A large-scale battle between Nigerian forces and Islamic militants lasting over 5 hours in the state of Yobe has left 128 people dead, local sources have reported, raising questions about how much control the government has over the troubled region.
Details are still scarce about the violence that occurred late last week, but figures quoted by Nigerian military and hospitals state that 95 of the dead are militants, 23 are soldiers and eight others are police officers.
American pop singer Ke$ha has been banned from performing her upcoming concert in Malaysia after the government said her lyrics and image go against the country's conservative values. The pop singer claimed via Twitter that she was even threatened with imprisonment if she chose to go through with the performance.
The country's Ministry of Communications and Multimedia said in a brief statement late last week that its decision to cancel Ke$ha's upcoming performance "touches on religious sensitivities and cultural values of Malaysians." Sixty percent of Malaysia's 28 million-person population is Muslim, while only nine percent is Christian. Ke$ha's lyrics often make reference to partying, binge drinking, and a sexually promiscuous lifestyle, all topics that are taboo under strict Islamic culture.
The 26-year-old pop artist, whose real name is Kesha Rose Sebert, took to Twitter to defend herself in light of the news. "To be clear. I did NOT cancel. I was not allowed to play. [sic] and then I was going to play anyways and was threatened with imprisonment," she wrote. more >>
Israel and Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) are engaging in negotiations refused for years by the PA. Yet, only weeks ago, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, delivered a paean to Shekih Ahmad Yassin, founder and leader of Hamas, the terrorist organization that has murdered hundreds of Israelis in scores of suicide bombings, calling him a Palestinian "icon." How can peace talks and glorifying a terrorist chieftain coexist in the PA?
Al-Habbash gave us the answer this summer, when he justified this return to diplomacy by reference to something well-known to his mosque audience––the 628 Treaty of Hudabiyyah.
Hudabiyyah was an agreement between Muhammad and the Meccan Quraish tribe, in which Muhammad promised a decade of peace. But in less than two years, a Qureishi-allied tribe committed a breach by attacking a Muhammad-allied tribe. Muhammad, who had meanwhile organized a huge army, took this pretext to attack the Qureishis. Isolated and unprepared, the Qureishis surrendered. more >>
Four Iranian Christians are set to receive 80 lashes each as punishment for drinking communion wine at a house church, while Iran faced further criticism in a U.N. report on its human rights record.
"The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalise the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord's Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably," said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), who reported the news earlier this week.
"We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that the nation's legal practices and procedures do not contradict its international obligation under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to guarantee the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all of its religious communities." more >>
A recent Arabic article appearing in Egypt's Al Ahram newspaper titled "Is Terrorism Jihad?" written by Islamic law expert Dr. Abdul Fatah Idris offers important lessons-from the fact that jihad does involve subjugating non-Muslims to why the Western mentality is still incapable of acknowledging it.
Idris, professor and chairman of Al Azhar University's Department of Comparative Jurisprudence at the Faculty of Sharia Law, is a well-reputed legal scholar. He begins his article by defining terrorism and quoting several international bodies that, in his words:
define terrorism as an act of violence or threat of violence coming from an individual either on his own volition or in participation with other individuals. It targets people or organizations or places or means of transportation or the general public in order to threaten or cause injuries or deaths of the people or simply to cripple the effectiveness of international organizations or to cause the loss or damage of those places or properties or to tamper with transportation to interfere in the friendly relations between countries or between the inhabitants of several countries or to extort concessions from some countries. more >>
Thousands of Coptic Christians arrived at the Church of the Virgin Mary in Cairo's Waraa neighborhood Monday to pay their respects to four victims who were shot and killed in the same building the night before during a wedding ceremony for three Coptic couples. The attack is the latest among increasing violence towards the Coptic minority from Islamic extremists in the country.
Various chants from funeral attendees could reportedly be heard as hundreds of Copts filed through the church's doors. "With our blood and souls, we will redeem the cross" some chanted as the four funeral caskets were about to be carried into the church, according to the Associated Press.
Some of those attending the tragic ceremony expressed anger towards Sunday night's shooters, yelling: "Justice or to die like them," and "Raise your head, you're Coptic." more >>