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Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
31 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis accepts a gift from Vuk Jeremic, president of the 67th session of the U.N. General Assembly, during a private audience in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on 31 May. The gift was an icon of St. Sava. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring, pool)

Pope and U.N. assembly president discuss Middle East, human trafficking (AsiaNews) The Middle East and human trafficking were the central theme during discussions this morning between Pope Francis and United Nations General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic. Jeremic also met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in the Apostolic Palace. “In [the context of the Middle East] the importance of reconciliation between the various communities that make up society and respect for the rights of ethnic and religious minorities was recognized,” read a statement from the Vatican…

Iraq sees deadliest month in five years (Christian Science Monitor) More than 500 people were killed in Iraq in May, about 120 of them since 27 May alone, making it the deadliest month since June 2008, according to the United Nations. The uptick in violence has put increased pressure on the government to prove its ability to keep sectarian tensions under control and prevent the country from spiraling into a renewed civil war…

In Jordan, informal militias form to guard against potential Syrian attacks (Washington Post) For weeks, ragtag forces have spent evenings patrolling the mountainous frontier region and monitoring what Jordanian officials and Syrian opposition activists say is a Syrian military escalation in the south. Residents here fear it may be a prelude to a potential invasion…

Indian sisters say Mary is a refuge for the poor of all castes and creeds (AsiaNews) Sister Gemma, prioress of the Carmelite monastery in Mumbai, underlines the importance of the feast of the Visitation for the poor and for people who suffer. Conceived by Pope Benedict XVI and issued by Pope Francis, the Worldwide Eucharistic Adoration on 2 June is a great example of God’s love. “This event,” Sister Gemma explained, “has no precedent in history, and fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy: ’I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; they shall come and see my glory’ (66:18). … Although we nuns remain within the walls of [the cloister], we are in the world through our prayers and charity work,” the nun added…

Cardinal Sandri attends inauguration of University of Madaba in Jordan (Vatican Radio) The prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, attended the official inauguration of the University of Madaba in Jordan, belonging to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Among those attending were King Abdullah II of Jordan and other dignitaries. In his address at the inauguration, Cardinal Sandri said this new university becomes a powerful agent of interreligious dialogue and urged students and teachers to respect the religious sensibilities of each other and help heal historical wounds. A full transcription of the cardinal’s address is included…



Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Sisters Jordan United Nations

30 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A boy walks on the rubble of buildings damaged by missiles fired by Syrian air force fighter jets in Salqin, Syria, 28 May. The Vatican has reiterated its call for negotiations and putting an end to violence in Syria, saying that children are suffering the most. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters)

Vatican: Children suffer most from Syrian violence (CNS) The Vatican has reiterated its call for negotiations to end the violence in Syria, saying that children are suffering the most. “Silencing the guns is the priority,” Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to U.S. agencies in Geneva, told the Human Rights Council during a 29 May debate on Syria. Calling the violence in Syria “the terrain of the violation of all human rights,” Archbishop Tomasi said the tragedy risks intensifying regional and global conflicts…

W.C.C. issues statement on Middle East Christians (Ekklesia.co.uk) A World Council of Churches conference has issued a joint statement calling the churches and ecumenical actors to commit themselves to support one another in prayers and actions to support Christian presence and witness in the Middle East. The statement was an outcome of discussions engaging more than a hundred church leaders and representatives of the ecumenical organizations in the Arab world…

Chaldeans embark on journey back to Turkey (Hurriyet Daily News) The European Chaldean community has begun to act on the call of Turkey’s Culture Minister Ömer Çelik to return to Turkey. After a series of negotiations conducted in France and Belgium, it was determined that 27 families would return to Herbole village in southeastern Turkey as part of the first stage of the return process. If the required social and economic conditions are met, the number returning will increase…

Patriarch Kirill to visit Mount Athos (Interfax-Religion) Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will visit Greece and Mount Athos from 1-7 June. During his trip, the Patriarch will visit churches and monasteries of the Greek Orthodox Church and meet with its head, representatives of the Greek authorities and ethnic Russians living in Greece, as well as will travel to Thessaloniki and Veria, a spokesman for the Synodal Information Department said on Wednesday…

Young Egyptians rekindle revolution with recall petition (AsiaNews) A new movement of young Egyptians have allegedly collected over 7.5 million signatures to demand an end to the government of Mohamed Morsi and the domination of the Muslim Brotherhood over Egypt. The campaign began on 1 May with the aim of 15 million signatures by 30 June, which marks the first anniversary since Egypt’s first Islamist president took office…

Israel to build 1000 new settlement units in east Jerusalem (Al Jazeera) Israel is preparing to build more than 1,000 new settler homes in east Jerusalem as the United States strives to revive dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, according to an non-governmental organization. Danny Seidemann, director of Jerusalem settlement watchdog Terrestrial Jerusalem, said on Wednesday that contracts for 300 homes in the northeastern settlement of Ramot were signed and another 797 plots were to be offered for sale in the southern Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, near the city of Jerusalem. Both are in largely Arab areas of the holy city…



Tags: Egypt Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War Jerusalem Patriarch Kirill

29 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Bishop José Raúl Vera López of Saltillo, Mexico, poses outside the diocesan seminary, where he celebrated the 25th anniversary of becoming a bishop on 5 January. Bishop Vera López, a nominee for last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, will be visiting Syria in June. (photo: CNS/David Agren)

Bishop Vera López prepares for humanitarian mission (Fides) Bishop José Raúl Vera López, O.P., of Saltillo, Mexico, will be part of a delegation of 12 observers who will try to enter Syria to collect data and information on the atrocities and human rights violations taking place in the war-torn country. The Dominican bishop was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2012 for his commitment to the defense of human rights…

Maronite Bishops condemn joining Syria violence (Daily Star Lebanon) On Monday, the Council of Maronite Bishops condemned direct participation in Syrian violence and voiced concern over clashes in the northern city of Tripoli and the southern city of Sidon. “The bishops condemn the direct participation in the Syrian clashes, from whatever side, and consider what is happening as a clear violation of the National Pact and Baabda Declaration,” said the bishops in a statement issued following their monthly meeting. The council, headed by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, also renewed their condemnation to the kidnapping of two bishops in Syria last month and called for their imminent release…

E.U. split over Syria, growing Islamist movements (AsiaNews) The recent session of the European Parliament on the renewal of the arms ban to Syrian rebels has revealed serious divisions within the European Union. According to E.U. sources, as of late April more than 500 European nationals had joined Islamist groups in Syria. In February, they were only a few dozen. France and Britain have said that they are ready to provide military support to the rebels, but are faced with the opposition of other European Union countries. In response to possible British and French support to the rebels, Russia yesterday announced it was sending new anti-aircraft missiles to the regime of Bashar al Assad…

King Abdullah II and Cardinal Sandri to attend university inauguration (Fides) The official opening of the American University of Madaba, affiliated with the University of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, 30 May. King Abdullah II of Jordan, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, will take part in the inauguration. “Years ago, the early phases of the first school of the Latin Patriarchate … started, in what appeared as a closed and marginal world. Today, that same mission has lead to the creation of a University with high standards … at the service of the people of Jordan, Christians and Muslims together”…

Egypt’s youths feel disenfranchised after revolution (Los Angeles Times) Egypt’s 2011 uprising was often referred to as a youth revolution, but two years after longtime President Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office, many in the younger generation say they feel more politically isolated than ever. Young activists across the political spectrum say they have been sidelined, prevented from participating in the leadership and management of post-Mubarak Egypt by a patriarchal culture that favors the older and supposedly more experienced…

Eritrean refugees protest against the regime in Asmara (Fides) Nearly 3000 Eritrean refugees have started a protest in the camp of Berahle in the Afar region of Ethiopia, a few miles from the border with Eritrea. The protesters aim to draw the attention of the international community on what they call “the genocide committed by the government in Asmara against the minority Afar”…



Tags: Egypt Ethiopia Syrian Civil War Maronite Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

28 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports on the growing concerns that Lebanon will be drawn further into the Syrian conflict. Fighting is intensifying around the Syrian border town of Al Qusayr, about 20 miles southwest of Homs, and Syrian rebels say fighters from the Lebanese Shiite group, Hezbollah, are involved. (video: Al Jazeera)

End of embargo raises fears of arms race in Syria (Vatican Radio) Russia confirmed today it was looking into giving the Syrian government more high-powered missiles. The move comes one day after the European Union agreed to lift its arms embargo for Syrian rebels, raising the prospect of a new foreign-fed arms race in the Middle East…

Patriarch: ‘The future of Syria cannot be built on destruction’ (AsiaNews) “The future of Syria cannot be built on destruction. There are no winners with war. The church is for reconciliation and dialogue. We encourage prayer for the success of the conference on 10 June in Geneva so that all parties, government and opposition, can travel the road to peace.” Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch all the East said to AsiaNews. The patriarch’s appeal comes after the failed agreement between the European Union countries on the renewal of the ban on the supply of arms to the rebels, which expired last night. This has prompted Britain and France to renew pressure for military support to the rebels…

The role of media for the church’s mission in Serbia (Vatican Radio) The role of the media in the mission of the church is under the spotlight this week during a visit to Serbia by the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Celli. The two-day visit to Belgrade includes a meeting with the Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej and with leaders of the Serbian Ministry for Culture and Communications, as well as encounters with journalists and Catholic communications experts…

Orthodoxy in Russia and the courage of women (L’Osservatore Romano) It was thanks to women that, in the Soviet era, the faith was kept in Russia: “They saved its continuity until the time when professing faith in Christ no longer brought with it great risk. It was the myrrhbearing women of our country who maintained the faith.” Patriarch Kirill said this during the Divine Liturgy celebrated on 19 May (the Third Sunday of Easter, according to the Julian Calendar, and the feast of the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women) in the Cathedral of St. Aleksandr Nevskij from the monastery of Novo-Tikhvin, at Ekaterinburg…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Women Patriarch Kirill Melkite Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch Serbian Orthodox Church

24 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this 30 March photo, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem walks in a procession during the Easter Vigil in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

Patriarch: the Palestinian problem is the focus of Middle East conflict (Fides) “There is no doubt that the Palestinian problem is the focus of all conflict in the Middle East for the last one hundred years. This is the truth that we cannot circumvent,” said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem in a speech at a conference in Beirut. Unless all parties act truthfully and with good will to bring about peace, “this conflict will continue to feed aggression, oppression, deceit, double standards and occupation…”

Pope recalls tragedy of refugees, urges respect for human dignity (VIS) “Today, the church renews her strong call that the dignity and centrality of each person be always protected, in respect of fundamental rights … rights that she asks be concretely extended to the millions of men and women in every continent whose rights are not recognized. In a world where there is so much talk of rights it seems that the only one to have rights is money. … We live in a world, in a culture ruled by the fetishism of money.” These were the pope's words to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People…

Coptic pope to lead the First Conference of Diaspora Churches (PRWeb) His Holiness Tawadros II, pope and patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, has traveled to Vienna, Austria, to lead the First Conference of Diaspora Churches that will be held later this week. Pope Tawadros will also consecrate new churches and visit Coptic Orthodox Christian communities throughout western Europe. This will be Pope Tawadros’s second overseas visit — following his historic visit to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis — since his enthronement on 18 November…

Cardinal Sandri carries pope’s greeting to Lebanon and Jordan (VIS) Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, will travel to Lebanon from 24-28 May and continue on to Jordan until 1 June. Cardinal Sandri will meet with the Armenian, Maronite, Melkite and Syrian patriarchs, as well as some religious communities — especially the young volunteers of Caritas Lebanon who, along with other humanitarian organizations, are attempting to deal with the enormous tragedy of refugees fleeing Syria…

Marian devotion overcomes religious barriers in India (Asianews) Marian devotion in India is not bound by religious affiliation; more than 80 percent of pilgrims to Marian sanctuaries are non-Catholics. AsiaNews spoke with Jesuit scriptural scholar Errold Fernandes to better understand the phenomenon. “The mother goddess has always been venerated from the earliest times. Durga and Kali are some examples,” he explained. “[Though] in many cases women are treated as objects rather then persons, Indian tradition has contradictorily held … mother goddesses in high esteem. Mary, the mother of Jesus is also venerated by people of all faiths in many parts of India…”



Tags: Pope Francis Indian Christians Patriarch Fouad Twal human trafficking Cardinal Leonardo Sandri

23 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Father Ibrahim Shomali celebrates an outdoor Mass in an olive grove outside the Salesian Monastery in Beit Jala, West Bank, on 18 January. A planned routing of the Israeli separation barrier will isolate the monastery from the people it serves. (photo: CNS/Debbie Hill)

After a decade, West Bank barrier is nearly complete (NPR) Israel’s barrier has been a source of international criticism, United Nations resolutions and legal cases at the International Court of Justice. It has sparked countless confrontations between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces. Israel started constructing the barrier in 2002…

Ecumenical Patriarchate hosts conference on Edict of Milan (Archons.org) On Friday, 17 May 2013, the Ecumenical Patriarchate honored the 1700th anniversary of Emperor Constantine the Great’s “Edict of Milan” by hosting an international and interfaith seminar in collaboration with the Council of European Episcopal Churches. The seminar officially opened with a keynote address by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Over the weekend, the Orthodox churches were represented by His Beatitude Ilia II, catholicos and patriarch of all Georgia, as well as hierarchs from the churches of Albania, Alexandria, Antioch, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Jerusalem, Poland, Romania, Russia and Serbia…

KAICIID holding conference series on ‘The Image of the Other’ (Vatican Radio) The King Abdullah International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, of which the Holy See is a founding observer, is conducting a three-year series of conferences aimed at combatting harmful stereotypes and removing common misconceptions about various world religions…

Georgia: Where does church end and state begin? (Eurasianet) In the aftermath of the 17 May riot in response to a gay-rights march in Tbilisi, public discussion in Tbilisi is focusing on church-state issues, especially the question of whether the Georgian Orthodox Church operates beyond the reach of civil law. With hundreds of years of history behind it and the faith of the overwhelming majority of the country’s 4.4 million residents, the church is a powerful symbol of Georgia’s sovereignty…

Israel to double prayer space at the Western Wall (Washington Post) In a city where three major faiths guard their holy places with quarrelsome zeal and moving a single stone can have deep religious and geopolitical implications, a new proposal to double the area for Jewish prayer along the iconic Western Wall represents dramatic change for a place that does not easily embrace it. Personally tasked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restore calm to the Old City site, Natan Sharansky is going for a bold remodel. As he imagines it: “One wall for one people”…



Tags: Israel Interreligious Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Georgian Orthodox Church Separation Barrier

22 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




Relatives carry the coffin of an Iraqi police officer killed by militants, during a funeral in Najaf, Iraq, 20 May. The patriarch of the Chaldean Church denounced a recent series of car bombings and shootings in Iraqi cities that left at least 54 people dead and dozens more injured. (photo: CNS/Haider Ala, Reuters)

Chaldean patriarch warns surge in violence will divide Iraq (CNS) The patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad denounced a recent series of car bombings and shootings in Iraqi cities that left at least 54 people dead and dozens more injured. Patriarch Louis Raphael told Catholic News Service in a 20 May email that the current violence is between minority Sunni and majority Shiite Muslims, who also run the Iraqi government. Christians are not being directly targeted, he said. “But they are afraid and their exodus continues nevertheless…”

Christians around the world pray for kidnapped Orthodox archbishops (Various) One full month has passed since the kidnapping of Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi, archbishops of Aleppo. From America to Amman, from India to the Vatican, — and, of course, in Aleppo itself — Christians join in prayer for the their safety and return…

Syrian Orthodox archbishop speaks on the situation of Christians in Syria (AINA) On Saturday, 18 May, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Eustatius Matta Roham met activists of the newly formed European Christian Relief Organization (ECRO) in Munich, where he came to visit the White Fathers and other Catholic organizations asking for support for the Syriac Christians — such as Assyrean and Chaldean Christians. The archbishop was accompanied by the Syrian Orthodox Bishop Selwanos of Homs, who reported on the tragic situation of the displaced Christians in his city…

Turkey foils alleged attacks on Syrian refugees (Daily Star Lebanon) A Turkish official says authorities have detained six people suspected of plotting attacks against Syrian refugee camps near the Syrian border. Celalettin Lekesiz, the governor for border province of Hatay, said Wednesday the suspects were allegedly planning to bomb camps and kidnap refugees. Some 200,000 Syrian refugees are registered in Turkey…

Archbishop Chullikatt speaks on the scourge of human trafficking (Vatican Radio) “Trafficking in persons constitutes a shameful crime against human dignity and a grave violation of fundamental human rights. Those who commit such crimes debase themselves and poison human solidarity,” said Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in a speech before the U.N…



Tags: Iraq Refugees Middle East Christians Syrian Civil War human trafficking

17 May 2013
Michael J.L. La Civita




According to reports, the Turkish government is preparing to build camps to house Syrian Christian refugees in the Syriac Christian heartland near Mardin, home to the fifth-century Deyrulzafaran Monastery. (photo: Karen Lagerquist)

Why is Turkey Building a Tent City for Syrian Christians? (AINA) Nowhere in the Islamic world has a refugee camp for the Christians of one country been built across the border in a neighbouring country. Now Turkey is building a camp that will hold between 3 and 30 times the number of Syrian Christians currently taking refuge in the country. Why? Why is Turkey creating a small city to handle a flood of Syrian Christians?

Syria’s Christians left in limbo (Haaretz) Christians in Syria find themselves damned if they support the regime of President Bashar Assad, and equally damned if they join the rebellion. With both the regime and Islamists looking to settle scores, the future looks bleak.

Jerusalem family tattoos pilgrims for centuries (Businessweek) Orthodox Christians visiting the Holy Land often return home with more than just spiritual memories. Many drop by a centuries-old tattoo parlor in Jerusalem’s Old City, inking themselves with a permanent reminder not only of their pilgrimage but also of devotion to their faith.

Build Your Own Country (Fides) The Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Bechara Boutros, addressed a severe reprimand to Lebanese politicians who fail to reach an agreement to prepare a new electoral law and lead the country out of the serious and dangerous political-institutional paralysis in which it has fallen.

Egyptian Christians targeted with blasphemy charges (Dallas News) Blasphemy charges were not uncommon in Egypt under the now-ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but there has been a surge in such cases in recent months, according to rights activists. The trend is widely seen as a reflection of the growing power and confidence of Islamists, particularly the ultraconservative Salafis.



17 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




In this video, Al Jazeera's Omar al Saleh reports on a series of bombings that have killed at least 26 people in Kirkuk and Baghdad, among other Iraqi cities. In televised remarks, Nouri al Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, attributed the attacks to “sectarian hatred.” (video: Al Jazeera)

Sectarianism in Iraq stoked by Syrian war (Washington Post) A recent tide of sectarian tensions that erupted into the worst violence seen in Iraq in five years is testing the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, whose ability to contain the crisis could hinge on a conflict raging beyond his control in Syria. The prospect of a regional power shift driven by the bloody civil war next door, where a mostly Sunni rebel movement is struggling to topple the Shiite-dominated regime, has emboldened Iraq’s Sunni minority to challenge its own Shiite government and amplified fears within Maliki’s administration that Iraq may soon be swept up in a spillover war…

Syria begins to break apart under the pressure of war (New York Times) The black flag of jihad flies over much of northern Syria. In the center of the country, pro-government militias and Hezbollah fighters battle those who threaten their communities. In the northeast, the Kurds have effectively carved out an autonomous zone. After more than two years of conflict, Syria is breaking up. A constellation of armed groups battling to advance their own agendas is effectively creating the outlines of separate armed fiefs. As the war expands in scope and brutality, its biggest casualty appears to be the integrity of the Syrian state…

U.N. chief: Hold Syrian peace talks soon (Daily Star Lebanon) A proposed international conference to try to stop Syria’s civil war should be held as soon as possible, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday, but no date has yet been agreed for a meeting that appears to face growing obstacles. A rising death toll, new reports of atrocities by both sides, suspicion that chemical arms may have been used and the absence of prospects for a military solution have all pushed Washington and Moscow to agree to convene the conference. “We should not lose the momentum,” Ban said of the proposal to bring the Syrian government and opposition representatives to the conference table…

In Serbia, patriarch and president meet and urge unity (b92) Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej and President Tomislav Nikolic met on Monday and urged “absolute unity and responsibility … in the search for a solution to the Kosovo and Metohija issue.” Nikolic underscored that the patriarch and himself agreed in everything, adding that it is not easy to decide on behalf of the nation just as it is not easy to decide on behalf of the church. “Still, it is much better when there is unity among those who make decisions on behalf of the people and those who make such decisions on behalf of the church,” the president said…



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War United Nations Serbian Orthodox Church Serbia

16 May 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Free Syrian Army fighter throws an improvised hand grenade toward forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al Assad in Deir al Zor on 15 May. (photo: CNS/Khalil Ashawi, Reuters)

Syrian opposition forces plunder and destroy ancient monastery (Pravoslavie.ru) Armed extremists fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition have attacked the ancient Orthodox Monastery of the Holy Prophet Elias near the town of Al Qusayr, situated about 12 miles from the Syrian-Lebanese border, reports the ITAR-TASS agency with a reference to the Syrian state news agency. The gunmen stole church vessels, blew up the bell tower and destroyed the chancel and the font, the monastery’s Abbot Gadir Ibrahim reported on Saturday…

Jordanian Christians hold a silent march to pray for kidnapped Syrian bishops (Fides) On Tuesday, 21 May, Christians in Amman will hold a candle-lit silent march to pray for the release of the two bishops of Aleppo, Syriac Orthodox Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Boulos al Yazigi, who have been in the hands of unknown kidnappers for a month…

Turkey seeks assistance with Syrian refugees (Washington Post) Facing one of the world’s largest refugee crises in decades, Turkish officials are urgently appealing for international financial assistance and calling on wealthy nations, particularly the United States and the countries of Europe, to start accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees. The stance marks a shift for the Turkish government, which had long insisted that Ankara would manage and pay for the refugee crisis on its own as a matter of national pride. But with the cost to Turkey hitting $1.5 billion, an estimated 400,000 refugees in the country and a total of 1 million expected by the end of the year, pressure is building. Turkey is even willing to organize an airlift, Ankara officials said, but no country seems eager to receive the refugees…

Baghdad market attacks in north kill 17 (Daily Star Lebanon) At least 17 people were killed by bombs in markets in Baghdad and attacks in northern Iraq on Thursday, police said, adding to a surge of sectarian-tinged violence in the past four weeks. Attacks on Sunni and Shiite mosques, security forces and tribal leaders have mushroomed since security forces raided a Sunni protest camp near Kirkuk a month ago, igniting clashes and fuelling worries of a slide back into all-out sectarian war. Iraq has grown more volatile as the civil war in neighbouring Syria strains fragile relations between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Tensions are now at their highest point since the last United States troops pulled out at the end of 2011…

At a Jerusalem parlor, centuries of pilgrim tattoos (The Times of Israel) Orthodox Christians visiting the Holy Land often return home with more than just spiritual memories. Many drop by a centuries-old tattoo parlor in Jerusalem’s Old City, inking themselves with a permanent reminder not only of their pilgrimage but also of devotion to their faith. The same Jerusalem family has been tattooing pilgrims with Crosses and other religious symbols for hundreds of years, testament to the importance of the ancient ritual. While Catholics can get a written certificate of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Orthodox Christians opt for a tattoo, a permanent reminder of their visit…



Tags: Iraq Refugees Syrian Civil War Jerusalem Refugee Camps





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