The religious persecution in Syria deepened this week, as evidenced by a written ultimatum purportedly distributed by the rebel jihadist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) to Christians in the northern provincial capital of Raqqa. Rejecting conversion to Islam or death, some 20 Christian leaders of that city held firm in their faith and submitted to the Islamists' demands to live by as dhimmis.
Under this arrangement, in exchange for their lives and the ability to worship as Christians, they must abide by purported seventh-century rules of the Caliph Umar. According to the Raqqa ultimatum, these include bans on renovating and rebuilding churches and monasteries, many of which need repair because they've been shelled and blown up over the past three years, and bans against the public display of crosses and Christian symbols and the ringing of bells. They are forbidden from reading scripture indoors loud enough for Muslims outside to hear, and the practice of their faith must be confined within the walls of their remaining churches, not exercised publicly (at, for example, funeral or wedding processions).
They are prohibited from saying anything offensive about Muslims or Islam. The women must be enshrouded, and alcohol is banned. more >>
A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Google must remove an anti-Islam film that generated riots across the Middle East and Asia in September 2012.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision rejected the tech company's argument that removing the video from its online video website, YouTube, would violate the company's First Amendment protections, reported The Associated Press.
Two judges' proved sympathetic to actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who claimed that she had been cast for a small role known as "Desert Warrior," for which director Mark Basseley Youssef had paid her $500. But while the film she had signed up for never materialized, Garcia later found out that the scene had instead been used in the "Innocence of Muslims." more >>
Pop singer Katy Perry has been accused by some in the Muslim community that her latest video, "Dark Horse," is blasphemous due to its representation of a pendant with the words "Allah" written in Arabic.
The music video, released on Feb. 20, shows Perry dressed as an Egyptian princess, choosing from a series of suitors who present her with gifts such as jewelry and fine foods. The first of these suitors is a young man wearing a gold cape and various jewels, who presents the pop singer with a large diamond. At the 1:15 mark in the video, the camera shows the man wearing a necklace with a pendant that reads "Allah" in the Arabic language. Once Perry receives the diamond, she shows her displeasure with the gift by turning the suitor into dust using lightning, and with him goes the religious-themed necklace.
Some in the Muslim community who have viewed the music video argue that the dissolving of the "Allah" pendant necklace is blasphemous. Shazad Iqbal, a Muslim man from Bradford, England, started an online petition urging YouTube to remove Perry's new video. The "Dark Horse" video has attracted over 30 million views on YouTube since it was uploaded on Feb. 20, and Iqbal's online petition has received over 40,000 signatures. more >>
A new video of the twelve Christian nuns kidnapped in Syria recently appeared. In it, the nuns are taped sitting in a room and being questioned by an unseen man, presumably a member of the kidnappers. He asks them how they are, if they've been mistreated, etc.
They respond that they are being treated fine, that they very much look forward to being returned to their convent, that they heartily thank the world for its concern, and that they continually pray that God grant peace to all nations.
Their words say one thing, their expressions and demeanor another. Put differently, as female captives of Islamic jihadis, what else could they say but what they were told to say? Even if one of them dared to say the "wrong thing," it naturally would have been edited out. Who knows how many takes it took to get the video-which includes a bizarre clip of the nuns having a snowball fight with their abductors-just right? more >>
The New York Times has finally found a victim of Islamic aggression in Nigeria worth reporting on: homosexuals. In a big spread complete with pictures appearing last week, the NYT's Adam Nossiter wrote "Wielding Whip and a Hard New Law, Nigeria Tries to 'Sanitize' Itself of Gays."
While it's all well and good to expose the persecution of any group, why does the NYT remain silent about the much more endemic and savage jihad to "sanitize" Nigeria of Christians-a jihad that has seen countless Christians butchered and countless churches destroyed?
A 2012 meeting of Nigerian church heads concluded that "the pattern of these killings [of Christians] does suggest to us a systematic ethnic and religious cleansing." more >>
A group of Korean Christians are planning to build a "peace center" for a Christian community in Pakistan that was hit by a terrorist attack last year.
Last month, a delegation of Korean church leaders visited the Anglican Diocese of Peshawar at the request of Bishop Humphrey Peters. During the visitation, the delegation, which included Dr. Myoung Hyuk Kim, chairman of the Korean Evangelical Fellowship, and the Rev. Dong-Hwi Lee, senior pastor of the Tin Church, announced plans for a peace center.