International Trends in Interreligious Relations: News Roundup

In the news this week:  Belgian lawmakers pass a burqa ban and Algeria orders all Protestant churches closed. In other news, many of the stories we’ve been following have taken new turns or produced new stories. Additional headlines posted below.

Belgium Adopts Burqa Ban

A burqa ban similar to the one adopted in France has been passed in Belgium’s lower house of parliament. The law is slated to be debated in the Belgian senate, and may be held up over wording, but is expected to pass later this summer. As with the French burqa ban, the argument for the law is improved security, while opponents argue that it is religiously discriminatory. The ban would be effective in all public places, with possible provisions for cultural festivals. (BBC)

Anti-Christian Trend Grows in North Africa

Some areas in North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing increased conflict with their Christian communities, such as Egypt and Syria. We can now add Algeria to the list. Twenty years ago, Algeria enacted a law prohibiting houses of religious worship that had not received a permit from the state. As a result, half of the countries Protestant churches closed their doors permanently. The remaining churches have attempted to apply for permits without success. Just this past week, the Protestant church was notified that the law would be actively enforced again, prompting a concern that Protestants are about to be severely discriminated against. (Christianity Today)

Updated Stories

  1. The Student Body President of a Connecticut high school respects the board’s decision to keep the standing graduation date despite it causing him to miss the event for religious reasons. (Hartford Courant)
  2. The Sumner School District in Tennessee defends the interaction of church and state in their schools. (Tennessean)
  3. The two Imams removed from a Memphis flight last month address the experience and their concerns. (Faith in Memphis)
  4. An Archbishop speaks out against the proposed circumcision ban in San Francisco (Catholic San Francisco) and Santa Monica considers adopting a similar ban. (LA Times)
In other news: