FaithWorld

Putin wants demolished monasteries and church rebuilt inside Kremlin

(Three cathedrals in the Moscow Kremlin, 17 bMay 2014/Tom Heneghan

(Three cathedrals in the Moscow Kremlin, 17 May 2014/Tom Heneghan)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for two monasteries and a church that were demolished during Soviet times to be rebuilt in the Kremlin, the largest overhaul of the site’s architectural landscape in nearly a century.

Putin has cultivated strong ties with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, adopting more conservative policies and prompting some critics to suggest the line separating state and church has become blurred.

At a meeting on Thursday with Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and top administrators of the Kremlin site, Putin said his plan would involve tearing down a building used for administrative purposes to restore the site’s “historic appearance”.

Putin gave no indication of the costs of construction. Russia’s economy is teetering on the brink of recession and faces reduced access to foreign capital after the West imposed sanctions over Moscow’s policies in Ukraine.

The Kremlin, a fortified landmark sprawling across 28 hectares in central Moscow and home to the president’s office and his administration, has seen many attacks in its six-century history and has come to symbolize Russia’s enduring power.

China says Islamist militants kill pro-Beijing imam in Xinjiang

(Juma Tayir speaks during an interview at Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in this still image taken from video dated August 3, 2011. Three suspected Islamist militants armed with knives and axes killed Tayir, the imam of China's biggest mosque in the western region of Xinjiang, on July 31, 2014, the authorities said, days after a knife-wielding gang attacked state buildings in the same region. All three attackers, who were named by the government, had ethnic Uighur names and the imam, Tayir, was a well-known pro-government Uighur who led prayers at the Id Kah Mosque in the old Silk Road city of Kashgar. REUTERS/ Reuters TV )

(Juma Tayir speaks during an interview at Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in this still image taken from video dated August 3, 2011. REUTERS/Reuters TV )

Three suspected Islamist militants armed with knives and axes killed the imam of China’s biggest mosque in the western region of Xinjiang on Wednesday, the authorities said, days after a knife-wielding gang attacked state buildings in the same region.

All three attackers, who were named by the government, had ethnic Uighur names and the imam, Juma Tayir, was a well-known pro-government Uighur who led prayers at the Id Kah Mosque in the old Silk Road city of Kashgar.

U.N. religion expert concerned over ‘interrupted’ Vietnam visit

(Lighting strikes over Saint Joseph cathedral during a storm in Hanoi July 14, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Barria )

(Lighting over Saint Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral during a storm in Hanoi July 14, 2012. REUTERS/Carlos Barria )

A U.N. expert expressed worry on Thursday over “serious violations” of religious freedom in Vietnam following a fact-finding mission he said was interrupted by surveillance, harassment and intimidation.

Heiner Bielefeldt, U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, said parts of his trip were hampered by interference by unidentified agents, with people he met followed or questioned and others warned or blocked from seeing him.

Sudanese Christian at centre of Muslim conversion row arrives in U.S.

(Mariam Yahya Ibrahim (C) and her husband Daniel Wani (bottom) are greeted by a cheering crowd of people as they arrive at the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire July 31, 2014. Ibrahim who was sentenced to death for converting from Islam to Christianity, then detained after her conviction was quashed, arrived in the United States on Thursday. REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

(Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her husband Daniel Wani are greeted by a cheering crowd at the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire July 31, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder )

A Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death on charges of converting from Islam to Christianity, then detained after her conviction was quashed, arrived in the United States on Thursday.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she has relatives and where she was greeted by a crowd of people from the local Sudanese immigrant community who sang and handed her bunches of flowers.

In change of heart, Nepal allows cremation of Tibetan monk

(Buddhist monks take part in the funeral of Shamar Rinpoche in a monastery in Kathmandu July 31, 2014. Nepal has allowed a monk prominent in Tibetan Buddhism to be cremated in a monastery in Kathmandu, a minister said on Tuesday, disregarding fears of possible anti-China protests by his followers during the funeral. The government had previously barred the followers of Shamar Rinpoche from bringing his body back to Nepal - where he ran a monastery - for the final rites, a decision that local media had blamed on pressure from China. Rinpoche, also known as the Shamarpa, died of a heart attack in Germany aged 62 on June 11. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar )

(Buddhist monks take part in the funeral of Shamar Rinpoche in a monastery in Kathmandu July 31, 2014. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar )

Nepal allowed a monk prominent in Tibetan Buddhism to be cremated in a monastery in Kathmandu on Thursday, disregarding fears of possible anti-China protests by his followers during the funeral.

The government had previously barred the followers of Shamar Rinpoche from bringing his body back to Nepal – where he ran a monastery – for the final rites, a decision that local media had blamed on pressure from China.

Anti-Semitic incidents rise in Britain as Gaza conflict rages

(Demonstrators carry Palestinian flags as they protest outside the Houses of Parliament in central London July 26, 2014. Foreign ministers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East called on Saturday for an extension of the 12-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

(Demonstrators carry Palestinian flags as they protest outside the Houses of Parliament in central London July 26, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)

Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain have risen to a near record level since the start of an Israeli assault on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza this month, a Jewish advisory body said on Thursday.

The Community Security Trust, which advises Britain’s estimated 260,000 Jews on safety, said the surge came as figures showed a significant rise in such incidents for the first six months of the year.

American opinion of Arabs and Muslims is getting worse: poll

(People pray at at the Imam al-Khoei Foundation in New York, January 3, 2012. New York police are investigating as bias crimes four Molotov cocktail attacks on Sunday night including one against a mosque with 75 people inside and another against a Hindu place of worship. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz )

(People pray at at the Imam al-Khoei Foundation in New York, January 3, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz )

How Americans view Arabs and Muslims has gotten worse in recent years, with negative feelings strongest among Republicans and senior citizens, according to a new poll.

Only 27 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Muslims, down from 35 percent in 2010, according to the Zogby poll, commissioned by the non-profit Arab American Institute. Favorable attitudes toward Arabs dropped to 32 percent from 43 percent in 2010.

Nigeria opens its long-awaited battle of ideas against Boko Haram

(A teacher at Maska Road Islamic School teaches Hadith excerpts in a classroom in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. In classrooms facing a sandy courtyard in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, Maska Road Islamic School teaches a creed that condemns the violent ideology of groups like Boko Haram. The school is steadfast in preaching tolerance to its pupils, and the government is about to adopt this message in a new strategy for containing Boko Haram, which has killed thousands in a five-year campaign for an Islamic state. Picture taken July 16, 2014. To match Insight NIGERIA-BOKO HARAM/ REUTERS/Joe Penney)

(A teacher at Maska Road Islamic School teaches Hadith excerpts in a classroom in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Joe Penney)

In classrooms facing a sandy courtyard in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, Maska Road Islamic School teaches a creed that condemns the violent ideology of groups like Boko Haram.

Not everyone has got its message. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, known as the “Pants Bomber”, spent his youth in this school – and ended up trying unsuccessfully to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with explosives hidden in his underwear.

U.S. says millions forced to flee for religious beliefs in 2013

(Christians set up tent shelters at Raikia village, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa August 31, 2008. Thousands of people, most of them Christians, have sought shelter in makeshift government camps in eastern India, driven from their homes by religious violence which has killed at least 13 people this week. REUTERS/Parth Sanyal)

(Christians set up tent shelters at Raikia village, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa August 31, 2008. REUTERS/Parth Sanyal)

More members of religious communities around the world were forced to flee their homes last year than at any time in recent memory, the United States said on Monday, in its annual report on religious freedom.

“In almost every corner of the globe, millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs,” the report said.

Gold and diamonds feed Central African Republic’s religious violence

(Mine worker Jimmy Adoum weighs gold on a scale balance in a hut at the foot of the Ndassima gold mine in Central African Republic, May 22, 2014. At Ndassima, 60 km north of Seleka's military headquarters in the northern town of Bambari, sweat-soaked labourers toil beneath the gaze of Seleka gunmen to produce some 15 kilos of gold a month - worth roughly $350,000 on the local market, or double that in international trade. Picture taken May 22, 2014. To match Insight CENTRALAFRICA-RESOURCES/ REUTERS/Daniel Flynn )

(Mine worker Jimmy Adoum weighs gold on a scale balance in a hut at the foot of the Ndassima gold mine in Central African Republic, May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Daniel Flynn )

Three young rebels, their AK47s propped against wooden stools in the afternoon heat, guard the entrance to the giant Ndassima goldmine carved deep into a forested hilltop in Central African Republic.

Sat in a thatched shack at the edge of a muddy shantytown, the gunmen keep the peace – for a price – among hundreds of illegal miners who swarm over the steep sides of the glittering open pit, scratching out a living.