Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Religion Rundown: Week of May 21st


Islam

From MSNBC:

"ISLAMABAD - Pakistan blocked YouTube and many other Internet sites Thursday in a widening crackdown on online content deemed offensive to Islam, reflecting the secular government's sensitivities to an issue that has ignited protests in the Muslim country.

The move came a day after the government obeyed a court order to block Facebook over a page called "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" that encourages users to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Most Muslims regard depictions of the prophet, even favorable ones, as blasphemous.

Supporters of an Islamist political party protested against Facebook in at least three cities in small and peaceful rallies. The government, which is unpopular among many Islamists for siding with the United States in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaida, is hoping that the website bans will lessen anger in the days ahead.

"We are ready to die protecting the honor of our beloved Prophet Muhammad," said Aysha Hameed, one of 1,000 female protesters in Multan city.

Some protest blocking Others — mostly members of the more secular, educated elite — accused the government of blocking freedom of expression and hurting small businesses that use Facebook for marketing. Many questioned need for the entire Facebook and YouTube sites to be blocked, instead of individual pages on them.

About 20 million of Pakistan's 180 million people are Internet users and social networking sites are among the most popular, especially among those younger than 25. Pakistan's Internet service providers' association said usage had dropped by about 25 percent since Wednesday.

The offending Facebook page encourages users to post images of the prophet on May 20 to protest threats made by a radical Muslim group against the creators of the American TV series "South Park" for depicting Muhammad in a bear suit during an episode earlier this year.

"Such malicious and insulting attacks hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world and cannot be accepted under the garb of freedom of expression," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said."

To read the rest of the article, click here.


From The UK Telegraph:

The astonishing scene unfolded during a weekend shopping trip after the woman lawyer took offence at the attire of a fellow shopper resulting in argument during which the pair came to blows before being arrested.

It came as racial tensions grow in the country as it prepares to introduce a total ban on burkas and other forms of religious dress which cover the face.

A 26-year-old Muslim convert was walking through the store in Trignac, near Nantes, in the western Loire-Atlantique region, when she overhead the woman lawyer making "snide remarks about her black burka". A police officer close to the case said: "The lawyer said she was not happy seeing a fellow shopper wearing a veil and wanted the ban introduced as soon as possible."

At one point the lawyer, who was out with her daughter, is said to have likened the Muslim woman to Belphegor, a horror demon character well known to French TV viewers. Belphegor is said to haunt the Louvre museum in Paris and frequently covers up his hideous features using a mask.

An argument started before the older woman is said to have ripped the other woman's veil off. As they came to blows, the lawyer's daughter joined in.

"The shop manager and the husband of the Muslim woman moved to break up the fighting," the officer said. All three were arrested and taken to the local gendarmerie for questioning.

A spokesman for Trignac police said that two complaints had been received, with the Muslim woman accusing the lawyer of racial and religious assault. The latter, in turn, had accused her opponent of common assault.

The French parliament has adopted a formal motion declaring burkas and other forms of Islamic dress to be "an affront to the nation's values." Some have accused criminals, from terrorists to shoplifters, of wearing veils to disguise themselves.

A ban, which could be introduced as early as the autumn, would make France the second country after Belgium to outlaw the Islamic veil in public places.

But many have criticised the anti-burka lobby, which includes the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for stigmatising Muslim housewives.

Many French woman from council estates are forced to wear the veils because of pressure from authoritarian husbands.

The promise of a ban has prompted warnings of racial tensions in a country which is home to some five million Muslims – one of the religion's largest communities in Europe.

Mr Sarkozy's cabinet is to examine a draft bill which will impose one-year prison sentences and fines of up to £14,000 on men who force their wives to wear a burka.

Women themselves will face a smaller fine of just over £100 because they are "often victims with no choice in the matter", says the draft.

The law would create a new offence of "incitement to cover the face for reasons of gender".

And it would state: "No one may wear in public places clothes that are aimed at hiding the face."

____________________________________________________________________


Christianity


From MSNBC:

NEW YORK - The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's controversial former pastor, said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that he is "toxic" to the Obama administration and that the president "threw me under the bus."

In his strongest language to date about the administration's 2-year-old rift with the Chicago pastor, Wright told a group raising money for African relief that his pleas to release frozen funds for use in earthquake-ravaged Haiti would likely be ignored.

"No one in the Obama administration will respond to me, listen to me, talk to me or read anything that I write to them. I am 'toxic' in terms of the Obama administration," Wright wrote the president of Africa 6000 International earlier this year.

"I am 'radioactive,' Sir. When Obama threw me under the bus, he threw me under the bus literally!" he wrote. "Any advice that I offer is going to be taken as something to be avoided. Please understand that!"

The White House didn't respond to requests for comment Monday about Wright's remarks. Several phone messages left by the AP for Wright at the Trinity United Church of Christ, where he is listed as a pastor emeritus, were not returned. Wright's spokeswoman, his daughter Jeri Wright, did not immediately comment on the substance of the letter.

Then-Sen. Obama cut ties with Wright when his more incendiary remarks became an Internet sensation in the spring of 2008. At a National Press Club appearance in April 2008, he claimed the U.S. government could plant AIDS in the black community, praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and suggested Obama was putting his pastor at arm's length for political purposes while privately agreeing with him."

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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