Church Construction Approved Near Ground Zero: News Roundup

In the news this week: A Greek Orthodox church destroyed on 9/11 is approved to rebuild, American-Muslim scholars issue Fatwa supporting U.S. Constitution, Baha’i educators receive multi-year sentences in Iran, and other stories.

Ten years after tiny St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was destroyed by falling rubble from the World Trade Center towers, church leaders reached an agreement Friday (Oct. 14) to rebuild at Ground Zero.
The church, founded by Greek immigrants in 1916, sat in the shadow of the twin towers and was the only religious building to be completely destroyed during the 9/11 attacks. Washington Post
 
A federal judge in Houston has approved settlement of a lawsuit several veterans groups filed against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, accusing the department of religious discrimination. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes approved the consent decree on Wednesday. The agreement was made public last month.
 
Three Houston veterans groups and a pastor filed the lawsuit earlier this year. It accused VA officials of banning such religious words as "God" and censoring their prayers at soldiers' funerals at the Houston National Cemetery. The Liberty Institute, a Texas religious rights organization representing the veterans groups, says the agreement ends religious hostility at the cemetery. NECN
 
Islamic scholars tired of conservative charges that Muslims in the United States constitute a radical fifth column bent on subverting American values and obligated by their religion to launch jihadist terror attacks are fighting back by issuing a fatwa.
 
The Islamic religious ruling, a "Resolution On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans," is a response to what its authors call "erroneous perceptions and Islamophobic propaganda" that has built up for a decade following the 9/11 attacks and subsequent terrorist plots by adherents of al-Qaida and other extremist groups. It was issued in Virginia late last month by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), a group of Islamic scholars who meet several times a year to draft opinions on issues of concern to American Muslims. Huffington Post
 
Tunisia, the first country to rise up in the so-called Arab Spring, may also become the region’s first new democracy to vote an Islamist party into power.
 
Ennahdha, an Islamic party legalized only six months ago, is the front-runner in the Oct. 23 vote to choose an assembly to write a new constitution, according to an OpinionWay poll released just before a pre-election polling ban took effect on Oct. 1. The party says it won’t impose its views on what is now the most secular country in the region. Business Week
 
For the first time, Pope Benedict has invited non-believers, in addition to representatives of all faiths, to the religious peace gathering in Assisi due to take place on 27 October. Independent Catholic News
 
Egypt’s military officials added an anti-discriminatory measure Saturday in response to last week’s religious demonstration that escalated into one of the country’s deadliest riots since former President Hosni Mubarak was driven out of office in February.
Under the new measure, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, nationality, language and religious affiliations.   Global Post
 
More than two dozen Somali Muslim drivers for Hertz at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are being fired after refusing to clock out for daily breaks during which they normally pray.
 
The 26 workers drive the company's rental cars to and from the airport for cleaning and refueling. They are among 34 Hertz employees suspended Sept. 30 for failing to clock out before breaks.
 
Teamsters Local 117, which represents the workers, said Hertz agreed during contract negotiations last year that union members would not need to clock out during prayer breaks. But the company maintains workers were violating a settlement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached two years ago. Yahoo
 
Seven Baha'i educators in Iran have each received four- or five-year prison sentences, according to reports received by the Baha'i International Community. Baha’i World News Service