European Christian responses to the migrant crisis have been radical and traditional

20180303_blp901ACROSS most of Europe, a majority of people declare some loose attachment to Christianity, while a much smaller percentage actively follow that faith. As a result, churches and their adherents have some influence over European affairs. People expect them to react when the continent is faced with great moral challenges, such as the recent, desperate influx of migrants by sea and land. Ghastly as they have been, the human consequences of that influx would surely have been worse still without the efforts of churches and religious charities to help destitute newcomers. Across Germany, nearly 400 churches have provided shelter for migrants who fear deportation.

But what else should Europe’s Christians do or say? In almost every European country there exist hard-line political movements whose declared aim is to protect the continent’s Christian heritage against alien influences. Religious leaders generally regard these parties as embarrassments or worse.

Even when you move a bit closer to the respectable mainstream, there are as many shades of opinion in European Christianity as there are denominations. That emerged in the glorious diversity of a gathering earlier this week in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, hosted by Dutch and Greek think-tanks (and at which your blogger co-chaired a session), where views ranged from the radical to the traditional. Broadly, their task was to look at Europe’s economic and refugee crisis from a Christian point of view.



‘My America, too.’ An Iowa TV reporter is making history as the first to wear a hijab on air in the U.S. — haters or no haters

636543984033600294-20180214-05-tahera-bpROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Tahera Rahman whispers the lines of her script as the Local 4 newsroom bustles around her.

With a few minutes until the 6 p.m. newscast, Rahman may as well be in a bell jar: just her, the crisply folded paper in her hands and her unwavering mission to deliver that night’s top story.

A similar scene was no doubt playing out in local newsrooms across the country. But at the Quad Cities’ WHBF-TV, the ripples of a history-making event were still being felt.

With a few seconds to air, Rahman blots her lipstick and secures a runaway piece of hair under her bright white hijab. She straightens the decorative lace cascading down from the headscarf and gently nestles her microphone into its crochet work.

The newsroom quiets. The camera’s light flashes. Rahman is live.

After two years producing the station’s evening news, Rahman recently moved into an on-air role. She’s “living her dream” and, in the process, she has become the first woman to wear a hijab while reporting full-time for a mainstream American TV station, according to the Muslim American Women in Media group.


Ashrawi: “Israeli Violations Against Churches Are Attacks Aimed At All Palestinians”

Dr_Hanan_Ashrawi-e1519621632648Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) denounced the latest Israeli decision targeting churches and their property in occupied Jerusalem, and said that such violations not only target holy sites, but are attacks against all Palestinians.

She said that freezing church assets in occupied Jerusalem, and the illegal decision to impose taxes on church property, are very serious violations targeting holy sites in occupied Palestine.

“These churches and their lands have existed in the holy land centuries before the Israel occupied Palestine, including Jerusalem – The Palestinian identity and heritage include the oldest and contiguous Christian presence in the holy land,” Dr. Ashrawi added, “Israel is now violating international laws, and basic religious rights, in addition to violating the status quo of the holy sites.”




Islam in America

Ten years ago, Rageh Omaar embarked on a unique journey across the United States to reveal the truly surprising, counter-intuitive, and little-known world of Islam in America.

From the major conurbations of New York City and Chicago, to the small town hinterlands of Texas and the west, Al Jazeera pulled together the history of Islam in the US and painted a vivid portrait of a vibrant, diverse and growing group of followers of Islam that is unlike any Muslim community in the world.

Since then, much has changed globally, with the rise of ISIL, and in the US, with the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of “the free world”. Among the numerous controversial decisions that have come to pass under the Trump administration is what has come to be known as the Muslim travel ban – a law temporarily barring entry to the US for travellers from six different Muslim-majority countries.



Muslims and Christians Pray Together in Jordan “Church of Miracles”

cuhrchSALT GOVERNORATE  — Climbing up the 50 yellow stairs in the Salt Governorate leads visitors to a small iron gate that opens to what locals believe to be the church of miracles, known as “Al Khader Church”.

Father Marwan Taamneh, the church’s priest, told The Jordan Times in a recent visit that, despite its modest size, Saint George Church has been life changing for many believers, both Christian and Muslim.

He said that the actual church is located in the cave inside, where the whole story started in a cold winter night.

“As-Salt city is a hill town where people used to rely on shepherding along with other animal farms. One winter night, a shepherd took the town’s sheep to one of the caves for shelter from the heavy rain,” said Father Taamneh.

St George is said to have appeared to the shepherd inside the cave that evening, telling him to inform the villagers of the saint’s wish to build a church at “the exact same spot”. 

At that time, the cave was 1km long, and 1.5m high, according to Father Taameh who added that “sadly, due to modernisation and the establishment of new buildings, the cave almost completely vanished leaving no less than a big opening in the mountain inside the church.” 

“However”, he stressed, “visitors to the church can still see the depth of it from a small opening.”

“This 300-year old church is very special indeed,” Father Taamneh uttered, looking around the church with admiration. 

“Not only because of the story of its existence,” he continued, “or the many miraculous healings of difficult diseases, but because it is probably the only place in Jordan where Christians and Muslims pray together.”



British values do not conflict with teachings of Islam

imgID146352864.jpg.galleryTHE new Commission for Countering Extremism has been set up to fight opposition to fundamental British values including respect and tolerance for those with different beliefs.

As the founder of a charity that works to build a more peaceful and cohesive society, I have been bringing people together across religious divides since 1990. So why am I concerned about the creation of an organisation that is intended to play a key role in tackling those whose views threaten to tear society apart?

My parents taught me that Islam is a simple religion. It means ‘submission to God’ (‘Allah’ in Arabic), and those who accept this way of life wholeheartedly are called Muslims. We believe our religion is not a new one – it started with Adam, who was the first man. He was followed by 120,000 more prophets, including Moses, Jesus and finally Muhammad. All of them preached the same thing: submission to the will of Allah.

We believe in five things: that there is only one God and that Muhammad was the last prophet; praying five times a day; fasting for one month of the year; giving part of our wealth to the needy; and, if financially and physically able, going on pilgrimage once in a lifetime.

In addition, and this is critical, my parents taught me that I needed other essential qualities in order to be a Muslim – not necessarily a good one but simply qualifying for the name! These are trustworthiness, truthfulness, standing up for justice and equality between men and women, complying with the law of the land, respecting other people’s beliefs, loving children, honouring and looking after elderly parents and neighbours, and being loyal to any country you call home. These principles are central to the way of life of any true Muslim.



Muslims In America Are Just As American As Everyone Else — And We’re Afraid Too

5a8c2e3f210000c300601c28When I look in the mirror, I see short dark hair, brown skin, big eyes and probably a leather jacket. I’m pretty impressed with that woman.

But you know what a lot of other people see? A terrorist. Someone to be feared. Someone uneducated. Someone oppressed. Someone who can’t be trusted.

They see … a Muslim.

The sad fact is that many Americans are afraid of Muslims. After the terror attacks that have been associated with Muslims ― 9/11, the Boston Marathon, San Bernardino, to name a few ― it’s no surprise that Muslims are seen as bomb-hugging monsters. In movies, on TV, in the media, we are the bad guys. And if you are presented with the same image over and over again, it’s bound to stick.

Is it fair to blame all Muslims for the acts of a few bad people? No, of course not. Muslims in America are just as American as everyone else. We have the same hopes and dreams, the same fears and worries. To be brutally honest, we actually have more to worry about than other Americans.

Why? Because along with having the same fears as everyone else, we have the added fear of being Muslim in America.