12/02/2016 - INDIA
A group of seven people of different faiths from Australia have already visited Delhi and Varanasi, symbolic places for Islam and Hinduism. Now they will travel to Bodh Gaya (the cradle of Buddhism) and Kolkata, important for Christians thanks to Mother Teresa. “It is also true, that at times people are afraid; however, faith is always open to others”. Sadly, “Those who close in on themselves do not understand their own faith”.
by Nirmala Carvalho
12/02/2016 - SYRIA
Patriarch Laham: Syria agreement a positive step, now common front against the Islamic State
Gregory III hopes that the agreement "can be beneficial to the country and its people." He urges continued alliance against Daesh and other jihadist groups. And he calls for mediation between "the Syrian government and the real internal opposition." Only foreign mercenay fighters do not want peace. Encounter between Francis and Kirill the hope of a united and fixed Easter.
12/02/2016 - SYRIA
World powers agree to "cease hostilities" in Syria. But skepticism reigns
The fighting should end within a week. Agreement also reached on increased aid distribution as of today. Battle against jihadist groups to continue as well as siege of Aleppo. Skepticism in Damascus: "For five years we have had statements, but few hard facts." Dimitri Medvedev: Dialogue is better than the outbreak of "a new world war."
11/02/2016 - PAKISTAN
In Lahore, Muslim women and Catholics slam Valentine's Day for destroying the familyby Kamran Chaudhry
The women’s branch of Jamat-e-Islami, a conservative party, organised a protest near stalls selling Valentine Day accessories. For protesters, “Western” culture and consumerism are corrupting children. On the feast day of Saint Valentine, Catholics will visit a centre for the disabled in Lahore. Saint Valentine’s story is different from what appears in ads.
11/02/2016 - LEBANON
Lent, a special time for corporal and spiritual works of mercyby Fady Noun
Abstinence is not only giving up something pleasurable, like chocolate or coffee. One can find how to deepen the meaning of the commandments in John Paul II’s catechesis. Pope Francis calls for the rediscovery of all forms of poverty. Mercy is not goodness, but has a strong political connotation.
11/02/2016 - RUSSIA - VATICAN
Francis and Kirill, a meeting that has many political and faith based reasons (I)by Ieromonaco Ioann
After centuries of waiting, a week after the announcement, the dream of John Paul II and Benedict XVI will become a reality. Among the reasons for the meeting, the Patriarchate emphasizes the defense of persecuted Christians by Islamic fundamentalism and the widespread secularization even in the Protestant world. An alliance "against". There are also "political" reasons: preparations for the pan-Orthodox Synod and the indirect blessing of Putin. Conservative fringes of the Patriarchate are against "minimalist" meeting. First part of an analysis by a personality of the Moscow Patriarchate.
11/02/2016 - SYRIA
Red Cross: 50 thousand civilians flee battle for Aleppo
The escalation of the conflict has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. Much of the city is without water. The government army blocks supply routes to areas under siege, "enormous pressure" on civilians. MSF: health system near "total collapse". Kurdish fighters wrestle a military air base from militia.
10/02/2016 - SYRIA
Vicar of Aleppo says Syrian people do not want war which is fomented by foreigners
The regular army advances in the region. Thousands of civilians and militants in flight. For Msgr. Georges Abou Khazen Christian migrants are a resource "in pastoral and ecclesial service". He urges them to witness to the Gospel to Muslims, a mission "in the sign of the times." From the drama of the Christians to the miracle of the meeting between Francis and Kirill. Lent and the ecumenism of blood.
10/02/2016 - IRAN
Iran’s Guardian Council approves hundreds of reformist candidates ahead of elections
The constitutional body readmits 1,400 people at first excluded. The final list of candidates published on February 16, vote scheduled for February 26. The number allowed run rises to 6185 (including 586 women) out of 12 thousand requests. President Rouhani hopes for a moderate reformist victory and to continue the policy of openness and renewal.
09/02/2016 - PAKISTAN
A ‘water man’ discriminated in high school because he is Christian and should not give water to studentsby Shafique Khokhar
Qaisar Jahan began to work at the MC Girls High School in Faisalabad in November 2015 bringing water to students. When the headmistress found out that he was a Christian, she told him to do the janitorial work and not deliver water. He refused saying, “I shall not bend in front of this kind of people”.
09/02/2016 - IRAQ
Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad: Christian properties targeted by criminals, government and police weak
Msgr. Warduni confirms reports of "gangs and militias" responsible for attacks and expropriation of houses, commercial, cultural and religious sites. A milieu of groups that operate by exploiting the inertia of the authorities and the institutions and target Christians, Muslims, Yazidis. They are acting for money and are a concern. UN blue helmets to ensure the unity of Iraq.
08/02/2016 - SYRIA
For Nuncio in Damascus, pope's efforts on Syria to be admired, but peace needs a miracle
Mgr Zenari welcomes the pontiff’s call for a "political solution" to the conflict. For the prelate, civilians want more than words; they want "concrete steps" towards a ceasefire. However, a miracle is now needed, like the one that led to the elimination of chemical weapons. As Gulf States put pressure for a ground operation, Syrian government forces push north.
08/02/2016 - INDONESIA
After the latest terror attacks, Jakarta has to balance prevention and human rightsby Mathias Hariyadi
One of President Joko Widodo’s immediate goals is to reform the country’s anti-terrorism legislation in order prevent attacks. Although the Jakarta bombers were under surveillance, police could not act to stop them. As the Islamic State group becomes a major threat in the country, moderate Islamic groups are called to check Friday sermons in mosques. Singapore and Malaysia are a model to fight extremism.
06/02/2016 - SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Arabia, 80% of children suffer physical or psychological violence
Results of research conducted by the National Family Safety Program. 13% has suffered sexual violence, 53% are victims of neglect. Among child victims of abuse cases of depression and drug abuse are growing. Saudi expert: we need targeted programs, aid and specialized centers.
05/02/2016 - EGYPT – ITALY
As Egyptian Church prays for Giulio Regeni, his death cries out for justice
Egyptian authorities have launched an investigation into the murder of the young researcher whose body shows signs of torture and injury. For some, it was a political crime; others point to the lack of evidence. For young activist: " Neither the police nor the security services have any reason” to harm “a foreigner". Meanwhile, “The Egyptian Church will pray for him and his family,” Church spokesman said.
05/02/2016 - HOLY LAND
The Church of the Holy Land mourns the passing of Jeries Khoury
The 64-year-old of Palestinian died on 3 February in Rome, where he was to attend a papal audience. A scholar of comparative religions, since 1988 he was director of the Al-Liqa’ Center, an institute dedicated to exchanges with Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land.
05/02/2016 - INDIA – AUSTRALIA
India-Australia interfaith pilgrimage, to reinvigorate the dialogue between faithsby Nirmala Carvalho
05/02/2016 - SYRIA
Moscow accuses Ankara of wanting to invade Syria. Riyadh prepares for ground operations against Isis
The Russian Defense Ministry has accused the Turks of preparing military "operations" in Syria. Saudi Arabia ready to support the US coalition in case of ground operations against the Islamic state. Geneva peace talks suspended, while tensions rise over Syrian arena.
04/02/2016 - LEBANON – SYRIA
Caritas Lebanon asks donor countries for more aid, calls for a stop to the war and arms trade
Fr Paul Karam is in London for the Syria donor conference. For him, the priority is to stop the conflict. So far, "personal interests" have prevailed with "the civilian population" paying the price. The Middle East is "a raging volcano" that can be stymied by following the path of peace outlined by Pope Francis.
04/02/2016 - JORDAN - SYRIA
Syrian crisis brings Jordan to verge of collapse amid risk of silent fanaticism
An AsiaNews source describes a situation "at breaking point. There is no housing, water or work". The government has so far maintained "control", but long-term projects are needed as well as peace in Syria, because the refugees "want to return to their country”. The increasing risk of a "silent fanaticism" that could flare up. In the midst of chaos, the reality of Karak Hospital, whichcontinues to assist pregnant women and children.
04/02/2016 - INDONESIA
LGBT seminar broken up by Muslim extremistsby Mathias Hariyadi
A dozen members of Islam Defenders Front raided a Jakarta hotel, where the meeting on human rights was taking place. After hours of threats and negotiations with police, participants were evacuated for "security reasons".
03/02/2016 - INDONESIA
Christians and Muslims for responsible parenthood in lieu of birth controlsby Mathias Hariyadi
From 25 to 28 January, Indonesia hosted an International Conference on Family Planning, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. For years, Indonesia’s main religions have worked with the government to educate families about responsible parenthood. For Muslim scholar, in Islam, there is the concept of al-mashalihul Ammah, i.e. the common good. "The number of people in a country or individuals in a family is a crucial point in Islam,” he said.
03/02/2016 - IRAQ
Chaldean bishop backs Barzani on referendum for Kurdish independence
The Kurdish leader says that the "time has come” for the Kurdish people to decide “their future”. A consultative referendum would express the “will" of the people. Mgr Rabban al-Qas backs a secular basis, open to all faiths, based on shared citizenship and equal rights.
03/02/2016 - PAKISTAN
Pakistan shut down 182 madrassas since Peshawar massacre
Pakistani authorities are pursuing a broad strategy to counter Islamic terrorism, detaining thousands of people, seizing hate speech material, freezing bank accounts, and closing religious seminaries. Law enforcement agencies have also gone after extremist groups’ money and the media tools they use to spread radical ideas.
03/02/2016 - NEPAL
Kathmandu denies repatriation to 300,000 Nepalese abused in Malaysiaby Christopher Sharma
About one million Nepalese migrants work in Malaysia. A third of them have asked to return home because of problems related to the currency crisis, insecurity and because they suffer torture. Nepal, however, still "suffers from the earthquake and the Indian embargo" and Kathmandu does not know how to re-employ migrants. Kuala Lumpur will not issue regular contracts, while calling for more women workers "who end up in the sex trade."
03/02/2016 - PHILIPPINES
Mercy: Christians and Muslims visit prisoners
03/02/2016 - SAUDI ARABIA - PALESTINE
Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh avoids execution in Riyadh. Sentenced to eight years and 800 lashes
A Saudi court had sentenced the Palestinian intellectual to death for apostasy. International mobilization for his acquittal. He always denied the charges, claiming his innocence. Meanwhile, executions continue at pace: yesterday two people executed, making the total so far this year 58.
02/02/2016 - EGYPT
Three Christian students on trial for insulting Islam
The students are seen mocking Islamic prayers in a video. The teacher who made the latter was sentenced to three years in prison. For the kids’ lawyer, because of a “random and spontaneous” prank, his clients are forced to hide at home to avoid retaliation.
01/02/2016 - PAKISTAN
Pakistan: Catholics oppose Ulema’s revision of blasphemy lawsby Kamran Chaudhry
The Council for the Islamic ideology has proposed to amend the blasphemy laws in order to bring them into line with the Koran and the Sunna. Catholics fear a further tightening of laws which have already led to violence. Between 1987 and 2014, 166 Christians sentenced to death for insulting Muhammad; another 25 cases in 2015.
01/02/2016 - SYRIA
Isis strikes a Shiite mausoleum, 71 dead. Syria peace talks underway
Shrine dedicated to Sayyida Zeinab targeted; 42 fighters loyal to Assad, 29 civilians, including five children among the dead. Indirect talks between representatives of the government and opposition begin today in Geneva. Controversy over inclusion of Army of Islam, which Moscow considers a "terrorist group ".
31/01/2016 - VATICAN – PHILIPPINES
Pope to Cebu: Christ’s presence, a promise of joy and an invitation to mission
sIn a video-message for the conclusion of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, Francis stresses the joy of the meeting that "brought together so many people from the vast continent of Asia,” where bearing witness to Jesus takes place “through the testimony of lives”. The next Congress will be held in Budapest, Hungary, in 2020.
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