Religion

UN Security Council’s Ceasefire Resolution in Gaza Welcomed

After nearly six months of a devastating war in Gaza, the UN Security Council has at last adopted a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The resolution calls for the ceasefire to come into effect for the month of Ramadan, demands the unconditional release of all hostages and ensures humanitarian access.

In Pakistan, Death Can Be Just a WhatsApp Share Away

Justice Zafar Yab Chadhar's March 6 order sentencing 22-year-old Junaid Munir to ‘be hanged by his neck till he is dead’ on charges of sharing blasphemous material over WhatsApp was devastating for his family. “The earth moved from underneath my feet,” is how 57-year-old Chaudhry Munir Hussain, Munir’s father, described his feelings as he heard the judge read out the judgment that day in a court in Gujranwala, a city in Punjab province.

International Women’s Day, 2024
In a Fearless Gesture, Woman Police Officer Averts Mob Lynching

Since the start of the year, there has been very little to celebrate for Pakistanis. Disrupted social media, escalating electricity, fuel, and food prices, and newly-held elections mired in controversy. But then, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Syeda Shehrbano Naqvi, did something that brightened the days of despair. The 31-year-old’s courageous overture and foresight in the face of a potentially explosive situation have given Pakistan a reason to stand among the countries on this year’s Women’s Day with pride.

Greece: Another First for LGBTQI+ Rights

After almost two decades of civil society campaigning, Greece’s parliament has passed a law enabling same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. It’s the first majority-Orthodox Christian country to realise marriage equality.

Imperialism, Globalisation and Its Discontents*

Imperialism continues to dominate the world. Globalisation is losing to some of its anti-theses, but imperialism still rules, increasingly by law, albeit in changing even contradictory ways.

Nuclear Disarmament: A Natural Buddhist-Catholic Alliance, says Japanese Leader

At the United Nations headquarters in New York City, on the third floor, a solemn statue of St. Agnes, holding her namesake lamb, stands as a disturbing reminder of nuclear destruction.

Hindu Woman Doctor Confident of Election In Pakistan Polls

A woman medical graduate from the Hindu community is making waves, as she is the first minority woman to contest the Pakistan Parliamentary election for a general seat, and she does so in the face of deep-rooted religious traditions and wealthy political opponents. Dr Saveera Parkash, a nominee of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for the February 8 polls, is sure of her victory despite her religion.

Iran, Back to the Grim Normal

Iran’s time of public rebellion has ended. The protesters marching, chanting, and dancing under the ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ banner have long stopped. And shifting regional dynamics may play to the regime’s favour.

Europe’s Shift to the Far Right and its Impact on Immigration

The recent elections in the Netherlands signals the increasing power of the far right in Europe. The populist party of Geert Wilders, the Party for Freedom, won a decisive, albeit unexpected, victory taking 37 seats out the 150 seat in parliament. Wilders will likely be the head of the next Government. His policies include stopping all immigration into the Netherlands, holding a referendum on leaving the EU, and banning mosques and the Quran.

Sikh Faith Inspires Environmental Stewardship

Dr Jasdev Singh Rai, an accomplished ENT doctor who hails from London, is not just attending COP 28; he is representing an organization that brings a unique perspective to the global stage.

Faith Pavilion Adds Spiritual Dimension to Climate Crisis Resolution

For the first time at COP28, faith has a pavilion alongside science, technology, nations, and philanthropy, allowing religious leaders from all over the world to discuss the potential for using spiritual merits to protect the earth from climate change.

Netherlands Latest Country to Tilt to the Right

The Netherlands is the latest country to lurch to the right amid the global cost of living crisis. Its November election saw maverick far-right populist Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom (PVV) come first. A hardline Islamophobe who’s called for the Quran to be banned could be the next prime minister.

Kazakhstan’s Interfaith Initiative: Fostering Global Harmony through Wisdom and Leadership

In the heart of Central Asia, a nation renowned for its rich cultural diversity, multi-ethnic society, and spiritual traditions has emerged as a global beacon of interfaith harmony and understanding. Over the past two decades, Kazakhstan’s Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions (The Congress) has played an instrumental role in promoting dialogue, forging unity, and advocating for peace among diverse faiths worldwide. Rooted in Kazakhstan’s deep spiritual heritage and wisdom, this initiative has evolved into a symbol of international cooperation and tolerance. As we reflect on its remarkable journey and look ahead to its future under the leadership of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, it becomes evident that the Congress is poised to make even greater strides toward fostering global harmony and unity.

Religious Leaders Can Help Bring about World Peace

It is not a secret that the world is witnessing rising international tensions and erosion of the global order that has been in place since the establishment of the United Nations. Divisive blocs, which have not been seen since the Cold War, are making a swift return. As a result, our planet is facing severe threats, including a new global arms race, the threat of the use of nuclear weapons, and the proliferation of wars in all formats, including hot, hybrid, cyber, and trade.

Where is India Heading?

Some time ago I watched the Indian blockbuster RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt). It received universal praise for direction, screenwriting, cast performances, soundtrack (which won an Oscar) and thrilling action sequences. RRR is filled with gore; bodies beaten, pierced and torn apart. An overblown combination of Quentin Tarantino and Bollywood, far away from Satyajit Ray’s emotionally moving films, as well as Bollywood’s romantic comedies and mythological dramas. RRR never pauses for breath. The two male protagonists are supermen, not exposing many recognizable human traits, even if they might occasionally sing and talk about love. Hard to understand, since the few women of the story are cut-out clichés.

Barriers to Movement are the Never Ending Normal for Palestinians

Sundus* scans the news before she heads home, checking for signs that her 30-minute commute could turn into a four-hour-long slog. Any incident could make travel difficult. Sometimes Sundus waits for her father to call and tell her if the checkpoints around their home are open. After living in Hebron, a city in the West Bank, for the last 20 years, she is used to planning her day around unpredictability.

Qur’an Burning: Rage, Ignorance and Prejudice

Qur’an burning has become a symbol of intolerance and “Islamophobia”, especially in some Western countries. Following the public burning of a Quran in front of Stockholm’s largest mosque on June 28 during the Islamic Eid al-Adha festival, a copy of the Qur’an was set on fire in the Danish capital on 24 July. Naturally, these events provoked protests from Muslims all over the world, including in Sweden and Denmark. The Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson is “extremely worried” that such protests could result in more burning of the Quran – thus creating a vicious circle – as the Swedish police received a large number of applications for anti-Islam protests.

The Common Good, or Transactional Religion?

For the last 30 odd years, I have maintained that religions matter. I noted the reasons for why they matter, and always listed how they matter ---as social service providers, as first responders in humanitarian crisis; as mediators in tensions and conflicts, as upholders of common good and the values of humanity; as protectors of children and of the most vulnerable; and even as political actors.

Indian Christians Seek Equal Rights for Dalit Converts

Renuka Kumari is a 45-year-old Christian woman from the Dalit community in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh. She faces numerous challenges every day and hopes for a day when her struggles will end and she can lead a comfortable life.

A “New” Saudi Arabia? Changes on the Screen and in Reality

The World changes, though prejudices and misconceptions remain. In 1996, political scientist Samuel Huntington published The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, in which he predicted that people’s cultural and religious identities would become the primary source of conflict in a Post–Cold War World. Huntington’s allegations have been contradicted by a number of critics, among them American Palestinian professor Edward Said, who lamented their extreme cultural determinism, which omitted the dynamic interdependency and interaction of cultures. Said’s own Orientalism depicted a generalised “Western view” of Arab cultures as “static and undeveloped”, while European culture was considered to be “developed, rational, flexible, and superior.” Literature and movies have depicted Arabs as exotic men riding camels and horses through the desert, and their women as dangerously seductive objects of male desire. Eventually, the exotic men turned in to being terrorists, and/or depraved oil-rich magnates, while Muslim women were presented as veiled, enigmatic, and oppressed.

An Afghan Appeal to UN Leadership

We are a group of Afghans living in the country and working across sectors including peace, civil society, humanitarian aid, human rights, media, and the private sector, and are working to promote dialogue and seek long-term solutions for our country.

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