Sarah Palin calls waterboarding ‘baptism’ of terrorists • Hungarians march against anti-Semitism after far-right poll gains • Brunei adopts sharia law, others in Southeast Asia consider it • Sikhs stand up to bullying as they try to build understanding • United Church of Christ Sues North Carolina to Allow Gay Marriage
Last week’s top news, from our perspective:
Republican politician Sarah Palin has caused controversy by comparing the use of torture to baptism. In a speech before the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis last weekend, Palin criticised the Obama administration’s ‘soft’ approach to terrorism.
“Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptise terrorists,” she said.
This remark has caused waves across political and religious spheres, with critics lambasting Palin for her offhand attitude towards the use of torture and what many see as a disregard for a key Christian sacrament.
Tens of thousands of Hungarians joined a protest march on Sunday against anti-Semitism, three weeks after the far-right Jobbik party won nearly a quarter of votes cast in a national election.
The marchers, many holding European Union and Israeli flags, attended the inauguration of a Holocaust monument on a bank of the Danube where Jews were executed during the war. They then marched in silence through the city to an old railway station from which trains departed 70 years ago for Nazi death camps.
More people are taking part because they fear anti-Semitism is again on the rise, said Miklos Deutsch, 64, a restaurant manager, after a shofar, a traditional Jewish instrument made from a ram’s horn, gave the signal for the march to start.
The sultanate of Brunei this week becomes the first East Asian country to introduce Islamic criminal law, the latest example of a deepening religious conservatism that has also taken root in parts of neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia.
From Wednesday, residents of the country dominated by Malay Muslims face conviction by Islamic courts and fines or jail terms for offences like pregnancy outside marriage, failure to perform Friday prayers, and propagating other religions. A second phase comes into effect 12 months later covering offences for theft and alcohol consumption by Muslims, punishable by whipping and amputations.
The death penalty, including by stoning, will be introduced in the final phase a year later for offences including adultery, sodomy and insulting the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad.
Throughout elementary, middle and high school, Prabhdeep Suri has been the only Sikh in his class, and it’s been obvious.“He came home crying three days out of five,” his mother, Harpreet Suri, remembered. “They were taking his patka off almost every day.”
Bullying is a hot topic, and affects children and teenagers who appear or act differently. But unlike others who can hide their religion at school – by wearing a baseball cap instead of a yarmulke, or never mentioning their family celebrates Ramadan – Sikhs literally wear their religion on their sleeves.
It’s the first time for a national Christian denomination to sue in favor of same-sex marriage, citing restricted freedom of religion. Currently ministers who marry couples without a marriage license can face misdemeanor charges punishable by up to 120 days in jail