FaithWorld

German Muslims condemn Islamic State in nationwide day of prayer

(Muslims perform Friday prayers on Skalitzer Strasse (street) in Berlin September 19, 2014. More than 2,000 German mosques have invited Germans of all religions to join their Friday prayers to present a united front against the Islamic State to try to dissuade young Muslims from travelling to fight with radical Islamists in Syria and Iraq. REUTERS/Hannibal )

(Muslims perform Friday prayers on Skalitzer Strasse (street) in Berlin September 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Hannibal )

German Muslims have condemned the actions of Islamic State in a nationwide day of prayer  and vowed to stem the tide of youngsters heading to join radical militants in Syria and Iraq.

In Berlin, where Friday prayers spilled out onto a busy central street, politicians and non-Muslims joined about a thousand faithful to protest against the radical Islamists.

They also stressed that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, amid continued attacks on mosques and fears of rising Islamophobia.

Authorities estimate 400 Germans have joined IS in Iraq and Syria. Leading politicians have urged the country’s 4 million Muslims to be vigilant about IS recruitment, especially on the Internet, where youngsters are increasingly lured not only by calls to join jihad but also by idealistic promises of building a new caliphate.

Iraqi Christians fly to new life in France after escaping Islamic State

(Displaced Iraq Christians who fled from Islamic State militants in Mosul, pray at a school acting as a refugee camp in Erbil September 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah )

(Displaced Iraq Christians who fled from Islamic State militants in Mosul, pray at a school acting as a refugee camp in Erbil September 6, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah )

On a warm evening at Arbil International Airport in Iraqi Kurdistan some 150 mostly Christian refugees anxiously waited to flee their homeland aboard a French government plane.

The refugees, of all ages and from 25 different families, had one message as they prepared to fly to Paris to escape the threat of Islamic State militants: Christians and Muslims can no longer live together in Iraq.

Pope names moderate as Chicago archbishop, key role in U.S. Catholic Church

(Bishop Blase Cupich, answers questions from the press in Bellevue, Washington in this June 16, 2011 file photo. Pope Francis, in his first major appointment in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the United States, on September 20, 2014 named Bishop Blase Cupich as the new archbishop of Chicago. REUTERS/Marcus Donner/)

(Bishop Blase Cupich, answers questions from the press in Bellevue, Washington in this June 16, 2011 file photo. Pope Francis, in his first major appointment in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the United States, on September 20, 2014 named Bishop Blase Cupich as the new archbishop of Chicago. REUTERS/Marcus Donner/)

Pope Francis, in his first major appointment in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the United States, on Saturday named Bishop Blase Cupich as the new archbishop of Chicago.

Cupich, 65, who is seen as a moderate and is currently the bishop of Spokane, Washington, succeeds the more conservative Cardinal Francis George, 77, who is retiring.

Pope Francis, on trip to mainly Muslim Albania, condemns Islamist militants

(Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with representatives of Albania's Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities, at the Catholic University "Our Lady of Good Counsel" in Tirana, September 21, 2014. The pope is on a one-day pastoral visit to Albania. REUTERS/Alessandra Tarantino)

(Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with representatives of Albania’s Muslim, Orthodox and Catholic communities, at the Catholic University “Our Lady of Good Counsel” in Tirana, September 21, 2014. The pope is on a one-day pastoral visit to Albania. REUTERS/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis, in his strongest criticism of Islamist militants to date, said on Sunday no religious group which used violence and oppression could claim to be “the armor of God”.

Francis made his comments during a one-day visit to Albania, an impoverished Balkan country hailed by the pontiff as a model of inter-faith harmony because of good relations between its majority Muslim community and its Christian denominations.

UK Muslim leaders call for release of Briton held by Islamic State

(Iraqi Shiite militia fighters hold the Islamic State flag as they celebrate after breaking the siege of Amerli by Islamic State militants, September 1, 2014. Picture taken on September 1, 2014. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY))

(Iraqi Shiite militia fighters hold up the Islamic State flag, September 1, 2014. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal)

Muslim groups across Britain called on Thursday for the release of British hostage Alan Henning, a volunteer aid worker captured in Syria whose life was threatened in a recent video released by Islamic State militants.

Henning was part of an aid convoy taking medical supplies to a hospital in northwest Syria in December last year when it was stopped by gunmen and he was taken away.

Jailed murderer in Belgium granted request to die under euthanasia law

(Cemetery in Bruges, Belgium

(Cemetery in Bruges, Belgium, 10 July 2013/Wernervc)

A Belgian murderer and rapist serving a life sentence is to be allowed to have doctors end his life following a ground-breaking ruling under laws in Belgium permitting people to request euthanasia.

Frank Van Den Bleeken had argued that he had no prospect of release since he could not overcome his violent sexual impulses and so he wanted to exercise his right to medically assisted suicide in order to end years of mental anguish.

“Over recent years, he has been seen by several doctors and psychologists and their conclusion is that he is suffering, and suffering unbearably,” his lawyer, Jos Vander Velpen, told state broadcaster VRT.

Egypt targets last bastion of Muslim Brotherhood dissent, Al Azhar University

(A student of Al-Azhar University walks along a wall covered with graffiti near a bus damaged by a bomb blast around the Al-Azhar University campus in Cairo's Nasr City district December 26, 2013. The bomb blast hit the bus on Thursday, injuring four people, a spokesman for Egypt's interior ministry told Reuters, two days after a car bomb killed 16 in the Nile Delta. That graffiti says, "Mursi is in our hearts and my President. Armed Forces General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi = Syrian President Bashar al-Assad." REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh )

(A student of Al-Azhar University walks along a wall covered with graffiti at the Al-Azhar University campus in Cairo’s Nasr City district December 26, 2013. The graffiti says, “Mursi is in our hearts and my President. Armed Forces General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi = Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh )

Egypt has moved to curb one of the last bastions of Muslim Brotherhood dissent with sweeping new rules to curtail violent protest at Al Azhar University, among the world’s most venerable centres of Islamic learning.

Egypt has banned the Muslim Brotherhood and jailed thousands of its supporters since July 2013, when then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president and a senior member of the group.

Gunmen in Pakistan kill Islamic studies professor who faced blasphemy accusations

(Karachi skyline from Clifden beach

(Karachi skyline from Clifton beach, 13 February 2013/Umer07)

Unidentified gunmen on Thursday shot dead a professor of Islamic studies in Pakistan who had faced accusations of blasphemy and threats from colleagues over his moderate views, police said.

Blasphemy is a crime carrying the death sentence in the mainly Sunni Muslim nation of 180 million people.

The south Asian country is experiencing a spike in the number of cases of blasphemy, which activists attribute to its growing use as a tactic to settle grudges or extort money.

from India Insight:

Book Talk – Navtej Sarna on India’s Jerusalem connection

Indian diplomat Navtej Sarna's latest book pieces together the history of an Indian "hospice" in Jerusalem. Spread over seven thousand square metres near the Dome of the Rock, the property has its origins in a visit by Sufi saint Baba Farid about 800 years ago.

sarnacovernewFarid, a pioneer of the Punjabi literary tradition, supposedly meditated for 40 days in an underground chamber in Jerusalem. His presence brought followers to this site and it "expanded through the centuries as a place for Indian pilgrims to stay."

Thus begins the journey of "Indians at Herod's Gate - A Jerusalem Tale", a travelogue through the crowded, narrow lanes of the ancient sacred city.

In Albania, Pope Francis to celebrate religious revival and tolerance

(St Paul's Cathedral in Tirana

(St Paul’s Cathedral in Tirana, 26 July 2009/Gertjan R.)

Father Gjergj Meta’s grandfather managed to save the gold chalice and communion plate from his village church when it was razed like many others in Albania during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha half a century ago.

Hoxha, a hardline Stalinist, had banned religion in 1967, driving Albania’s Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim faithful underground in his drive to create what he boasted was the world’s first atheist state.

This Sunday, Pope Francis makes a day trip to Albania – his first to a European country – to pay tribute to followers of all religions who, like Meta’s grandfather, suffered some of the worst persecution in the 20th century, and to hold up the impoverished nation as a model of inter-religious harmony.