The Parliament Blog

Archive for the ‘minorities’ tag

Egypt’s New President to Pick Woman, Christian VPs

Egypt’s president-elect, Mohamed Morsi, is in the process of putting together a government. Photo from CNN.

from CNN

Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will appoint a woman as one of his vice presidents and a Christian as another, his policy adviser told CNN.

“For the first time in Egyptian history — not just modern but in all Egyptian history — a woman will take that position,” Ahmed Deif told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday. “And it’s not just a vice president who will represent a certain agenda and sect, but a vice president who is powerful and empowered and will be taking care of critical advising within the presidential Cabinet.”

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July 3rd, 2012 at 9:55 am

U.S. Southern Baptists Elect First Black President

Fred Luter, newly elected leader of the Southern Baptist Convention.

by Kathy Finn
from Reuters

The largest U.S. Protestant denomination chose its first black president on Tuesday, an historic election for the predominately white religious group as it seeks to better reflect the diversity of the country and its membership.

Fred Luter, a New Orleans pastor and civic leader, ran unopposed for the top post in the 167-year-old Southern Baptist Convention, which counts a growing number of minorities among its 16 million members.

His election to a one-year term was met by thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the thousands of Southern Baptists attending the convention’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

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Polishing Shoes for Communal Harmony in India and Pakistan

by Sabur Ali Sayyid
from Common Ground News Service

Islamabad – Hunched on the floor of Gurdwara Sis Ganj, a Sikh temple in New Delhi, Khurshid Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s Deputy Attorney General, earnestly polished the shoes of devotees flocking to him either in delight or amazement. To him, polishing shoes served as penance for the brutal killing of a Sikh man at the hands of the Taliban two years prior in Pakistan. Engaging in this lowly act, for him, relieved the burden on his conscience about the problems that minorities face in his region. He believes they deserve a better life, free of intimidation and coercion.

Some may disagree with Khan’s philosophy of redemption. Khan, himself a Muslim, took time out during his visit to India to shine the shoes of devotees at places of worship, regardless of whether they were Sikh houses of worship or Hindu temples. In doing so, he wanted to show his respect for humanity and for other religions.

No one would dispute the fact that communal harmony in South Asia – particularly in India and Pakistan, where each year a large number of people are killed in the name of religion – is far from satisfactory. And no significant progress can take place in this area unless it is backed by the introduction of a multipronged approach to bring about greater communal harmony.

The genesis of Hinduism and Sikhism lies in South Asia. It has been welcoming to Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths, such as Jainism, Taoism and Shintoism. Peaceful coexistence has been a hallmark of this region. Though there have been instances of great strife, this tradition of coexistence is equally a part of the region’s history.

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Forum Says Harmony Between Religions Can Be Forged by Differences

Christian and Muslim communities in Indonesia have met many times, as this picture from a 2009 collaborative meeting shows.

by Ryan Dagur

The governments of Indonesia and Italy say they are committed to taking interfaith dialogue to a higher level, with the aim of fostering global peace and respect for minority groups.

This was the message from the foreign ministers of the two countries at the opening of an interfaith forum yesterday in Jakarta.

Indonesia foreign minister Marty M. Natalegawa said that building bridges of mutual understanding is the best way to foster a global culture of peace.

“Message of peace in interfaith dialogue must echo outside assembly halls,” he said.

Italian foreign minister Guilio Terzi, agreed saying that interfaith dialogue must ensure protection for minority groups.

Government must reach out at the grass roots level and religious leaders must help promote respect towards different religious beliefs, Terzi said.

The forum called Unity in Diversity: The Power of Dialogue for Peaceful Cohabitation in a Pluralistic Society was organized by the Community of Saint’Egidio in cooperation with foreign ministries of the two countries.

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A Jewish Synagogue Makes a Comeback in Lebanon

Two Syrian workers in the Magen Abraham synagogue. Photo Credit: Natalie Naccache

by Nicholas Blanford
from the Christian Science Monitor

Amid the new tower blocks that are changing this city’s skyline rises a newly restored symbol of Beirut’s multireligious society.

The Magen Abraham synagogue is the last Jewish place of worship to survive in Beirut, a lone reminder that a few decades ago a thriving Jewish community lived in the city center.

The Jewish faith is one of the 18 officially recognized sects that exist in Lebanon. When the synagogue was built in 1920 there were some 12,000 Jews in Lebanon. But the Arab-Israeli conflict and Lebanon’s devastating 1975-90 civil war spurred Jews to emigrate, and today there are only around 150 left here.

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April 9th, 2012 at 7:55 am

On Day of Silence, Religious Tolerance Speaks Loud and Clear in Bali, Lombok

A Balinese man is hit with fire during a pre-Nyepi ritual in Ubud on Thursday.  Reuters Photo

by Made Arya Kencana & Fitri
from The Jakarta Globe

Denpasar/Mataram. It was an unusual sight for anywhere in Indonesia: Muslim men arriving for Friday prayers in an atmosphere of complete silence, without the usual call to prayers blaring from the mosque loudspeakers.

But the fact that they were still allowed to go to mosque on a day when virtually all of predominantly Hindu Bali remained shuttered at home for the holy day of Nyepi was itself testament to the high degree of religious tolerance on the resort island, said Ketut Teneng, a spokesman for the provincial administration.

Although religious and administrative authorities are strict about people remaining at home during Nyepi, the Hindu Day of Silence, Teneng said Muslims were welcome to go to mosque, as long as they only walked there and did not turn on the mosques’ loudspeakers.

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Integration in Germany is Making Progress

by Jonathan Laurence

You wouldn’t expect it in light of the resurgent German debate about the willingness of young Muslims to integrate into mainstream society, but integration in Germany is actually faring better than expected.

With his highly selective summary of a 700- page integration report – focusing on the one in four “non-German Muslims” who resist majority society – Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich confirmed his pattern of expressing skepticism about Muslim integration in Germany.

From the moment Friedrich took office, he updated the 1990s conservatives mantra that “Germany is not a country of immigration” for the post-citizenship reform era by arguing that Islam did not truly “belong” to Germany. He thereby inserted himself in a decades-long tradition of conservative politicians in denial of the country’s ethno-religious diversity.

Germany is lacking the mainstream political leaders who can take away the punchbowl of nationalism and assume the adult role of informing the German public that they are now a diverse society. The new nationality law may mean that most Turkish-Germans would be born with German citizenship from 2000 onwards, but German politicians have still not fully digested the implications of cultural diversity that follow from that reform.

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