In a widely praised January 1 speech, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Al-Azhar University to address the country's religious leadership, saying the time had come to reform Islam. He's won Western plaudits for this, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, but I have reservations about the speech.
To begin with, no matter how fine Sisi's ideas, no politician – and especially no strongman – has moved modern Islam. Atatürk's reforms in Turkey are systematically being reversed. A decade ago, King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan gave similarly fine speeches on "the true voice of Islam" and "enlightened moderation" that immediately disappeared from view. Yes, Sisi's comments are stronger, but he is not a religious authority and, in all likelihood, they too will disappear without a trace.
As for content: Sisi praised the faith of Islam and focused on what he calls fikr, literally meaning thought but in this context meaning wrong ideas. He complained that wrong ideas, which he did not specify, have become sacralized and that the religious leadership dares not criticize them. But Sisi did criticize, and in a colloquial Arabic highly unusual for discussing such topics: "It is inconceivable that the wrong ideas which we sacralize should make the entire umma [Muslim community] a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction for the whole world. This is not possible." more >>
The Islamic State's execution spree picked up dramatically last week, as the militant group released its latest round of execution photos. Along with photos showing the execution of two gay men, an adulteress and two bandits in Iraq, the group has also reportedly crucified and executed 17 men accused of fighting against the caliphate.
In releasing its latest wave of execution photos on an Islamic State-affiliated JustPaste.It account, photos show a muslim crowd gathered around a tall brown brick building in the ISIS Iraqi stronghold of Mosul that looks to be many storeis high. In the following photographs, two men were forced to the roof of the building and were hurled over the edge by two ISIS militants.
A subsequent picture captured one of the victim's freefall and another photo showed their lifeless bodies laying on the dirt ground. more >>
Duke University's director of the Islamic Studies Center, Omid Safi, has said that French satirical newspaper Chalie Hebdo's controversial drawings are "racist bullying" disguised as "freedom of speech." At the same time, Safi said that Muslim leaders have made it very clear that Islam does not condone terrorism of any kind, and dismissed claims made by HBO host Bill Maher that hundreds of millions of Muslims support violence.
Safi shared his views on a number of topics concerning the recent terror attacks in Europe in an email interview with The Christian Post on Monday. He affirmed that Muslims "have already, consistently and unequivocally, spoken out against terrorism."
At the same time, he called Charlie Hebdo, the magazine that published several cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, "bad satire" for continuously targeting Muslims and their religion. more >>
At least 10 people have been killed in violent protests in Niger over the weekend, after Muslim mobs burned down a number of churches in retaliation to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo publishing cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Christian missionaries in the capital, Niamey, told International Christian Concern that "all of [their] churches have been burned along with the pastors' homes ... almost every church [they] know or are associated with has been attacked." The missionaries, who despite seeing smoke "around all sides of [their] house," remain in Niamey.
"Jesus said: 'I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.' We are confident that this persecution will only grow the church and the Gospel in Niger," the missionaries continued. more >>
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that he disagrees with Pope Francis' comments that there are limits to free speech, regarding the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks. He added that as a Christian, he would be offended if someone insults Jesus Christ, but laws in a free society protect such expression.
"If someone says something offensive about Jesus, I might find that offensive, but in a free society I don't have a right to wreak my vengeance upon them," Cameron told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.
"We have to accept that newspapers, magazines can publish things that are offensive to some as long as it's within the law." more >>
Fox News host Tucker Carlson said Duke University was only pretending to be inclusive by offering to allow Muslim students to have Muslim call to prayer in the chapel, challenging the school to also allow pro-life messages or criticism of homosexuality to show "true" inclusiveness.
"There's nothing inclusive about Duke," Carlson said on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" morning show.
Duke University decided to cancel its Muslim call to prayer, which would have begun Friday, Jan. 16, after receiving public backlash and citing a threat to students. The call to prayer, known as an adhan, would have aired for three minutes every Friday, encouraging Muslim students to gather and attend a traditional prayer service in the chapel. more >>