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.

Myanmar police fire rubber bullets to end sectarian trouble in Mandalay

(People and Buddhist monks kneel in front of the Maha Myat Muni Buddha statue in Mandalay November 13, 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

(People and Buddhist monks kneel in front of the Maha Myat Muni Buddha statue in Mandalay November 13, 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)

Myanmar police fired rubber bullets on Wednesday to disperse crowds of Buddhists and Muslims facing off in the second-largest city of Mandalay, police said, in the latest outbreak of trouble in two years of sectarian unrest.

Police deployed more than 600 officers after a crowd of about 300 Buddhists including 30 monks began throwing stones near a tea shop owned by a Muslim man at 11 p.m. (1630 GMT) on Tuesday, according to a statement released by Mandalay police.

What’s in a name? Islamic banking rebrands in attempt to go mainstream

( bank staff speaks on the phone inside the Bank Islam branch office in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur November 6, 2013. London has long been the default centre for international firms to issue sharia-compliant bonds, part of a fast-growing Islamic finance sector that will be worth $2 trillion globally next year, according to consultants Ernst and Young. But it faces a mounting challenge from two centres: Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian capital has a reputation for efficient regulation of Islamic finance and a huge domestic market for local-currency Islamic bonds, which is now starting to attract foreign issuers. To match Analysis ISLAMIC-FINANCE/COMPETITION Picture taken November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Samsul Said)

( bank staff speaks on the phone inside the Bank Islam branch office in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Samsul Said)

Islamic banking is based on core principles of the religion. So it is striking that some banks are removing the word “Islam” from their names – a sign of both the potential of Islamic finance to grow, and the obstacles to it becoming mainstream.

In January, Dubai-based Noor Islamic Bank changed its name to Noor Bank. Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) ADIB.AD, the emirate’s largest sharia-compliant lender, now plans to call itself Abu Dhabi International Bank when operating abroad.

Syria-Iraq ‘caliph’ urges Muslims to join in jihad in “new era”

(Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. The fighters held the parade to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said. Picture taken June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer )

(Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria’s northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer )

The leader of the al Qaeda offshoot now calling itself the Islamic State has called on Muslims worldwide to take up arms and flock to the “caliphate” it has declared on captured Syrian and Iraqi soil.

Proclaiming a “new era” in which Muslims will ultimately triumph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi issued the call to jihad – holy war – in an audio message lasting nearly 20 minutes that was posted online on Tuesday.

European rights court backs French ban on Islamic full-face veil

(A women, wearing a niqab despite a nationwide ban on the Islamic face veil, gives a phone call outside the courts in Meaux, east of Paris, September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau )

(A women, wearing a niqab despite a nationwide ban on the Islamic face veil, gives a phone call outside the courts in Meaux, east of Paris, September 22, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau )

The European Court of Human Rights upheld France’s 2010 ban on full-face veils in public on Tuesday but acknowledged the law could appear excessive and feed stereotypes.

Judges at the Strasbourg-based court, by 15 to 2, said the ban did not violate religious freedom and aimed to ensure “respect for the minimum set of values of an open democratic society” which included openness to social interaction.

from India Insight:

Short skirts, bad stars, chow mein: Why men in India rape women

Demonstrators from All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) hold placards and shout slogans during a protest against the recent killings of two teenage girls, in New Delhi May 31, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The 2012 Delhi bus rape case and an ever-longer list of rapes and murders in India have prompted politicians and public figures in India to cite plenty of implausible reasons why rape happens and why men brutalise women or portray women in ways that suggest they had it coming. Many people, when speaking out, tend to minimise the crime or rationalise it in ways that sound ludicrous to many. We created this list of such comments more than a year ago, but it seems like it's time to add some new entries.

(Updated July 15, 2014) Binay Bihari, minister for art, culture and youth affairs in the state of Bihar: The minister said that mobile phones and non-vegetarian food are reasons for a surge in rape cases, NDTV reports. "Many students misuse mobile phones by watching blue films and hearing obscene songs which pollute their mind," he said. On food, he reportedly said that non-vegetarian food "contributed to hot temper... and cited sermons of sants that pure vegetarian food kept the body and mind pure and healthy." (NDTV)

(Updated July 2, 2014) Tapas Pal, lawmaker from Trinamool Congress: The popular Bengali actor was caught on camera threatening workers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and their families. "If any opponent touches any Trinamool girl, any father, any child, I will destroy his entire family. I will unleash my boys, they will rape them, rape them," Pal said in the video. Pal later apologised for what he termed a "gross error of judgement". (Indian Express)

U.S. Supreme Court upholds private firms’ religious objections to contraception

(Anti-abortion demonstrators cheer as the ruling for Hobby Lobby was announced outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 30, 2014. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that business owners can object on religious grounds to a provision of U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare law that requires closely held companies to provide health insurance that covers birth control. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst )

(Anti-abortion demonstrators cheer as the ruling for Hobby Lobby was announced outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 30, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst )

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that owners of private companies can object on religious grounds to a provision of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law that requires employers to provide insurance covering birth control for women.

The decision, which applies only to a small number of family or other closely-held companies, means an estimated several thousand women whose health insurance comes via such companies may have to obtain certain forms of birth control coverage elsewhere.

Israel’s top court says mother need not have son circumcised

(Relatives look at a baby after his circumcision in Jerusalem September 24, 2012. Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis, is a ritual obligation for infant Jewish boys performed eight days after birth as a mark of faith ordained by the Bible, and is widely practiced in Israel both by religious and secular Jewish families. Picture taken September 24, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

(Relatives look at a baby after his circumcision in Jerusalem September 24, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Israel’s Supreme Court has overturned a ruling by a court of rabbis that would have forced a mother to have her son circumcised under the terms her divorce.

Circumcision is not legally obligatory for Jews in Israel, but a rabbinical court presiding over the woman’s divorce case had ruled she must fulfill her husband’s wish to carry out the procedure in a religious rite known in Hebrew as a “brit milah”.

U.S. cancels visa of hardline Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, his group says

(A Buddhist monk from the "Buddhist Power Force" holds up a placard as they march towards the Indian High Commission during a protest against the Indian government in Colombo July 10, 2013. The organisation accused the Indian government of failing to prevent a series of explosions on Sunday that occurred in and around the Mahabodhi Temple complex located in Bodh Gaya, the place where the Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte )

(A Buddhist monk from the “Buddhist Power Force” holds up a placard as they march towards the Indian High Commission during a protest against the Indian government in Colombo July 10, 2013. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte )

The United States cancelled the visa given to a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk heading a hardline group accused of involvement in violence against Sri Lanka’s minority Muslims, an official of the group said on Monday.

Clashes erupted on June 15 in Aluthgama and Beruwela, two towns with large Muslim populations on the island’s southern coast, during a protest march led by the hardline group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or “Buddhist Power Force”.

from The Great Debate:

Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision puts faith in compromise

Anti-abortion demonstrators high five as the ruling for Hobby Lobby was announced outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington

On Monday the Supreme Court decided its most anticipated case of the year. According to a sharply divided 5-4 court, the government cannot compel a closely-held corporation to provide contraceptive coverage as part of its Affordable Care Act-mandated employee insurance plans.

This was the expected result: four conservatives in favor, four liberals against, and Justice Kennedy concurring in the middle. Yet while many are calling the ruling a victory for conservatives and a loss for women’s (and by extension, LGBT) rights, Justice Alito’s majority opinion is actually far more limited than many had expected. Here’s why.

First, the opinion is limited to closely-held corporations. This distinction makes sense. An individual’s beliefs may be attributed to a family-owned business much more reasonably than to a large corporation. Hobby Lobby, the named plaintiff in the case, is indeed large: it has over 500 stores, and over 13,000 employees. But it is family-owned, and the owners’ devout Christian faith is evident throughout the company -- including its advertising, product choices and employment policies.