EU pressures Turkey to boost rights for non-Muslims

November 7, 2007

Turkey has signalled it may soon amend a free speech law that has been a stumbling block in its drive to join the European Union. Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin said this on Tuesday soon after the European Commission issued its annual progress report on Ankara’s membership bid. The interesting angle here for this blog is that the EU criticism singled out not only the much-criticised law on “insulting Turkishness” but also current restrictions on freedom of religion.

Muslim scholar questions Vatican understanding of Islam

October 31, 2007

Cardinal Jean-Louis TauranThe cautious Vatican reaction to the dialogue appeal from 138 Muslim scholars has prompted one of the signatories to question whether the top Catholic official for relations with Muslims understands Islam. More specifically, Aref Ali Nayed has asked how Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran can say that a serious theological dialogue with Muslims is not possible because they will not discuss the Koran in depth. This debate (discussed in an earlier post here) is dense and highly specialised. But it may be at this level that this unprecedented dialogue could take off or fail to ignite.

Thai Buddhists seek blasphemy law to punish offences against their faith

October 25, 2007

A Thai Buddhist monk rides an elephant to a protest in Bangkok, April 25, 2007The leading role monks played in the September protests against Myanmar’s military rulers has put the spotlight on the politically active side of Buddhism.