In Islamic Iran, unofficial prayer sellers’ trade is booming

By Reuters Staff
June 29, 2010

prayerIn Islamic Iran where clerics rule, unofficial “prayer sellers,” who promise to intercede with the divine to solve all manner of life’s problems, are seeing their business boom.  Backstreet spiritual guides like YaAli are tolerated by the authorities and increasingly sought after by Iranians seeking help from on high.

Iraq’s Arab neighbours wary of Shi’ite sway after vote

By Reuters Staff
March 15, 2010
iraq shi'ites

Shi'ites mark the religious ceremony of Arbain at Imam Abbas shrine in Kerbala, 5 Feb 2010/Mushtaq Muhammed

Hezbollah cuts Islamist rhetoric in new manifesto

December 1, 2009

nasrallahLebanon’s Hezbollah group has announced a new political strategy that tones down Islamist rhetoric but maintains a tough line against Israel and the United States.

U.S. sees “mixed picture” on world religious freedom

October 26, 2009

seoul-prayer-protest (Photo: CHristians pray during an anti-North Korea and pro-U.S. protest in Seoul, 3 Oct 2007/Han Jae-Ho)

The United States sees a mixed picture on world religious freedom, with progress in interfaith dialogue weighed against government repression and sectarian strife in many countries.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday unveiled the latest State Department report on global religious freedom, which particularly criticized Iran and North Korea among other countries for harsh limits on religious expression.

Pew maps the Muslim world

October 8, 2009

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life just released a demographic study of the Muslim world it says is “the largest project of its kind to date.” Click here http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=450 to see the report ”Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population.”

Islamophobia in Germany? Berlin wakes up after outcry over killing

July 13, 2009

German politicians have woken up to the potential fallout from the bloody killing in a Dresden courtroom of a 31-year-old Egyptian mother which has unleashed anger in the Islamic world.

Burqa losing favour as Afghan women opt for chador

July 8, 2009

burqa-black (Photo:A burqa-clad woman in Kabul’s old bazaar, 4 March 2009/Ahmad Masood)

Here’s some news for Nicolas Sarkozy. While the French president has begun a battle against the burqa in France, the famous blue garment that covers women from head to toe is losing favour back in its stronghold Afghanistan. In Herat, burqa seller Nehmatullah Yusefy says sales have dropped 50 percent since the Talibanchador1 were toppled in 2001 and he says he will soon need to start stocking other styles of Islamic dress to make up for lost profits.

Muslim trust restores Jewish sites in Afghanistan

June 24, 2009

herat-synagogue-1Amid the glum news from Afghanistan, Golnar Motevalli of our Kabul bureau has sent this from Herat:

Religion crowded out in “cloud” of Ayatollah Khamenei’s sermon

June 19, 2009

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivered a major address today on the election there. It was in the form of a khutbah, an Islamic Friday sermon that is often the platform for the most important public pronouncements in the Islamic Republic. So one might assume it would be couched in Islamic terminology and religious themes.

Will Obama address the Muslim world or the Arab world?

June 2, 2009

obama-faceWhen President Barack Obama delivers his long-awaited speech in Cairo on Thursday, will he address the Muslim world or the Arab world? In the pre-speech build-up, it’s being called a speech “to the Muslim world” or “to the world’s 1.x billion Muslims” (the estimated total mentioned in different articles fluctuates between 1and 1.5 billion). But the venue he’s chosen — Cairo — and all the focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict make it sound like a speech to and about the Middle East.