A group of 13 Greek Orthodox nuns who were abducted by a jihadist militia that raided their town in Syria on December 1 were seen attesting to their well being in a video aired on Al Jazeera Friday afternoon. It is a great relief to see that they were still alive. Other jihadist videos have been surfacing on social media, including a spate in recent days, graphically documenting their bloodletting, according to links in the Catholic service Asia News.
"The brothers are treating us well and have brought us from the convent here and we are very happy," one of the sisters is heard saying. Each of the sisters reportedly took turns speaking to the camera.
On Wednesday, the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch told the international press that the nuns were in Yabrud, some 80 kilometers north of Damascus. However, their exact whereabouts have not been confirmed and church sources say they are being held captive by extremist rebels. more >>
Yet another phenomenon with a long paper trail in Islamic history has just taken place, even as the Western "mainstream"-little acquainted with true history or reality-dismisses it as an aberration. Asia News has the details:
Islamist rebels have kidnapped a group of nuns from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St Thecla (Mar Taqla) in Maaloula [an ancient Christian community where Christians were earlier forced to convert to Islam or die]… "Armed men burst in the monastery of St Thecla in Maaloula this afternoon [Dec. 2]. From there, they forcibly took 12 women religious," Mgr Zenari said …. Neither the nuncio nor the Greek Orthodox Church know [the] reason behind the kidnapping.
The "reason behind the kidnapping"? Sexual abuse and rape certainly should not be discounted, as these have been the lot of thousands of women abducted by U.S.-sponsored "freedom fighters" in Syria. Indeed, a new report issued by the National Reconciliation Commission in Syria states that some 37,000 women have been raped since the war started. more >>
A historically Methodist, Texas university now offers a prayer room for its Muslim students.
Following a 2012 meeting betwen Texas Wesleyan University (TWU) president Frederick Slabach and Mohammed Khalid M. Alshafei, the head of the Saudi Students Club, the university designated a space in its gym for Muslim students to pray.
"The reasons for this (prayer room) are two-fold," Rev. Dr. Robert K. Flowers, the Wesleyan chaplain, told The Rambler, TWU's school newspaper. "One, to show hospitality to our foreign students and, two, our campus needs to be open and tolerant of other faith traditions whether it is Islam, Hindu, Jewish, or otherwise." more >>
An American chemistry teacher working abroad in Benghazi, Libya was shot and killed by gunmen Thursday during his routine jog near the U.S. Consulate, security sources in the country confirmed Thursday. The man died one week before he was supposed to travel back to his native state of Texas to celebrate Christmas with his wife and young son.
Security official Ibrahim al-Sharaa said that it is unclear why the Texas-native chemistry teacher working at Libya's International School Benghazi was shot, although he was doing his regular exercise routine close to the U.S. Consulate, where Islamic militants attacked and killed American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September. The city's International School is a government-owned institution that follows American standards for curriculum, according to the Association Press.
"He was doing his morning exercise when gunmen just shot him. I don't know why. He was so sweet with everyone," Adel al Mansouri, director at the school, told Reuters. Libya's special forces have reportedly been struggling to contain Islamic extremists in the country, especially in Benghazi. Members of the militant Ansar al-Sharia group reportedly inhabit the city, and this same group is the one the U.S. blames for the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate. more >>
The "Joint Plan of Action" signed with Iran by the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.) on Nov. 24 in Geneva caused Shiite Arabs to celebrate, Sunni Arabs to worry, and Saudis to panic. The Saudi response will have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.
As Iran's chief negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, brought home a deal worth about US $23 billion to Iran, Arab Shiites fell into step with Tehran. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq expressed his "full support for this step." President Bashar al-Assad of Syria welcomed the agreement as "the best path for securing peace and stability." Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri of Lebanon called it the "deal of the century." And Hezbollah considered the agreement a "great victory for Iran."
Among Sunni Arabic-speakers, in contrast, responses ranged from politely supportive to displeased to alarmed. Perhaps most enthusiastic was the Egyptian governmental newspaper Al-Ahram, which called the deal "historic." Most states stayed mum. Saudis expressed the most worry. Yes, the government cabinet officially stated that "If there is goodwill, then this agreement could be an initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution to Iran's nuclear program," but note the skepticism conveyed in the first four words. more >>
Members of the government of the Republic of Turkey have expressed consideration in turning a notable landmark that was once a church into a mosque.
Hagia Sophia, originally built as a cathedral and presently a museum, may be turned into a mosque, recently commented Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.