This week saw headlines in many of the divisive topics we’ve been talking about for months. From burqas to crucifixes, faith healing to minarets, here’s the latest in religious diversity news.
In Malaysia, 4 more Muslims have been charged with attacking churches over the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims (check out last week’s post for background on the issue). Though there wasn’t much in the news this week about the recent violence, Malaysia made headlines for other reasons. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim went to trial for sodomy, which is illegal in the Muslim country that prohibits all homosexual activity. The New York Times reports.
Now that the violence has subsided in Nigeria (we covered the story a couple of weeks ago), the discussion has moved to how the country’s leaders can solve the crisis. IRIN argues that punishing those directly responsible for the violence is essential for Nigeria’s citizens to move on, while Malam Shehu Sani, President of the Civil Rights Congress says the answer lies in prosecuting political and religious leaders.
The Oregon faith healing case has been decided. Jurors convicted Jeff and Marci Beagley of criminally negligent homicide for refusing their son medical care while he was dying, instead relying on the power of prayer to save his life. The verdict comes a year after the couple’s daughter and son-in-law, Raylene and Carl Brent Worthington, were acquitted of manslaughter in the death of their year-old daughter. In closing arguments, Greg Horner, the attorney who also prosecuted the Worthingtons, said the Beagleys “ignored the lesson that cost their granddaughter her life.” They’ll likely go to jail for 18 months. The Washington Post reports and The Oregonian weighs in.
Remember the contentious ruling that made displaying a crucifix in Italian public school classrooms illegal? The Italian government was outraged at the decision and vowed to appeal. This week, Court spokesman Stefano Piedimonte said the Italian government has lodged an appeal before the court’s Grand Chamber. Five judges will review the request and decide if there are grounds for an appeal.
While the crucifix was the catalyst for debate in Italy, it was minarets in Switzerland and burqas in France. In December, Switzerland banned the construction of minarets on mosques and last week, France came closer to legalizing a ban on burqas in public spaces. A priest in Germany is working to heal Europe’s Muslim/non-Muslim divide by funding the country’s largest mosque, but a blogger at The Journal argues why the burqa ban is also necessary in Britain.
That’s it for updates! We’ll close the week with an interesting article by Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, in which she discusses the findings of her recent study on American perceptions of Muslims and what the results mean for President Obama’s global engagement initiative.
See you next week!