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08 February 2016
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    06/02/2016 - SAUDI ARABIA

    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 faiths

    by Nirmala Carvalho

    Australian religious leaders arrive tomorrow in the Indian capital. From here, they embark on a pilgrimage across the country. Islam expert Fr Victor Edwin SJ has arranged various meetings and visits, including to a Delhi mosque and shrine.


    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 extremists

    by 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 controls

    by 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 Malaysia

    by 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



    Marking World Week for Inter-religious Harmony, youth groups have organized various charitable activities. PIME missionary: "The prisoners take turns to sleep, there are not enough beds. Thanks to the meeting with young people they experience dialogue and witness from inside their cells".


    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 laws

    by 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.

     


    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.


    31/01/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: The only privilege in the eyes of God is not to have any privileges


    Speaking about today’s Gospel, Francis focused on the temptation "to which religious men are always exposed, to which we are all exposed, and from which we should definitely stay away. What is this temptation? It is the temptation of considering religion as a human investment so that we start to ‘bargain’ with God for our own self-interest." Young members of Rome’s Azione Cattolica were in the square for the annual Peace Caravan. The pope pleaded for people living with leprosy, a disease that still “affects mostly the poorest and the most marginalised”.


    30/01/2016 - VATICAN

    Pope: the mission and mercy are the foundation of the faith, and every Christian is a Christopher


    Francis opens the jubilee general audiences with a reflection on the "wonderful circularity" between mission and mercy. The actual sign that we met Jesus "is the joy we feel in communicating it to others”. For the pontiff, “this this is not proselytising. It is giving a gift. I give you what gives me joy.” The pope ends calling on the crowd to pray for Ms Elvira, who worked at Casa Santa Marta, and was called by the Lord.


    30/01/2016 - SYRIA – UNITED NATIONS

    Opposition group to join Geneva talks on Syria conflict


    The High Negotiations Committee announces it will send 30-35 people to Geneva to join UN, US and Syrian representatives to negotiate an end to a conflict that has claimed 260,000 lives since 2011. UN Security Council resolution approved last month calls for an immediate cease-fire, a transitional government in six months and elections within 18.


    29/01/2016 - INDONESIA

    Amid condemnations and hypocrisy, Indonesian Muslims discuss homosexuality

    by Mathias Hariyadi

    Censorious statements by the Higher Education minister against LGBT groups have led Islamist groups to radicalise their positions, whilst eliciting some attempt to defend LGBT rights. For Jakarta governor, "No one should prevent others from having different sexual orientations”. Legislation varies from province to province.


    28/01/2016 - ISLAM

    Muslim leaders sign minority rights charter for Muslim countries


    In a Joint Declaration, hundreds of Muslim notables call for equal rights for everyone. The notion of citizenship is the basis of living together. Signatories condemn those who use religion to "attack minorities" as well as the armed struggle when it is used "as a tool for settling conflicts and imposing one's point of view”. Educational institutions must engage in a courageous review of the curriculum. The full text of the document is presented.


    28/01/2016 - PHILIPPINES

    Mindanao: former MILF terrorists to join government against ISIS


    The Moro Islamic Liberation Front announced the creation of a 12,000-strong task force to counter ISIS’ “distortions” of the Qurʼān. For an army spokesman, “Any initiative against extremism is welcome." The MILF is discussing with the government ways to prevent extremist groups from undermining peace talks.


    27/01/2016 - ISRAEL – PALESTINE – UNITED NATIONS

    For Palestinian leader, Ban Ki-moon does not cause terrorism, occupation does


    Bernard Sabella talks to AsiaNews about the row between the UN chief and the Israeli PM. For the Catholic intellectual, all forms of violence have to be condemned but the absence of a political solution and a vision of peace are accentuating the conflict. Israel’s establishment is using regional crisis to promote its expansionist agenda.


    27/01/2016 - INDONESIA

    Some 200 Indonesians join Islamic State as the authorities continue hunt for Jakarta bombers

    by Mathias Hariyadi

    Army and Navy Special Forces have joined the police to hunt for suspected mastermind, Bahrum Naim, and Santoso, the country’s Most Wanted, who is hiding in the jungle near Poso among friends.


    27/01/2016 - MALAYSIA

    Saudi Arabia’s US$ 681 million to Prime Minister Najib still a mystery


    Attorney General clears Najib Razak from bribery charges. For the former, the issue is between him and the Saudi royal family. For Malaysian source, “This would not be the first time the Saudis gave money this way to someone in Malaysia.” For Saudi source, the donation was designed to help Najib win the 2013 election.


    27/01/2016 - IRAN – VATICAN

    Meeting between Pope Francis and Hassan Rouhani elicits enthusiastic comments in Iran

    by Darius Karimian

    The country’s papers carry front-page photos of the Vatican meeting, except for Keyhan, a paper close to Khamenei. Foreign Minister Zarif comments meeting on Twitter. Online paper Asriran publishes photo gallery. Iranian intellectuals criticise the Italian government for covering nude statues at the Capitoline Museums to "avoid a little embarrassment for the sake of economic contracts with Iran."


    27/01/2016 - ISRAEL - TURKEY

    Israeli defence minister accuses Turkey of buying IS oil, funding militants' activities


    Moshe Yaalon said IS had "enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time". It's up to Turkey “to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism” he added. Ankara permitted jihadists to move from Europe to Syria and Iraq and back. 


    26/01/2016 - ISRAEL – PALESTINE

    Bethlehem University offers a “friendship” programme for Christians and Muslims


    Fr Iyad twal heads the Religious Studies Department. The interreligious dialogue programme creates a space where students and teachers can create bonds of friendship, showing how religion can be "a tool of peace." Fr Twal hopes to expand the programme to all the universities in the Holy Land, involving Christians, Muslims, and Jews to highlight the “human side” of religion.


    26/01/2016 - VATICAN – IRAN

    Pope Francis and Rouhani: for a Christian renewal in the Middle East and Iran’s Islam

    by Bernardo Cervellera

    Today's meeting raises hope for regional stability and a stop to the slaughter of Christians, condemned to oblivion at the hands of al Qaeda and Isis, who are also Iran’s enemies. The dialogue between cultures, religions and peoples that began under Khatami, frozen under Ahmadinejad, can now start again. Moderate Islam is also useful to Iranian youth, nauseated by the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards. The Catechism and Catholic theologians are available in Persian translations.






    Editor's choices

    CHINA – VATICAN
    Global Times: the pope should accept the independence of the Chinese Church



    After 24 hours of silence, China’s media today published excerpts, comments and editorials about Pope Francis’ interview with Asia Times. Although the pope did not address religious issues or Church problems, many saw the interview as an attempt to improve diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican, and advised Francis to accept Mao Zedong’s "three principles of independence" (theology, administration, jurisdiction), which would leave the power to appoint bishops in the hands of the Party. The People's Daily’s Global Times publishes an editorial on the issue.


    INDIA – PHILIPPINES
    Archbishop of Guwahati: In Asia religion is not dying, the faithful take strength from the Eucharist



    Mgr Menamparampil is among the speakers at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. He was also a conflict mediator between various ethnic groups. He told AsiaNews about the value of the Congress for the Catholic Church in Asia and how people can bear witness the Gospel today, even amid tensions and violence of those who "hate us." "with the same pain in our hearts that we descend to our depths during a Eucharistic adoration."


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