FaithWorld

Turkey’s top cleric calls new Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’ illegitimate

(Grand Mufti of Turkey Mehmet Gormez shakes hands with a onlooker after an inauguration ceremony in front of the Gazi Husrev Begova mosque in Sarajevo, November 15, 2012. Newly elected Husein Kavazovic is the 14th Grand Mufti of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina and will be on duty over the next seven years. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic )

(Mehmet Gormez, head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, shakes hands with a onlooker during a visit to the Gazi Husrev Begova mosque in Sarajevo, November 15, 2012. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic )

Islamic State, an armed group formerly allied to al Qaeda that has captured swathes of territory across Iraq, last month declared its leader, Ibrahim al-Baghdadi, “caliph” – the historical title last held by the Turkish Ottoman sultan who ruled much of the Muslim world.

“Such declarations have no legitimacy whatsoever,” Mehmet Gormez, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, the highest religious authority in Turkey, which, although a majority Muslim country, has been a secular state since the 1920s.

“Since the caliphate was abolished … there have been movements that think they can pull together the Muslim world by re-establishing a caliphate, but they have nothing to do with reality, whether from a political or legal perspective.”

Gormez said death threats against non-Muslims made by the group, formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), were hugely damaging.

Greek Orthodox church in Gaza shelters Muslims fleeing Israeli shelling

(Palestinians gather in the courtyard of the Saint Porfirios Christian Orthodox church, where they are taking refuge from fighting in areas around Gaza City, July 23, 2014. Israeli forces pounded multiple sites across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, including the enclave's sole power plant, and said it was meeting stiff resistance from Hamas Islamists, as diplomats sought to end the bloodshed. Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile salvoes by Hamas Islamists, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the nearby occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly )

(Palestinians gather in the courtyard of the Saint Porfirios Christian Orthodox church, where they are taking refuge from fighting in areas around Gaza City, July 23, 2014. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly )

About 1,000 Palestinian Muslims fleeing Israeli shells devastating their Gaza neighborhood have found shelter in a building they otherwise would rarely if ever enter, the city’s 12th-century Greek Orthodox Church.

Despite its thick walls dating back to the Crusades, the Church of Saint Porphyrius was still not a very safe haven. Shortly after they arrived, Israeli aircraft bombed a nearby field, spraying shrapnel on the church and damaging graves.

from Photographers' Blog:

Uighurs of Shanghai

Shanghai, China
By Aly Song

The traditional home of China’s Muslim Uighur community is the far western state of Xinjiang, a region that has been plagued by violence in recent years.

The government blames a series of attacks on Islamist militants and Uighur separatists, who it says want to set up an independent state called East Turkestan. But human rights activists say that government policies - including restrictions on Islam - have stirred up the unrest, although the government strongly denies this.

Uighur men visit the Bund in Shanghai, April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song

Some members of the Uighur community have chosen to move elsewhere around the country and Shanghai, the city where I am currently based, had 5,254 Uighur residents as of 2010, according to a government website.

Iraq Chaldean Catholic leader says Islamic State worse than Genghis Khan

(Iraqi Christians fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul, pray at the Mar Afram church at the town of Qaraqush in the province of Nineveh, July 19, 2014. The ancient Christian community of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul had all but fled by Saturday, ending a presence stretching back nearly two millennia after radical Islamists set them a midday deadline to submit to Islamic rule or leave. The ultimatum by the Islamic State drove out the few hundred Christians who had stayed on when the group's hardline Sunni Muslim fighters overran Mosul a month ago, threatening Christians and the diverse city's other religious communities. REUTERS/Stringer)

(Iraqi Christians fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul, pray at the Mar Afram church at the town of Qaraqush in the province of Nineveh, July 19, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

The head of Iraq’s largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who ransacked medieval Baghdad.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako led a wave of condemnation for the Sunni Islamists who demanded Christians either convert, submit to their radical rule and pay a religious levy or face death by the sword.

Saudi Arabia investigates imams who did not condemn al Qaeda attack – paper

(Muslims wait to have their Iftar meal on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Prince Turki bin Abdullah mosque in Riyadh June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser )

(Muslims wait to have their Iftar meal on the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Prince Turki bin Abdullah mosque in Riyadh June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser )

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Affairs Ministry is investigating 17 mosque imams in the capital Riyadh for not using their Friday sermons to denounce an al Qaeda attack this month, the English daily Arab News reported on Saturday.

The conservative Islamic kingdom has kept a close eye on mosque sermons for evidence of militancy since last decade, when al Qaeda staged a series of attacks inside Saudi Arabia that killed hundreds.

Tunisia orders crackdown on Islamist mosques and radio stations

(Worshippers arrive at Zitouna Mosque to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, in Tunis January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Anis Mili )

(Worshippers arrive at Zitouna Mosque to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Mohammad, in Tunis January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Anis Mili )

Tunisia on Saturday launched a crackdown on mosques and radio stations associated with hardline Islamists after militants killed 14 soldiers in an area near the country’s border with Algeria.

The move underscores the difficulty one of the Arab world’s most secular countries faces in dealing with the rise of conservative Islamist movements and militants since the 2011 revolt that ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and opened the way to democracy.

Iraqi Chaldean bishop urges world to act after Mosul’s Christians forced to flee

(An Iraqi Christian family fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul, arrives at the town of Qaraqush in the province of Nineveh, July 19, 2014. The ancient Christian community of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul had all but fled by Saturday, ending a presence stretching back nearly two millennia after radical Islamists set them a midday deadline to submit to Islamic rule or leave. The ultimatum by the Islamic State drove out the few hundred Christians who had stayed on when the group's hardline Sunni Muslim fighters overran Mosul a month ago, threatening Christians and the diverse city's other religious communities. REUTERS/Stringer)

(An Iraqi Christian family fleeing the violence in the Iraqi city of Mosul, arrives at the town of Qaraqush in the province of Nineveh, July 19, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer)

A senior Iraqi bishop urged the world to act on Sunday after Islamic hardliners drove Mosul’s Christians from the northern Iraqi city, effectively ending a presence there dating back to Christianity’s earliest years.

“The world must act, speak out, consider human rights,” Chaldean Catholic Bishop Shlemon Warduni said on Sunday, a day after a deadline expired for Christians in Mosul to submit to the rule of the radical Islamic State or die.

Chicago Catholic archdiocese seeking to help child immigrants

(Immigrants who have been caught crossing the border illegally are housed inside the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas July 15, 2014, where they are processed. More than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended at the southwestern border since October, more than twice the total this time last year. REUTERS/ Rick Loomis)

(Immigrants who have been caught crossing the border illegally are housed inside the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas July 15, 2014, where they are processed. REUTERS/ Rick Loomis)

Roman Catholic officials in Chicago want to provide services, which may include housing, to undocumented immigrant children who have been pouring into the United States in recent months, church officials said on Wednesday.

The Archdiocese of Chicago, the third-largest Catholic diocese in the country with 2.3 million members, has submitted a proposal offering to help the children to the refugee resettlement office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, spokeswoman Colleen Dolan said.

Sudanese family drops lawsuit against Christian woman claimed as Muslim

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

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

A lawsuit brought by a Sudanese Muslim father against a Christian woman to formally establish her as his Muslim daughter was dropped on Wednesday, the lawyer handling the case said, a move that could allow her to depart for the United States.

The case of Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, raised an international furore when a Sudanese court sentenced her to death in May on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity and marrying a Christian South Sudanese-American.

Ibrahim says she was born and raised as a Christian by an Ethiopian family in Sudan and was later abducted by the Sudanese Muslim family. The Muslim family denies that and insists she belongs to them.

from John Lloyd:

As Israel attacks Gaza, Jews elsewhere feel an impact

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As the death toll in Gaza rises, so does anger against Israel -- and sometimes, by extension, Jews -- in Europe and elsewhere.

We should mark how unique this is. There's a very large, and often very rich, Russian community in London -- and there are no attacks on Russians or their mansions, restaurants or churches because of the Russian seizure of Crimea and sponsorship of uprisings in eastern Ukraine. 

People from Sri Lanka didn't live in fear when their government was pounding the Tamil Tigers into submission, with thousands of deaths. Chinese visitors are undisturbed by reaction to their government's suppression of dissent in Tibet and its jailing of dissidents. And quite right, too. Who knows what Russians, Sri Lankans or Chinese abroad think about their governments' actions?