Valls considers ban on foreign funding for mosques

The French government is considering banning the foreign financing of mosques as it reshapes its counter-extremism strategy following a fresh wave of terror attacks.

Manuel Valls, the Prime Minister, told Le Monde the prohibition would be for an indefinite period but gave no further detail on the policy.

“There needs to be a thorough review to form a new relationship with French Islam,” he added. “We live in a changed era and we must change our behaviour. This is a revolution in our security culture…the fight against radicalisation will be the task of a generation.”

Following the murder of a priest by teenage ISIS supporters at a church in Normandy and the Nice attack, Valls said France was “at war” and predicted further atrocities.

“This war, which does not only concern France, will be long and we will see more attacks,” he added.

“But we will win, because France has a strategy to win this war. First we must crush the external enemy.”

The French government has come under increasing criticism for failing to prevent atrocities, including the latest attack in Normandy.

Security services were tipped off that Abdel Malik Petitjean, 19, was planning an attack but police were reportedly unable to identify him from photos and a video showing him declaring allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.

He was already on country’s “fiche S” terror watchlist for attempting to travel to Syria in June but slipped through the net to re-enter France after being stopped by Turkish authorities. Petitjean and 19-year-old Adel Kermiche took six people hostage at a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray and slit the throat of its priest, Father Jacques Hamel, before being shot dead by police.

Kermiche was also known to security services and was wearing an electronic surveillance tag while on bail as he awaited trial for membership of a terror organisation at the time.

It came less than a fortnight after the Nice attack, when a Tunisian man killed 84 people and injured 300 more when he ploughed a lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was not among the 10,000 names on the “fiche S” but the inclusion of terrorists including several of the Paris attackers, the two Charlie Hebdo gunmen and their accomplice Amedy Coulibaly, as well as a lorry driver who beheaded his manager and attempted to blow up a chemical plant has shown the system to be ineffective.

Intelligence officials have admitted that they are under-resourced to deal with the potential threat from each individual, who would need up to 20 people monitoring them every day.

France’s continuing state of emergency has drastically expanded detention powers, sparking a wave of controversial house arrests since November.

Responding to criticism, Mr Valls said his government would not create a “French Guantanamo” or be swayed by populism.

Man who criticized church’s Ramadan message goes to mosque

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania politician who apologized for criticizing a church that posted a message wishing Muslims a “blessed Ramadan” attended a worship service and dined at a Harrisburg mosque.
School board member Matthew Jansen, invited to attend the Hadee Mosque on Friday, told members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that his remarks earlier were part of a “knee-jerk reaction.”
Jansen is a member of the Spring Grove Area School District, based in York County, in the Harrisburg area.

Ali coming home as ‘citizen’ of world for Louisville funeral

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Muhammad Ali’s younger brother wept, swayed to hymns and hugged anyone he could reach. He raised his hands to the sky, eyes closed, surrounded by congregants at the church where their father once worshipped.
Rahaman Ali took center stage at the two-hour, high-energy service at King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church, sitting in a front-row pew with his wife, Caroline. The church is not far from the little pink house in Louisville’s west end where the Ali brothers grew up.
Ali’s body was returned to his grieving hometown for the final time. An airplane carrying the boxing great’s body landed Sunday afternoon.
At his father’s church, the congregation stood in tribute, prayed for the former three-time heavyweight champion and his family and even dug into their pockets, filling a collection plate for Rahaman and his wife as a show of support.

Michigan mosque takes in homeless Unitarian Church

(RNS) The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Lansing is getting a new church this spring — but not quite soon enough.

Hearing of construction lags and its neighbor’s need for a temporary home, a mosque in East Lansing offered up its worship space — for free.

“No charge whatsoever,” said the Rev. Kathryn Bert. “It’s been a lovely story to live. It has been a beautiful relationship.”

From Islam to Christ: the Conversion of Muslims from the Director of the Apostle

In an interview with director Cheyenne Carrone, whose latest movie The Apostle pays homage to a priest that she knew in her childhood whose daughter was killed by a young Muslim. The priest wanted to remain living near the boy’s parents “to help them live.” She was also inspired by a former Muslim who converted to Christianity and attended the same church as her.

She said that it is less likely for someone to convert from Islam to Christianity because it is forbidden. One hadith states, “One who leaves the religion, kill them.” She recognizes that in France this doesn’t happen and that “many Muslims are tolerant of conversion to Christianity when it comes to their brothers.”

When asked if she felt that “the difficulty for some Muslims to accept the conversion of their brethren tends to intensify,” she said “I don’t know. But I have a feeling that on the contrary things are changing, and that tolerance is slowly growing.”

Carrone has had difficulty finding movie theaters that will show her film due to its subject.

Muslim parent upset over school flyer promoting church’s Easter egg hunt

April 4, 2014

 

Some Muslim parents are concerned about public schools in Dearborn handing out flyers to all students advertising an Easter egg hunt, saying it violates the principle of church and state separation.

A flyer headlined “Eggstravaganza!” was given to students this week at three elementary schools in the Dearborn Public Schools district, which has a substantial number of Muslim students. The flyer described an April 12 event at Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn featuring an egg hunt, relay race, and egg toss. It asked students to RSVP “to secure your free spot” and included images of eggs and a bunny.

“It really bothered my two kids,” said parent Majed Moughni, who is Muslim and has two children, ages 7 and 9, in Dearborn elementary schools. “My son was like, ‘Dad, I really don’t feel comfortable getting these flyers, telling me to go to church. I thought churches are not supposed to mix with schools.’ ”

Moughni said he’s concerned about “using school teachers paid by public funds … to pass out these flyers that are being distributed by a church. I think that’s a serious violation of separation of church and state.”

David Mustonen, spokesman for Dearborn Public Schools, did not respond Thursday to several requests by the Free Press for comment.

The pastor of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church defended the flyer, saying it was approved for distribution by Dearborn Public Schools and is not promoting a religious event.

“It’s designed to be an opportunity to invite the community to come for a day of activity,” said Pastor Neeta Nichols of Cherry Hill. “There is not a religious component to this event.”

And in recent years, other Muslim parents have complained about what they say are attempts to convert their children. The Conquerors, a Grandville-based group of Christian athletes who display feats of strength to spread the message of Jesus, have performed in Dearborn schools, drawing some concern. In 2009, there was controversy over an assistant wrestling coach who some parents said was trying to convert Muslim wrestlers, which the coach denied.

Moughni said he greatly respects Christianity, but believes that schools should not promote events related to religious holidays. He said he would oppose flyers that promoted events at mosques as well.

Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/article/20140404/NEWS05/304040016/Muslim-parents-upset-over-flier-promoting-Easter-egg-hunt-at-church

Church Dialogue on Islam

January 12, 2014

 

While world events play out around the globe, it can be hard to fully grasp the role that religion plays. One local church is helping people better understand the world around them, but not exclusively through Christianity. “Welcome to Christ Episcopal Church if you’re visiting. This is our Tour of Islam,” said Adult Formation Leader at Christ Episcopal Church Charles Crawley. Islam is one of the world’s largest religions, accounting for about 20 % of the earth’s population. But, “people are just trying to understand what it is, because we just don’t have a good basic understanding,” said Crawley.

Kirkwood Professor of Religion Dr. Peter Jauhiainen says people often narrowly define the religion. “That provides a distorted understanding of what it’s all about,” said Dr. Jauhiainen. So Christ Episcopal Church organized its Tour of Islam. The idea is to help people of all faiths have a better understanding of world events and other religions. “We, it seems to me, operate on rumors, on information from people who don’t have a complete understanding,” said Doug Anderson.

Those misconceptions can easily affect how we understand the world around us, both past and present. “The other thing I remember from ’73 is the Arab Oil Embargo. Most of us are old enough to remember 25-cent gas,” said Dr. Jauhiainen.
Organizers say knowing more about our surroundings often leads to knowing more about other people, but simple tolerance isn’t enough. “Tolerance is lower on the diversity scale if you want to speak that way. But to move to acceptance, approval and affirmation of people that are different than us,” said Crawley. “I’m more concerned about understanding broad ideas and movements and changing attitudes, that’s more important,” said Dr. Jauhiainen.
CBS Iowa: http://www.cbs2iowa.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/church-dialogue-islam-24459.shtml

No obligations for the usage of coffins during Muslim funerals

December 11, 2013

 

The parliament of the State of Baden-Württemberg has agreed to abolish the obligation for coffins during funeral processes. More than 650.000 Muslims live in the State of Baden-Württemberg and were left uncertain, whether to return the bodies of their members to the countries of origin or to ask for a Muslim funeral. Also, there will be no need to prove the religious affiliation of Muslims. This was a controversial topic. Unlike many Christians, Muslims are not members of a formal recognized church. The fraction of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was concerned about the rise of Muslim funerals.

 

Die Welt: http://www.welt.de/regionales/stuttgart/article122820601/Das-Ende-der-Sargpflicht-soll-kommen.html

Religious Groups’ Views on End-of-Life Issues

November 21, 2013

 

In the following summaries, religious leaders, scholars and ethicists from 16 major American religious groups explain how their faith traditions’ teachings address physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia and other end-of-life questions. (For an in-depth look at public opinion on end-of-life issues, see “Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments.” And for an overview of the political, legal and ethical dimensions of the end-of-life debate, see “To End Our Days.”)

Assemblies of God

The Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, opposes physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. The denomination teaches that life is a sacred gift and that only God should determine when life ends. “We simply feel that it is not our prerogative to end life,” says Edgar R. Lee, chairman of the church’s Commission on Doctrinal Purity. “God is the giver of life, not us.”

At the same time, the church allows that life need not be sustained at all costs when there is no hope for recovery. “We leave room for people to [reject] artificial means of life support,” Lee says. Indeed, he adds, the church “does not frown on” the use of pain medication to alleviate suffering, “even in cases where it might contribute to hastening death.”

Islam

Islamic teachings oppose physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. “Muslims believe that life is sacred and comes from God; therefore it is a sin to take life,” says David Stephen Powers, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Islam also teaches that God alone decides how long someone will live and when they will die, according to Ayman Shabana, a visiting fellow at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass. “There is this reluctance … to make any kind of decisions that would end life prematurely because it is believed that [these decisions] are solely in the hands of God,” Shabana says.

Islam’s views on such issues as assisted suicide and euthanasia also are influenced by the belief that suffering and other difficulties might be beneficial, Shabana says. “There is this notion that you don’t always know what’s good for you,” he says, “so it may be right that you should go through some kind of difficulty that tests your faith.” Indeed, Shabana says, “in the Islamic tradition, end-of-life suffering is seen as a way to purify previous sins so that by the time you meet God, you do so in a [more pure] state.”

While Islamic thinkers oppose hastening death, they also generally believe that the terminally ill need not employ extraordinary means and technologies to delay dying. “We are basically talking about the difference between a conscious decision to end life, which is wrong, and life ending by itself,” Shabana says, adding that the line between the two is not always clearly defined.

For more information:

Aramesh, K., and Shadi, H. 2007. “Euthanasia: An Islamic Ethical Perspective.” Iranian Journal of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, volume 6, supplement 5, pages 35-38.

 

PEW.com: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/11/21/religious-groups-views-on-end-of-life-issues/

Young Italian Muslims Festival

By Maria Teresa Martinengo

November 18, 2013

As part of the Youth festival in Turin, an exhibition of images in Turin is on view, an orientation program, a day of “open mosques,” walks through places of worship in San Salvario, a lecture on the Quran and the prophets of the Bible, and the play ” the taste of pistachios.” Additionally, the festival will host sports tournaments, a meeting on the family in Islamic countries, and art workshops on photography. The program is part of the fourth annual Young Italian Muslims in the North West, which opens Saturday morning in Piazza Castello. The 2013 edition is proposed as a Festival, a series of events by which the GMI even more than in years past, “make themselves available” in a city of youths mostly born to parents originating from Egypt and Morocco.

 

The program

“Turin with New Eyes” is a tribute to the first capital of Italy: a photographic exhibition in Turin seen through the eyes of the city’s “new” citizens it will be on display on Saturday in Piazza Castello, from 10am to 8pm.

“The Future” is a project dedicated to career choices and university orientations. Through the knowledge of the professions, the orientation will present the new world of work and courses of study offered by the University of Turin and the Piedmont region. The project, which will take place in schools throughout the school year, will debut on Saturday.

 

The theater company

The Theatre Company of Young Muslims of Italy (GMI  Section of Turin) will perform “The Taste of pistachio.” Which will show a multitude of different characters on stage.

Additionally, after Turin Spirituality, 2013, the Group proposes to read the pages of the Koran, which special attention to verses about the prophets, Wednesday 27, at 8 pm.

 

Mosques open

The program includes art workshops, male and female football tournaments and various sporting events, including “On the Path of Knowledge,” a walk in the atmosphere of interfaith San Salvario: from Waldensian Evangelical church to the church of Saints Peter and Paul, Saturday 30 at 10 am. The same morning, from 9am to 12pm, mosques will be open to visitors.

 

La Stampa: http://www.lastampa.it/2013/11/18/cronaca/presentato-il-festival-dei-giovani-musulmani-italiani-PGO21m5NITnR7loCrNQpqJ/pagina.html