A Muslim preacher turned television host is receiving criticism after he gave away abandoned babies on his Pakistani television talk show during Ramadan, although the preacher claims he is doing charitable work by giving the babies a safe home.
Controversial host Aamir Liaquat Hussain is being criticized for commercializing the children to win TV ratings, but he has defended himself, saying he gave the babies away in a charitable move to show "real Islam."
"We are trying to create an environment in the society for those people who are needy, and want to adopt babies," Hussain told the Agence France-Presse in a recent interview. "It is not commercialization, it is not showbiz. It is real Islam [...] It is not like parents come in the show, and [we] deliver the baby like a prize. What prize? It is rubbish to say, 'Who wants to win a baby?'" more >>
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, vice chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), called on the State Department to reconsider Saudi Arabia's religious freedom violations and identified with Raif Badawi, a Saudi website editor who was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes on Monday
"Our goal is to highlight to the American people that the State Department can no longer give this indefinite waiver to Saudi Arabia," Dr. Jasser, author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save His Faith and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, told The Christian Post in an interview Thursday.
According to the vice chair, Saudi Arabia "fits the textbook" of a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) in which religious liberty is violated. "If we were to write…how you would define a Country of Particular Concern that restricts religious freedom, Saudi Arabia would be the poster country," he said. more >>
A well-known Italian Jesuit priest, who has previously voiced his support for the toppling of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, went missing in Syria earlier this week, causing activists in the region to suspect he has been kidnapped by rebel forces.
The Reverend Paolo Dall'Oglio, 58, was reportedly walking the streets of Raqqa, a Islamist rebel-controlled city in northern Syria, on Monday when he disappeared. Activists told Reuters that the Jesuit priest had been kidnapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a militant Islamist group that has been linked to al-Qaeda.
Abdelrazzaq Shla, an opposition activist in Razza, said that the Islamic State had been angered by recent comments Dall'Oglio made regarding the harassment of Kurdish residents living on the border of Turkey, in a city called Tel al-Abiab. Dall'Oglio has long advocated the importance of peace between minority Kurds and majority Arab Sunnis. A civil war is currently ongoing in the country between those loyal to the al-Assad regime and those attempting to oust it. more >>
The U.S. State Department plans to close embassies and consulates located in predominately Muslim countries on Sunday because of unspecified security concerns, officials announced Thursday.
U.S. embassies, including those in Abu Dhabi, Baghdad and Cairo, that are normally open on Sundays will be closed. The action is being taken out of an "abundance of caution," State Department officials said.
The planned embassy closings were tied to U.S. intelligence about an al Qaeda plot against U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries, CBS News reported. Specific locations were not mentioned in the intelligence, said CBS. more >>
On July 3, Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), was ousted from power. His detractors came from many segments of Egyptian society, but it is the Coptic Christian community that the MB is scapegoating as the principal actor behind his removal. The Middle East Media Research Institute reports that, in a recent article on the MB website entitled "The Military Republic of Tawadros" (Tawadros being the Coptic Orthodox pope), the MB urges its followers to believe that the Copts "openly and secretly led the process of opposition to the Islamic stream and this stream's rise to power."
Attacking the Copts will prove to be as destructive to Egypt as to the religious minority itself. Following Morsi's ouster, the MB rejected the invitation of interim president Adly Mansour to be part of the political process, and instead has taken to the streets. It seems intent on regaining some of its lost power through the time-honored tactic of stirring up political unrest and then negotiating reconciliation on its own terms.
Copts came under severe attack right after Morsi's removal and continue to bear the brunt of violence and threats from the MB and other Islamist groups. As a result, numerous churches have decided it is no longer safe for them to hold regular worship services, Sunday school, and catechesis classes. In Minya governorate, the Holy Mass is now being broadcast on the Internet so the faithful won't have to risk their lives praying in the churches. Elsewhere in Upper Egypt, liturgies finish by 7 a.m., and then for the rest of the day the churches are closed and put under guard. Death threats forced Pope Tawadros II to leave his seat at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo three weeks ago, and his whereabouts are now kept secret; the threats were issued because he attended a conference called by Egypt's military to work out the country's road map and because Copts had joined in the anti-Morsi protests. more >>
Here are my thoughts on why Secretary Kerry's Mideast peace process is flawed in ways that endanger Israel.
1) No Palestinian reciprocity at the outset. Israel agreed to release 104 convicted terrorists just to get the Palestinians to talk peace. Would the U.S. agree to release 104 Guantanamo prisoners for talks with anyone?
Israel will undoubtedly be blamed if negotiations fail, so it's unlikely that fair judgment by the international community motivated the release. Perhaps it was the price that Israel had to pay for a U.S. promise to prevent Iranian nukes and/or support Israel's efforts to stop them. If so, is the U.S. good for its word (despite Obama's repeated demonstrations that his Mideast "red lines" are meaningless)? more >>