Islamic Leader Condemns Boko Haram and Terrorism

Sultan-of-SokotoBY STOYAN ZAIMOV, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
May 28, 2014|12:03 pm

The president of Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs has condemned the actions of militant group Boko Haram, proclaiming that terrorism “has no place” in Islam. The Roman Catholic Cardinal Archbishop of Abuja applauded those comments.

“Terrorism has no place in Islam,” said the the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, according to Fides News Agency. “We must rise up as always, with one voice to condemn all acts of terrorism, condemn those terrorists wherever they are and try our best as Muslims to ensure peace reigns in our community.”

Cardinal John Onaiyekan, who was previously the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, congratulated the Sultan for his “bold statement,” and said that it has given him the courage to speak out on the issue.

“There seems to be an urgent need for an in-house dialogue within the Nigerian Muslim community,” the cardinal suggested. “Such a dialogue would make it possible to courageously and sincerely deal with currents and movements that create the kind of religious climate and atmosphere in which Boko Haram and similar groups emerge and thrive.”

Boko Haram’s war on the Nigerian government has stretched for close to five years now, and the terrorist group has killed thousands of people in its quest to establish Islamic rule over the country. It has often targeted Nigeria’s Christian population, which makes up close to half of the country, determined to drive them out.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Christian and Muslim leaders condemn Jos bombings

Wreckage of burnt vehicle after blasts at Terminus market in Jos, Nigeria[WCC] After bombings on 21 May in the northern Nigerian city of Jos, in which more than one-hundred people have been killed, “heart-felt sorrow and condolences” have been expressed in a joint statement by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, chairman of the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought (RABIIT).

“We strongly condemn the recent bombings in Jos, Nigeria. The location and timing of the bombings clearly were designed to cause indiscriminate and widespread casualties among passers-by, and among rescue workers who were coming to their aid,” read the statement.

Both religious leaders, who were in Jos and Plateau State in 2012 leading a Christian-Muslim delegation in Nigeria, have stressed that the horrific acts which have just occurred in Jos do not represent in any way either of their two religions.

“They have made us even more determined to find ways to support the people of Nigeria and those who are seeking to put an end to violence in the country,” says their statement.

“Peace is a blessing from God. Christianity and Islam call for peace and harmony among all of humanity, and do not condone or allow offensive warfare or aggression,” reads the statement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ANGLICAN NEWS

Crowds welcome Pope Francis to Jordan at start of Holy Land trip

140524062904-pope-arrives-amman-jordan-00014714-story-tablet(CNN) — After a joyous welcome from the gathered faithful, Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Saturday at a stadium in Jordan on the first leg of a Holy Land trip intended to promote a message of unity.

His trip has been billed as a “pilgrimage for prayer,” with its roots in faith, not politics.

But in a region where religion and politics are so closely intertwined, his every remark will take on an added significance.

The Holy Land trip, also taking in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, is the first for Francis as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, and just the fourth for any pontiff in the modern era.

Everything to know about Pope Francis

Thousands of believers packed the International Stadium in Amman for the Mass in what is a majority Muslim nation with a significant Christian community. Many cheered and waved as the Pope arrived.

Crowds Welcome Pope Francis in Jordan

FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN

‘A Man of Peace’: Christian Seminary Defends Admission of Muslim Student

southwestern-baptist-theological-seminary-chapel-1A Baptist seminary is defending the admission of a Muslim student to one of its PhD programs, noting that it was a one-time exception that does not signify a change in school policy.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, accepted Palestinian student Ghassan Nagagreh to its archeology doctoral program in 2012, though news of the decision is just now making headlines.

“The student was a part of a dig site … and had a great relationship with our folks and wanted to study archeology,” explained Southwestern Baptist spokesperson Steve A. Smith, according to the Christian Post. “The best place to do that, of course, are the top archeology schools, which are in Israel, but he doesn’t speak Hebrew.”

Smith said that the school — the third largest evangelical seminary in the U.S. — “took a great chance” in admitting Nagagreh, noting that it is a one-time decision that does not signify a change in policy.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ‘BLAZE’

SYRIAN THEOLOGIAN: MINORITY IN SYRIA IS DEMOCRATS, LIBERALS OF ALL RELIGIONS

In the Arab world today, secularism, democracy and liberalism are the real minorities, writes Dr.Najib Awad, associate professor of Christian theology and the director of the International PhD Program at the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut.

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In this article, originally published in Arabic in Lebanon’s Al-Mustaqbel daily, Awad makes the case for a new definition of minitory, “one that transcends religion, sect and ethnicity.” In Syria, he says, democrats, liberals and secularists are being “minoritized,” not due to religious affiliations or convictions, but because they are trying to develop a value system that differs from the prevalent norms.

Rooting his argument in French philosophy, Awad argues that “anyone who refused to shape their life and values according to the norms created and enforced by the Syrian regime was transformed into a ‘minority.’” 

Translation courtesy of Syria Direct’s Gavi Barnhard.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, both Syrians and international observers have been discussing the future of its minorities. Specifically, there is a new discourse among non-Sunni Muslims in Syria, primarily among Christians and Alawites, in which these groups do not identify with the Syrian people, but rather as minorities.

Syrian Christians have begun to reduce themselves to mere minorities in need of protection from the inevitable persecution that is to result if the regime falls. Even social media in these Syrian Christian communities indicate the prevalence of this minority discourse. Western and Arab countries that support the revolution see the Christians and the Alawites in Syria as “minorities” and reduce this complicated issue into a simple matter of “protection.”

From my observation, it doesn’t seem that anyone can actually explain what they mean by “minorities” in the Syrian context. It seems to me that everyone is working with the assumption that there is a single, agreed-upon meaning, however, I’m not sure that they realize that the meaning varies depending on its political, sociological and philosophical connotations.

In sociology and anthropology, “minority” can be defined by ethnicity, race, gender, sex, or age. However, the term carries very different meanings in a philosophical context. In modern philosophy, French philosopher Gills Deleuze and French psychiatrist Felix Guattari suggest that the term ‘minority’ suggests a state of flux, a process of becoming or happening: something which people transform into, or become, due to specific social, intellectual and ethical factors that “minoritize” them.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SYRIA DIRECT 

Jordanian Prince Wants Pope to Develop ‘template of hope’ During Trip

700x450_CNS_15365AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) — Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal expressed the desire to see “a template of hope” developed during Pope Francis’ May 24-26 visit to the Holy Land.

Speaking with Catholic News Service, the prince welcomed the pope’s decision to have a rabbi and a Muslim leader accompany him on the three-day visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Observers believe the gesture underscores the importance the pope attaches to interreligious dialogue.

“Whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, extremists seem to be doing their best to bring about Armageddon, rather than work toward any form of convivial solution whereby the Holy Land is not only holy in name and description, but also in perspective of the future,” the prince said.

“That’s why His Holiness’ visit accompanied by a Jew and Muslim, I think, is more than just symbolic,” he said in a May 17 interview.

Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim leader Omar Abboud who will be part of the official Vatican delegation, are friends of Pope Francis from his native Argentina. The pope invited them to make the trip with him in order to send what Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, called, “an extremely strong and explicit signal” about the importance of interreligious dialogue in the Middle East, one of the world’s most troubled and conflict-ridden regions.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BOSTON PILOT 

A Saudi Woman Changing Perceptions, Changing Society

20140506_Sofana-DahlanSofana Dahlan is both a lawyer and the Founder and CEO of Tashkeil, a Saudi Arabia-based social enterprise that incubates and promotes creative entrepreneurs. In her talk, Sofana talks about the identity and capabilities. She also talks about being able to take bold choices and having the courge to change her self and things around her. With her daughter in mind, she explains the obstacles and social barriers that women face. She urges women from all over the world to overcome hardships and define their own identities based on what they want for themselves, rather than what society may want for them.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BOLDTALKS

Pope To Travel To Holy Land With Rabbi And Muslim Leader

francis_wide-bc902d0ac3225fad6d93b9486b8f4c748f6a1e86-s40-c85The first non-European pope in modern history will makes a pilgrimage to the Holy Land this week, a region with centuries of religious strife.

Francis — the first pope to take the name of the saint of peace — will carry far less historical baggage than any of his predecessors.

When John Paul II visited Israel in 2000, he prayed at the Western Wall and apologized for the church’s sins against Jews. Nine years later, at Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust, Benedict XVI urged that the names of the victims never perish, be denied or forgotten.

Those two popes, one born in Poland and the other in Germany, carried the weight of their countries’ histories: centuries of anti-Semitism in Poland; Nazism and the Holocaust in Germany.

Rabbi David Rosen, director of Inter-Religious Relations for the American Jewish Committee, says when Jewish and Catholic religious leaders meet, they focus mostly on the past.

“We have long memories, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse,” Rosen says. “And if you don’t encounter Christians on the positive human bases in the here and now, you are often captive to those tragic memories of the past, and that requires quite a lot of time and energy before the necessary healing has effect.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM NPR NEWS

Catholic leaders in Israel call for crackdown on attacks targeting Christian, Muslim property

Nic6318744-11095 (1)JERUSALEM — Catholic leaders in Jerusalem are increasingly concerned that an apparent uptick in nationalistic hate crimes by Jewish extremists against Christians and Muslims could mar the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.

On Friday, for the second time this week, anti-Christian graffiti was discovered on a church in Jerusalem. It follows a similar incident Monday at the Notre Dame Center, a complex in Jerusalem owned by the Vatican. The defacements come after more than 20 major hate crimes in the past few months have targeted Christian and Muslim communities here.

While such crimes are not unusual — a monitoring group found that 32 religious buildings have been vandalized or subjected to arson attempts in the past four years — the frequency of such incidents appears to have increased in recent weeks.

When they first started in 2011, these so-called “price tag” attacks were part of a campaign to extract retribution for actions against Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The idea was that anytime the Israeli army removed an illegal outpost or Palestinian militants attacked settlers, somebody would pay a price. Today, these attacks have spread into Israel proper and don’t always follow actions against Jewish settlements.

“We are very concerned about the repeated acts of hatred against Christians by the price-tag groups,” the Rev. Jamal Khader, rector of Latin Patriarchate Seminary, said Friday.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASINGTON POST

5 Things Bill Maher Got Wrong In Latest Islam Rant

As a liberal agnostic, I might better enjoy my time critiquing religion with fellow skeptics. But when skeptics single out a particular faith or group for unfair demonization, I do feel compelled to respond. It is, of course, old news that Bill Maher is one of the skeptics who, while feeling antipathy towards religion in general, holds exceptional hostility towards Islam. However, the segment on Islam (below) in last weekend’s episode of ‘Real Time’ went beyond typical antipathy and included 5 points that were simply dead wrong:

1. “Not a Few Bad Apples”

Bill Maher insists that extremism and intolerance are problems that afflict Muslims at large, and not just “a few bad apples.” Of course, if anyone compiled a list of violent acts by Muslim extremists, the list would undoubtedly be troublingly long. But the Muslim world is far too vast and diverse to collapse into Maher’s narrow perception of it. It is a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, so even thousands of extremists would be a fraction, and would in no way justify an indictment against Muslims in general. To think along analogous lines, there are more than 10,000 murders and 80,000 rapes every year in the U.S. The Ugandan fanatical Christian LRA group is responsible for the kidnapping of some 66,000 children (a lot more than Boko Haram). In the West Bank, hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers live on stolen Palestinian land, and many carry out acts of vandalism and violence against Palestinians. But just as none of these facts justify broad indictments of “The Americans,” “The Christians” or “The Jews” as being terrible people (that would be transparently bigoted), the same applies to Islam and Muslims. The acts of a relatively small group of extremists, even when they’re more frequent than we’d like them to be, should never taint entire societies.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST