FaithWorld

Indian Hindu nationalist Modi visits Lucknow to woo Muslim voters

(Vistors to Lucknow’s 1784 Bara Imambara, or tomb of a Shi’ite Muslim
holy man, March 10, 2002. REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist leader tipped as India’s next prime minister, appealed to Muslim voters on Sunday and hit out at rivals accusing him of bias against the country’s largest religious minority.

Addressing hundreds of thousands of mainly Hindu supporters at a rally in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Modi said his economic policies meant Muslims were better off in Gujarat, the western state he governs, than other parts of India.

The rally in the state capital Lucknow, where a third of the population is Muslim, was attended by a sea of people clad in orange, the color associated with Hinduism. The ground, which can hold some 400,000, was not totally full.

Modi, 63, has a strong lead in opinion polls ahead of the regionally phased general election voting due in April and May, but the surveys suggest he may still struggle to gather enough seats to form a government. Muslim votes could help.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews stage mass Jerusalem protest against Israeli draft law

(Ultra-Orthodox Jews take part in a mass prayer in Jerusalem March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside)

Hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews held a mass prayer in Jerusalem on Sunday in protest at a bill that would cut their community’s military exemptions and end a tradition upheld since Israel’s foundation.

Ultra-Orthodox leaders had called on their men, women and children to attend the protest against new legislation ending the wholesale army exemptions granted to seminary students, which is expected to pass in the coming weeks,

Thai Buddhist monk fights on even as anti-government protesters scale back

(Buddhist monk and anti-government protest leader Luang Pu Buddha Issara addresses his supporters from the stage at a protest site north of Bangkok March 1, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

A young Thai man and woman are on their knees, their palms pressed in supplication to the saffron-robed Buddhist monk, an anti-government protest leader, looming before them.

Accused of being pro-government spies they have been brought before the monk at a protest site in north of Bangkok by burly guards donning tinted sunglasses.

Tunisia purges Islamist state governors with consent of Islamist party

(Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki holds a copy of the country’s new constitution after signing it in Tunis January 27, 2014. REUTERS/Anis Mili )

Tunisia’s prime minister replaced most state governors on Friday, bowing to a demand from secular parties to purge Islamists from key jobs before elections this year.

After a political crisis brought on by the killing of two opposition leaders last year, the ruling Islamist party stepped down to allow a caretaker government to take over until elections later this year under a new constitution.

Google loses bid to keep anti-Islamic video on YouTube during court order appeal

(Cindy Lee Garcia (L), an actress in the “Innocence of Muslims”, and her lawyer M. Cris Armenta hold a news conference after a court hearing in Los Angeles, California September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Bret Hartman )

Google Inc on Friday lost its bid to keep an anti-Islamic film on its YouTube video sharing website while it appealed a federal appeals court order that the company said would have “devastating effects” if allowed to stand.

Earlier this week, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to reject Google’s assertion that the removal of the film “Innocence of Muslims,” which sparked protests across the Muslim world, amounted to a prior restraint of speech that violated the U.S. Constitution.

Extra funds help float Noah’s Ark replica in Kentucky

(Another replica of Noah’s Ark, this one built by Dutchman Johan Huibers, under construction in Schagen, the Netherlands March 31, 2006. REUTERS/STR)

A Christian ministry that plans to build a Noah’s Ark replica in Kentucky has raised enough money to go ahead with the $150 million project – and is thanking an adversary for boosting its support.

Creation Museum founder Ken Ham announced this week that a municipal bond offering has brought in enough money to begin the long-delayed “Ark Encounter,” a theme park featuring a 510-foot-long model of Noah’s Ark near the Kentucky-Ohio border.

The dangers of oversimplifying the Central African Republic conflict

(Anti-balaka fighters from the town of Bossembele patrol in the Boeing district of Bangui, Central African Republic, February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Camille Lepage)

When violence spiralled in Central African Republic’s capital last December, the country’s most senior Muslim cleric sought shelter with the Catholic archbishop of Bangui.

And that month no one was attacked in Lakounga, one of the oldest parts of the capital, where Christian and Muslim leaders worked together to protect the community. Posters were plastered on every street corner with the message: “Christians and Muslims, the same blood, the same life, the same country”.

Islamists demand levy in gold from Christians in Syrian city they control

(Residents search under rubble at a site hit by what activists say was a Scud missile from forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa, eastern Syria November 28, 2013. REUTERS/Nour Fourat )

An al Qaeda splinter group has demanded that Christians in a Syrian city it controls pay a levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection, according to a statement posted online on Wednesday.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), mainly composed of foreign fighters, is widely considered the most radical of the groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad, and is also engaged in a violent struggle with rival Islamist rebels.

Indian ministry to discuss developing Islamic endowments for large Muslim minority

(Muslims pray at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) during Eid al-Fitr, in the old quarter of Delhi August 31, 2011. REUTERS/Vijay Mathur )

India’s Ministry of Minority Affairs has enlisted a Kuala Lumpur-based body to help develop Islamic endowments, or awqaf, aiming to mobilise a large pool of assets in a country that is home to one of the biggest Muslim populations in the world.

The World Islamic Economic Forum Foundation, which organises conferences and workshops on Muslim business around the world, will hold a roundtable later this year to discuss ways to improve management of India’s estimated 490,000 waqf properties.

Kid gloves treatment seen softening Israeli crackdown on pro-settler vandals

(Israeli soldiers stand near the damaged door of a mosque in the West Bank village of Orif, near Nablus November 19, 2012. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini )

Last March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a crackdown on crimes that elsewhere might be shrugged off as ugly but sufferable mischief – racist graffiti, slashed tires, hacked orchards and small-scale arson.

Such vandalism takes on a whole different meaning when it is perpetrated by ultranationalist Jews against Palestinian property, risking renewed violence in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, disrupting U.S.-mediated peace talks and further sapping Israel’s image abroad.