Middle East along sectarian lines.

Fighters from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have seized a swathe of northern Iraqi towns, as well as border posts with Syria, in a thrust towards Baghdad, stunning the country’s Shi’ite Muslim-led central government.

Vatican cricketers to meet British royal household, Church of England teams

(A player from a team of priests and seminarians returns a ball during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae's Catholic College in Rome October 22, 2013. The Vatican officially declared its intention to defeat the Church of England on Tuesday - not in a theological re-match nearly 500 years after they split, but on the cricket pitch. The challenge was launched at the baptism of the St. Peter's Cricket Club. Vatican officials said the league will be composed of teams of priests and seminarians from Catholic colleges and seminaries in Rome. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

(A player from a team of priests and seminarians returns a ball during a training session at the Maria Mater Ecclesiae’s Catholic College in Rome October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi )

Cricket teams representing Queen Elizabeth and Pope Francis will face each other at Windsor Castle, the Vatican said on Monday, stamping its unprecedented venture into a sport rooted in Anglicanism with the royal seal of approval.

The September 17 fixture will pit the Vatican XI against a side of Britain’s royal household made up of soldiers, guards and staff. Two days later the Holy See’s representatives will play a Church of England team in Canterbury.

Mormon church excommunicates prominent U.S. activist Kate Kelly

(Kate Kelly of Ordain Women weeps during a vigil as members of the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consider her excommunication from the church in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 22, 2014. Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, which advocates for gender equality in the Mormon church, was scheduled to be tried for apostasy by a panel of male lay church leaders in Virginia on Sunday. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart )

(Kate Kelly of Ordain Women weeps during a vigil as members of the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consider her excommunication from the church in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 22, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart )

Prominent Mormon activist Kate Kelly was excommunicated by her church on Monday for violating its “laws and order” after advocating for women’s ordination, a view that leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said amounted to apostasy.

Kelly in 2013 founded the group Ordain Women, which has pushed for gender equality and has appealed to the faith’s highest leaders to seek direction from God on the issue of women joining the priesthood.

U.S. Presbyterian Church to shed investments in Israel in occupation protest

(Protesters gather outside the Caterpillar annual shareholder meeting in Chicago, June 11, 2008. The protesters demonstrated against how Israel acquires Caterpillar heavy machinery from the U.S. REUTERS/Frank Polich)

(Protesters gather outside the Caterpillar annual shareholder meeting in Chicago, June 11, 2008. The protesters demonstrated against how Israel acquires Caterpillar heavy machinery from the U.S. REUTERS/Frank Polich)

A deeply-divided gathering of U.S. Presbyterian Church elders and ministers has narrowly voted to divest the religious group’s holdings in three American companies it says have ties to Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian Territories.

As a result of the vote the church will divest holdings worth roughly $21 million in Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions.