FaithWorld

Secularist underdogs fight to be heard in Iraq’s national election

(A fully-veiled woman walks after marking her ballot at a polling booth during a parliamentary election in Baghdad April 30, 2014. Iraqis headed to the polls on Wednesday in their first national election since U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki seeking a third term amid rising violence. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani )

(A fully-veiled woman walks after marking her ballot at a polling booth during a parliamentary election in Baghdad April 30, 2014.REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani )

“I am Iraqi, so do I exist?” is the question posed on the Civil Democratic Alliance’s Facebook page.

The coalition of 10 liberal and secular parties aims to be an alternative to the communal politics defining Wednesday’s national vote, aimed at people who feel so marginalised by Iraq’s politics that they are hardly counted.

In an electoral race filled with old faces and vitriolic hatred, the underdog list hints at a way forward that has appeal for those wishing to move beyond the sectarian fears colouring Iraqi politics.

There are no reliable polls ahead of Wednesday’s election, but the group hopes that by uniting likeminded small parties it can at least win some seats in the 328-member house and secure a voice for Iraqis whose views were previously ignored.

Cobblestones to remember murdered Jews multiply in Berlin

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(A memorial stone commemorating Holocaust victims Karl Bukofzer and Alfred Koh in front of their former home in Berlin, November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter )

Veronika Houboi watched as a man in a cowboy hat and clogs wielded a sledge hammer to smash up and remove a dozen small cobblestones from a Berlin pavement.

He quickly filled the resulting hole with two identical blocks of concrete capped with inscribed square brass plates.

Nigeria’s surging Christian-Muslim bloodshed strains ‘marriage of irreconcilables’

(The leader of the displaced Fulani herdsmen Haruna Usman in Barkin Kogi, Zango Kataf, Kaduna State March 22, 2014. Picture taken March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

When Fulani raiders carrying rifles, machetes and clubs stormed his village one night last month, Pius Nna was stunned to see his teenage nephew among them.

“He was leading them and telling them to check very well, because my house would have a lot of people in it and they would be sure to find someone to kill,” said Nna, a tall farmer in his mid-60s who said he escaped by fleeing into the bush.

Israeli forces demolish West Bank mosque as peace talks deadline passes

(A Palestinian man holds damaged loudspeakers belonging to a mosque after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in Khirbet Al-Taweel village near the West Bank City of Nablus April 29, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Israeli forces demolished several structures, including a mosque, in a Palestinian village on Tuesday, the day a deadline for a deal in now-frozen peace talks expired.

A Reuters correspondent saw several hundred soldiers deployed in Khirbet al-Taweel, in the occupied West Bank, around daybreak. They guarded six bulldozers that reduced to rubble buildings that were constructed without Israeli permits. Palestinians say such documents are nearly impossible to obtain.

Two U.S. soldiers lose bid to dress according to religious custom

(U.S. army soldiers are seen marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York, March 16, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri )

The U.S. Army has denied requests by two soldiers to dress and groom themselves according to their religious beliefs under a revised Pentagon policy, a spokesman said on Monday.

The policy approved on January 22 was mainly expected to affect Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and other groups that wear beards, long hair or articles of clothing such as turbans and yarmulkes. It also could affect Wiccans and others who obtain tattoos for religious reasons.

‘Rebel priest’ in Ukraine prays for pro-Russian gunmen but denies covert support

(A pro-Russian armed man stands guard at a barricade near the state security service building in Slaviansk, April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

Father Vitaly says he prays every day for the armed men who now wield power in Slaviansk, stronghold of pro-Russian separatists who have seized key buildings in a dozen towns across eastern Ukraine this month.

“There’s a point at which you just can’t take it anymore and you have to pick yourself up and stand up for yourself,” the bearded, broad-shouldered Orthodox priest said of his hostility to the Ukrainian leadership which has taken power in Kiev.

Turkey’s Erdogan calls on U.S. to extradite rival cleric Fethullah Gulen

(Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen is pictured at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania September 24, 2013. REUTERS/Selahattin Sevi/Zaman Daily via Cihan News Agency )

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he would ask the United States to extradite an Islamic cleric he accuses of plotting to topple him and undermine Turkey with concocted graft accusations and secret wire taps.

Such a move against Fethullah Gulen, whose followers say they number in the millions, would be possible only if Turkey first issued an arrest warrant and produced evidence of a crime, according to one legal expert.

Hungarians march against anti-Semitism after far-right poll gains

(People participate in the annual “March of the Living” walk in remembrance of the more than half million Hungarian Jews who died in the Holocaust during World War Two, in Budapest, April 27, 2014. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo)

Tens of thousands of Hungarians joined a protest march on Sunday against anti-Semitism, three weeks after the far-right Jobbik party won nearly a quarter of votes cast in a national election.

Budapest’s annual ‘March of the Living’ has drawn an increasing number of participants in recent years to commemorate the deaths of around half a million Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust in World War Two.

Second dead Dutch Catholic bishop found guilty of sex abuse of minors

(Saint Catherine’s Cathedral, Utrecht, September 2004/Fruggo)

The Dutch Catholic Church, in the second such embarrassing admission this month, announced on Friday that a bishop who died in 2000 had been found guilty of sexually abusing boys decades ago.

Utrecht archdiocese, where Johannes Nienhaus was auxiliary bishop from 1982 to 1999, said a commission investigating the scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church in many countries in the past decade had confirmed four complaints against him.

Earlier this month, Roermond diocese said its late bishop Johannes Gijsen had sexually abused two boys, also decades ago.

from The Great Debate:

The uncanonized saints

The Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, nearing the end of a long restoration, has a new mural over its main doors. Surrounding the Holy Spirit, in the form of an incandescent dove, is a gathering of women and men flanked by angels. Most have soft yellow halos, but three figures, including the pair closest to the dove, do not.

The three are local icons. Activist and writer Dorothy Day wears a hat with the inscription “NO WAR” and holds a stack of Catholic Worker newspapers, the publication she founded. Beside her is Bernard Quinn, a priest who served Brooklyn’s African American community at a church just blocks away, and whose Long Island orphanage was twice burned down by racists. Pierre Toussaint, who looks intently toward the dove, was a slave-turned-philanthropist who, on gaining his freedom in 1807, adopted his surname from the leader of the Haitian revolution.

Sunday, as Popes John XXIII and John Paul II receive their halos through the Vatican’s canonization process, it may be especially hard to remember that not all saints have official halos. Nor does one have to be a world-famous pope to be a saint.