Four Steps to Christianize Muslims

An ordained minister from Ghana recently gave participants in a high-profile international meeting of evangelicals in the US a four-step recipe to convert Muslims, The Christian Today reported on Wednesday, August 20. “Show interest in knowing their beliefs, fears, and joys,” Dr John Azumah told the Inside-Out Evangelical Conference in California last week, describing the first step. Germany-based Evangelical Alliance distributed in last Ramadan calendars featuring special prayers for Muslims to be guided to Christianity. Last December, the Roman Catholic Church defended its “right and duty” to spread its message to non-Christians.

Milan mosque to be closed down

A mosque in Milan that has been deemed controversial by some, is to be shut down, said the Italian government. The Jenner mosque has about 4,000 worshippers each week, and people often spill out onto the streets during Friday prayers. After complaints from local residents, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said that he will close the mosque by this August. The Catholic church has come out in support of the Muslim community in Milan, and leading Roman Catholic Monsignor Gianfranco Bottoni accused Mr. Maroni of behaving like a fascist. A local statium has offered space for worshippers to pray for the time being. However, the stadium would only be available four days a week, and each person would be charged on entry. The president of the Jenner mosque, Abdel Hamid Shaari said that he is happy to pay, but the mosque’s members won’t be treated like nomads. Those who choose to pray outside the mosque in protest would be fined this according to a law regarding the obstruction of streets and passageways. While no specific reason has been cited for the mosque’s closure, the move is related to community complaints about the mosque being in a residential area, and concerns over hygiene issues related to halal butchers operating from inside the mosque.

Scottish first minister backs state funded Muslim faith school

Scotland’s first state-funded Islamic school could get the go-ahead within months after First Minister Alex Salmond declared he was “sympathetic” towards the controversial move. Campaigners are planning to submit a detailed proposal for the faith school to Glasgow City Council within two months and officials last night confirmed they would consult on the proposal. But former Scottish education minister Sam Galbraith condemned the move as a “retrograde step”, arguing that it would be bad for the Muslim community by hindering integration. Scotland has around 43,000 Muslims, about 18,000 of them in Glasgow. While there are more than 100 Islamic schools south of the border, both private and state-supported, Scottish Muslims have so far failed to establish a faith school and some in the community question whether it is a good idea in an age of increased ethnic and religious tension. Scotland has more than 400 publicly funded Roman Catholic schools as well as three state-supported Scottish Episcopalian schools and a publicly funded Jewish school. A spokesman for Salmond said: “We are very much sympathetic to the idea. The First Minister is supportive. He thinks that faith schools are a good thing and they make a great contribution to Scotland. The issue is whether there is a sustainable demand for them. “We would expect a local authority to react positively where there is a sustainable case.”

Tony Blair to call on faith leaders to ‘awaken the world’s conscience’

Tony Blair will today spell out why he believes faith and young people can solve the problems of the world and will call on religious leaders to work together to “awaken the world’s conscience. In his first major speech in the UK since leaving Downing Street last year, the former Prime Minister will address the whole area of faith in a global context, a subject about which he is passionate. Mr Blair is expected to be greeted by anti-Iraq war protesters when he speaks this evening at Westminster Cathedral, the UK’s Roman Catholic flagship and Mr Blair’s spiritual home for his time in London as Prime Minister. The cathedral has attained even more significance since his conversion to Roman Catholicism shortly before Christmas last year. Mr Blair, a Middle East peace envoy, will use the speech to flag up the work of his new Tony Blair Faith Foundation which he will launch officially next month. He has high earning capacity as a popular and charismatic speaker. Earlier this year he earned $300,000 for a speech to the banking giant Goldman Sachs in Florida, and last year he earned _240,000 in Dongguan, southern China. Ruth Gledhill reports.

Talks on international role with Scottish faith community

Scottish faith leaders have met with Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, to discuss how they and the government can work in partnership to help meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Mr Alexander recognised the prominent role that Faith Leaders and Faith Groups are playing in international development, and listened to their ideas about how they could best work together to help reduce world poverty. He said: “We are keen to build strong partnerships with the faith community. They are in a unique position to play an important role in tackling world poverty. The Prime Minister and the UN Secretary General have declared 2008 as a critical year to accelerate efforts to tackle world poverty. I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with faith leaders to discuss the role the faith community here in Scotland might play.” The attendees included amongst others: Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Head of the Catholic Church in Scotland; Shobha Nagpal, President of Hindu Temple in Glasgow; David Cameron, Church of Scotland Glasgow Presbytery; Archbishop Mario Conti, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow; Paul Chitnis, Chief Executive of Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF); Dharmacari Shantiketu, Western Buddhist Order; Jack Purba, General secretary to the Glasgow Gurdwara Council and Secretary of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Temple) in Glasgow; Ghulam Rabbani, Islam; Muhammad Shaheen, President of the Islamic Council of Scotland; Imam Habib-ur-Rahman, Islam; Rabbi Moshe Rubin, leader of Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue; Tom Harrigan, Glasgow Inter-Faith Liaison Officer.

Worker sacked for ‘insulting’ Muslims for covering up cross

A hospital porter was “devastated” after he was sacked following a row with a Muslim doctor over a crucifix. Joseph Protano, a devout Roman Catholic, was a regular visitor to a prayer room open to all faiths at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. But Protono, 54, became increasingly angry to find that a crucifix and a statue of the Virgin Mary were regularly being left covered up. On one visit he discovered three Muslims – two patients and a consultant – inside the prayer room with the two icons masked by a cloth. A picture of the Virgin Mary had also been placed face down. The Muslims accused Protano of using racist language and assault, but he strongly denies the charges against him and claims they verbally abused him. Protano, from Salford, was suspended four days after the incident in December and has now been fired. He said he was unable to comment because he planned to appeal, but friends admitted he was “totally shocked and devastated”. Police released him after four hours of questioning following the assault complaint and passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide if he should be charged.

Cherie Blair criticises the veil

Cherie Blair has criticised Muslim religious dress for women under situations where they it is not _freely undertaken” and where it fails to acknowledge “the woman’s right to be a person”. A practising Roman Catholic and wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, she warned against the full-face veil (niqab) worn by strictly Islamic women worldwide because it could prevent a woman from expressing her personality.

Spain’s Migrants Encounter Social Acceptance and Institutional Resistance

{This article explores Spain’s Islamic legacy and how this history impacts the experiences of the latest wave of Muslim immigrants. According to the author, the Catholicization of the country (beginning in the 13th Century) involved a concerted effort by the Church to expel or convert threatening elements from its midst, including Jews and Muslims. Though Spanish culture and society in some ways provide familiar and accomodating spaces for Muslim immigrants now, habits of institutional resistance to Muslims are still maintained by the Catholic Church.} Original Title: Spain’s migrants ‘seek jobs not conquest’ By Leslie Crawford in Madrid On the cobblestones outside the great 8th century mosque in C_rdoba, once the largest mosque in the western world, Mansur Escudero, a Spanish convert to Islam, unfolds his prayer mat and kneels down to pray. Muslims are not allowed to pray inside. The Roman Catholic Church, custodian of the building since the 13th century, says it would “confuse” Christians to see Muslims worshipping there. Mr Escudero has lobbied the Vatican to transform the C_rdoba mosque into an ecumenical place of worship, – “a symbol of religious tolerance and co-existence,” he says – but his campaign has not met with success…

The politics of mosque-building : Constructing conflict

In many Western cities, plans to erect mosques often stir more passion than any other local issue-and politicians are leaping into the fray. NOT since Cologne was rebuilt half a century ago, out of the rubble of war, has a change in the urban landscape generated so much heat. A city whose main landmark is a medieval cathedral may soon share its skyline with another place of worship: a large mosque with minarets more than 50 metres (165 feet) high. While the city’s (mainly Turkish) Muslim population of over 120,000 is looking forward to the new building-a sign, perhaps, that it has finally put down roots in a country that long treated migrant workers as guests-Cologne as a whole is deeply divided. A poll found that 36% of residents were happy with the mosque plan, 29% wanted to see it scaled down and 31% were entirely against it. The no and yes camps are not just passionate, they are diverse. Those who approve the plan include many Roman Catholic clergy. But a far-right party, Pro Cologne, which holds five of the 90 seats in the city council, has done well by drumming up opposition to the mosque.

Construction of mosque in German city fuels objections from Catholics, right-wingers

On Muslim holidays, hundreds of faithful hoping to pray at the city’s Ditib Mosque are forced to spread their prayer rugs in a nearby parking lot and follow the service on loudspeakers. The mosque holds only 600 people. Yet plans to replace the flat-roofed storefront mosque with a new house of worship, complete with dome and two 177-foot-tall minarets, have triggered an angry response from right-wing groups and, most recently, Cologne’s Roman Catholic archbishop. Mehmet Orman, 43, a Turkish immigrant who prays every night at Ditib Mosque ignoring its broken windows and worn-out prayer rugs hopes construction can begin, as scheduled, by the end of the year. “There are 2.7 million Turks in Germany of course we need a big, representative mosque in this country,” Orman said. Construction of mosques in Europe has rarely happened without much hand-wringing. In France, the scene of riots in largely Muslim and African suburbs in 2005, and Britain, which has just been threatened by a new wave of Islamic terror plots, there have also been protests against the building of new mosques.