Category : Muslim-Christian relations

(NPR) For Christians In Egypt, Building A New Church Can Set Off Violence

ARRAF: Samuel was 20, and Beshoy was 22. They’re considered martyrs now. That’s because they were among 20 young Egyptian workers beheaded by ISIS in Libya two years ago. To commemorate their deaths, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi gave permission for a huge new church on the road to al-Our. Building churches is so controversial here, it took an ISIS attack to get permission to build one.

The village is 70 percent Muslim. Some of the villagers protested and threw stones when construction started on the church. Churches are a sensitive subject throughout Egypt, even though about 10 percent of the population is Christian. It’s hard to get permits to build them. In Minya, a poor province which has the biggest concentration of Christians, even talk of a church can be dangerous.

EBRAHIM FAHMY: (Through interpreter) They burned my house. They burned the house my brother was building and the houses of five other brothers. They thought we were going to open a church.

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Posted in Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) Charlotte Allen–In Spain Muslims demand to worship in a cathedral that hasn’t been Islamic since 1236

“The Great Mosque of Cordoba.” That’s what Unesco—the cultural arm of the United Nations—calls the 24,000-square-foot 10th-century structure visited by 1.5 million tourists a year. It was declared a World Heritage site in 1984, and rightfully so: The building’s interior is a stunning example of Moorish architecture.

Yet this “mosque” is actually the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Córdoba. In 1236, King Ferdinand III of Castile captured Córdoba from the Almohad Caliphate. He then had the building consecrated for Christian use. Or reconsecrated, rather, since underneath the mosque lay the demolished remains of a sixth-century church built by Spain’s Visigothic rulers before the Muslim invasion in 711. Today, Mass and confession are celebrated inside. The cathedral has been a Christian house of worship for centuries longer than it was an Islamic one.

The discordance greeting tourists is the result of more than 200 years of antagonism toward the Catholic Church by left-leaning Spanish intellectuals. They have used the cathedral’s unique architecture essentially to de-Christianize it in the name of restoring its historical Islamic roots. This secularist campaign began in the early 19th century but has gained new force in the past 20 years. Recent Islamic immigration to Spain has given the anticlerical leftists new allies—Muslims demanding to worship in their “Great Mosque.”

But that would require taking the building out of the Catholic Church’s hands.

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Posted in Church History, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spain

(Fulcrum) Colin Chapman–Christian Responses to Islamism and Violence in the name of Islam

Max Warren, General Secretary of the Church Mission Society from 1942 to 1963, used to tell a story from his time in hospital after returning from service in Nigeria with a serious illness. One day he was examined by a medical student as part of his final examinations in front of his professor. After the examination the student gave his diagnosis of Warren’s illness to the professor. Warren knew that the diagnosis was wrong. So when he saw the professor the following day, he said to him, ‘I suppose that student failed because he got the diagnosis wrong’. ‘Oh no!’ replied the professor. ‘The diagnosis was wrong. But he would have got there in the end because he asked all the right questions’.

While we have been living with Islamism for some years, the creation of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ in June 2014 no doubt took all of us by surprise. And if there’s been a variety of responses among national governments, academics and journalists, there’s also been a variety of responses among Christians. So if none of us can claim to give a definitive answer to the question of how Christians should respond to Islamism and ISIS, can we at least attempt to ask some of the right questions? These would be the ten questions that I would want to ask.

(1) What do we Mean by ‘Islamism’ and How does it Differ from Other Kinds of Islam?

I hope we are past the stage of speaking about ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ and are starting to use terms like ‘Islamism’, ‘political Islam’ or ‘radical Islam’. I am not talking about ordinary Muslims who may have a political agenda of one kind or another, but Muslims who have a clear agenda about creating some kind of Islamic polity. It is important to recognise, however, that Islamists are not all the same. Some believe in democracy, pluralism and human rights, while others do not. Some believe that violence is sometimes justified in pursuing an Islamic agenda, while others reject the use of violence. They all want to see Islamic principles applied in the public sphere; but they recognise the huge differences in the political make-up of states all over the world and have different ideas about how a particular state could be more Islamic….

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(BBC) Egypt Coptic Christians killed in bus attack

At least 23 people have been killed and 25 wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, state media report.

The incident occurred in Minya province, 250km (155 miles) south of Cairo, as the bus headed to a church.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(FT) Sunni clerics in Sisi sights after Isis targets Christians

Days after twin suicide blasts at Christian churches rocked Egypt, the country’s media launched a wave of highly unusual attacks on al-Azhar, the institution that has for centuries provided religious guidance to Sunni Muslims around the world.

“If you are incapable, too tired or fed up, leave the job to someone else. Your passivity is killing us,” Amr Adib, a television presenter, yelled as he called on Azhar’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb to resign.

Such fiery criticism appears to reflect tensions between Egypt’s political and religious leaders, with pro-regime media alleging that Azhar’s leaders are failing to combat extremism and maybe even fuelling it. Pressure on Azhar — which Pope Francis visited last month — soared in the wake of April’s church bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which were claimed by Isis and killed dozens of Christians.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Politics in General, Terrorism

(WWM) Life for a Christian woman in Yemen is about survival. Read Nadeen’s story

Nadeen (*), a born-and-raised Yemeni woman in her late 20s, became a Christian before the civil war broke out in 2015. She had to keep her new faith hidden as her family would probably disown her if they knew. Yemen ranks 9th on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

It meant for Nadeen that she had to live her faith in isolation, as she could not meet with other Christians.

Not only can Christians not openly gather in Yemen, for her as a single woman it was especially hard to get away from the house.

“My family strictly controlled everything I did,” she says.

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Posted in Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Women, Yemen

(NYT Saturday Profile) Bashir Mohammad–The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus

When 22 Christian refugees gathered in the basement of an apartment in Istanbul early on a recent Sunday afternoon, it was quickly clear that this was no ordinary prayer meeting. Several of them had Islamic names. There was an Abdelrahman and even a couple of Mohammads. Strangest of all, they jokingly referred to their host — one of the two Mohammads — as an irhabi. A terrorist.

If Bashir Mohammad took the joke well, it was because there was once some truth to it. Today, Mr. Mohammad, 25, has a cross on his wall and invites other recent converts to weekly Bible readings in his purple-walled living room. Less than four years ago, however, he says he fought on the front lines of the Syrian civil war for the Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al Qaeda. He is, he says, a jihadi who turned to Jesus.

It is a transition that has surprised everyone, not least of all himself. Four years ago, Mr. Mohammad tells me, “Frankly I would have slaughtered anyone who suggested it.” Not only have his beliefs changed, but his temperament has, too. Today, his wife, Hevin Rashid, confirms, with a hint of understatement, that he is “much better to be around.”

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Posted in Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Terrorism

(CT) The deadliest incident faced by the persecuted church last Christmas wasn’t radical Islamists. It was alcohol.

The deadliest incident faced by the persecuted church last Christmas wasn’t radical Islamists. It was alcohol.

Liquor mixed with aftershave killed about 50 people at Christmas parties in a Pakistani village, and sickened about 100 more.

In Pakistan, as in many Muslim-majority nations where Shari‘ah law forbids drinking, alcohol is closely identified with Christianity. The nation’s primary alcohol producer, for example, riffs on the Bible in advertisements. Founded in 1860 by the British, Murree Brewery’s slogan, “Eat, drink, and be Murree,” echoes the repeated biblical idiom for short-term pleasures.

Perhaps as surprising as the existence of a Pakistani brewery is the fact that 12 Muslims were among the victims of the fatal Christmas parties.

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Posted in Alcohol/Drinking, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Pakistan, Race/Race Relations

(ABC Aus) Coptic Christians flee an unwelcome Egypt, seek refuge in Australia

A church in the middle of Cairo is bombed. A 70-year-old woman is stripped naked and paraded through a southern Egyptian village.

Military vehicles run over Coptic protesters, dismembering and mangling 27 people in the worst massacre of Christians in the country’s history.

Firebrand preachers shout incensed anti-Christian messages from the pulpit and mobs attack Coptic churches, businesses and homes.

This is now a daily routine for Egypt’s Coptic Christians, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Coptic Church, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(NR) Kathryn Jean Lopez-Christians in the Middle East refuse hatred, even as they face the machete

Two years ago this month Beshir Kamel went on television and thanked so-called Islamic State terrorists for not editing out the last words of his brother and the other Egyptian men they beheaded on a beach in Libya. “Lord, Jesus Christ,” were the last words of the Coptic Christians slaughtered because of their faith.

The courage and integrity of their witness strengthened Kamel’s faith. “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he said after his brother’s murder. “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyrs and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith, because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.” He further explained that his mother is prepared to welcome any of the men involved in her son’s beheading into her house. If one of them were to visit her, she would “ask God to open his eyes, because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Coptic Church, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(CT) Jason Casper–Islam and Christianity share Second Coming hopes. Can this be a bridge?

Some victims of ISIS’ eschatology get it, said Salim Munayer, head of the Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Jerusalem. Many Syrian refugees are questioning Islam and the role of religion, especially as they find Christians responding to meet their needs.

But other research shows that Christian eschatology can get in the way. Overly pro-Israel interpretations are a barrier to evangelism, conversion, and discipleship, according to one academic study of 150 Muslim converts in the Holy Land.

Muslim interest in eschatology ebbs and flows, but is currently at high tide due to the collapse of regional governments and innovative proof-texting of Islamic traditions, said Munayer. This leads to a pessimistic and fatalistic outlook that encourages apocalyptic ideology. “Some Muslims are taking refuge in end-times theology,” he said. “A tendency also found among some Christians and Jews.”

Yet regardless of how Christians interpret Revelation or read the times, Larson calls them back to the gospel’s hope. “We need to witness with assurance that faith in Jesus as the crucified, risen, and coming Messiah makes all the difference in this world,” he said. “And in the world to come.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Eschatology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) Facing Blasphemy Charges, Indonesian Politician 'Happy That History Chose Me'

Last September, [Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama known by his chinese nickname as] Ahok told a group of fishermen that politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.

Ahok, who has a reputation as a blunt speaker, later apologized, saying he had no intention of insulting the Quran or Islam.

But some Muslims took offense, and hundreds of thousands took to the streets in three massive rallies against Ahok that convulsed central Jakarta in November and December. Demonstrators continue to congregate at the courthouse where Ahok is on trial. Coils of barbed wire and riot police separate pro- and anti-Ahok protesters.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Language, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CNS) No future for Christians in Mosul, says Iraqi Christian leader

As some residents of the city of Mosul celebrate their new freedom from the Islamic State group, an Iraqi Christian leader who visited the war-torn city said Christian residents are unlikely to return.

“I don’t see a future for Christians in Mosul,” said Father Emanuel Youkhana, a priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East.

Father Youkhana, who runs Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, a Christian program for displaced Iraqis around the city of Dohuk, entered Mosul in a military convoy on Jan. 27, the day Iraqi officials raised the national flag over the eastern part of the city. Islamic State seized the city in 2014, causing Christians and other minorities to flee.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Reuters) Real Madrid logo won't feature traditional Christian cross in Middle East clothing deal

Marka MARKA.DU, a retailing group in the United Arab Emirates, has been granted exclusive rights to “manufacture, distribute and sell Real Madrid products” in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

But Marka Vice Chairman Khaled al-Mheiri told Reuters by phone Real Madrid has two versions of the crest for the Middle East market and that Marka would use the one without the Christian cross due to cultural sensitivities.

“We have to be sensitive towards other parts of the Gulf that are quite sensitive to products that hold the cross,” said al-Mheiri, who owns a Real Madrid cafe in Dubai.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Spain, Sports, Theology, UAE (United Arab Emirates)

This week's BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme

The Church of England’s Bishop with responsibility for homelessness James Langstaff explains why some Christian organisations believe that the Government and local authorities need to do more to implement a comprehensive, long-term national strategy to end homelessness in England.

She was one of the last debutantes destined to live a life of luxury, but then she had a calling from God. Sister Agatha tells Rosie Dawson about her extraordinary life.

A reading from the Qur’an at St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow has not only embroiled the Cathedral in controversy but sparked a wider debate on whether or not Christian buildings should host inter-faith worship at all. Bob Walker reports.

Read it all and listen to the parts you want (the Glasgow Cathedral segment starts about 17 minutes in).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology