Tuesday, May 3, 2016

US Rel.Freedom Org.Lists New "Hall of Shame;" China,Burma,N. Korea,Iran Top Rel. Abuse List

The right to exercise religion became worse around the world in 2015, according to a new report from a bipartisan United States commission, affecting Christians, Jews, Muslims, among others, the National Catholic Register website reports today (May 3, 2016).

"By any measure, religious freedom abroad has been under serious and sustained assault since the release of our commission's last annual report in 2015," Robert George, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), stated yesterday. He was speaking at the release of USCIRF's annual religious freedom report.

One of the commission's main tasks is to publish an annual report on the global state of religious freedom, noting the countries with the worst abuses against the freedom to practice religion.

Among the report's recommendations is a list of countries where the worst violations of religious freedom are taking place. The commission's current "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPC) list includes China, Burma, North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Eritrea. USCIRF has also asked the State Department to designate seven more nations as CPCs: Central African Republic, Nigeria, Iraq, Vietnam, Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria.

Monday, May 2, 2016

German AfD Party Adopts Anti-Islam Manifesto; Party Bans Minarets,Call to Prayer,Full-Face Veil

The German anti-immigrant party -- "Alternative for Germany" (AfD) -- has adopted an anti-Islam manifesto on the second day of its two-day conference in Stuttgart, the Euro News website reports today (May 2, 2016).

Members voted to include a ban on minarets, the call to prayer, and the full-face veil.

AfD party co-leader Jorg Meuthen said after the vote that Islam was not part of Germany.

He added: "Sharia [Islamic law] on German soil cannot be allowed. Also the treatment of women as is described in the Koran, in our point of view, is not compatible with the German constitution. Still, this does not mean that we turn against Muslims who are integrated and live peacefully here."

Fire Destroys Serbian Orthodox Church on Easter; St. Sava Church Played Critical Role for NYC Serbs

An historic Serbian Orthodox Church in Manhattan that plays an important role in New York's Serbian community was gutted by flames yesterday, just hours after parishioners had filled its pews for Easter services, the NY Times website reports today (May 2, 2016).

The New York Fire Department said it received the first report of the blaze at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava -- on West 26th Street between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas in the Flatiron district -- shortly before 7 p.m. It grew to a four-alarm fire that took 168 department personnel to tame, fire officials said.

The fire occurred after an Easter luncheon that stretched into the late afternoon and capped several busy days of Orthodox Christian celebrations, officials said.

Frank Gribbon -- a fire department spokesman who was at the scene last night -- said the blaze did not appear to be suspicious. He added, "There is so much damage you can't find the point of origin."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Car Bomb Attack Kills 2 Turkish Police Oficers; Wounds at Least 22 Near IS-Held Terr.in Syria

A car bomb explosion outside police headquarters in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep today (May 1, 2016) killed at least two police officers and wounded at least 22 other people, according to the VOA (Voice of America) News website

Turkish media quoted Gaziantep regional governor Ali Yerlikaya as saying many of those wounded in today's blast are police officers.

Gaziantep is the sixth largest city in Turkey with a population of 1.5 million and is located about 55 kilometers from Islamic State (IS) controlled territory along the Syrian border.

The city serves as a major hub for refugees fleeing the war in Syria. The Islamic State is believed to be responsible for the explosion.

Poll: Most Young Americans Disfavor Capitalism; Govt. Should Provide Health Insurance,Other Aid

A new Harvard University poll shows that young Americans are fed up with capitalism and feel it has outlived itself, the Alter Net website reports today (May 1, 2016).

According to the results, 51 percent of young adults aged 18-29 oppose capitalism in its current form. By contrast, only 42 percent of people drawn from a pool of 3,183 individuals -- selected by Knowledge Panel, a probability-based database designed to be representative of the U.S. population -- opted in favor of the global economic order.

Unfortunately, the results showed no consensus regarding an alternative solution. (Obviously, communism or even socialism are not viewed as viable alternatives for replacing capitalism.)

On the issue of increasing government intervention to regulate the economy, roughly one in three respondents said this would be effective. Also, almost half of the respondents were in agreement that "basic health insurance is a right for all people" and that "basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them."

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Pope:Christians Should Not Lead Double Lives; They Must Not Say One Thing and Do Another

During morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta yesterday, Pope Francis warned Christians against having double lives -- displaying an outer facade of light, but having darkness in their hearts -- the Independent Catholic News website reports today (April 30, 2016).

Reflecting on St. John's First Letter, Pope Francis spoke of the eternal struggle against sin, saying we must be pure like the Father but even if we sin we can count on His pardon and His tenderness.

He stressed the Apostle's warning to believers to tell the truth and not have double lives, saying one thing but doing another.

"If you say you are in communion with the Lord, then walk in the light. But no to double lives! Not that! That lie that we are so used to seeing and where we too sometimes fall, don't we? To say one thing and do another, right? It's the never ending temptation. And we know where that lie comes from: in the Bible, Jesus calls the devil 'the father of lies,' the liar..."

Muslim Prayer Hall on Corsica Island Set on Fire; Prayer Hall in Corsica Also Ransacked 4 Mos. Ago

A Muslim prayer hall was seriously damaged by fire last night in the capital of the French island of Corsica -- four months after another Muslim prayer hall there was ransacked -- the Reuters website reports today (April 30, 2016).

No one was injured in the fire in the city of Ajaccio (birthplace of the famous French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte), which police are investigating as criminal after finding two separate sources of fire inside the hall.

"This is unacceptable," Ajaccio mayor Laurent Marcangeli said on Corsican television. "Those sites are not sufficiently protected."

In late December, the Mediterranean island was rocked by days of racial tension after firemen in Ajaccio were attacked on a housing estate with a large immigrant population and a Muslim prayer hall was attacked in anti-immigrant protests that followed.