A historically Methodist, Texas university now offers a prayer room for its Muslim students.
Following a 2012 meeting betwen Texas Wesleyan University (TWU) president Frederick Slabach and Mohammed Khalid M. Alshafei, the head of the Saudi Students Club, the university designated a space in its gym for Muslim students to pray.
"The reasons for this (prayer room) are two-fold," Rev. Dr. Robert K. Flowers, the Wesleyan chaplain, told The Rambler, TWU's school newspaper. "One, to show hospitality to our foreign students and, two, our campus needs to be open and tolerant of other faith traditions whether it is Islam, Hindu, Jewish, or otherwise." more >>
An American chemistry teacher working abroad in Benghazi, Libya was shot and killed by gunmen Thursday during his routine jog near the U.S. Consulate, security sources in the country confirmed Thursday. The man died one week before he was supposed to travel back to his native state of Texas to celebrate Christmas with his wife and young son.
Security official Ibrahim al-Sharaa said that it is unclear why the Texas-native chemistry teacher working at Libya's International School Benghazi was shot, although he was doing his regular exercise routine close to the U.S. Consulate, where Islamic militants attacked and killed American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September. The city's International School is a government-owned institution that follows American standards for curriculum, according to the Association Press.
"He was doing his morning exercise when gunmen just shot him. I don't know why. He was so sweet with everyone," Adel al Mansouri, director at the school, told Reuters. Libya's special forces have reportedly been struggling to contain Islamic extremists in the country, especially in Benghazi. Members of the militant Ansar al-Sharia group reportedly inhabit the city, and this same group is the one the U.S. blames for the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate. more >>
The "Joint Plan of Action" signed with Iran by the so-called P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.) on Nov. 24 in Geneva caused Shiite Arabs to celebrate, Sunni Arabs to worry, and Saudis to panic. The Saudi response will have far-reaching and unpredictable consequences.
As Iran's chief negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, brought home a deal worth about US $23 billion to Iran, Arab Shiites fell into step with Tehran. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq expressed his "full support for this step." President Bashar al-Assad of Syria welcomed the agreement as "the best path for securing peace and stability." Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri of Lebanon called it the "deal of the century." And Hezbollah considered the agreement a "great victory for Iran."
Among Sunni Arabic-speakers, in contrast, responses ranged from politely supportive to displeased to alarmed. Perhaps most enthusiastic was the Egyptian governmental newspaper Al-Ahram, which called the deal "historic." Most states stayed mum. Saudis expressed the most worry. Yes, the government cabinet officially stated that "If there is goodwill, then this agreement could be an initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution to Iran's nuclear program," but note the skepticism conveyed in the first four words. more >>
Members of the government of the Republic of Turkey have expressed consideration in turning a notable landmark that was once a church into a mosque.
Hagia Sophia, originally built as a cathedral and presently a museum, may be turned into a mosque, recently commented Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.
Syrian rebels have reportedly re-entered the historic Christian town of Maaloula, north of the country's capital of Damascus, this week while battling forces loyal to the country's President Bashar al-Assad. The rebel forces have been occupying the small, predominately Christian town intermittently for the past several months as they battle in the surrounding Qalamoun region. Recent reports from witnesses in Maaloula indicate that the Islamic rebels have reportedly kidnapped a group of nuns from a local monastery in the city.
Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a local monitoring group, told The Daily Star on Sunday that the rebels are trying to regain control of the city as they clash with regime troops. The city sits in a mountain region and consists of tall look-out posts in the form of chapels and church spires that prove advantageous for camouflage and sniper nests.
"Fierce clashes are under way between rebel fighters, including the Al-Nusra Front, and regime troops in Maaloula, which the rebels have entered and are trying to gain control of," Abdel-Rahman said. more >>
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins led seven members of Congress known for their strong ties to evangelical Christians on a nine-day swing through Israel's Holy Land earlier this month, touring the country's most important religious sites and meeting with top-level Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The trip, sponsored by the U.S. Israel Education Association with grants from several Christian and Jewish organizations, included Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Steve Scalise (R-La.).
The delegation spent the majority of their time behind what is known as the "green line," or the areas near Samaria that mark the line between Israel territories captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. While experiencing the Holy Sites helped the Congressmen gain an appreciation for Israel, Perkins noted the most important aspect of the trip was time spent with Netanyahu and other government officials and their concern for the recent agreement the Obama administration reached with Iran over the country's nuclear arsenal. more >>