Tunisian secularists nervous over slow change, concerned about Islamists

July 13, 2011

(Protests in Tunis July 7, 2011 after Islamists attacked a cinema to protest a controversial film called "Neither God nor master"/Zoubeir Souissi)

Will the Arab Spring bring U.S.-style “culture wars” to the Middle East?

June 21, 2011

(From left: Olivier Roy, Cardinal Angelo Scola and Martino Diez of the Oasis Foundation at the conference on San Servolo island, Venice, June 20, 2011/Giorgia Dalle Ore/Oasis)

Liberal U.S. Catholics say their Church is not listening

By Reuters Staff
June 12, 2011

(St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, 4 March 2005/Tom Heneghan)

Members of a liberal group of U.S. Catholics called on Sunday on Church leaders to open talks with their members on controversies ranging from the ordination of women to allowing priests to marry. Members of the American Catholic Council, meeting in Detroit, said they had grown concerned that the Church hierarchy was not listening to its members on issues such as the role of women, married clergy and the treatment of homosexuals.

Referendum in Catholic Malta backs introduction of divorce

By Reuters Staff
May 29, 2011

(Valletta skyline, 27 October 2005/Brian Gotts)

Staunchly Catholic Malta approved the introduction of divorce, backing the move by a small majority in a referendum. “The referendum outcome is not the one I wished for, but the will of the majority will be respected and parliament will enact legislation for the introduction of divorce,” Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said in a video statement on Sunday. The vote was seen as a test of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in a country where 72 percent of people say they go to Mass on Sundays and nearly all marriages are held at the altar. The Mediterranean island of 400,000 people is the only country in Europe not to allow divorce. Early results from Saturday’s referendum showed a majority backing divorce of between 52 percent and 54 percent. The Divorce Movement declared victory and the anti-divorce movement conceded. Opposition leader Joseph Muscat had said changing the law was a vote for modernity and a chance for those with broken marriages to start afresh. Gonzi had said divorce offered “no solutions” and called for better preparation before weddings so that the “value of an indissoluble marriage is bequeathed to the young.” Divorce legislation was proposed in July last year by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, a member of Gonzi’s own parliamentary group. It provides for people to become eligible for divorce after four years of separation.

– by Christopher Scicluna in Valletta

Witness – Searching for reforms in King Abdullah’s Saudi Arabia

March 24, 2011
(Saudi King Abdullah address the nation from his office at the Royal Palace in Riyadh March 18, 2011. Saudi King Abdullah announced on Friday billions of dollars in handouts for his people and boosted his security apparatus in a renewed effort to shield the world's top oil exporter from unrest rocking the Arab world. REUTERS/Saudi Press Agency)

(Saudi King Abdullah address the nation from his office at the Royal Palace in Riyadh March 18, 2011/Saudi Press Agency)

Handouts dash Saudi king’s reformer reputation

By Reuters Staff
March 21, 2011
saudi king

(Saudi King Abdullah addresses the nation from his office at the Royal Palace in Riyadh March 18, 2011/Saudi Press Agency)

Watching Bahrain, Saudi Shi’ites demand reforms

February 22, 2011
saudi shi'ite

(Shi'ite Saudi Muslim worshippers during the Ashura festival in Qatif ,December 27, 2009/Zaki Ghawas)

Germany opens first Reform synagogue since WW2

By Reuters Staff
February 21, 2011
hameln

(Hameln, 21 November 2006/Marek Nocny)

Germany opened its first new Reform synagogue since the Holocaust on Sunday, marking a major step in the revival of Reform Judaism, which traces its roots to the country. The synagogue in the northern city of Hameln was built on the foundation of its predecessor, which was destroyed by the Nazis during the “Kristallnacht” pogrom in 1938. The congregation received financial backing for the synagogue primarily from local and state government.

Top Islamic finance scholars oppose bid to improve corporate governance

By Reuters Staff
December 2, 2010

islamic bankTwo of the Gulf’s top Islamic finance scholars spoke out against efforts to reduce the number of boards they and their peers are allowed to sit on, challenging industry attempts to improve corporate governance. Bankers in the emerging $1 trillion Islamic finance industry say the concentration of hundreds of board positions in the hands of a few sharia scholars leads to conflicts of interest and hampers appropriate supervision.

Islamic finance seems overwhelmed by tighter supervision of sharia advisers

September 29, 2010

islamic bankIslamic finance is toughening supervision of its powerful religious advisers as shareholders worldwide demand increasing accountability from directors, but key reforms may do little to boost independence and transparency.