FaithWorld

Growing concern in Muslim world about Islamist militancy: Pew survey

(Members of the Abuja #BringBackOurGirls group attend a meeting at Maitama park in Abuja May 30, 2014. The meeting was moved to Maitama park on Friday after unidentified assailants attacked members of the group with bottles and chairs at Unity fountain on Wednesday. Nigeria's president said on Thursday he had ordered "a full-scale operation" against Boko Haram Islamist militants and sought to reassure parents of 219 schoolgirls being held by the group that their children would be freed. Picture taken May 30, 2014. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

(Members of the Abuja #BringBackOurGirls group attend a meeting at Maitama park in Abuja May 30, 2014. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde)

Large majorities in Muslim countries are increasingly worried about Islamist militancy and oppose its best-known groups, such as the global al Qaeda movement, Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Hamas, according to a new survey.

Support for violent tactics such as suicide bombing has fallen in many countries over the past decade, although some states still have significant minorities approving it, the survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center said.

Pew, which regularly tracks opinion on religious issues around the world, polled over 14,000 Muslims in 14 countries in April and May, before the radical Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group seized a large swathes of Iraq and Syria and announced a new Islamic “caliphate” there.

Although it did not ask about ISIL, the survey’s findings suggest there would be little support for a call on Tuesday by its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for Muslims worldwide to take up arms to avenge what he said were wrongs committed against Islam.

Angry Muslims in Central African Republic call to partition the country

(Muslims fleeing sectarian violence are seen on top of a truck with their belongings, on the road between Bangui and Sibut, on a convoy being escorted by French peacekeepers to the south eastern town of Bambari April 20, 2014. Picture taken April 20, 2014. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun )

In this dusty town at the heart of the Central African Republic, many angry Muslims advocate a simple solution to the threat of religious violence from Christian militias terrorising the country’s south: partition.

Bambari lies near the dividing line separating Central African Republic’s Christian south – where mobs have lynched hundreds of Muslims and torn down their homes – from a northern region controlled by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels.

from Photographers' Blog:

Pilgrims in the Holy Land

Jerusalem

By Ronen Zvulun

Walking through the narrow alleys of Jerusalem’s Old City and visiting its myriad holy sites at this time of year is an even more vibrant and colorful experience than usual.

Born and raised in Jerusalem, I know these streets by heart. But around the time of Holy Week and Easter they take on a different tone, as people from all over the world converge on the walled city to visit its many points of pilgrimage.

As the crowds pour through the streets, often moving in compact groups of regimented tour parties, I find myself observing the individuals. In this project, I wanted my photographs to reveal the separate people who can so easily get lost amongst the hordes that arrive in the run-up to Easter.

Islamist anti-vaccine drive makes Peshawar world’s biggest polio virus pool

(A street in Peshawar’s old city, 22 March 2010/Janki)

Pakistan’s volatile northwestern city of Peshawar is the largest reservoir of endemic polio viruses in the world, the World Health Organization said on Friday, amid concerns over continuing violence against polio vaccination teams.

Pakistan is also the only polio-endemic country in the world where polio cases rose from 2012 to 2013, the statement said. There were 91 cases last year but only 58 the year before.

Polio can permanently paralyze or kill victims within hours of infection. Intensive vaccination campaigns have almost eradicated the disease worldwide, but it remains endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Atheists face death in 13 countries and global discrimination: study

(A humanist wedding ceremony in Slane, County Meath, Ireland on July 17, 2013. Traditionally Catholic Ireland has allowed atheist wedding ceremonies this year for the first time. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

In 13 countries around the world, all of them Muslim, people who openly espouse atheism or reject the official state religion of Islam face execution under the law, according to a detailed study issued on Tuesday.

And beyond the Islamic nations, even some of the West’s apparently most democratic governments at best discriminate against citizens who have no belief in a god and at worst can jail them for offences dubbed blasphemy, it said.

from The Great Debate:

Human Rights Day: Still pursuing religious freedom

December 10 marks Human Rights Day, the 65th anniversary of the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), signed by 48 nations -- with just eight abstentions.

Sixty-five years ago, naysayers insisted it was nobody else’s business how governments behaved within their borders. The declaration confronted this cynical view -- and continues to do so today. Human rights abuses and their consequences spill beyond national borders, darkening prospects for harmony and stability across the globe. Freedom of religion or belief, as well as other human rights, are essential to peace and security. They are everyone’s business.

Each signatory nation pledged to honor and protect these rights. For example, the declaration provides the foundation for much of the agenda of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on which we serve.

Orthodox Christians mark 1,700th anniversary of edict of tolerance

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia (R) and Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I hold a liturgy to mark 1,700 years since the Edict of Milan, when Roman emperor Constantine issued instructions to end the persecution of Christians, in the southern Serbian city of Nis October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Eight Orthodox Christian leaders, dignitaries from other faiths, politicians and thousands of others on Sunday celebrated the anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which established toleration for Christianity in the Roman Empire 1,700 years ago.

Roman Catholic Pope Francis was not present at the liturgy in the Serbian city of Nis, his absence reflecting centuries-old divisions between the two main Christian denominations, despite moves by both towards reconciliation and dialogue.

French Catholic-Muslim conference concerned about future for dialogue

Fr Christophe Roucou, head of the French Catholic Church’s Service for Relations with Islam in Paris, Sept 28, 2013/Tom Heneghan

Catholic-Muslim dialogue has led to extensive ties of friendship and cooperation in recent decades in France, but enthusiasm for interreligious contacts seems to be waning and some younger religious leaders from both faiths question its usefulness and even show some hostility, according to Catholic and Muslim speakers at a conference in Paris.

Meeting to mark the 40th anniversary of the French Catholic Church’s Service for Relations with Islam (SRI), several speakers recounted how they went from strangers to friends through the interreligious dialogue that was launched by the reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

from John Lloyd:

The coming clash of civilizations over gay rights

Supporters of gay rights have been protesting in Western cities this past week, picketing in front of Russian embassies and consulates. They’re protesting the passing of a law in the Russian parliament that bans "homosexual propaganda" directed at under 18-year olds -- which if interpreted strictly, bans all public demonstrations and much public and private discussion on the issue.

Not so long ago how a country’s administration handled its ‘homosexual problem’ would be thought of as its business. Many still think that way. But most Western democracies don’t. They haven’t just adopted legislation that enjoins equality of treatment for all, irrespective of sexuality. They have taken seriously, for the most part, the claims made by gay organizations for many years: that discrimination against gay men and women is an affront to civil liberties, and that when some states pursue discriminatory policies, those who do not should make their disapproval clear. Gay rights are now part of the world’s clash of cultures.

This is presently true most clearly in the United States and the U.K., not because they have been ahead of the pack in equality -- they have lagged a bit behind Canada and the Scandinavian states, ever the pioneers in such matters -- but because they have had, and still have, the most contentious relations with Russia.

Survey finds worldwide split over stands on gays, religiosity plays big role

(Same-sex couple plastic figurines are displayed during a gay wedding fair (salon du mariage gay) in Paris April 27, 2013. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes)

A survey on Tuesday shows a world divided over the acceptance of gays, with countries in Africa and the Middle East strongly opposed even as tolerance grows in Europe, the United States, Canada and parts of Latin America.

People in predominately Muslim countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan along with Nigeria, Senegal and other African nations overwhelming said gay men and lesbians should be rejected from society at large, the Pew Research Center survey of nearly 40 countries found.