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March, 2018
Volume 44, Number 1
  
2 April 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




President Bashar al Assad Receives Patriarch-elect Mar Ignatius Aphrem II of Antioch and All the East on 2 April. (photo: SANA)

Newly elected patriarch: Syrians are determined to remain steadfast (SANA) St. George’s Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in Damascus held a reception on Tuesday on the occasion of the arrival of Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, patriarch-elect of Antioch and all the East. He stressed that followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church are determined to remain steadfast in homeland. Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III of Antioch stressed he will work with Patriarch-elect Ignatius Aphrem and all other patriarchs of Christian churches in Syria to make the church of Damascus one apostolic community that expresses Syria’s richness and diversity…

Palestinians defy U.S. and Israel; Middle East talks falter (New York Times) Defying the United States and Israel, the Palestinian leadership formally submitted applications on Wednesday to join 15 international agencies, leaving the troubled Middle East talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry on the verge of breakdown. The applications were signed by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday evening as part of a move to gain the benefits of statehood outside the negotiation process…

Syria death toll over 150,000, says human rights body (The Guardian) At least 150,000 people have been killed in Syria’s three-year-old civil war, a third of them civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said. The U.K.-based Observatory, which monitors violence in Syria through a network of activists and medical or security sources, said the real toll was likely to be significantly higher at about 220,000 deaths…

U.S. official says measles next menace to Syrian children (Al Monitor) A senior United States aid official has warned that the next health crisis facing Syrian children may be measles, as the Syrian government refuses to implement a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding urgent improvement in humanitarian access to war-battered populations…

Patriarch Aram I proposes that the Kessab region be declared a demilitarized zone (Catholicosate of Cilicia) After describing the situation in Kessab and the role of Turkey, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, head of the Armenian Apostolic Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, proposed that the Kessab region be declared a demilitarized zone. U.N. Undersecretary Jeffrey Feltman promised the catholicos to follow it up and discuss with Arab League Special Envoy Lakhtar Ibrahimi…

Blasts at Cairo University kill two (Daily Star Lebanon) A series of explosions outside Cairo University killed two people on Wednesday, including a police brigadier-general, security officials said, in what appeared to be the latest militant attack in a fast-growing insurgency. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamist militants have carried out many similar operations against security forces since the army ousted President Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July after mass protests against him…

Zerqa parish first to acquire solar energy system (Fides) The Twelve Apostles Church of Zerqa is the first church in the Middle East to acquire a solar energy system. “The idea came to me during the summer period, when the heat in June, July and August makes us suffer,” says the Rev. Kurzum Elias. “I thought: Why not exploit it in order to pay less money?” The city of Zerqa is located in a semi-arid area, and the number of sunshine days is estimated at 300 days a year. “We cover, thanks to the sun, half of the total energy consumption. We aim to add more panels…”



Tags: Syria Egypt Refugees Syrian Civil War Armenian Apostolic Church

1 April 2014
Greg Kandra




In the video posted above, witnesses describe last week’s attack on Kessab. (video: RT.com)

Syrian Army trying to retake Kessab (RT.com) The Syrian Army is trying to retake the Christian majority town of Kessab reportedly seized by Al Qaeda-linked forces. The attack forced hundreds of ethnic Armenians to flee and caused international outcry, with Armenia blaming Turkey for supporting extremists. Warring sides in Syria are facing off over Kessab, an ethnic Armenian hub on the Turkey-Syria border…

Is Crimea gone? (CNN) In diplomacy, as in sales, success often depends on making your adversaries believe they proposed the result you wanted. By that measure, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have closed the sale on annexing Crimea from Ukraine. On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the region that Moscow now claims over international protests, while Russia also said it was withdrawing a battalion of infantry troops from the tens of thousands deployed near the border with eastern Ukraine…

Pope Francis to become first pontiff to be broadcast in 3D (Variety) Pope Francis will become the first pontiff seen globally in 3D during the upcoming 27 April ceremony in St. Peter’s Square when two of his predecessors, Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, will be canonized as saints…

Some Muslim countries won’t screen ‘Noah’ (Catholic Register) Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates banned the film in early March, citing Islamic prohibitions on showing images of prophets. The Film Censorship Board in Indonesia, home to roughly 215 million Muslims — more than any other country — banned the film last week. Cairo’s Al Azhar University, a historic center of Islamic learning, issued a fatwa against the film urging Muslims not to see it, citing a prohibition on depicting prophets. Yet most Muslim-majority countries have not banned “Noah,” and many observant Muslims in America saw the film when it debuted…



Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Turkey Crimea Media

31 March 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church convened and elected Mor Cyril Aphram Karim, metropolitan of the Archeparchy of the Eastern United States, to lead the church. He will be known as Patriarch Ignatius Aphram II upon his installation and will be the 123rd patriarch of Antioch. (photo: CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Syriac Orthodox Church elects new patriarch (ABC News) The Syriac Orthodox Church has elected a new patriarch to lead one of the world’s oldest Christian sects, Lebanon’s national news agency said Monday. The announcement of the election of Cyril Aphrem Karim, a 48-year-old Syrian, was made by the Syriac Orthodox Church’s Lebanese headquarters in the village of Atshaneh northeast of the capital Beirut. Karim, who served as bishop in the United States, replaces Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I, who died on 21 March at the age of 80…

Egypt presidential election set for 26-27 May (Al Jazeera) Egypt’s electoral commission announced Sunday that the country’s presidential election will take place on 26-27 May, less than a year after the army overthrew President Muhammad Morsi. The man who toppled Egypt’s first democratically elected leader in July, former army chief Abdel Fattah el Sisi, is expected to win the vote easily…

After Crimea’s annexation, what Tatars might do next (Christian Science Monitor) Leaders of Crimea’s Tatar minority gathered Saturday to condemn Russia’s annexation of the peninsula and appealed to international bodies for recognition as an autonomous group. Tatars, an ethnically Turkic and mainly Muslim group that was subjected to mass deportation from their native Crimea by Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1944, gathered to forge a collective response to Russia’s absorption of their native region…

Ukraine crisis: Crimea celebrates switch to Moscow time (BBC) People in the Crimean capital Simferopol have been celebrating the clocks changing to synchronise with the time in Moscow. Moscow formally annexed Crimea earlier in March after the predominantly ethnically Russian region held a referendum which backed joining Russia…

After Crimea, Russians say they want Alaska back (The Moscow Times) After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which the Kremlin said corrected a “historical mistake,” some in Russia would like to see the divide with Alaska eliminated by having Russia stake a new claim on the territory, which Tsar Alexander II sold to the U.S. for $7.2 million in 1867…

Activists return to northern Syria as extremists retreat (Al Jazeera) After a campaign of kidnappings and executions, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is starting to retreat. In areas the group controls, the ISIL has sought to impose Sharia, or Islamic law. In Raqqa, one of the group’s strongholds, the ISIL has forced women to completely cover themselves, banned smoking and forced business owners to close their shops during prayer times. The group recently imposed Sharia on Christians in Raqqa, telling them they couldn’t display any outward signs of faith and charging them a religious tax…



Tags: Egypt Ukraine Syrian Civil War Crimea Syriac Orthodox Church

28 March 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




During Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land, he will join Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to issue a joint declaration on the 50th anniversary of the visit to Jerusalem by two of their predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. (photo: Nikolaos Manginas/Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople)

Pope to pray with Orthodox patriarch in Jerusalem (Daily Star Lebanon) Pope Francis will pray side by side with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople in Jerusalem, in a powerful sign of Christian unity during his May visit to Holy Land, the Vatican said on Thursday. The prayer will take place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over the spots widely believed to be the sites of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus…

Missile on an Armenian church in Aleppo during Mass (Fides) The Armenian Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity in Aleppo was hit by a missile while the faithful celebrated the liturgy. The attack damaged the dome and broke the windows, but caused no injuries. This was confirmed to Fides Agency by the Rev. Joseph Bazuzu, pastor of the church…

U.N. prolongs probe of Syria rights violations (Daily Star Lebanon) The U.N. on Friday lamented the devastating violence in Syria and extended a probe into the “gross, systematic and widespread” human rights abuses in the war-ravaged country…

Syrian Kurds, rebels find common enemy in ISIS (Al Monitor) Bitter enemies less than a year ago, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and the Free Syrian Army are cooperating to fight the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham. The first basis for this cooperation emerged when wounded F.S.A. fighters were treated in the Afrin Hospital. Kurdish leader Salim Muslim told Al Monitor, “When ISIS came, they [F.S.A.] escaped to our areas, and we protected them. Those people fought against us, but we are protecting them. Even some injured are treated in our hospitals, despite our having a shortage of medicine…”

Ethiopian Orthodox Church takes roots in Ghana (GhanaWeb) The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church will take firm roots in Ghana with the establishment of a branch of the church in Ghana after the acceptance of a fact-finding report that recommends this course of action…

Mother of Coptic Orthodox pope dies (Ahram Online) The mother of Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, passed away on Friday morning, spokesman Bishop Royce Morqos said in a statement. The funeral liturgy will be held at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria on Saturday.



Tags: Pope Francis Syrian Civil War Ethiopian Orthodox Church Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II

27 March 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Free Syrian Army fighter runs amid destroyed buildings during clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al Assad in the town of Morek on 11 March. Catholic bishops of Syria called for a cease-fire and for the pursuit of the Geneva peace talks to end the crisis in their country. (photo: CNS/Rasem Ghareeb, Reuters)

Syrian Ambassador says 98 churches, 1900 mosques destroyed in Syria (Interfax) Syrian Ambassador Riad Haddad said that 98 Christian churches were partly or entirely destroyed during the military conflict in the country. At the same time, 1900 mosques, 1600 schools and 60 percent of Syrian hospitals were partly or entirely destroyed, Haddad said at his meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Moscow…

Violence against Copts in Egypt continues despite fall of Muslim Brotherhood (AINA) Violence in Egypt against Coptic Christians has continued despite the fall of President Muhammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, with believers still facing abductions and the government seizing their property, the Board of Inquiry in Cairo reported. The report, according to Fides News Agency, shows that Copts, who make up close to 10 percent of the population, are continuing to face “endemic forms of violence and abuse” in many parts of Egypt, particularly in the governorates of Luxor, Sohag and Aswan…

Egypt’s Sisi to run for president, vows to tackle militancy (Reuters) Abdel Fattah al Sisi, the general who ousted Egypt’s first freely elected leader, declared his candidacy on Wednesday for a presidential election he is expected to easily win. Sisi toppled Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood last July after mass protests against his rule and has emerged as the most influential figure in an interim administration that has governed since then…

Ukrainian crisis may split Russian Orthodox Church (National Catholic Reporter) As Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border and a controversial secession vote in Crimea approached on 16 March, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church called for prayers “that brothers of one faith and one blood never bring destruction to one another.” Russia has prided itself on its revival of Orthodox Christianity after decades of Soviet persecution, but a war with the Ukraine could splinter the Russian Orthodox Church. That church has its roots in Kiev, where Prince Vladimir baptized his people as Christians in 988, an event viewed as a cornerstone of Russian and Ukrainian identity…

Israel to allow materials into Gaza for Turkish hospital (Daily Star Lebanon) Israel said on Thursday it will allow into the Gaza Strip construction materials and electric equipment to help build a Turkish-sponsored hospital, in a possible sign of improving ties with Ankara. Gaza, ruled by the Islamist group Hamas, lacks much basic civil infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade meant to cut off arms flows but which also curbs imports of fuel and building supplies. Turkey began constructing the hospital in 2011 using materials smuggled into the territory through tunnels and this is first time Israel has let any in for the project…

Pope entrusts the people of Lebanon to the Virgin Mary (VIS) On 25 March, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin sent a message on behalf of Pope Francis to the participants in the eighth Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting, expressing joy at “Christians and Muslims united in their devotion to the Virgin Mary.” He also entrusts the participants in the meeting “and all the inhabitants of Lebanon to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace and Protectress of Lebanon…”



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Gaza Strip/West Bank Violence against Christians Russian Orthodox Church

26 March 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A man passes a mural showing a map of Crimea in the Russian national colors on a street in Moscow on 25 March. A Ukrainian Catholic priest from Crimea says he fled to Ukraine because Russian authorities are pressuring ethnic Ukrainians. (photo: CNS/Artur Bainozarov, Reuters)

Ukrainian Orthodox churches face own crisis (Voice of America) The clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate blessed the anti-government protesters and rolled up their cassock sleeves to help build barricades themselves. The larger Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, an autonomous church that is a subordinate of the Russian Orthodox Church, positioned itself outside of the Maidan protests, praying for reconciliation and urging dialogue. But some senior figures were openly critical, with one bishop saying Maidan protesters had “evil in their hearts.” The Moscow Patriarch himself has adopted also a more neutral position on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, issuing generic pleas for peace. Now some of the Moscow Patriarch’s parishes are rebelling and threatening to defect to the rival Kyiv Patriarch…

The Crimean crisis from the Kremlin’s perspective (Der Spiegel) The E.U. and U.S. have come down hard on Russia for its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. But from the perspective of the Kremlin, it is the West that has painted Putin into a corner. And the Russian president will do what it takes to free himself…

In Israel, African immigrants find no refuge (Los Angeles Times) Immigrants from Africa started crossing into Israel from Egypt in large numbers about eight years ago. Mostly young men from Sudan and Eritrea, they say they’re refugees fleeing conflict and repressive governments. But Israel’s leaders, who have come under pressure to act amid escalating tension between the Africans and some of their Israeli neighbors, believe most are economic migrants who should leave…

Maronite bishop target of attempted abduction (Daily Star Lebanon) Maronite Bishop Semaan Atallah was the target of an attempted abduction over the weekend in the eastern town of Zahle by a known group, a security source told The Daily Star…

Coptic Catholic bishop: The church is always against the death penalty (Fides) The Coptic Catholic bishop of Assiut, Kyrillos William, has spoken out against the 529 death sentences issued against the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood by the Court of Minya. “The church is against the death penalty. … The death penalty can never be the way to solve problems in the right way…”

Egyptian policeman’s wife casts doubt on death sentences handed out to 529 (The Guardian) The wife of the policeman whose murder led to death sentences for 529 Egyptians on Monday has suggested that only two of them may be responsible for his killing. Speaking to an Egyptian news presenter after the case ended, Al-Attar’s wife, Magda Abbas, inadvertently cast further doubt on the strength of the prosecution by saying that her joy at the sentences was tempered by the fact that the two men who killed him are not among those in prison, and are still in hiding…



Tags: Egypt Coptic Catholic Church Maronite Ukrainian Orthodox Church Crimea

25 March 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Syrian Armenian Zvart Yeranossian, 28, sits in her home in Bourj Hammoud, a densely populated Armenian enclave in the eastern suburbs of Beirut, in August. Syrian Armenians are fleeing their homes en masse, with many seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Read more in A Refuge in Lebanon, from the Winter 2013 issue of ONE. (photo: Dalia Khamissy)

Reports cite 80 dead in Kessab; churches desecrated (Asbarez.com) The Armenian-populated villages of Kessab, Syria, were the target of three days of brutal cross-border attacks from Turkey by Islamist armed bands, which have cost 80 lives and forced the civilian population of the area to flee to neighboring hills, with many seeking safe haven in the nearby cities of Latakia and Basit…

Russian, Ukrainian Foreign Ministers meet amid crisis (Vatican Radio) Leaders of the group of industrialized nations have suspended Russia from the G8 group over its controversial annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The announcement came after a G7 meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, where Russian and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers held talks…

Church official: Schism in Ukraine will fade without political support (Interfax) A Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate official believes the main reason of existing church schism in Ukraine is its political support. “I’m convinced that if the schism is deprived of political support, it will stop existing in a very short time,” deputy head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolay Balashov said on air the Radonezh Orthodox radio station…

U.N. disturbed by imposition of mass death sentence in Egypt (U.N. News Center) The United Nations human rights office said today it is deeply alarmed by the imposition of the death penalty against 529 people in Egypt on Monday after a “cursory” mass trial in which the majority of defendants were not present in court. “The mass imposition of the death penalty after a trial that was rife with procedural irregularities is in breach of international human rights law,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a news conference in Geneva…

The importance of contemporary Arab coffee culture (Al Monitor) Long ago, Arab cafes transformed into forums for political debate after politics in Arab countries became monopolized by the ruling regimes. Yet, with the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the cafes lost some of their political meaning for a while. Recently, they have begun to recover this status. Coffee is linked to nationalism in the Mediterranean basin. Anyone who has traveled to Greece, for example, knows that asking a waiter in a hotel or restaurant for “Turkish coffee” would result in a lengthy discussion clarifying that its proper name is “Greek coffee.” Similarly, if I dared, as an Egyptian, to ask for “Turkish coffee” in Lebanon, I would face stares of admonition for using the incorrect name for “Arabic coffee”…



Tags: Egypt Syrian Civil War Violence against Christians United Nations Ukrainian Orthodox Church

24 March 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The Bulgarian Orthodox Church elected Bishop Naum of Stob, left, as the new metropolitan of Rousse. The post has been vacant since the election of Patriarch Neofit, right, in February 2013. (photo: Bulgarian Orthodox Church)

Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Neofit’s first ‘year of change’ (Sofia Globe) It was an eventful and significant year in the history of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church — not only because of the election of a new patriarch, not only because of the sudden and mysterious death of the influential Varna Metropolitan Kiril, but also primarily because the period has seen the emergence of processes and phenomena that will have a lasting impact in the future…

Egypt sentences 529 to death (Washington Post) An Egyptian court has sentenced 529 people to death, in the largest capital punishment case on record in Egypt, judicial authorities said Monday. The alleged supporters of ousted Islamist President Muhammad Morsi were convicted on charges of killing a single police officer, the attempted murder of two others, and attacking a police station in the Nile Valley city of Minya last August. Sixteen others were acquitted. The mass sentencing underscored the severity of an ongoing campaign by Egypt’s military-backed leaders to silence opposition here, eight months after a military coup ousted President Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected leader…

Pope Tawadros II laments Arab Spring as ‘winter’ (Fides) According to Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, the “Arab Spring,” in reality, “was not a spring or even an autumn, it was a winter.” Pope Tawadros rejects any globally positive interpretation regarding the results caused by rebellions and conflicts that have devastated most of the Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Egypt, since the end of 2010…

In show of strength, Hamas supporters flood downtown Gaza (Christian Science Monitor) Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters thronged the streets of downtown Gaza City on Sunday, a show of strength at a time when the Islamic militant group faces its deepest crisis since seizing power seven years ago. Hamas is dealing with a severe financial shortfall, caused by heavy pressure from both Israel and Egypt. But leaders stressed that the group remains opposed to Mideast peace efforts and is ready for battle against Israel at any time…

Russian troops capture Ukraine’s last land base in Crimea (Los Angeles Times) Russian troops stormed and captured the Ukrainian military’s last remaining land base in Crimea on Monday, a Ukrainian official said. “Russian military are in a hurry to claim that there are no longer any Ukraine army bases in the peninsula to prevent the U.N. General Assembly from declaring Crimea a demilitarized zone at its session on Thursday,” said Dmitry Tymchuk, a Ukraine defense expert. “The General Assembly may theoretically demand that both Russia and Ukraine withdraw their troops from the peninsula, but Russia can make an argument that there are no Ukraine troops in Crimea any longer and prevent the issue from being discussed…”

Simferopol Eparchy denies expropriating property of the Kiev Patriarchate (Pravoslavie.ru) The press service of the Eparchy of Simferopol and Crimea have officially denied allegations currently being spread in the press that members of the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate, along with armed individuals, are claiming church property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate, in the village of Perevalnoye in Crimea…



Tags: Egypt Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Crimea Bulgarian Orthodox Church

21 March 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




“If I preach, first of all I preach to myself, then I preach to the people. … I am doing my best to be a good example,” said Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I in this interview conducted in the summer of 2009, in which he discussed his life, his role as patriarch and more. “I am happy, even though I am now an old man,” he said, “but still, thank God, trying to continue my work for the benefit of the church.” (video: Melthodhaye)

Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I of Antioch passes away (Manorama Online) The head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Mar Ignatius Zakka I of Antioch and all the East, has passed away in a German hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was 81. Patriarch Ignatius Zakka was the 122nd reigning Syriac Orthodox patriarch of Antioch and All the East. He was enthroned on 14 September, 1980, in St. George’s Patriarchal Cathedral in Damascus. A prolific author, he was known for his involvement in ecumenical dialogue. He was an observer at the Second Vatican Council before becoming metropolitan bishop of Mosul…

Emergency in Ethiopia for tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees (Fides) There are between 72,000 and 100,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled to the western Ethiopian region of Gambella, according to estimates by some humanitarian organizations operating in the area. Clashes between government soldiers and rebels loyal to former Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar have forced several hundred thousand internally displaced people and refugees in neighboring countries, primarily Ethiopia, to flee…

Crimea spurs breakaway threats by Bosnian Serbs (World Bulletin) Russia’s seizure of Crimea, which contains an ethnic Russian majority, has again stirred dispute over the principle of sovereignty, last tested when the West supported Kosovo’s secession from Bosnia neighbor Serbia in 2008 over Russian objections. As time goes by another sovereign state could appear on the world map — the Serb Republic. Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik sees Bosnia as “a non-viable state” and describes the Crimean referendum as “an example of respect for the U.N. Charter and the right of people to self-determination…”

Violence rocks Iraq as elections approach (Der Spiegel) With just six weeks to go before parliamentary elections in Iraq, sectarian violence has once again gripped the country. Car bombs have become a regular occurrence and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is under fire. Another war could erupt in the struggle over Kirkuk and oil. The Iraqi legislature can agree on nothing of importance and its lawmakers hate each other…



Tags: Iraq Ethiopia Crimea Syriac Orthodox Church Bosnia and Herzegovina

20 March 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Tawadros II celebrates the Divine Liturgy in the monastery of Wadi Natrun, northeast of Cairo, to commemorate the second anniversary of Pope Shenouda III’s passing. (photo: Coptic Orthodox Church)

Egypt’s Coptic pope to visit Moscow (Turkish Press) Preparations are in full swing for an expected visit to Moscow by Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros II — his first trip to Russia since taking the helm of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church in 2012, a church source said Wednesday…

Ukraine announces plans to withdraw military personnel from Crimea (Al Jazeera) Hours after a group of armed men supported by Russian forces seized control of the Ukrainian naval headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Wednesday, Kiev announced plans to evacuate all military personnel from the peninsula, The New York Times reported. Ukrainian national security head Andriy Parubiy announced the move, which effectively concedes loss of the territory to Russia…

Former Lebanese president warns religious diversity dying (Arab Daily News) Amine Gemayel, the former president of Lebanon from 1982 to 1988 and the leader of Lebanon’s Kataeb party, warned this week the Arab world is experiencing a “crisis of religious pluralism” driven by “the rise of religious extremists,” which threatens “any community which does not constitute the majority…”

How the West gas shaped Georgia’s self-image (New Eastern Europe) In the past couple years, Georgia has been Europeanizing: policies, practices and laws have been adjusted to European Union standards to secure an Association Agreement (A.A.), a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (D.C.F.T.A.) and a visa-free regime. However, we can observe the Europeanization not only of Georgia’s policies, but also of its political culture. Although the Georgian and European political cultures still have little in common, the West has become a key point of reference in the debates on Georgian national identity…

Zaatari refugee camp: Now with girl scouts and a Safeway store (NPR) On a sunny afternoon in the dusty, overcrowded Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, a group of Syrian girls recites a familiar scout pledge and hope to change their future. In this desolate place, the troop’s weekly meetings are a time to forget the horrors that forced these girls to flee Syria with their families. This week marks the third anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict, and this unofficial girl scout troop is a sign these girls may spend their childhood in exile and their families are learning to cope with what may be a long-term stay…



Tags: Lebanon Ukraine Georgia Refugee Camps Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II





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