FaithWorld

Muslim scholars present religious rebuttal to Islamic State

(A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made what would be his first public appearance at a mosque in the centre of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014, in this still image taken from video. There had previously been reports on social media that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would make his first public appearance since his Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) changed its name to the Islamic State and declared him caliph. The Iraqi government denied that the video, which carried Friday's date, was credible. It was also not possible to immediately confirm the authenticity of the recording or the date when it was made. REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV )

(Islamic State “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at a mosque in the centre of Iraq’s second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014, REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV)

Over 120 Islamic scholars from around the world, many of them leading Muslim voices in their own countries, have issued an open letter denouncing Islamic State militants and refuting their religious arguments.

An array of Muslim leaders and groups have publicly rejected the Islamist movement since it imposed its brutal rule over large areas of Syria and Iraq this summer. Five Muslim nations have also joined a U.S.-led military campaign against it.

The 22-page letter, written in Arabic and heavy with quotes from the Koran and other Islamic sources, is just as clear as those groups in condemning the torture, murder and destruction Islamic State militants have committed in areas they control.

“You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder,” the letter said. “This is a great wrong and an offense to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world.”

from Photographers' Blog:

Fleeing Islamic State

Suruc, Turkey
By Murad Sezer

Tens of thousands of Kurdish Syrians have fled Islamic State and flocked to the Turkish border. Most of them are from the Syrian border town Kobani and its surrounding villages, where the group’s fighters have launched attacks, but other refugees have travelled from further away.

A Kurdish Syrian refugee waits for transport during a sand storm on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc

They arrive at the border, tired, miserable and desperate for water, but many have to wait days before they are allowed to cross into Turkey.

There is an increasing accommodation problem in the small Turkish border towns, which have very little space for so many refugees, but if they can be accommodated, border officials will allow them to enter in groups. Some lucky refugees have relatives in Turkey with whom they can stay.

from The Great Debate:

Air strikes won’t disrupt Islamic State’s real safe haven: social media

jihad tweet President Barack Obama has pledged to destroy Islamic State and ensure fighters “find no safe haven.” But even as U.S.-led airstrikes are underway in Iraq and Syria, it is clear that bombs alone will not do the job. For Islamic State hides out in the most perfect haven: the World Wide Web.

In June 2014, the militant group that Obama refers to as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, grabbed the world’s attention after it took over much of northern Iraq in roughly four days. Islamic State accomplished this by building a massive, sophisticated virtual network of fighters in addition to those on the ground. Indeed, its expansion online has been as swift as its territorial gains. It is this virtual power grab that will be most difficult to combat.

The Internet has largely sustained the jihadist movement since 9/11. With this powerful tool, jihadists coordinate actions, share information, recruit new members and propagate their ideology.

Until the rise of Islamic State, extremist activity and exchanges online usually took place inside restricted, password-protected jihadist forums. But Islamic State brought online jihadism out of the shadows and into the mainstream, using social media -- especially Twitter – to issue rapid updates on its successes to a theoretically unlimited audience.

Vatican arrests defrocked former archbishop on paedophilia charges

(Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic, offers mass in Santo Domingo August 3, 2009. The Vatican has recalled Wesolowski, who has been in the Dominican Republic for nearly six years, and relieved him of his duties pending an investigation, after local media accused him of paedophilia, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on September 4, 2013. Picture taken August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Luis Gomez/Diario Libre)

(Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, saying mass in Santo Domingo August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Luis Gomez/Diario Libre)

The Vatican on Tuesday arrested a former archbishop accused of paying for sex with children while he was a papal ambassador in the Dominican Republic, the first-ever arrest inside the city state on charges of paedophilia.

Jozef Wesolowski, a Pole who was defrocked by a Vatican tribunal in June, has been placed under house awaiting a criminal trial, the Vatican said in a statement.

New York politicians criticize anti-Islam ads due to run on buses

(A bus runs though Union Square Park after Hurricane Sandy hit New York October 30, 2012. Millions of people were left reeling in the aftermath of the whipping winds and heavy rains of the massive storm Sandy on Tuesday as New York City and many parts of the eastern United States struggled with epic flooding and extensive power outages. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid )

(A bus runs though Union Square Park after Hurricane Sandy hit New York October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid )

New York City politicians and religious leaders on Tuesday criticized a series of anti-Islam advertisements due to appear on 100 city buses, with many critics calling for the campaign to be blocked.

Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the City Council, and Comptroller Scott Stringer joined a rally outside City Hall organized by the Arab American Association of New York and other groups to criticize the display ads sponsored by a group run by Pamela Geller, who writes a blog criticizing Islam.

Chicago church gives congregants $500 each to spend for good cause

(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 )

Churchgoers grumble that they always get hit with pleas for money. But congregants at a Chicago church this month got a surprise – they each received a check for $500, with instructions to go out and do something good with it.

“I was just in disbelief,” said Valency Hastings, 42, when she got her check from the non-denominational LaSalle Street Church on the city’s near north side. “The enormity of the responsibility of it has begun to sink in.”

The money was the result of a real estate windfall – back in the 1970s, LaSalle Street and three other local churches had helped support a multiethnic, multi-income housing development.

Myanmar’s Rohingya stuck in refugee limbo in India

(A woman, who says she belongs to the Rohingya community from Myanmar, washes clothes as children play in a camp in New Delhi September 13, 2014. India, despite hosting some 30,000 registered refugees, has no legal recognition of asylum seekers, making it difficult for them to use essential services like schools and hospitals, human rights groups say - and the Rohingya community is among the most vulnerable. According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), there are around 9,000 Rohingya registered in Delhi. Picture taken September 13. To match FOUNDATION-STATELESS/INDIA-ROHINGYA REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee)

(A woman, who says she belongs to the Rohingya community from Myanmar, washes clothes as children play in a camp in New Delhi September 13, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee)

When Kohinoor, a stateless Rohingya Muslim, fled her home in Myanmar after a wave of attacks by majority Buddhists, she hoped for a chance to rebuild her life in a new country.

She knew she would have to trek for days with little food and water and risk her life being smuggled across borders by traffickers. But she and her family did not imagine their present life of destitution and discrimination in India, the country they had chosen as their refuge.

Myanmar gives citizenship to 209 displaced Muslims, including Rohingya

(Rohingya women are pictured at the Thae Chaung camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state, April 22, 2014. Restrictions on international aid have exacerbated a growing health crisis among stateless Muslim Rohingya in west Myanmar. In February, Myanmar's government expelled the main aid group providing health to more than half a million Rohingya, Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland (MSF-H), after the organisation said it had treated people believed to have been victims of violence in southern Maungdaw township in January. The United Nations says at least 40 Rohingya were killed there by Buddhist Rakhine villagers. The government denies any killings occurred. An attack in March on NGO and U.N. offices by a Rakhine mob led to the withdrawal of other groups providing healthcare and other essential aid to another 140,000 Rohingya living in camps. REUTERS/Minzayar)

(Rohingya women are pictured at the Thae Chaung camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state, April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Minzayar)

Myanmar gave citizenship on Monday to 209 Muslims displaced by sectarian violence, after the first phase of a project aimed at determining the status of about a million Rohingya whose claims to nationality have been rejected in the past.

The Rohingya Muslim minority live under apartheid-like conditions in Rakhine State in the west, needing permission to move from their villages or from camps where almost 140,000 remain after being displaced in deadly clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

More Americans see religion’s influence waning, want bigger role in politics: Pew poll

(A woman walks past an empty, boarded-up church in Youngstown, Ohio November 21, 2009. Youngstown has 4,500 vacant structures in a city of about 75,000 people, and about 22,000 vacant parcels of land. REUTERS/Brian Snyder )

(A woman walks past an empty, boarded-up church in Youngstown, Ohio November 21, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder )

Nearly three-quarters of the public think religion is losing influence in American life and a growing number want religion to play more of a role in politics, according to a poll released on Monday.

The share of Americans who say churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues has gone up 6 percentage points since the 2010 midterm elections, to 49 percent from 43 percent, the Pew Research Center survey found.

India’s Modi will observe strict Hindu fast during maiden trip to U.S.

(Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gestures after seeking blessings from his mother Heeraben at her residence in Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat May 16, 2014. Modi will be the next prime minister of India, with counting trends showing the pro-business Hindu nationalist and his party headed for the most resounding election victory the country has seen in 30 years. REUTERS/Amit Dave)

(Narendra Modi gestures after seeking blessings from his mother Heeraben at her residence in Gandhinagar in the western Indian state of Gujarat during his election campaign, May 16, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will observe a strict religious fast during his maiden trip to the United States, aides said on Monday, in a test both of the 64-year-old leader’s stamina and of protocol in the Obama White House.

Throughout a grueling schedule that features the United Nations General Assembly, a rally of Indian Americans at New York’s Madison Square Garden and talks with Obama in Washington, the devout Hindu will abstain from food.