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September, 2017
Volume 43, Number 3
  
7 January 2013
Greg Kandra




A Syrian refugee woman carries her child in late December at a refugee camp near the Turkish town of Kilis. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters)

Pope appeals for cease fire in Syria (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has made an urgent appeal to civil and political authorities to work for peace. The Pope’s heartfelt cry came on Monday during his annual address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. Speaking to representatives of the 179 States that currently have full diplomatic relations with the Vatican, as well as members of numerous international organizations such as the EU, the Order of Malta and the PLO, Pope Benedict emphasized that world leaders have a grave responsibility to work for peace. They are the first — he said — called to resolve the numerous conflicts causing bloodshed in our human family. The Pope went on to list urgent areas of concern starting with Syria which he described as being “torn apart by endless slaughter and the scene of dreadful suffering among its civilian population”...

Patriarch: idea to divide Egypt is “irrational” (Fides) The members of the Coptic diaspora who launched the idea to divide Egypt to create a Coptic state are “irrational.” This is what Pope Tawadros II in person said, after two months at the helm of the largest Christian community in an Arab country. In an interview with Turkish Anadolu Agency on the occasion of Coptic Christmas, Pope Tawadros strongly affirmed that “the Church is an integral part of that Egypt that will not be divided, that has been united since the Pharaoh Menes and will remain so forever”...

Indian laity oppose youth festivals on Sundays (Times of India) The commission for laity of Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala has come out strongly against the education department for conducting the school youth festivals on Sunday, the day for religious rituals and teachings for the Catholic community...

Patriarch Kiril congratulates Orthodox on Christmas (Voice of Russia) Addressing Orthodox Christians before the start of a solemn service at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill congratulated them on Christmas and wished them peace, prosperity and well-being. In line with tradition, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church conducts a festive Christmas service at Christ the Savior Cathedral. “I congratulate you on the great feast of Christmas. I wish peace, prosperity and well-being to all of historical Rus, to the Russian state, to each and every one of you. May the grace of the Savior touch us not only on this wonderful Christmas night, but on all the days of our lives,” said the Patriarch...



Tags: Syria Egypt Pope Benedict XVI Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Orthodox

4 January 2013
Greg Kandra




Two Iraqi boys hold candles as they pray for peace in Iraq and Syria during Mass at a Chaldean Catholic church in Amman, Jordan on 23 December (photo: CNS/Ali Jarekji, Reuters)

Bishops in solidarity with “suffering and vulnerable” in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Bishops from across Europe and North America this week will be visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan along with other suffering and vulnerable people and communities in the Holy Land. In a press release, the Holy Land Co-ordination reports: The 13th meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land takes place from 5-10 January. The delegation will meet in Bethlehem, visit Jordan and then concluding the annual pastoral visit in Jerusalem...

Syrian archbishop appeals for aid (Vatican Radio) Food, medicine, electricity and fuel are increasingly scarce in Jazira, the river plain area of Mesopotamia which encompasses northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria. With the influx of Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, Jazira’s population of 1 and a half million has swelled to some 2 million and Church and humanitarian officials are raising the alarm, saying not enough is being done to help them...

In Gaza, children bear psychological scars of conflict (Washington Post) Gazans often talk about the inescapability of war, and the symptoms of their suffering. They cast Gaza as a prison — one physical and psychological, where Israeli bombardment comes every so often,and there is little to do but bear it. Indeed, there are few places in the Arab world where psychology and trauma are as openly discussed as they are in Gaza. But health professionals here argue that there are few places in the region that contain a population so traumatized, a youth so obsessed with conflict.

Campaign begins to regain relics of St. Nicholas of Myra (Fides) The Turkish archaeologist Nevzat Çelik, responsible for the excavations at the archaeological site of Mira-Andraike, re-launched during the Christmas holidays the request to return the relics of St. Nicholas of Myra to Turkey, at the moment venerated at the Basilica of San Nicola in Bari...

How media in Lebanon marked the Christian feast of Christmas (Fides) In Lebanon the Christmas period is marked by the unique media coverage dedicated to the Christian celebrations. On Christmas Day, 25 December, the Al-Nour radio paid tribute to the birth of Christ with a selection of hymns. The main TV channel linked to the Shiite political formation articulated its programming with a Christmas card addressed to Christians, while the information services devoted considerable space to the Christmas celebrations, highlighting the participation of Hezbollah’s representatives in official ceremonies and underlining the title of “prophet” recognized by Islam to “Jesus the son of Mary”...

Russians flock to Baltics for Orthodox Christmas (New Age) With the Eastern Orthodox Christmas just around the corner, three ex-Soviet Baltic states are facing a new invasion from the east as Russian tourists flood in for the holidays. In stark contrast to the Soviet takeover which saw Moscow subjugate Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from World War II until 1990-91, despite frosty official relations the EU Baltic trio are now rolling out the red carpet for Russian tourists. In the three capitals, hotels with special packages for Russian visitors in the run-up to Orthodox Christmas Day on 7 January are nearly fully booked...



Tags: Syria Gaza Strip/West Bank Turkey Russian Orthodox

3 January 2013
J.D. Conor Mauro




A blind man walks past cars and buildings damaged in fighting in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, on 27 December. (photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)

Rebels and government forces clash at Syrian airports (BBC) Fierce battles are taking place at some northern Syrian airports, as rebels try to neutralise the government’s overwhelming air advantage. Rebels broke into the Taftanaz base in north-western Idlib province but were pushed back by the army, rebel sources and state media said. Reports said Aleppo airport was also under siege, and has been closed since Tuesday because of repeated attacks. The attacks come a day after a United Nations study said 60,000 people had died in Syria. Commissioned by U.N. human rights commissioner Navi Pillay, the study concluded that there had been 59,648 deaths between February 2011 and November 2012, and that figure would now have risen above 60,000…

Maronite patriarch excoriates Lebanese politicians (Daily Star Lebanon) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter slammed Lebanon’s politicians Thursday, urging them to take part in national dialogue and address the issue of Syrian refugees coming to the country, the National News Agency reported. “Shame on you not to attend the dialogue table,” said the cardinal. “It is a shame on officials not to attend dialogue and address the Syrian refugee case, the biggest national and humanitarian issue we are facing today,” he added. Over 160,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Lebanon since the start of violence in neighboring Syria…

Armenians concerned over rights in Holy Land (Hetq Online) Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, a member of the triumvirate of Guardians of the Christian Holy Places, has voiced grave fears over the threat of the erosion of its historic and traditional rights in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. The rights and privileges that are the legacy of the Armenians are indelibly inscribed within the tenets of a Status Quo that has been in place since the Ottoman administration of the land. But recent developments in Bethlehem, involving its sister guardian, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate (with the Latin Custodia forming the third member of the triumvirate), are threatening to seriously impact on Armenian rights, church officials claim…

Romanian Patriarchate declares year for Saints Constantine and Helen (Basilica News Agency) Following the initiative of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel, undertaken during the working session of 25 October 2011, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church approved that the year 2013 should be declared Solemn Year of Saint Emperors Constantine and Helen at the anniversary of 1700 years since the Edict of religious tolerance of Milan (313). The Holy Synod Office worked out a nation-wide program for implementing the liturgical, cultural and media program, emphasizing tolerance, freedom, and the social and religious politics of the canonized emperor and empress…

Israel nearly finished building Israel-Egypt border fence (L.A. Times) Two years after construction began, Israel has finished the bulk of the work on a fence along its border with Egypt. Closing off the rambling, 140-mile-long stretch of desert border will prevent the “unfettered flow of illegal infiltrators, the smuggling of drugs and weapons,” said a statement from the Defense Ministry, which oversaw the $400-million engineering project. Speaking at a ceremony marking the completion of the main section, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the effort to curb the illegal entry of migrants from Africa, reduced from more than 2,000 a month in January 2012 to fewer than 40 in December. Early last year, Netanyahu said Israel would build a similar fence along the desert border with Jordan…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Israel Holy Land Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter

2 January 2013
Greg Kandra




A defaced religious painting is seen with the eyes and mouth scratched out in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, on 27 December. (photo: CNS/Muzaffar Salman, Reuters)

Bishops describe Christmas in besieged Syria (CNS) Because of ongoing fighting in the city, Catholic leaders in Aleppo, Syria, canceled their traditional Christmas visits to local government officials, but the local governor dropped in on a meeting of bishops and priests on 27 December to offer his best wishes, said Bishop Giuseppe Nazzaro. The bishop, who is the Latin-rite apostolic vicar of Aleppo, said Gov. Mohammad Vahid Akkad, an appointee of besieged President Bashar Assad, expressed his appreciation for Pope Benedict XVI’s Christmas appeals for peace in Syria. After praying for peace in Syria in his midnight Mass homily, Pope Benedict expressed his concern Christmas Day for the “deeply wounded and divided” Syrian people. He called for “an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict”…

Pope sends greetings to new Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (Vatican Radio) At a time when the Middle East is so unstable and prone to violence, “it is increasingly urgent that the disciples of Christ offer an authentic witness of their unity, so that the world may believe the Gospel message of love, peace and reconciliation.” These are the words of Pope Benedict XVI, in a message of fraternal greetings in Christ’s love, to Youhanna X, the new Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch and All the East…

Bishop of Udaipur resigns (Fides) On 21 December 2012, Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Msgr. Joseph Pathalil from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Udaipur, India, in accordance with the Code of Canon Law. The Holy Father appointed Bishop John Devprasad Ganawa of Jhabua as bishop of the Diocese of Udaipur. The same prelate was appointed apostolic administrator of the vacant et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the Diocese of Jhabua…

Russian Orthodox church favors law banning adoptions (AsiaNews) Despite a wave of criticism from civil society groups and members of the Russian government, the Russian Orthodox Church has backed the controversial ‘anti-Magnitsky bill’ that President Vladimir Putin signed into law last Friday. As of 1 January, the new law bans adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens…

Dozens of religious items stolen from Russian Orthodox church in Hollywood (Los Angeles Times) Los Angeles police continued their investigation Monday into the theft of nearly 40 religious artifacts from a Russian Orthodox church in Hollywood. Thirty-seven items were taken from an altar room at the Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Cathedral the night of 22 December, Los Angeles police said. No arrests have been made in the case...



Tags: Syrian Civil War Pope Benedict XVI Russian Orthodox Church Patriarchs Indian Bishops

21 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A woman walks past a house destroyed in an airstrike in Azaz, Syria, on 18 December.
(photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)


Second refugee camp to open in Jordan (Fides) In the coming days a second UN camp for refugees fleeing from Syria will be opened in Jordan. This is confirmed to Fides Agency by the director of Caritas Jordan, Wael Suleiman. The new facility is located near Zarqa and can accommodate 45,000 people. Priority will be given to women and children...

Pope will turn attention to Iraq during new year (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has convoked a Synod of bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church for January, 2013. The aim of the Synod will be to elect a successor to His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father on Wednesday...

Christian churches participating in national dialogue in Egypt (Fides) There were representatives of three Christian churches at the fourth session of the Egyptian national dialogue chaired by the Deputy President Mahmoud Mekky, which took place on 18 December...

Orthodox leaders discuss outreach at White House (OCA.org) More than 80 representatives of the nation’s Orthodox Christian service organizations gathered at the White House here on Friday, December 14, 2012 to discuss strategic service alliances with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The White House Conference on Orthodox Christian Engagement was hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement in conjunction with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and facilitated by International Orthodox Christian Charities[IOCC]...

Syrian Christians prepare for somber Christmas (Canada Free Press) “Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright...” Many Christians all over the world will sing this Christmas carol in the next few days. Millions look forward to Christmas. What about the Syrian Christians in the midst of a terrible civil war? Will they have the “heavenly peace” this Christmas classic speaks about?

Bartholomew seeks to reinvigorate dialogue with Catholics (National Herald) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is attempting to inaugurate a new path and new dynamics of rapprochement and reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church in conjunction with the Theological Dialogue working towards the Eucharistic Union of the Churches...



Tags: Syria Iraq Egypt Refugees Orthodox

19 December 2012
Greg Kandra




A female refugee from Syria prepares food for her family as her son helps her with the stove at a refugee camp in the village of Jeb Jennine, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. (photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

Harsh winter looms for Syrian refugees (Vatican Radio) With Syrian refugees now numbering over half a million, many of them face grim conditions as temperatures drop in the region and there is a looming shortage of essential winter supplies. Father Peter Balleis is the International Director for Jesuit Refugee Services and he says the Syrian refugees and displaced people face great hardship in the coming winter months. He told Vatican Radio’s Susy Hodges that conditions are particularly acute in Syrian’s second city of Aleppo which “is cut off from supplies” as it’s virtually besieged. He says there are shortages in the city of “food and electricity” and therefore a lack of heating and that life for the local population “is getting very difficult”…

Pope accepts resignation of Chaldean patriarch (VIS) Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Chaldean Church presented by His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, and convoked the Synod of Bishops of the same church in Rome on 28 January 2013 to elect a successor…

Gaza Christians will be permitted to visit Bethlehem (Jerusalem Post) The I.D.F. is set to issue permits to some 500 Palestinian Christians residing in Gaza, allowing them to travel to the West Bank — specifically Bethlehem, for Christmas. Additionally, at least 20,000 entrance visas will likely be issued to Christian pilgrims who are expected to visit Bethlehem from abroad for the holiday...

Former hostage Terry Waite writes about his return to Lebanon (The Guardian) Last week I returned to Lebanon, a quarter of a century after being kidnapped and held captive for almost five years, most of the time chained to a wall and denied many basic comforts. You might think such a trip foolhardy, but the crisis developing there desperately needs attention. I had been invited to go back to see for myself the plight of the many Christian refugees who are flooding across the Syrian/Lebanese border, and travelled to the Bekaa Valley to visit the refugees who have been forced into exile from Syria. The situation there is tragic…



Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank Pope Benedict XVI

18 December 2012
Greg Kandra




The date of Patriarch-elect Youhanna X's enthronement has not yet been announced. (photo: OCA.org)

New patriarch of Antioch elected (OCA.org) Patriarch-elect Youhanna X of Antioch and All the East, formerly the metropolitan archbishop of Western and Central Europe, was elected by the members of the Holy Synod earlier today, 17 December 2012, during a special session held at the Balamand Patriarchal Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos…

In India, mourners crowd the funeral of nurse caught in hoax (ABC News) Family and friends of the nurse found hanging in her room days after she had been duped by a “royal” hoax call from Australian disc jockeys gathered in a church in south India for her funeral Monday. Jacintha Saldanha’s body was kept at her husband’s home in the town of Shirva for a few hours before being taken to the church for a prayer service and burial. Mourners crowded the Our Lady of Health Church in Shirva for the memorial service before heading to the cemetery in the church grounds. Catholic priests recited prayers as Saldanha’s body was interred in a grave marked by a simple black cross. Saldanha’s husband and two children had accompanied the body from London, where her death on 7 December is being investigated as an apparent suicide...

Syrian war fueling Christian flight from Middle East (BBC) The Lebanese city of Zahle sits high in the Bekaa valley, on the ancient highway that connects Damascus to Beirut and the world beyond. To reach it from the coast by road in December, you must climb sharply through a series of hairpin bends — every few minutes you catch a glimpse of the steep highland scenery as a gap appears in the raw, foggy air. This Christian city has known dark times. It became a dangerous frontline as the armed forces of Syria intervened in Lebanon’s long, complex and bitter civil war in the 1980s. In a very similar conflict in the 1860s it was torched by besieging Druze and Turkish fighters after its Christian defenders were defeated. Civilians were massacred in the bloody aftermath. These days, Zahle is a place of safety. Christian families fleeing the violence and chaos of Syria’s civil war just a few kilometers further down that ancient highway are arriving in the city where Christian aid agencies care for them…

Catholics in Kerala may have to confess drinking to a priest (The Asian Age) For Catholics in Kerala, alcohol consumption will soon be a sin, which has to be confessed before a priest. That is, if a church panel has its way. The temperance commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (K.C.B.C.), which has taken up the issue, is also seeking a ban on employing people who drink in institutions run by the church…

Celebrating Hanukkah with the last Jews of Egypt (Foreign Policy) There were fewer attendees than usual at Thursday night’s Hanukkah celebration in the Egyptian capital, perhaps due to the political unrest that has gripped the city — or maybe just because of the cold weather. The tiny Jewish community of Cairo consists almost entirely of elderly women, and they have weathered the current period of national crisis just as they survived hardships decades ago. As the wax dripped from the candles on the menorah at the downtown Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue, protesters continued to mass outside the presidential palace across town and blocked off Tahrir Square, only a short walk away. The first round of voting in a contentious constitutional referendum took place Saturday, the penultimate day of Hanukkah…



Tags: Egypt Lebanon Syrian Civil War Indian Christians Patriarchs

17 December 2012
Greg Kandra






Pope offers prayers for Newtown victims (CNS) After 20 children and six adults were shot dead in Connecticut, Pope Benedict XVI offered his condolences and prayers, urging all to dedicate themselves to acts of peace in the face of such “senseless violence.” After reciting the Angelus on 17 December, the pope, speaking in English, said he was “deeply saddened” by the 14 December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. In addition to the students and staff killed, the gunman took his own life. “I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer,” he said. “May the God of consolation touch their hearts and ease their pain...”

Pope receives Palestinian president This morning in the Vatican Apostolic Palace Pope Benedict XVI received in audience Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Abbas subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States. In a press release Monday, the Holy See’s Press Office said “the cordial discussions made reference to the recent Resolution approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations by which Palestine was recognised as a Non-member Observer State of the aforementioned Organization...”

Bombs in Kirkuk during Cardinal Sandri’s Mass (Fides) Terrorist attacks struck yesterday, Sunday, 16 December, in the city of Kirkuk, causing nine deaths (including two children) and more than 50 injuries. Two coordinated attacks — carried out with two car bombs and seven bombs placed on the sides of the roads — targeted two Shiite mosques on the outskirts of the city. But the explosions were felt distinctly even in the Chaldean Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, during the celebration of the Mass where Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, presided...

Russian Nationalists criticize plans to build mosques in Moscow (RT) Moscow city authorities are about to announce the allocation of plots of land for three new mosques in the city, but ethnic Russian nationalists have voiced their protests saying that no one asked local residents before passing this decision...

Holy See releases pope’s message for World Day of Peace (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI’s message for World Peace Day 2013 was presented to journalists at a press conference in the Vatican on Friday by the president, secretary and under-secretary of the Pontifical Justice and Peace Council. Entitled ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’, the message looks at both the theological and practical foundations for promoting justice and peace in today’s world...



Tags: Iraq Palestine Pope Benedict XVI Russia

14 December 2012
Greg Kandra




Report: possible Russian-US joint ultimatum in Syria (Fides) Russia and the United States are getting ready to order a joint ultimatum to Syria’s President Bashar Assad through the special envoy of the UN and the Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi, in order for Assad to leave power “with dignity.” According to the news, reported today by the French newspaper “Le Figaro,” Washington and Moscow seem to have “exchanged the names” of leaders who could appear in the transitional government...

Car bomb kills at least 16 in Syria (Vatican Radio) Russia today said Syrian rebels are gaining ground and might win, on a day which saw a car bomb kill at least 16 people in Qatana, a town 25 kilometres southwest of Damascus. “One must look the facts in the face,” Russia’s state-run RIA quoted Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s special envoy for Middle East affairs as saying. “Unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out...”

Photo essay: Egyptian Copts gather to pray ahead of vote on constitution (AFP via NBC News) Thousands of Egyptian Copts attended a Mass in the Cave Cathedral, or St Sama’ans, in the Manshiet Nasser district of Cairo on 13 December 2012, where they prayed for Egypt ahead of the disputed referendum on the new draft constitution slated for Saturday...

Christmas shopping in India (The Telegraph) Cochin has the highest density of Christians in India, and is dotted with cathedrals and churches. In a parody of our high streets back home, the roads are rammed with fevered shoppers, their faces consumed with the business of Christmas. The crowd scoops me up and funnels me into an alley, where I bash my ankles on rough wooden nativity scenes strewn along the ground. We move into a wider street now, and I step back to avoid a rickshaw driver who is unable to see through the baby Jesuses and fir trees swinging from his sun visor. I push my way into a shop; it is Christmas-decoration heaven. A sharp-elbowed nun lunges for the perfect bauble, scattering boxes of glittering stars to the floor...



Tags: Syria India Egypt Coptic

13 December 2012
J.D. Conor Mauro




Following the latest act of settler-associated vandalism at the 11th-century Monastery of the Cross, Father Claudio remains unflappable: “The first time, I forgive; the second time, I forgive; the seventh time, I forgive; the 75th, the 77th time I forgive.” (video: Melanie Lidman)

Jerusalem Orthodox Christian monastery vandalized (Jerusalem Post) “Price-tag” vandals targeted sites in Jerusalem and near Ramallah overnight Tuesday, spraying extremist graffiti and puncturing car tires. The words “tag mahir” (“price tag”), painted on the site, have become affiliated with the extreme fringe of the settlement and right-wing movements. Father Claudio, the superior of the Monastery of the Cross, said he discovered the graffiti on Wednesday morning after morning prayers. “This person needs to write outside. Okay. But he needs to come inside the Monastery. Sit with me, drink one coffee, and I will explain to him why I believe in Jesus and why that is my freedom [to believe],” Father Claudio said. “He needs to come face to face. And I will tell him, ‘Welcome.’ ... Let’s sit, and speak. This is the heart of the religions. ... I say to these people, ‘Hanukkah Sameach’ [‘Happy Hanukkah’].” This is the fifth price-tag attack against a Christian site this year, including the previous vandalism at the Monastery of the Cross and incidents at the Latrun Monastery, the Baptist Church in west Jerusalem and the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion...

Violence and terror in the ‘Valley of the Christians’ (Fides) About 150 thousand Christians live in fear in more than 40 villages in the so-called “Valley of the Christians” (“Wadi al Nasarah”) in western Syria. The valley, a historical stronghold of the Syrian Christians, received in recent months thousands of refugees from Homs and other cities and provinces. Today, Christians are under fire from Islamist militias who have settled in the Crusader fortress “Krak des Chevaliers,” built in the eleventh century by a Muslim emir, rebuilt by the Knights Hospitallers and today UNESCO world cultural heritage. From the hill on which the fortress stands, the militias have been firing for days at the villages below. Their targets are the barricades in the area erected by the Syrian army, but no thought is given to the Christian civilians in the line of fire...

Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers clash in Hebron (Al Jazeera) Five people have been injured in clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Hebron, after a Palestinian teenager was shot by Israeli soldiers on Wednesday. Dozens of Palestinian youths were reported to have thrown stones and bottles at the soldiers early on Thursday morning, while Associated Press news agency reported that the Israeli soldiers had responded by firing tear gas on the youths. Five Palestinians were hospitalized after the clashes, reported Ma’an News Agency. Thursday’s clashes came ahead of the funeral for 17-year-old Palestinian, Muhammad Ziad Awad Salaymah, who was shot dead by an Israeli policewoman at a checkpoint in the city on Wednesday, for allegedly carrying a gun which later turned out to be “fake”...

Muslim Brotherhood struggles to retain political power (Der Spiegel) Little is known about the inner workings of the Muslim Brotherhood, though that is now changing. More and more members are leaving the organization, and they are taking their criticism public. They include young members who reject the Brotherhood’s hierarchical structures as well as older supporters like Tharwat al Gharbawi, a well-known attorney, who says that the Brotherhood’s authoritarian ideology always becomes more prevalent when the organization comes under pressure. “As long as the guidance office of the Brotherhood is dominated by hardliners, a compromise isn’t to be expected,” says Gharbawi. Now, the group’s support seems to be crumbling. More than 30 buildings owned by the Muslim Brotherhood were set on fire in the last two weeks, and the protesters are now chanting the same words they chanted before Mubarak was overthrown: “Down with the regime.” Most importantly, opposition leaders have set aside differences to unite in their opposition to Morsi and the Brotherhood...



Tags: Syria Egypt Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians Jerusalem





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