Palestine inches toward statehood: News Roundup

Palestine is granted "non-member observer state" by the U.N. General Assembly, "Innocense of Muslims" creator regrets nothing, and other news stories. 

The U.N. General Assembly voted to approve Palestinians' request to be upgraded to a "non-member observer state," defying opposition by the U.S. and Israel. Before the vote, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the General Assembly that it "is being asked today to issue the birth certificate of Palestine."

Of the 193 countries in the General Assembly 138 voted to recognize Palestine. Only nine, including the U.S., voted against it. Another 41 countries abstained. In the West Bank, Palestinians erupted in a roar of cheers, horn honking and fireworks as crowds thronged the main square of Ramallah to celebrate the world's recognition of their state.
 
The historic vote recognizes Palestine as a state and gives Palestine the right to join U.N. agencies. It opens the door for Palestine to become a party to the International Criminal Court, allowing them to bring cases against Israel.  Israel and the U.S. argued that the vote is purely symbolic, would change nothing on the ground, would hurt peace talks and could affect U.S. funding. ABC News

The violent crises in Syria, Gaza and Mali show how important it is for different religions to work together to promote understanding rather than sow hatred, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said on Monday.  Addressing the opening of a new Saudi-backed interfaith centre in Vienna, he said the Syrian conflict was "taking on troubling sectarian dimensions" and "unrest (continues) between Israelis and Palestinians."

Valuable religious monuments had been destroyed in Mali, he said, referring to the destruction of centuries-old Muslim heritage by the radical Islamist Ansar Dine movement.  Religious leaders "can unite people based on tenets and precepts common to all creeds" but at times have also "stoked intolerance, supported extremism and propagated hate." Reuters

Fuming for two months in a jail cell here, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has had plenty of time to reconsider the wisdom of making “Innocence of Muslims,” his crude YouTube movie trailer depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty, philandering thug.

Does Mr. Nakoula now regret the footage? After all, it fueled deadly protests across the Islamic world and led the unlikely filmmaker to his own arrest for violating his supervised release on a fraud conviction.

Not at all. New York Times

It happens every week at meetings in towns, counties and cities nationwide. A lawmaker or religious leader leads a prayer before officials begin the business of zoning changes, contract approvals and trash pickup.

But citizens are increasingly taking issue with these prayers, some of which have been in place for decades. At least five lawsuits around the country — in California, Florida, Missouri, New York, and Tennessee — are actively challenging pre-meeting prayers. Associated Press

There are more Muslims from America than any other country on this year’s “The Muslim 500: The World’s 500 Most Influential Muslims,” compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, a respected think tank in Jordan, including two in the top 50. Washington Post