Update on the latest religion news


CAIR condemns ‘barbaric murder’ of US aid worker

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations has condemned what it calls the “barbaric murder” of an American aid worker who was apparently beheaded by Islamic State group militants.

The killing has been confirmed by U.S. officials.

The Washington, D.C.-based Muslim advocacy organization issued a statement Sunday denouncing the killing of 26-year-old Peter Kassig and other civilians. CAIR says it repudiates “the anti-Islamic ideology that produces such brutality.”

The Islamic State group released a video Sunday in which a militant claims to have beheaded Kassig, who was captured last year while helping victims of the Syrian civil war.


189-a-11-(Ibrahim Hooper, communications director, CAIR (kayr), Council on American Islamic Relations, in AP interview)-“principles of Islam”-CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says the extremist group the Islamic State should be condemned. (16 Nov 2014)


188-a-07-(Ibrahim Hooper, communications director, CAIR (kayr), Council on American Islamic Relations, in AP interview)-“act by ISIS”-CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says his group and American Muslims repudiate the killing of Peter Kassig. (16 Nov 2014)


190-a-10-(Ibrahim Hooper, communications director, CAIR (kayr), Council on American Islamic Relations, in AP interview)-“and religious extremism”-CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says the group the Islamic State falsely claims to speak on behalf of Islam, and that claim must repudiated. (16 Nov 2014)



Soldier turned humanitarian killed by extremists

BEIRUT (AP) — Before he dedicated his life to helping the less fortunate in Syria, Peter Kassig (KAS’-ihg) was a U.S. Army Ranger.

Kassig was seized while delivering relief supplies in Syria last year. A certified EMT, Kassig had delivered food and medical supplies and provided trauma care to wounded Syrians.

President Barack Obama confirmed Kassig’s slaying after a U.S. review of a video, which also showed the mass beheadings of a dozen Syrian soldiers. The president said in a statement that the killing was “an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity.”

Kassig’s parents say they are “heartbroken” but “incredibly proud” of his humanitarian work.

That sentiment Is shared in Syria. A Syrian who worked with Kassig, Burhan Agha, says Kassig was helping the Syrian people. Agha says the people who took Kassig’s life are killers, not Muslims.


Jewish state enshrinement proposal

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he’s pushing forward a bill that enshrines in law that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Word of the proposal comes as yet another complication to already tense relations with Arab-Israelis and Palestinians because of recent disputes over holy sites in Jerusalem.

At his weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the law would recognize Israel’s Jewish character in addition to its already legislated democratic one. He says Palestinians and others refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The bill has yet to be formally drafted and Netanyahu says it faces “many changes and discussions.” It would reportedly include provisions institutionalizing Jewish law as an inspiration for future parliamentary legislation, and canceling the status of Arabic as an official Israeli language.

Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population and can be expected to strongly oppose the new law.


Pope decries tensions over immigrants in Europe

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says sharp tensions in European cities over immigrants could get worse unless authorities, citizens and the newcomers sit down and discuss their prejudices.

The pope’s remarks to visitors in St. Peter’s Square follow by a few days an outbreak of violence against refugees in a working-class neighborhood of Rome. Riot police were sent in after several days of anti-immigrant tensions.

Residents insist they’re not racist, just fed up by authorities’ neglect of their rundown neighborhoods on the outskirts.

Francis suggested local churches could host meetings so all sides could listen to each other and make plans together.


138-r-26-(Sound of Pope Francis, commenting on immigrant tensions)–Sound of the pope, first condemning recent clashes between residents and migrants in Rome and other European cities, and second, calling for government and authorities to take action, to solve the issue which he calls a “social emergency”. (16 Nov 2014)



WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 1,300 Catholic high school and college students have gathered in Washington to commemorate the slaughter of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador on Nov. 16, 1989.

The six priests, their housekeeper and her teenage daughter were killed at a Jesuit university in the capital, San Salvador. Soldiers forced the victims to kneel in the yard of a campus home and shot each of them in the head.

Nine soldiers were prosecuted. But in 1991 a jury acquitted seven of them and the other two benefited from an amnesty in 1993. Spanish authorities indicted 20 people in 2011 in connections with the killings. Five of the priests were Spaniards.

The students who have come to Washington are associated with Nations Solidarity Network. Executive director Christopher Kerr says they will also call on lawmakers to take up human rights, immigration reform and environmental justice. Kerr says the students are motivated by Pope Francis’ concern for the marginalized.


255-a-13-(Christopher Kerr, executive director, Nations Solidarity Network, in AP interview)-“environmental justice issues”-Nations Solidarity Network Executive Director Christopher Kerry says Catholic student activists will call on lawmakers today. (16 Nov 2014)


257-a-10-(Christopher Kerr, executive director, Nations Solidarity Network, in AP interview)-“of that mission”-Nations Solidarity Network executive director Christopher Kerr says the Catholic student activists see social activism as a part of their faith. (16 Nov 2014)


256-a-13-(Christopher Kerr, executive director, Nations Solidarity Network, in AP interview)-“and social justice”-Nations Solidarity Network Executive Director Christopher Kerr says more than 1,300 Catholic student activists will mark the 1989 massacure of six priests by visiting lawmakers on Capitol Hill. (16 Nov 2014)



Nigerian army says it has regained town of Chibok

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — The Nigerian army says it has regained control of Chibok (CHEE’-bahk), the northeastern town where more than 200 mainly Christian schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamic extremists more than six months ago,

The army wrested back control of Chibok on Saturday, about 48 hours after it had been captured by the Islamic militants of Boko Haram (BOH’-koh hah-RAHM’), an anti-Western sect.

Chibok is an enclave of mainly Christian families, some involved in translating the Bible into local languages, in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria.


Plane carrying South African dead arrives home

JOHANNESBURG (AP) —The remains of 74 South Africans who died in a building collapse in Nigeria on Sept. 12 have been returned to South Africa.

At a military base near Pretoria, a ceremony was held Sunday at which the names of the dead were read to mourners, including family members and government officials. South Africa said 81 South Africans were among a total of 116 people who died in the building collapse.

The fallen multistory building served as a shopping mall and guesthouse at the sprawling complex of televangelist T.B. Joshua’s Synagogue, Church of All Nations, on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Nigerian officials had attributed the cause of the accident to shoddy construction. The church tried to implicate Islamic militants, releasing a video that purported to show a mysterious aircraft flying low over the building before it fell.


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Federal officials promoting the second enrollment period under President Barack Obama’s health care law are casting a wide net for people who need insurance.

Open enrollment started Saturday and runs until Feb. 15. The HealthCare.gov website is where people can search for coverage and sign up.

Helpers are employing new tactics. And with encrypted tablets and mobile offices, they have signed people up for coverage at churches, synagogues, mosques and a Buddhist temple.

The Obama administration aims to have 9.1 million paying customers enrolled in 2015. That’s well below the 13 million that the Congressional Budget Office had projected.


Turkey’s Erdogan: Muslims discovered Americas

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn) is claiming that Muslim sailors reached the Americas more than 300 years before explorer Christopher Columbus.

Speaking at a weekend gathering of Muslim leaders from Latin America, Erdogan said that contact between Islam and Latin America dates to the 12th century. He said Muslim sailors reached the American continent 314 years before Columbus, in 1178.

Erdogan cited Columbus’ memoires and said they mention the existence of a mosque atop a hill on the coast of Cuba. Erdogan said that he’d like to see a mosque built on the hilltop.

Scholars have disputed the claim in Columbus’ writings, saying there is no archaeological evidence of Muslims having lived in the Americas before Columbus made his expedition in 1492 on behalf of the Spanish crown.