(Photo: A Nenets tribesman and his herd of reindeers on the Yamal peninsula, north of the polar circle, August 4, 2009/Denis Sinyakov)
When rival energy producers Russia and Qatar talk business, it’s no longer only about natural gas — they’re talking reindeer meat, which Russia has promised to export and butcher according to Muslim dietary law. The prospect of Russia exporting halal reindeer meat products to the desert kingdom first came up last month when the governor of Russia’s Arctic Yamal Nenets region, where most of Russia’s gas is produced, was in Qatar for investment talks.
A hardline, pro-Taliban Pakistani Muslim cleric on Friday offered a reward for anyone who kills a Christian woman sentenced to death by a court on charges of insulting Islam. The sentence against Asia Bibi has renewed debate about Pakistan’s blasphemy law which critics say is used to persecute religious minorities, fan religious extremism and settle personal scores. Non-Muslim minorities account roughly 4 percent of Pakistan’s about 170 million population.
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama donned a headscarf on a visit to an mosque in Indonesia on Wednesday, not a requirement for a non-Muslim but a sign of the Obamas’ efforts to show respect for the Islamic world.
(Photo: Pope Benedict meets religious leaders in Nazareth, May 14, 2009, with many Muslim clerics in white and red turbans in the audience/Atef Safadi)
Israeli authorities have charged the imam of a mosque in Nazareth with inciting violence against Pope Benedict and supporting al Qaeda and “global jihad,” the justice ministry has said.
(Photo: Manhattan building now on site of proposed Muslim cultural center and mosque, August 17, 2010/Lucas Jackson)
Muslims in lower Manhattan who have prayed in a crowded basement or in the streets say they are not looking for confrontation with opponents of a new mosque. They simply need the space.
There was an interesting echo at the White House when President Barack Obama came out in favour of the proposed Cordoba House Muslim cultural centre near the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York (see our news report here). Controversy about the project, which opponents call the “Ground Zero mosque,” has been swirling in New York for weeks and went national recently when Republicans Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich joined the critics’ campaign. But until the annual Iftar dinner he hosted on Friday evening, the president had kept out of what his spokesman called “a matter for New York City and the local community to decide.”
A New York city agency denied “landmark” status for an old building near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, clearing the way for the building to be torn down to make room for a Muslim cultural center which has spurred heated debate.
An imam whose voice helped him become the first black Saudi to lead prayers at Mecca’s Grand Mosque said he was wrong to speak against a fatwa prohibiting singing, in the latest spat between reformist and conservative clerics in the kingdom.
When Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf decided to build a Muslim cultural centre in lower Manhattan, the model he chose couldn’t have been more mainstream American — the Young Men’s Christian Association chapters found in cities across the United States.