King Abdullah II of Jordan has praised Pope Francis' much-debated remarks about the limits to free speech, and insisted that religious beliefs must not be offended.
"King Abdullah made explicit reference to the words expressed by the pope on the fact that freedom of expression is a right, and in some cases even a duty, but at the same time it has limits, and cannot offend the religious beliefs of others. The monarch defined these considerations positive," said Archbishop Maroun Lahham, patriarchal vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as reported by Fides News Agency on Thursday.
Pope Francis said last week that freedom of speech must be protected, but there should be limits when it comes to causing offense to religions. more >>
The United Nations warned on Tuesday that ISIS militants are executing educated women within the territories it controls, reporting that the militants have already executed three female lawyers this month.
UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters that numerous women living in ISIS strongholds, especially in the Iraqi city of Mosul, have recently been killed by ISIS militants and added that educated women are especially in danger.
"Educated, professional women, particularly women who have run as candidates in elections for public office seem to be particularly at risk," Shamdasani said. "In just the first two weeks of this year, reports indicated three female lawyers were executed." more >>
Russell Moore praised the U.S. Supreme Court for its Tuesday ruling protecting the religious freedom of a Muslim inmate in the case of Holt vs. Hobbs.
"The Supreme Court did the right thing in this case," Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a statement after the decision. "Religious liberty isn't a prize earned by those with the most political clout. Religious liberty is a right given by God to all people. The Court here respected liberty of conscience and free exercise. Christians and others should be glad, especially in a time when the most basic religious liberties are routinely dismissed in many corners of our national debate. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of this good decision."
"This is a huge win for religious freedom and for all Americans," Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel for the Becket Fund, and co-counsel in the case, added in a statement. "More than 45 systems across the country allow prisoners to grow a half-inch beard, and at least 41 prison systems would allow an even longer beard. What the Supreme Court said today was that government officials cannot impose arbitrary restrictions on religious liberty just because they think government knows best. This is a victory not just for one prisoner in Arkansas, but for every American who believes and wants the freedom to act on those beliefs." more >>
The Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq has executed 13 teenage boys solely because they were found watching a soccer match, an act that has apparently been deemed punishable by death under ISIS' sharia law.
According to the Syrian activist organization Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group closely monitoring executions carried out by ISIS militants, the 13 teens were caught last week in the Al-Yarmouk district of the Iraqi city of Mosul watching the Iraq vs Jordan Asian Cup soccer match, which was held in Australia.
After being caught watching the game, which Iraq won 1-0, The boys were rounded up by ISIS militants and were later publicly executed via a firing squad using machine guns. more >>
The United States Supreme Court has just delivered a landmark ruling stating that a Muslim inmate can keep his beard as an expression of his religious freedom.
The petitioner, Gregory Holt (also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad), brought the case stating that his religion required him to keep a beard. However, Arkansas courts upheld their rule that prisoners be clean-shaven unless a medical condition requires them to have a beard, which can only be a quarter-inch. Federal district and appeals courts ruled against Holt's case, which he then took to the Supreme Court.
He cited the 2000 law passed by Congress to protect prisoners' religious rights as a precedent for him keeping his beard. Prosecutors argued that Holt, and other prisoners, could hide contraband in their beards if allowed to grow them past the quarter-inch mark. Yet the Supreme Court justices seemingly belittled this argument, even asking why guards could not use a comb to go through the hair if they suspected anything was amiss. more >>
In response to the growing threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, the royal family of Saudi Arabia is having a 600-mile barrier constructed to completely block the Iraqi portion of the Saudi northern border, hoping to prevent ISIS militants from infiltrating the kingdom.
The planned fence structure will span the entire distance of the Iraq-Saudi border, from Jordan to Kuwait. The border barrier system will feature five layers of barbed wire fencing, a ditch, a patrol road, 240 rapid response vehicles, underground motion sensors, 40 watchtowers, radar, day/night cameras, seven command centers, 28 communication towers, 32 military response stations (equipped with helipads), and three rapid intervention teams. The entire system will also be connected through a fibre-optic communications network.
The idea for the "great wall" was first proposed during the height of the United States' invasion of Iraq in 2006. But, construction on the barrier did not begin until last September, after the Islamic State conquered large swaths of the neighboring Anbar province in Iraq. more >>