FaithWorld

Top Russian Orthodox cleric Hilarion says refused entry to Ukraine

(Pope Francis (L) poses with Metropolitan Hilarion, the foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, during a private meeting at the Vatican March 20, 2013. Pope Francis urged members of all religions and those belonging to no church on Wednesday to unite to defend justice, peace and the environment and not allow the value of a person to be reduced to "what he produces and what he consumes". REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

(Metropolitan Hilarion (R), the foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, with Pope Francis (L) at the Vatican March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

A top cleric from the Russian Orthodox Church said he was refused entry to Ukraine this week amid an escalating stand-off between Moscow and Kiev over separatist unrest in Ukraine’s east.

The church’s Department of External Relations said its head, Metropolitan Hilarion, was turned back on Friday at the airport in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk where he came to award a prize to a local cleric.

“I was given no explanation,” Hilarion told Russian state news channel Rossiya 24. “Apparently my name, and possibly the names of other Church hierarchs, are on a list of people who are banned from entering Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian border guard declined to comment.

Ukraine said last month it was introducing stricter border controls on Russian men “of active age” trying to enter the country as Kiev struggles to quell the unrest.

Plans for ‘black mass’ at Harvard anger Boston Catholics

(A seal hangs over a building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi )

(A seal hangs over a building at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi )

A Harvard University student group plans to hold a re-enactment of a satanic ritual on the school’s historic campus, drawing criticism from local Roman Catholic officials, who expressed “deep sadness and strong opposition” to the plan.

The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club said in a statement posted online that it plans to host “a historical re-enactment of a black mass ceremony that has a narrator providing historical context and background.”

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric says Nigeria’s Boko Haram smears Islam

(Women holding signs take part in a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls from the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos May 5, 2014. The Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility on Monday for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls during a raid in the village of Chibok in northeast Nigeria last month, the French news agency AFP reported, citing a video it had obtained. Boko Haram on April 14 stormed an all-girl secondary school in Chibok, in Borno state, then packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, onto trucks and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye)

(Women holding signs take part in a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls from the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos May 5, 2014.REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye)

Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the top religious authority in the birthplace of Islam, has condemned Nigeria’s Boko Haram as a group “set up to smear the image of Islam” and condemned its kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls.

Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh said the radical movement, which says it wants to establish a “pure” Islamic state in Nigeria, was “misguided” and should be “shown their wrong path and be made to reject it.”

Saudi Liberals website founder sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes

(Saudi students attend a computer class at King Saud University in Riyadh October 30, 2002. The university is one of several major educational institutions turning out thousands of graduates every year in search of jobs. The government is stepping up efforts at "Saudization" in a country where a third of the workforce is foreign and unemployment among Saudis is running anywhere between eight to 12 percent. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

(Saudi students attend a computer class at King Saud University in
Riyadh October 30, 2002. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji)

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced the editor of an Internet forum he founded to discuss the role of religion in the conservative Islamic kingdom to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes, Saudi media reported on Wednesday.

Raif Badawi, who started the “Free Saudi Liberals” website, was originally sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in July last year, but an appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial.

Republican California candidate for governor blasted over Sharia comments

(Committee Chairman U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) holds a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on alleged targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status from by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

(Committee Chairman U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) holds a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. Representative Darrell Issa sharply criticized a California gubernatorial candidate from the Republican Tea Party faction who erroneously suggested a rival of Indian descent was supportive of Islamic Sharia law.

The squabble on Thursday among fellow Republicans in the most populous U.S. state comes in a race where Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has shown a commanding lead in opinion polls.

‘Election’ massacres of Muslims darken India immigration debate

(Villagers from Muslim communities wail upon seeing the body of a woman at a relief camp in Narayanguri village in Baksa district in the northeastern Indian state of Assam May 4, 2014. India deployed troops in Assam on Saturday after more than 30 Muslims were gunned down in three days of what police said were attacks by Bodo tribal militants, who resent the presence of settlers they claim are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial front-runner in India's mammoth general election, on Sunday reiterated his strong stance against illegal immigrants, just days after a wave of sectarian killings in the north-eastern state of Assam. REUTERS/Utpal Baruah)

(Villagers from Muslim communities wail upon seeing the body of a woman at a relief camp in Narayanguri village in Baksa district in the northeastern Indian state of Assam May 4, 2014.REUTERS/Utpal Baruah)

From his hiding place in a cowshed, Sefaqul Islam watched as masked gunmen moved through his village, shot women and children dead with automatic rifles and tossed wounded survivors into the blazing remains of their homes.

The cattle herder’s sister and seven-year-old nephew were among 41 Muslims killed by suspected tribal militants last week in India’s remote state of Assam, the latest atrocity against people accused of being immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Pakistan’s Hindus and other minorities face surge of violence

(A member of the Hindu community holds a damaged statue inside a temple that was attacked in Larkana, located in Pakistan's Sindh province, in this March 16, 2014 file photo. All of Pakistan's minorities - Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis and even Shi'ite Muslims - feel that the state fails to protect them, and even tolerates violence against them. Many complain the problem has become worse since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is seen as more conservative and indulgent of Islamists than his predecessor, came to power last year. REUTERS/Faheem Soormro)

(A member of the Hindu community holds a damaged statue inside a temple that was attacked in Larkana, located in Pakistan’s Sindh province, in this March 16, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Faheem Soormro)

The mob arrived at around midnight, brandishing clubs. They smashed statues, looted gold artefacts and then set the Hindu temple in Pakistan ablaze.

An accusation of blasphemy sparked the attack in the town of Larkana, human rights activists said, part of a spike in violence against Hindus in predominately Muslim Pakistan.

Anti-Christian slogans alarm Catholic Church before Pope Francis’s Holy Land visit

(A church worker looks at a church wall sprayed with graffiti in Jerusalem February 20, 2012. Vandals daubed "Death to Christianity" on the Jerusalem church on Monday in the second such attack in the holy city this month, police said. The words "Price Tag", a slogan used by ultranationalist Jewish settlers, were also scrawled on the walls of the Baptist Narkis Street Congregation in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Jewish west Jerusalem. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

(A church worker looks at a church wall sprayed with graffiti in Jerusalem February 20, 2012. Vandals daubed “Death to Christianity” on the Jerusalem church. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

The Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem, preparing for a visit by Pope Francis later this month, has expressed alarm over threats to Christians scrawled by suspected Jewish extremists on church property in the Holy Land.

In an incident on Monday, “Death to Arabs and Christians and all those who hate Israel” was daubed in Hebrew on an outer column of the Office of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame Center in East Jerusalem.

Gunmen kill Pakistan lawyer defending professor in blasphemy case

(The mother of Rashid Rehman, a lawyer who was killed by unidentified gunmen a day earlier, stands over his body in Multan May 8, 2014. Gunmen posing as clients shot dead Rehman, the prominent human rights lawyer defending a professor accused of blasphemy, officials said Thursday, underscoring the danger facing those trying to put an end to religious intolerance in majority-Muslim Pakistan. Wednesday's killing of Rehman in the southern city Multan was the first time a lawyer has been killed for taking on a blasphemy case, police said. REUTERS/Stringer)

(The mother of Rashid Rehman, a lawyer who was killed by unidentified gunmen a day earlier, stands over his body in Multan May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

Gunmen posing as clients shot dead a prominent human rights lawyer defending a professor accused of blasphemy, officials said Thursday, underscoring the danger facing those trying to put an end to religious intolerance in majority-Muslim Pakistan.

Wednesday’s killing of Rashid Rehman in the southern city Multan of was the first time a lawyer has been killed for taking on a blasphemy case, police said.

Lebanon Maronite Church head’s planned Jerusalem visit stirs controversy

(Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai attends a memorial ceremony for victims killed in a militant attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church in 2010, at the Church in Baghdad October 31, 2011. Fifty-two hostages and police were killed during an attack on the church on October 31, 2010. REUTERS/Saad Shalash )

(Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Baghdad October 31, 2011.  REUTERS/Saad Shalash )

A planned visit by the head of the Maronite church to Jerusalem has stirred an outcry in Lebanon, which is still technically at war with its southern neighbour Israel.

Lebanon’s Patriarch Beshara al-Rai said last week he would join Pope Francis during a May 24-26 tour of the Holy Land, a visit that would make him the first Maronite patriarch to do so since its creation in 1948.