FaithWorld

Iran says will not hesitate to defend Iraq’s Shi’ite holy sites

(Shi'ite Muslims attend a religious ritual at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

(Shi’ite Muslims attend a religious ritual at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, January 8, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

Iran will not hesitate to defend Shi’ite Muslim holy sites in neighbouring Iraq against “killers and terrorists”, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, following rapid advances by Sunni militants there over the past week.

Speaking on live television, Rouhani said many people had signed up to go to Iraq to defend the sites and “put the terrorists in their place”. He added that veteran fighters from Iraq’s Sunni, Shi’ite and Kurdish communities were also “ready for sacrifice” against these militant forces.

“Regarding the holy Shia shines in Karbala, Najaf, Khadhimiya and Samarra, we announce to the killers and terrorists that the big Iranian nation will not hesitate to protect holy shrines,” he said, speaking to a crowd on a visit to western Lorestan province.

“These terrorist groups, and those that fund them, both in the region and in the international arena, are nothing, and hopefully they will be put in their own place.”

French imams, prison chaplains seek ways to combat Islamist radicalisation

(A family lights candles at the Jewish Museum, site of a shooting in central Brussels May 25, 2014. Belgian police were hunting on Sunday for an assailant who shot dead three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, and French authorities tightened security at Jewish sites following another attack that prompted fears of a rise in anti-Semitism. REUTERS/Eric Vidal )

(A family lights candles at the Jewish Museum, site of a shooting in central Brussels May 25, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Vidal )

Islamic prayer leaders and prison chaplains in France, jolted by a French Islamist’s killing spree at the Brussels Jewish Museum, have begun discussing ways to better fight the radicalisation of young Muslims here.

About 30 imams from southeastern France, meeting in Avignon on Wednesday, said action was urgently needed because about 300 young French Muslims are reported to have left their region to fight alongside jihadist forces in Syria.

Israelis sway in hopeful prayer for missing teens

(Israelis take part in a mass prayer at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City, for the return of three teenagers who were abducted June 15, 2014. Israel said on Sunday that Hamas militants had abducted three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank, warning of "serious consequences" as it pressed on with a search and detained dozens of Palestinians. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

(Israelis take part in a mass prayer at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem’s Old City, for the return of three teenagers who were abducted June 15, 2014. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Seated at a table beneath a blazing sun, Orthodox Jewish young men swayed in prayer on Wednesday for the safe return of three teens whose disappearance Israel blames on Hamas Islamists.

“The idea here is to unite and pray that with God’s help we will get good news,” Liad Oryan, 34, tells a reporter, after shutting a book of psalms as he completed his course of worship.

U.S. nuns sue disruptive strip club near their Chicago-area convent

(A general view of the city of Chicago, March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young)

(A general view of the city of Chicago, March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young)

A group of Chicago-area nuns is suing a strip club behind their convent, complaining of noise, glaring neon lights, fist fights and heaps of litter that include empty whiskey bottles and used condoms.

The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo said Illinois mandates a 1,000-foot (300-meter) buffer zone between adult entertainment venues and places of worship or schools. The suit, filed on Friday in Cook County, also names the village of Stone Park, where the strip club is located.

The $3 million Club Allure opened last September across the back fence of the convent, which has three chapels, a home for retired sisters, and a house for young women thinking about becoming nuns, the nuns’ lawyers said.

U.S. agency urges Myanmar to scrap proposed restrictive religion laws

(isitors walk around the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar February 21, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom )

(Visitors walk around the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar February 21, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom )

Draft laws in Myanmar aimed at protecting the country’s majority Buddhist identity by regulating religious conversions and marriages between people of different faiths have “no place in the 21st century” and should be withdrawn, a U.S. government agency has said.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said the laws risked stoking violence against Muslims and other religious minorities, including Christians. If the laws are passed, it said, Washington “should factor these negative developments into its evolving relationship with Burma (Myanmar).”

Cuba’s Catholic Church may restrict rare forum for open debate

(Police stand in the shade near Havana's 18th century Cathedral June 14, 2010. Vatican Foreign Minister Dominque Mamberti will visit Cuba this week at a time when the Catholic church is flexing its political muscle and calling for change on the communist-led island. His five-day visit, which starts on Tuesday, follows the release of one of Cuba's estimated 190 political prisoners and the transfer of 12 others to jails closer to their homes in moves requested by church leaders. A mass will be celebrated at the cathedral during Mamberti's visit. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

(Police stand in the shade near Havana’s 18th century Cathedral June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan)

The resignation of two editors of an outspoken Roman Catholic Church magazine in Cuba threatens to stall what had been a thriving political dialogue inside Cuba and a rare forum to challenge the ruling Communist Party publicly.

The former editors of Espacio Laical magazine, Roberto Veiga and Lenier Gonzalez, used the Internet to promote debate on political issues such as the need for a multiparty system, internet expansion, reintegration with the diaspora and the strengths and weaknesses of reforms under President Raul Castro.

Iranian veil site gets half million ‘likes’ and state TV rebuke

(Observing Islamic Veil is the Law on Our Country - Poster in Restaurant of Abbasian Historical House - Kashan - Central Iran)

(“Observing Islamic veil is the law on Our country “- a poster in a restaurant in Kashan, central Iran, 26 June 2012/Adam Jones)

When Masih Alinejad posted a picture of herself online jumping in the air in a sunny, tree-lined London street, the journalist hoped to cheer up readers weary of her stories of grim human rights cases in her native Iran.

She did not expect what followed: a Facebook phenomenon that gained half a million followers in a month and scathing, personal criticism by Iranian state television, accusing her of drug addiction, perversion and insanity.

Competing halal standards leave global food industry with indigestion

(Cadbury chocolate products are is seen inside a shop in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur June 11, 2014. The storm of bad publicity that hit confectioner Cadbury in Malaysia after its chocolates tested positive for traces of pork highlights the costly, religious minefield food companies must navigate as they rush to tap the surging $1 trillion global halal market. Picture taken June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said )

(Cadbury chocolate products are is seen inside a shop in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said )

The storm of bad publicity that hit confectioner Cadbury in Malaysia after its chocolates tested positive for traces of pork highlights the costly, religious minefield food companies must navigate as they rush to tap the surging $1 trillion global halal market.

One of the biggest headaches for corporations like Mondelez International, Nestle and Unilever PLC is the lack of a unified standard for what exactly is halal, or permissible under Islamic law, despite years of efforts by Muslim authorities to come up with a global benchmark.

Vatican acts to protect Michelangelo frescoes as Sistine Chapel visitors swell

(Pope Benedict XVI leads a special meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican November 21, 2009. Pope Benedict meets up to 500 artists from around the world, as part of efforts to turn the page on the Vatican's sometimes conflicted relationship with the contemporary art world. Picture taken with fish-eye lens. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

(Pope Benedict XVI leads a special meeting with artists in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican November 21, 2009. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

Dust, sweat and carbon dioxide brought into the Sistine Chapel by a swelling number of tourists risk damaging priceless Michelangelo frescoes, the Vatican said on Wednesday, hoping a new air conditioning and lighting system will protect them.

Some six million people a year visit the chapel, home to Michelangelo’s famous ceiling frescoes – one of the wonders of Western civilization that are over 500 years old.

Thousands raid South Korea church in futile search for ferry family boss

(A mourner cries as she pays tribute, at a temporary memorial altar for victims of the capsized passenger ship Sewol, in Ansan April 26, 2014. The Sewol ferry sank on April 16 on a routine trip south from the port of Incheon to the traditional holiday island of Jeju. More than 300 people, most of them students and teachers from one high school on a field trip, have died or are missing and presumed dead. REUTERS/Issei Kato)

(A mourner cries as she pays tribute, at a temporary memorial altar for victims of the capsized passenger ship Sewol, in Ansan April 26, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato)

Thousands of South Korean police and prosecutors raided a sprawling religious compound for a second time on Wednesday in their search for an elderly businessman linked to a ferry disaster that reduced the nation to tears.

Helicopters flew overhead as officers moved from building to building at the site, believed to cover the size of a dozen soccer pitches, with church members in pursuit, some singing hymns, others chanting “Let’s fight with prosecutors and police!”