DNA study shows Spain’s Jewish and Muslim ancestry

The genetic signatures of Spaniards and Portuguese are providing evidence of the mass conversion of Muslims and Sephardic Jews to Catholicism during the 15th and 16th centuries. Eleven percent were found to have DNA reflecting Moorish ancestors, according to geneticists. The finding bears weight on two different views of Spanish history – that Spanish civilization is Catholic and other influences are foreign, or that Spain has been thoroughly enriched by drawing from all three of its historical cultures, including Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim. The genetic studies were based on examining the Y-chromosome in people, as the Y-chromosome remains unchanged from father to son, detecting similarities in those in the present population with those just after the expulsions of the 15th and 16th centuries.

See full-text articles:

International Herald Tribune

The Guardian

New York Times

United Press International

Officials recommend the Netherlands scrap anti-blasphemy law

An anti-blasphemy law in the Netherlands which dates back to the 1930s, is being called outdated and a law of favoritism, and officials are recommending that it be replaced by an anti-discrimination law instead. Officials from several Dutch parties argued that the anti-blasphemy law offers unfair protection for religious groups, but that an anti-discrimination law would protect all groups evenly. In scrapping the anti-blasphemy law, the cabinet is now making moves to strengthen anti-discrimination laws against all backgrounds, and taking the religious component out of being implicit in the equation.

See full-text articles:

United Press International

Radio Netherlands

CAIR Welcomes GOP Call for Resignation of Anti-Muslim Leader

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) welcomed a resignation call by the New Mexico Republican party concerning local GOP leader Marcia Stirman, who wrote that Barack Obama is “a Muslim socialist” and “Muslims are our enemies” in a recent letter.

A party official said that Ms. Stirman’s statements do not speak for the Republican party. A CAIR executive said that the group welcomed the response and criticism of “Ms. Stirman’s disturbing and un-American views,” saying that “no political party should accept or excuse religious intolerance.”

See full text articles:

Wall Street Journal

CAIR

Denver Post

United Press International

Market Watch

Italian lawyers seek Condoleezza Rice testimony

The lawyers for a former Italian chief of intelligence want to call US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a witness in the trial of 26 Americans charged in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric. Defense lawyer Nicola Madia, who said that Rice’s testimony is significant, considering that she was in charge of the CIA’s rendition program, filed the request. Italian judge Oscar Magi is expected to make a decision on the request in October.

See full-text articles:

International Herald Tribune

Associated Press

United Press International

Controversy Over Novel About Muhammad’s Bride Continues

U.S. publishing company Random House will not publish a planned novel by Sherry Jones, called “The Jewel of Medina,” that was expected to hit stores on August 12th. The Islamically-themed novel explores Aisha, the child bride of the prophet Muhammad, who overcame a number of obstacles to reach her potential as a revered woman and leader in Islam. Random House said that it has been advised that the fictional novel, might be offensive to some Muslims, and “could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.” “The Jewel of Medina” traces the life of Aisha, who is often cited to have been Muhammad’s favorite wife, and is believed to have been engaged to the prophet from the age of six. Muslim writer and feminist Asra Nomani published a column in the Wall Street Journal, saying that she was “saddened” by the book’s scrapping, saying that the move is “a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world.” Others, including Denise Spellberg, a professor from the University of Texas in Austin, said that the book was “ugly,” “stupid,” and was “soft core pornography.” The decision to indefinitely delay the novel’s release was made in consideration for the safety of the author, employees of the publisher, booksellers, and others involved in the distribution or sale of the novel.

See full-text articles:

Chronicle of Higher Education

Washington Post

The Guardian

United Press International

BBC

The Telegraph