Sundus Azza 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 Azza 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am writing from Kabul where I have been living for this past 11 months. I consider myself a friend of Afghanistan, a country full of contrasts that I know since 1986; I have lived here for a little over 12 years.
"I had my shop in Afghanistan but came here after the Taliban's warning against stitching women's clothes. Now, I am working on daily wages in a shop owned by a local tailor master," Noor Wali, 32, told IPS.
When the Pope Emeritus
Benedict XIV/Ratzinger died on the last day of 2022 it did not cause much of a stir in the global newsfeed. Maybe a sign that religion has ceased to play a decisive role in modern society Nevertheless, religious hierarchies are still highly influential, not least for the world’s 1, 4 billion baptized Catholics, and a pope’s policies have a bearing not only on morals, but also on political and economic issues. By contrast, there are more Muslims in the world, 1.9 billion, though adherents are not so centrally controlled and supervised as Catholics and hierarchies do not have a comparable influence on global affairs.
When countless supporters of the Indian National Congress, the main opposition party, arrive in Srinagar on January 30 to hoist the Indian flag, they would have walked 3,570 kilometres over 150 days.
During November, soldiers of the March 23 Movement
(M23) have been approaching Goma in the eastern territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC), close to the Rwandan border. About 180.000 people are now leaving Goma, a city with a million inhabitants. Many stakeholders are involved in the conflict and there is an apparent danger that the overall carnage that affected the Congolese eastern border areas fifteen years ago will resume. At the same time, war is ranging in Ukraine, which name likely comes from the old Slavic term for borderland
India’s new Chief Justice, Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, has a significant challenge ahead – as activists and minorities remain hopeful that he will remain true to his legacy of delivering judgments that enshrined the Constitution, especially on personal liberty.
It’s time to step up, speak out and object to antisemitism. Antisemitic remarks, behavior and events cannot continue to be swept under the rug
, unethically edited
for political media consumption, or ignored
in hopes that they will simply go away.
In 2019, when the President-elect of the European Union (EU) Ursula von der Leyen had presented a list for her soon-to-be European Commission, and on that list was a portfolio called “Protecting the European way of life”, a lot of noise was made questioning what that meant. “Protection” was later changed to the “Promotion” of the European Way of Life. It’s been over three years since this very controversial, much debated and widely criticised portfolio as many continue to question what uniquely is the ‘European way of life’?
Vaccine refusal is impacting the eradication of polio in Pakistan.
Pakistan has vaccinated about 35 million children during its door-to-door campaign, but about 500,000 remained unvaccinated due to refusal by their parents, Jawad Khan Polio officer in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, recorded in 2022 so far.
Climate change reductionism – assuming the causes and the redress for those suffering the worst impacts of extreme weather lies with climate change alone - undermines the rights of religiously marginalised persons, but broadening whose rights are being advocated for in climate change can offer redress.
In this year’s COP 27 two-weeklong summit in Egypt, which concludes November 18, a rough count indicates there will be 40 different sessions organised by, for, and about, religious engagements in/on climate change and related issues. This is likely the highest number of events by and around religious actors, organised at a COP event.
The electoral defeat of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is a triumph for everyone who is concerned about the peril of climate change. Bolsonaro’s well-deserved defeat could help save the Amazon rainforest, which has been ravaged under his criminal rule, and the process of reversing the looming climate change catastrophe can begin
Arms are raised, stretched out towards the sky, holding white cards with the word "peace" written in different languages. A girl, a refugee from Syria, reads the Rome’s "Appeal for peace": "With firm conviction, we say: no more war! Let's stop all conflicts […] Let dialogue be resumed to nullify the threat of nuclear weapons.” Pope Francis singed it in front of the people gathered at the Colosseum, holding the word “peace” in their hands, as representatives of the world’s religions did as well. Shortly before, members of those different religions gathered for prayer to invoke peace in their different traditions—a prayer that is “a cry” inside the ancient amphitheater.
Eleven out of 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) still sanction the death penalty for blasphemy and apostasy, silencing their citizens and emboldening violence by non-state actors.
The American author Sue Monk Kidd's award-winning novel The Book of Longings has a sensational beginning, despite the simplicity of the phraseology: It starts: "I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus bin Joseph of Nazareth". It would be impossible for anyone not to swallow this bait with enormous curiosity, and follow through with reading what is well and truly a 'page-turner'. The book is crafted to be breezy and exciting, necessary perhaps to better deliver its message. This historical work of fiction was the subject of discussion at a recent seminar organized by the Dhaka -based 'The Reading Circle'. The event was held in a 'hybrid' format, an experiment of the Circle in consonance with the evolving practices of the Covid era. There was a core of participants in Dhaka, and other members joining in from London, Paris, and Singapore. Chaired by Professor Razia Khan, the list of speakers and commentators included Niaz Zaman, Nusrat Huq, Tanveerul Haque, Ameenah Ahmed, Shahruk Rahman, Asfa Husain, Nazmun Nahar, Sarazeen Ahana and myself. The following essay is based on my remarks made on the occasion.