Jews in Europe Report a Surge in Anti-Semitism • Elderly Woman’s Killing Lays Bare Myanmar’s Religious Divisions • Minority report: Why Baha’is face persecution in Iran • Atheist ‘Megachurches’ Crop Up Around The World • Sakena Yacoobi Wins Opus Prize
Last week’s top news stories, from our perspective:
Jews in Europe Report a Surge in Anti-Semitism
Fear of rising anti-Semitism in Europe has prompted nearly a third of European Jews to consider emigration because they do not feel safe in their home country, according to a detailed survey of Jewish perceptions released Friday by a European Union agency that monitors discrimination and other violations of basic rights.
The survey, by the bloc’s Fundamental Rights Agency, focused on eight countries that account for more than 90 percent of Europe’s Jewish population and found that “while member states have made sustained efforts to combat anti-Semitism, the problem is still widespread.”
Paralyzed from the waist down, Daw Aye Kyi was too heavy for her daughter and granddaughter to carry into the surrounding jungle when a Buddhist mob stormed through this rice-farming village hunting for Muslims.
Three men brandishing machetes and knives ignored pleas for mercy and lunged at Ms. Aye Kyi. Her daughter and her granddaughter fled. Several hours later, Ms. Aye Kyi’s body was discovered, slumped next to the smoking cinders of her wooden house. The police say she was stabbed six times. She was 94 years old.
Ms. Aye Kyi was one of five Muslims killed in the attack on Thabyu Chaing last month.
The Islamic Republic’s 34-year rule has hurt many religious and political groups in Iran, but one community has borne an especially heavy burden: the Baha’is, a religious minority viewed as heretics by some Muslims.
Dozens of Baha’is were killed or jailed in the years immediately following the Islamic revolution in 1979. Billions of dollars worth of land, houses, shops and other Baha’i belongings were seized in subsequent years by various Iranian organizations, including Setad, the organization overseen by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Hundreds packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational sermon, a reading and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.
Dozens of gatherings dubbed “atheist mega-churches” by supporters and detractors are springing up around the U.S. after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke.
Sakena Yacoobi, founder and president of the Afghan Institute of Learning, was announced as the winner of the 2013 Opus Prize, an award that “honors unsung heroes of any faith tradition with a $1 million award for efforts to solve today’s most persistent and pressing global issues, including poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease, and injustice.”