The perils of eating fire in Saudi Arabia when religious police disapprove

July 21, 2010

fire eaterSaudi artist Maher al-Luqman is always nervous when he goes on stage to eat glass and fire or to walk on nails, for fear the country’s religious police will disrupt his show.

from The Great Debate UK:

Interfaith centre at New York 9/11 site sparks controversy

July 16, 2010

- Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’.  The opinions expressed are his own. -

CNN fires veteran Mideast editor over tweet on respect for Fadlallah

July 9, 2010

fadlallah picCNN has fired a senior editor for Middle East news after she published a Twitter message that said she respected a Lebanese Shi’ite cleric branded a terrorist by the United States, U.S. and British media said on Thursday. The Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, one of Shi’ite Islam’s highest religious authorities and an early mentor of the militant group Hezbollah, died in Beirut on Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands mourn Lebanon’s Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah

July 7, 2010

fadlallah burial (Photo:  Lebanese Shi’ite Muslims carry coffin Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah in Beirut, July 6, 2010/Sharif Karim)

Lebanon’s Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah was buried on Tuesday, mourned by hundreds of thousands who paid homage to an early mentor of Hezbollah who became one of Shi’ite Islam’s highest authorities.

Liberal Koran expert Nasr Abu Zayd dies in Egypt, after exile

July 6, 2010

zaydNasr Abu Zayd, an Egyptian Koranic scholar declared an apostate for challenging mainstream Muslim views on the holy book, died on Monday in a Cairo hospital, aged 66.  Abu Zayd held a liberal, critical approach to Islamic teachings that angered some Muslim conservatives in his homeland in the 1990s, a decade when President Hosni Mubarak’s government was combating an uprising by armed Islamic militants.

Europe, face veils and a Catholic view of a Muslim issue

July 1, 2010

burqa 1The French National Assembly begins debating a complete ban on Muslim full face veils in public next week and could outlaw them by the autumn. Belgium’s lower house of parliament has passed a draft ban and could banish them from its streets in the coming months if its Senate agrees. The Spanish Senate has passed a motion to ban them after a few towns introduced their own prohibitions.

In Islamic Iran, unofficial prayer sellers’ trade is booming

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.

French PM urges Muslims to reject “hijacked Islam”

June 28, 2010

fillonPrime Minister François Fillon has urged France’s Muslims to reject full face veils as a sectarian caricature of Islam, a week before parliament debates a law banning burqas and niqabs in public.

Indonesia’s Islamist party: hijabs, uniforms and a Hitler tweet

June 21, 2010

Jakarta’s Ritz Carlton hotel this weekend was a sea of brightly coloured Islamic headscarves and the crisp white uniforms of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the third biggest party in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet. PKS held their national congress at the luxury hotel

Chechen women say police paintball them for not covering hair

June 19, 2010

chechenWomen in Russia’s volatile Muslim Chechnya region say that police have targeted them with paintball pellets for not wearing headscarves, outraging rights activists.  The attacks highlight tension over efforts by Chechnya’s firebrand Moscow-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, to enforce Muslim-inspired rules that in some cases violate Russia’s constitution.