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U.S. Senators urge release of Egypt Islamists: Top 5 News Stories

U.S. senators urge release of Islamists in Egypt Jackie Robinson Statue in Brooklyn Marred By Swastika and Anti-Semitic SlursAddicted to Prayer Contraception and CorporationsSatellite Images Of Aleppo, Syria, Reveal Shocking Destruction Of City

Last week's top stories, from our perspective:
 

U.S. senators urge release of Islamists in Egypt

Two U.S. Senators traveled to Egypt last week to encourage the military-backed leaders to release Islamist figures as a gesture to the Muslim Brotherhood. The message from Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham met with a sharp response, denounced by interim President Adly Mansour in a brief statement as "unacceptable interference in internal politics."

The new leadership, emboldened by mass demonstrations of support, showed no sign of willingness to release Muslim Brotherhood figures whom McCain called "political prisoners" and whom the government plans to prosecute for allegedly inciting violence.

 

Jackie Robinson Statue in Brooklyn Marred By Swastika and Anti-Semitic Slurs

Vandals defaced a statue of barrier-breaking baseball star Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn, scrawling a racial slur, a swastika and anti-Semitic language on the figure outside a minor league baseball park, police said on Wednesday.

The hate crimes task force was investigating and no arrests had been made, a police spokeswoman said.

 

Addicted to Prayer

In this op-ed column, the author explores an atheist's self-created god, an evangelical who wondered whether her immersion in prayer was making her crazy, and whether online gaming can be a religious experience,

 

Contraception and Corporations

At least three dozen lawsuits have been filed by private businesses challenging, on religious grounds, the new health care law’s requirement that most company health plans provide no-cost coverage of contraceptives. The lawsuits share a basic flaw: Profit-making corporations are not human beings capable of engaging in religious exercise to begin with.

 

Satellite Images Of Aleppo, Syria, Reveal Shocking Destruction Of City

New images have laid bare the destruction caused by the Syrian civil war in the country's largest city.

Satellite images from human rights organisation Amnesty International show scenes of "devastation" in Aleppo – which has been the arena for much fighting between those loyal to president Bashar Assad's regime and rebels seeking to oust it. (Photo credit from Huffington Post)

Anti-Semitism declining, yet a proliferation of online hatred: Top 5 News Stories

Anti-Semitism on downward slide but still rampant online • France stands by veil ban after riots •  As a Religion, Marijuana-Infused Faith Pushes Commonly Held Limits Scientology case has judges debating the meaning of religion • Religious Progressives Predicted To Outnumber Conservatives, Survey Find

Last week's top stories, from our perspective:

Anti-Semitism on downward slide but still rampant online
The Anti-Defamation League’s study of anti-Semitism in the U.S. shows a 14 percent decrease in incidents during 2012, the second consecutive year of a downward trend. But the ADL report also showed a proliferation in the U.S. of some expressions of anti-Semitism, including vandalism, online expressions of hatred toward Jews, and anti-Jewish hostility on college campuses — where the ADL says anti-Israel sentiment too often has turned anti-Semitic.

The recent decline in anti-Semitic incidents contrasts to findings in many Europeans countries, where anti-Semitic incidents continue to rise. In France, for example, the Jewish Community Security Service recorded 614 anti-Semitic acts in 2012, compared to 389 in 2011 — a 58 percent jump. (Photo credit from Religion News Service)

 

France stands by veil ban after riots
France's interior minister on Monday defended a ban on wearing full-face veils in public after a police check on a Muslim woman caused two nights of rioting near Paris, exposing tensions in immigrant-heavy suburbs.

The 2010 law was brought in by conservative former president Nicolas Sarkozy and targets burqa and niqab garments that conceal the face.

 

As a Religion, Marijuana-Infused Faith Pushes Commonly Held Limits
The founder of the Hawai’i Cannabis THC Ministry is asking a federal court to define religion, something the courts would prefer to avoid. His Religion of Jesus, Mr. Christie wrote, holds that sacramental marijuana use is “a God-given right, as told to us in the Bible in Genesis 1:29, in which it says, ‘Then God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant’ ” Other tenets of the faith include, “Our religion does not believe in going to war” and, “Our ministers are required to use a hemp-cloth shawl for ceremonies and prayer.”

As of now, the government does not recognize the Religion of Jesus or its use of sacramental marijuana.

 

Scientology case has judges debating the meaning of religion
And in a similar case in the UK, a couple hoping to marry in the Church of Scientology have five supreme court justices wrestling with what constitutes worship and whether Scientologists may conduct weddings.

 

Religious Progressives Predicted To Outnumber Conservatives, Survey Find
A new study has found that while the number of religious conservatives is still greater than that of progressives, the religious left may have a better chance of maintaining its foothold with Americans over time.

"If you’re using a generational snapshot today as a proxy for the future, it is is safe to say that religious progressives hold a stronger appeal among Millennials," said Robert Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, which surveyed 2,000 adults in partnership with the Brookings Institute.

Nicky’s Family: How one man saved 669 children’s lives

Celebrating those people who rise above the rest, who step into the history books by acting in humanity’s pivotal moments, is an important part of how we choose the values we bequeath to the next generations. 

This Fourth of July, along with the rest of this country, I celebrated the heroes of our American Revolution. On July 5,  I had the unexpected honor of celebrating another hero, whose selfless acts in the months before the outbreak of WWII saved hundreds of lives and whose example has now inspired thousands of acts of kindness around the world.

Sir Nicholas Winton was a young Londoner enjoying the trappings of his budding career as a stockbroker when an unexpected encounter led him to eventually rescue 669 Jewish Czech and Slovak children just before the onset WWII. His story has now been made into a documentary by the name of Nicky's Family and the film will be showing in NYC at the JCC Manhattan, the Quad Cinema, the Kew Gardens Cinema and the Malverne Cinema stating on July 19.

I had the pleasure of watching the film on July 5 and it reminded me that while we often think that opportunities for heroism abounded in the past much more than today, it is in finding ways to make a difference now and acting in the face of difficult odds that leads to real heroism. 

For his actions then and for the example he has become today, Sir Winton has even been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize. If you watch the film and are moved to endorse this petition, you can do so by clicking here

Mihai Morar, Chief of Staff

A new approach to banning Sharia: News Roundup

In the news this week: a new approach to banning Sharia in the US, anti-Semitism battled by churches in Hungary, and other news stories.

When Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a 2010 ballot measure that prohibits state courts from considering Islamic law, or Shariah, the Council of American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit within two days challenging the constitutionality of the measure, and won.

But when Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a similar measure, one that its sponsor said would forbid Shariah, on April 19 of this year, no legal challenges were mounted. Why the change?

The biggest difference is that the older bill — and others like it — singled out Islam and Shariah, but also raised concerns that they could affect Catholic canon law or Jewish law. Many early anti-Shariah bills also made references to international or foreign law, which worried businesses that the new bills would undermine contracts and trade with foreign companies.

The new bills, however, are more vague and mention only foreign laws, with no references to Shariah or Islam. They also make specific exceptions for international trade. All of that makes them harder to challenge as a violation of religious freedom. Religion News Service

When Hungarian radical right-wingers rallied against a Jewish conference in Budapest in early May, a well-known Protestant pastor hid behind the stage while his wife stepped up to the podium to denounce Jews and Israel.

With anti-Semitism on the rise here, Christian churches are working with the Jewish community to counter the provocations against Jews and the Roma minority that have won Jobbik support among voters fed up with the country's economic crisis.

The Hungarian Reformed Church has begun proceedings that might end up defrocking Hegedus and depriving him of his high-profile base at the Homeland Church on the upscale Freedom Square, near the central bank and the United States embassy.

Hungary's small community of 80,000-100,000 Jews appreciates the Christian support. "We're satisfied with the actions of the churches," said Peter Feldmajer, who stepped down as head of the community on Sunday.  Reuters

Pope Francis has denounced the global financial system, blasting the "cult of money" that he says is tyrannizing the poor and turning humans into expendable consumer goods.

In his first major speech on the subject, Francis demanded Thursday that financial and political leaders reform the global financial system to make it more ethical and concerned for the common good. He said: "Money has to serve, not to rule!"  Associated Press

The number of Catholic priests in Africa and Asia has shot up over the past decade while decreasing in Europe, mirroring trends in the numbers of Catholic faithful that helped lead to the election of Pope Francis as the first non-European pope in over a millennium.

The Vatican on Monday released statistics on the state of the Catholic Church in the world, showing a 39.5 percent increase in the number of priests in Africa and a 32 percent hike in Asia from 2001 to 2011. The number of priests in Europe fell by 9 percent, while remaining stable in the Americas. Worldwide, priest numbers were up 2.1 percent.  ABC News

Boston marathon blasts draw condemnation and dread in Muslim world: News Roundup

In the news this week, fear arises in the Muslim world over the Boston attacks, Oklahoma GOP Lawmaker apologizes To 'The Jews' For 'Jew Me Down' Comment. Buddhist monk uses racism and rumours to spread hatred in Burma, and other stories.

On Sept. 12, the day after Islamist militants attacked a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, killing ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, local Libyans gathered for a public demonstration.

Libyan families waved signs in Arabic and English reading “Benghazi is against Terrorism,” “Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam,” “Chris Stevens was a Friend To all Libyans.” One photo captured a young boy holding the handwritten sign “Sorry People of America this not the behavior of our ISLAM and Profit.” A similar demonstration soon gathered in Tripoli. The tone at both rallies was positive and pro-American, but there was a second, subtler message being sent to the United States: We’re on your side, not theirs.

So little is known yet about what’s behind the explosions Monday at the Boston Marathon that any conclusion, including terrorism, would be premature. But that fear has been an early reflex not just in the United States but half a world away in the Middle East. There, a number of observers are expressing sympathy – recall that pro-American solidarity rallies were held throughout the region after Sept. 11, 2001 – and, at times, a sense of dread. The Washington Post

Oklahoma state Rep. Dennis Johnson (R-Duncan) apologized Wednesday for recently using the phrase "Jew me down." While speaking on the virtues of small business in debate over a bill Wednesday, he said, "They might try to Jew me down on a price. That's fine … that's free market as well." He was then handed a note about fifteen seconds later.

"Did I?" he said to a colleague. "I apologize to the Jews," he said to laughs. "They're good small businessmen as well." The Huffington Post

His name is Wirathu, he calls himself the "Burmese Bin Laden" and he is a Buddhist monk who is stoking religious hatred across Burma.

The saffron-robed 45-year-old regularly shares his hate-filled rants through DVD and social media, in which he warns against Muslims who "target innocent young Burmese girls and rape them", and "indulge in cronyism".

To ears untrained in the Burmese language, his sermons seem steady and calm – almost trance-like – with Wirathu rocking back and forth, eyes downcast. Translate his softly spoken words, however, and it becomes clear how his paranoia and fear, muddled with racist stereotypes and unfounded rumours, have helped to incite violence and spread misinformation in a nation still stumbling towards democracy. The Guardian 

igh school is full of hypotheticals, like “How does one solve for x?” and “What happens if I skip class?” But this week, students at Albany High School were given an alarming thought puzzle: How do I convince my teacher that I think Jews are evil?That question was posed to about 75 students on Monday by an unidentified 10th-grade English teacher as a “persuasive writing” exercise. The students were instructed to imagine that their teacher was a Nazi and to construct an argument that Jews were “the source of our problems” using historical propaganda and, of course, a traditional high school essay structure.

“Your essay must be five paragraphs long, with an introduction, three body paragraphs containing your strongest arguments, and a conclusion,” the assignment read. “You do not have a choice in your position: you must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!” The New York Times

U.N. told discrimination against atheists occurs worldwide: News Roundup

In the news this week, U.N. told atheists face discrimination around the globe, Pope gives final Sunday blessing before resigning, and other stories.

Atheists, humanists and freethinkers face widespread discrimination around the world with expression of their views criminalized and subject in some countries to capital punishment, the United Nations was told on Monday.

In a document for consideration by the world body's Human Rights Council, a global organization linking people who reject religion said atheism was banned by law in a number of states where people were forced to officially adopt a faith.

"Extensive discrimination by governments against atheists, humanists and the non-religious occurs worldwide," declared the grouping, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) which has some 120 member bodies in 45 countries.

In Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan "atheists can face the death penalty on the grounds of their belief" although this was in violation of U.N. human rights accords, the IHEU said. Reuters

Pope Benedict XVI bestowed his final Sunday blessing of his pontificate on a cheering crowd in St. Peter's Square, explaining that his waning years and energy made him better suited to the life of private prayer he soon will spend in a secluded monastery than as leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

On Thursday evening, the 85-year-old German-born theologian will become the first pope to have resigned from the papacy in 600 years.

Sunday's noon appearance from his studio window overlooking the vast square was his next-to-last appointment with the public of his nearly eight-year papacy. Tens of thousands of faithful and other admirers have already asked the Vatican for a seat in the square for his last general audience Wednesday. NPR

When a would-be assassin disguised as a postman shot at — and just missed — the head of Lars Hedegaard, an anti-Islam polemicist and former newspaper editor, this month, a cloud of suspicion immediately fell on Denmark’s Muslim minority.

Politicians and pundits united in condemning what they saw as an attempt to stifle free speech in a country that, in 2006, faced violent rage across the Muslim world over a newspaper’s cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Since then, the newspaper that first printed the images, Jyllands-Posten, has been the target of several terrorist plots.

However, as Mr. Hedegaard’s own opinions, a stew of anti-Muslim bile and conspiracy-laden forecasts of a coming civil war, came into focus, Denmark’s unity in the face of violence began to dissolve into familiar squabbles over immigration, hate speech and the causes of extremism.

But then something unusual happened. Muslim groups in the country, which were often criticized during the cartoon furor for not speaking out against violence and even deliberately fanning the flames, raised their voices to condemn the attack on Mr. Hedegaard and support his right to express his views, no matter how odious. The New York Times

An advertisement in Athens intertwines a swastika with a Jewish star.  Hungarian politicians declare Jews a national security risk. A gunman executes three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in France.

Such recent instances of anti-Semitism reflect a growing wave of hatred toward Jews across Europe, one documented by civil rights groups and concerning to those who fear that, nearly 70 years after the Holocaust, it has again become socially acceptable to vilify Jews.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., convened a hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 27) on this rise in anti-Semitism, calling it a threat not only to Jews, but to other religious minorities and the ideal of tolerance in general.

“Unparalleled since the dark ages of the Second World War, Jewish communities on a global scale are facing verbal harassment, and sometimes violent attacks against synagogues, Jewish cultural sites, cemeteries and individuals,” said Smith, chairman of a House panel on global human rights, part of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Religion News Service

Anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in the UK: News Roundup

In the news this week, report finds a 5 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, India Pitcher Festival stampede death toll rises, sex abuse allegations surround L.A. Buddhist teacher, and other stories.
 
A report by the Community Security Trust (CST) on anti-Semitic incidents in the UK shows a slight rise of 5 percent in 2012 (640 incidents) compared to 2011. A total of 640 incidents were reported against 608 in 2011. According to the report, the total of 640 incidents included 100 reported under a new exchange program with the Metropolitan Police Service, whereby CST and MPS exchange all anti-Semitic incident reports received by either agency, in full anonymity, throughout the year. The Jerusalem Post
 
Anxious relatives searched for missing family members in northern India on Monday during one of the world's largest religious gatherings, unsure if their loved ones were caught in a stampede that killed 37 people or had simply gotten lost among the tens of millions of pilgrims.
 
People thronged to the main hospital in Allahabad to see if their relatives were among 37 dead and 39 people injured in Sunday evening's stampede at the city's train station. Tens of thousands of people were in the station waiting to board a train when railway officials announced a last-minute change in the platform, triggering the chaos.
 
An estimated 30 million Hindus took a dip Sunday at the Sangam – the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati rivers – as part of the 55-day Kumbh Mela, or Pitcher Festival. Sunday was one of the holiest days to bathe. The Huffington Post
 
At 19, Shari Young was in search of enlightenment. She thought she had found it at the Cimarron Zen Center (now known as Rinzai-ji) in Jefferson Park and in a Buddhist teacher, a man named Joshu Sasaki Roshi.
 
But she said Roshi, as his followers call him, began using their one-on-one meetings to fondle her breasts and grope her body. She consented in confusion but left after nearly a year.
 
That was in the early '60s, she said. A recent investigation by an independent council of Buddhist leaders has suggested that Roshi, a leading figure in Zen Buddhism in the United States, may have abused hundreds of others for decades. According to the group's report, that abuse included allegations of molestation and rape, and some of the incidents had been reported to the Rinzai-ji board, which had taken no effective action. The Los Angeles Times
 
Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise announcement on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28 sets the stage for a succession battle that is likely to determine the future course of a church troubled by scandal and declining faith in its traditional strongholds around the world.
Citing advanced years and infirmity, Benedict became the first pope in six centuries to resign. Vatican officials said they hoped to have a new pope in place by Easter, while expressing shock at a decision that some said had been made as long as a year ago.

Saying he had examined his conscience “before God,” Benedict said he felt that he was not up to the challenge of guiding the world’s one billion Catholics. That task will fall to his successor, who will have to contend not only with a Roman Catholic Church marred by the sexual abuse crisis, but also with an increasingly secular Europe and the spread of Protestant evangelical movements in the United States, Latin America and Africa. The New York Times
 
When the national director of the Anti-Defamation League takes out a large advertisement in the print edition of The New York Times, you kind of have to take notice. Given the cost of such an ad (surely more than one in the Forward!), the February 7 statement by Abraham Foxman signals that his organization believes the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — known as BDS — is anti-Semitic hate speech that poses a real and potent threat to Jews everywhere. It is an assertion that you hear repeated by those trying to keep BDS sympathizers far outside the acceptable perimeters of the Jewish communal tent. Are they right? Yes and no. The Jewish Daily Forward

Religious groups take on gun lobby at Capitol Hill: News Roundup

In the news this week, religious coalitions take on gun lobby, Hindus enter world's largest religious festival, anti-semitism threatens Jewish presence in France, and other stories. 

Dozens of the nation’s faith leaders said Tuesday (Jan. 15) that they’re ready to take on the gun lobby and demanded that politicians take quick and concrete steps to stem gun violence.

At a Capitol Hill press conference and in a letter to Congress, more than 45 clergy and heads of religious groups — representing the spectrum of American religious life — petitioned lawmakers to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons, require background checks on all gun buyers, and make gun trafficking a federal crime. Religion News Service

Once every 12 years, tens of millions of pilgrims stream to the small northern city of Allahabad from across India for the Maha Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher Festival, at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet with a third, mythical river.

Officials believe that over the next two months as many as 100 million people will pass through the temporary city that covers an area larger than Athens on a wide sandy river bank. That would make it larger even than previous festivals. After a slow start, police chief Alok Sharma said 1.5 million people had gathered by 8 a.m. (0230 GMT) on Monday, with more on their way. The Huffington Post

Anti-Semitism could destroy the history of French Jewry, the leader of France's Jewish communities said. “Not long ago, the notion that resurgent anti-Semitism could endanger the presence of Jews in France would have been considered absurd,” Dr. Richard Prasquier, president of the Jewish CRIF umbrella group, said Sunday in Paris at the organization's annual national conference. 

“This has changed” due to “parties and groups which are at times explicitly racist, and at other times ultra-secular [and in opposition to] ritual slaughter and circumcision," he said. "There is new anti-Semitism, and it complements the old.”

Planned as French Jewry's main event of the year, the conference was devoted to combating anti-Semitism and drew a predominantly Jewish crowd of approximately 1,000 people. CRIF's first annual event was held last year under the banner "Tomorrow, the Jews of France.” The Global News Service of the Jewish People

NPR published a story about making marriage work when only one spouse believes in God. Bixby and Peyer have known each other since they were young, but got married only a few years ago. Bixby and Peyer live in Longview, Wash. They have been married for two and half years but have known each other since 1981. Peyer is a church-attending Lutheran, and Bixby is an atheist. 

Europe's top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that equality laws and safety concerns trumped religious freedom in three cases where British Christians were sacked or sanctioned for expressing their beliefs at work.

The European Court of Human Rights ECHR.L ruled employers did not violate the religious rights of a registrar who refused to officiate for civil partnerships of same-sex couples and a counsellor deemed unwilling to offer sex therapy for gays.

It also turned down an appeal by a nurse whose hospital barred her from wearing a cross around her neck. In the fourth case in the verdict, a British Airways clerk suspended for wearing a cross won her appeal and was awarded damages. Reuters

Anti-Islamic filmmaker sentenced to prison: News Roundup

In the news this week, the nones' say 2012 election proves they are a political force, election results raise questions about Christain right's influence, Buddhist, Hindu make history with elections to Congress, and other stories.

According to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study released last month (October), “nones” — those who say they have no religious affiliation or do not believe in God — are the fastest-growing faith group in America, at 20 percent of the population, or 46 million adults.

In addition, nationwide exit polls conducted Tuesday show that “nones” made up 12 percent of all voters — more than the combined number of voters who are Jewish, Muslim or members of other non-Christian faiths (9 percent), and only slightly smaller than the combined number of Hispanic Catholics and Black Protestants (14 percent). The nones also skewed heavily Democratic, 70 to 26 percent. The Washington Post

On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results raised questions about the Christian right’s agenda on American politics, eight years after the movement helped sweep President George W. Bush into a second term and opened the era of state bans on same-sex marriage.

“For the first time tonight, same-sex marriage has been passed by popular vote in Maine and Maryland,” said Robert P. Jones, a Washington-based pollster who specializes in questions about politics and religion.

“The historic nature of these results are hard to overstate,” Jones said. “Given the strong support of younger Americans for same-sex marriage, it is unlikely this issue will reappear as a major national wedge issue.” CNN

Tuesday's elections brought two historic firsts for religion in American politics: A Buddhist senator and a Hindu representative — both from Hawaii — will join Congress.

Democrat Mazie Hirono beat former Gov. Linda Lingle (R), making Hirono the first Buddhist in the Senate. In Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard defeated Republican opponent Kawika Crowley, making Gabbard the first Hindu in Congress. Both elections were cheered by Hindu and Buddhist Americans, members of two faiths that share a common history that traces back to ancient India. The Huffington Post

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., the only openly atheist member of Congress, lost his race for another term on Tuesday (Nov. 6). But secularists will not remain unrepresented in the Capitol. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a former Arizona state senator who was raised Mormon and is a bisexual, has narrowly won her pitch for a House seat by 2,000 votes.

“We are sad to see Pete Stark go,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, which gave Stark its Humanist of the Year award in 2008. “He was a pioneer for us, and by being open about his lack of a belief in God we hope that he has opened the door for people like Kyrsten Sinema and others that will come after her.” Religion News Service

Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. dropped by 13 percent in 2011, according to a report released Thursday (Nov. 1) by the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks assaults and other attacks on Jews. There were 1,080 incidents against Jews last year, according to the ADL, the lowest tallied by the non-profit civil rights group in two decades.

“It is encouraging that over the past five or six years we have seen a consistent decline in the number of anti-Semitic incidents across the country and that the numbers are now at a historic low,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL's national director. “To the extent that these incidents serve as a barometer, the decline shows that we have made progress as a society in confronting anti-Semitism and pushing it to the far fringes, making expressions of anti-Jewish hatred unacceptable.” Religion News Service

The man behind the anti-Islamic video that is believed to have sparked protests in the Muslim world was sentenced Wednesday to a year in prison for violating the condition of his probation.

"U.S. District Court Judge Christina Snyder immediately sentenced Mark Basseley Youssef after he admitted to four of the eight alleged violations, including obtaining a fraudulent California driver's license."
 
"None of the violations had to do with the content of Innocence of Muslims, a film that depicts Mohammad as a religious fraud, pedophile and a womanizer. The movie sparked violence in Libya and other parts of the Middle East, killing dozens."
 
Federal authorities were seeking a two-year sentence. NPR

 

From New York to San Fransisco subways, anti-jihad ads now in D.C.: News Roundup

In the news this week, three arrested over teen peace activist shooting in Pakistan, French investigators find bomb making materials, anti-jihad ads make it to D.C. subways, and other stories. 

Three suspects in the shooting of 14-year old Pakistani peace campaigner Malala Yousufzai have been arrested, police in Swat Valley claimed Friday.

Police said the suspects, aged between 17 and 22, had claimed the person who organized the attack Tuesday — in which two other young girls were shot and injured — was a man called Attaullah.  NBC News

French police officers investigating a group of young Islamic radicals have uncovered bomb-making materials and weapons, the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We are clearly and objectively facing an extremely dangerous terrorist cell,” Mr. Molins said in the statement, adding that it was necessary to “avoid the risk of a terrorist attack in France.”

He said that the detention of 12 suspects pending charges would be extended to at least a fifth day. They are reportedly not cooperating with the police. The New York Times

An anti-jihad ad that has caused a stir in other cities now has another destination for its message: the subways of Washington.

The ad by the American Freedom Defense Initiative states, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

Jihad – Arabic for "struggle" – is considered a religious duty for Muslims, although there are both benign and militant interpretations of what it means. Last month, the American Freedom Defense Initiative posted the ads in the subways of New York and San Francisco. CNN

A French nonprofit said it was considering making complaints against some Twitter users following an explosion of French-language anti-Semitic messages. 

SOS Racisme, a Paris-based anti-discrimination organization, made the statement on its website after the phrase UnBonJuif on Oct. 10 became the third most popular hashtag among French Twitter users.

Literally meaning “a good Jew,” it served thousands of Twitter users to enter what the French daily Le Monde termed “a competition of anti-Semitic jokes.” The Global News Service of the Jewish People

Cheerleaders from a small eastern Texas town have won the first battle in their crusade to display Christian religious messages on banners at their high school's football games.

State District Judge Steve Thomas of Hardin County implemented a temporary injunction Thursday in favor of the Kountze High School cheerleaders, and by setting a trial date of June 24, 2013, Thomas effectively allows the cheerleaders to keep displaying Bible-quoting signs at Kountze athletic events through the end of this current school year. CNN

Romney is a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members of which are known as Mormons.

The theological question of where Mormons fit on the religious spectrum has drawn more attention because of Romney's candidacy. Mormons consider themselves to be strong Christians. Many traditional Christian denominations disagree, though rank-and-file members have their own views on the matter.

The removal of the post from the Graham group's website was first noted by the New Civil Rights Movement website and then later by the Asheville Citizen-Times, which reported that the information on cults was accessed as recently as Thursday afternoon. CNN