FaithWorld

France may ban provocative black comedian for anti-Semitic jibes

(Dieudonne M’bala M’bala (R) with anti-Zionist Party leader Yahia Gouasmi and far-right writer Alain Soral (C) in Paris on May 13, 2009 during their campaign for the European Parliament. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes )

France is considering banning performances by a black comedian whose shows have repeatedly insulted the memory of Holocaust victims and could threaten public order, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday.

He said his ministry is studying legal ways to ban shows by Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a comedian repeatedly fined for hate speech who ran in the 2009 European Parliament elections at the head of an “Anti-Zionist List” including far-right activists.

Valls announced the move after Jewish groups complained to President Francois Hollande about Dieudonne’s trademark straight-arm gesture, which they call a “Nazi salute in reverse” and link to a growing frequency of anti-Semitic remarks and acts in France.

“Dieudonne M’bala M’bala doesn’t seem to recognise any limits any more,” Valls said in a statement announcing the legal review aimed at banning his public appearances.

Israeli court cancels mayoral vote in town at centre of Jewish divisions

(Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men scuffle with Israeli policemen as they protest against the government’s pledge to curb Jewish zealotry in Israel, in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem December 26, 2011. REUTERS/Oren Nahshon )

An Israeli court dealt a blow on Thursday to the ultra-Orthodox community’s political hold over a town that has been a focus of national divisions between the Jewish state’s secular majority and its religious minority.

Citing voter fraud in Beit Shemesh, a town of 80,000, a court in nearby Jerusalem cancelled the result of an October mayoral election, won by the ultra-Orthodox incumbent Moshe Abutbul, and ordered a new ballot.

U.S. court overturns senior Catholic priest’s conviction in sex cover-up

(Monsignor William Lynn during his trial in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 31, 2012. REUTERS/Scott Anderson)

A Pennsylvania court overturned the conviction of the first senior U.S. Roman Catholic Church official to be found guilty of covering up child sex abuse by a priest and ordered he be freed on Thursday.

Monsignor William Lynn was convicted in June 2012 of endangering the welfare of a child by reassigning a priest with a history of sexual abuse to a Philadelphia parish that was unaware of his past.

Egypt designates the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group

(People look at the damage after an explosion near a security building in Egypt’s Nile Delta city of Mansoura in Dakahlyia province, about 120 km (75 miles) northeast of Cairo December 24, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany )

The Egyptian government intensified its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday, formally listing the group as a terrorist organisation after accusing it of carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a police station that killed 16 people.

The move marked a major escalation in the army-backed government’s campaign to suppress the Islamist movement that propelled Mohamed Mursi to the presidency 18 months ago but has been driven underground since the army toppled him in July.

Struggle for rich resources at root of Central Africa’s religious violence

(A woman sits by her wounded relative in a clinic run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in Bangui December 23, 2013.  REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu)

Mariam watched in horror as militiamen burst through the gate of her home in Central African Republic’s capital Bangui and demanded her husband say whether he was Muslim. When he said yes, they shot him dead.

“They killed him just like that in front of our child,” said Mariam, who fled through the back door. “Then they hacked and clubbed our neighbours, a husband and wife, to death.”

Atheists should work with believers for peace, Pope Francis says on Christmas

(Pope Francis holds the baby Jesus statue at the end of the Christmas night mass in the Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican December 24, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

Pope Francis, celebrating his first Christmas as Roman Catholic leader, on Wednesday called on atheists to unite with believers of all religions and work for “a homemade peace” that can spread across the world.

Speaking to about 70,000 people from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, the same spot where he emerged to the world as pope when he was elected on March 13, Francis also made another appeal for the environment to be saved from “human greed and rapacity”.

Another dark Christmas for Iraq Christians, bombs kill at least 34

(People stand among debris at the site of a bomb attack at a marketplace in Baghdad’s mostly Christian Doura District December 25, 2013. REUTERS/Ahmed Malik )

It’s Christmas in Baghdad, and once again Iraq’s Christians are celebrating behind blast walls and barbed wire.

At least 34 people died in bomb attacks in Christian areas on Wednesday, some by a car bomb near a church after a Christmas service. A church attack in 2010 killed dozens.

from The Great Debate:

Punitive politics: Blame the Puritans

‘Tis the season of giving, charity and good will -- unless you happen to be a Republican, and then ‘tis the season of pusillanimity, churlishness and bad will.

Congressional Republicans seem hell-bent on denying the most disadvantaged among us healthcare, unemployment benefits and, perhaps worst of all, food stamps, from which the House of Representatives slashed $40 billion last month. Elizabeth Drew, writing in Rolling Stone, calls it “The Republicans’ War on the Poor.”

You can attribute these benefit cuts to plain meanness with a dose of political calculation thrown in, as Drew does. But there may be another explanation than congenital cruelty: Republicans believe they are adhering to a principle that they place above every other value, including compassion. That principle is the need to punish individuals whom they view as undeserving.

from The Great Debate:

Pope Francis: Beyond the compelling gestures

The most talked about person in the world -- no surprise there! -- is Pope Francis. Polls and Internet traffic confirm: No celebrity even comes close to him in fame or favor.

When it comes to “followers,” the pope does have an enormous head start, as leader of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church. He also inspires unmatched curiosity and attention globally among many millions from other faiths and no faiths.

Francis comments most effectively through compelling gestures. The public sees him kissing the bare foot of an imprisoned Muslim woman, or the illness-ravaged face of a man he is blessing. When a child jumps to his side or grabs his papal skull cap, the pope is attentive, undistracted. Less instantaneous, but still revealing, gestures find him riding public buses, driving his own old car, living in humble quarters or sneaking off in the night to minister to the homeless.

Turkish PM Erdogan and Muslim cleric Gulen tangle over corruption scandal

(A demonstrator holds a shoe box, as a reference to reported shoe boxes of cash found in the house of Halkbank CEO Suleyman Aslan, during a demonstration against Turkey’s ruling Ak Party (AKP) and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara December 21, 2013. The sign at left reads: “Government has to resign.” REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

A war of words escalated on Monday between Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and a cleric with powerful influence in the police and judiciary, worsening political turmoil unleashed by a corruption scandal.

Turkey has been increasingly polarised since the arrest on graft charges last week of the head of state-run lender Halkbank and the sons of two government ministers. Erdogan answered the arrests by sacking or reassigning the Istanbul police chief and some 70 other police officers.