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Van Hits Pedestrians in Deadly Barcelona Terror Attack

There have been other deadly attacks using vehicles that were not related to Islamist extremists. A British man rammed a rental van into a congregation of Muslims leaving prayers in North London during Ramadan, and a man who was part of white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., drove his car into a crowd Saturday, killing a woman.In March 2004, a series of bombs ripped through commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800. The bombings were carried out by a group of North African Islamists that intersected with a band of petty criminals.Leaders of European countries and cities that have suffered attacks quickly expressed support and solidarity with Barcelona.In Germany, which has been on alert for potential terrorist threats ahead of the general election on Sept. 24, members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet expressed their solidarity with the Spanish people, following the news from Barcelona.“I am deeply shaken by the terrible news from Barcelona,” said Thomas de Maizière, the country’s interior minister. “Once again, terror has shown its grotesque face.”Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said on Twitter that Barcelona and Paris “are cities of sharing, love and tolerance. Such values are stronger than this despicable and cowardly terrorism.” Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said his city “stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.”Reporting was contributed by Rukmini Callimachi, Michael Wolgelenter, Silvia Taulés, Eric Schmitt, Yonette Joseph, Raphael Minder and Mark Walsh.Continue reading the main story […]

Administration Moves to Carry Out Partial Travel Ban

Critics immediately denounced the administration, accusing the White House of violating the Supreme Court’s directive to exempt anyone with a “bona fide” family connection to the United States. Civil rights groups vowed to challenge what they said was a renewed attempt by Mr. Trump to keep Muslims out of the country.Continue reading the main story“It remains clear that President Trump’s purpose is to disparage and condemn Muslims,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, adding that the government’s new ban on entry “does not comport with the Supreme Court’s order, is arbitrary and is not tied to any legitimate government purpose.”One week after taking office, Mr. Trump shut down travel from seven mostly Muslim countries, including Iraq, and blocked entry by all refugees, saying that a “pause” was necessary to evaluate the vetting of visitors from places the government deemed dangerous.Critics assailed that first order as a veiled attempt to make good on Mr. Trump’s campaign promise to impose a “Muslim ban.” After courts blocked it, the president issued a modified order directed at six countries, not including Iraq. That order was blocked as well, with federal appeals courts ruling that it discriminated based on religion, in violation of the First Amendment, and exceeded the president’s statutory authority.The decision Thursday by the administration to revive and aggressively enforce another version of the president’s travel ban is certain to keep the intense debate about America’s borders going into the Supreme Court’s fall term, when the justices are scheduled to decide the legal fate of Mr. Trump’s efforts to restrict entry by particular groups.Interactive GraphicThe Supreme Court Partially Allowed Trump’s Travel Ban. Who Is Still Barred?The court allowed the ban to go ahead but exempted people with “bona fide relationships” in the United States.OPEN Interactive GraphicOfficials said they were determined to “meet the intent of the presidential directive” within the boundaries set by the Supreme Court, which issued an interim opinion when it agreed to consider the issue in its next term. Administration officials said their definition of a “family connection” was based on existing immigration law and directions from the court.Hours before the new guidelines went into effect Thursday evening, officials predicted little of the chaos that engulfed airports in January, when the president issued his original travel ban. This time, officials said, people already booked to travel to the United States would be allowed to enter […]

A Top Christian Official in Indonesia Has Been Given an Unexpectedly Harsh Sentence for ‘Blaspheming Islam’

The outgoing Christian governor of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was found guilty of blasphemy by a court in the Indonesian capital on Tuesday and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. It was a stunning blow to a politician who has won praise for his clean and competent governance. The sentence was heavier than that demanded by the prosecutors, who only recommended a year in jail with two years’ probation, and comes after Ahok’s defeat in a highly charged election that was seen as a victory for hard-line political Islam, and a defeat for plurality and secularism, in the world’s most populous Muslim nation. He was taken to Cipinang detention center in Jakarta immediately after sentencing. “It is unfair,” Rian Ernest, one of his lawyers, tells TIME. Referring to mass rallies that have taken place in the Jakarta since last October — at which tens of thousands of conservative Muslims called for Ahok’s incarceration — Rian says: “The use of mass mobilization to criminalize someone could become a precedent. Next time, who knows which official might be criminalized that way?” The prominent human-rights lawyer Asfinawati slams the ruling, saying: “The court has lost its independence.” The blasphemy case against Ahok, who being of Chinese descent is a double minority in Indonesia, stemmed from a campaign speech in which he invoked a Quranic verse to hit back at Islamists who said Muslims shouldn’t elect a non-Muslim leader. Ahok lost the gubernatorial election last month to rival Anies Baswedan, a Muslim of Arabic descent, whose candidacy was endorsed by hard-line Islamist groups such the Islamic Defenders Front and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). The growth of political Islam in Indonesia’s traditionally secular political arena of Indonesia has been viewed with concern by the authorities. On Monday, the government announced its plan to ban HTI, which advocates an Indonesian caliphate. “The government needs to take legal steps to disband Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia in [the country],” said Chief Security Minister Wiranto on Monday, saying that the group threatened national unity If the the government gets the legal green light then, HTI — which has been around for nearly two decades and could have as many as 3.5 million members — would be the first hard-line Islamist group to be banned since the fall of authoritarian President Suharto in 1998. Meanwhile, the harsh sentence meted out to Ahok will only exacerbate tensions between Indonesia’s secular political establishment and increasingly vocal grassroots Islamists. “The verdict will broaden the implementation of al-Maidah principle — which forbids Muslims from having non-Muslim leaders, according the Islamist interpretation,” Andreas Harsono, the Indonesia researcher of Human Rights Watch, tells TIME. “It will not only be applied toward elected officials but also to public servants and the executives of state-owned companies. The Islamists will obviously also reject Muslim leaders who do not cater their political interests.” […]

Trump’s Second Army Secretary Pick Withdraws

Tennessee State Sen. Mark Green on Friday withdrew his nomination to be President Trump’s secretary of the Army, citing “false and misleading attacks” against him for his often incendiary comments on LGBTQ rights, evolution, and Muslims. Green has come under considerable fire by advocacy groups and political figures, both left and right, for his comments such as claiming that opposing transgender equality is part of his personal efforts to “fight evil.” Green has maintained that any controversy over his remarks has been a “false attack” by liberals attempting to cut him down, and his statement declaring his withdrawal focused on that: “Tragically, my life of public service and my Christian beliefs have been mischaracterized and attacked by a few on the other side of the aisle for political gain,” he wrote Friday. “While these false attacks have no bearing on the needs of the Army or my qualifications to serve, I believe it is critical to give the President the ability to move forward with his vision.” Green is the second Army secretary nominee to back out of consideration; Vincent Viola did the same in February, citing difficulty in separating his business interests. Read more at The Daily Beast. […]

Exclusive: Wheaton College Provost Called Suspended Professor’s Muslim Comments ‘Innocuous’

The Wheaton College provost overseeing an expulsion trial against a tenured professor who said Christians and Muslims worship the same God wrote in a private email last month that her comments were “innocuous” but that they had created a public relations disaster for the Illinois college. “Articles are already being written in a variety of news sources, and the media are pounding on our door asking for comments about our faculty who are endorsing Islam,” wrote Provost Stanton Jones, in a December 11 email obtained by TIME to Wheaton Psychology professor Michael Mangis. “We are being asked to defend why we have faculty openly rejecting with the institution stands for.” The scandal, which has engulfed the evangelical college in Illinois, began a day earlier, when the school’s first-ever tenured black female professor, Larycia Hawkins, wrote a Facebook post declaring solidarity with Muslims following the San Bernardino terrorist attacks. “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” Hawkins wrote on Facebook. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.” Since then the campus has divided, as many fellow professors begin to defend her comments while the administration has begun a proceeding that could lead to her termination for reasons that include her Facebook post. In interviews this week with TIME, several of her fellow faculty spoke out against the administrative proceeding against her. “I have seen no theological argument from the college that would deem her commitments unacceptable,” Gary Burge, professor of New Testament, tells TIME. “[Hers] is a clear, compelling affirmation of what we believe in Wheaton’s Statement of Faith.” Professors and students at Wheaton sign the school’s “Statement of Faith,” a doctrinal statement that draws on historic Christian creeds and summarizes biblical principles of evangelical Christianity. The statement does not define a relationship between evangelical Christianity and Islam, and there is longstanding division within the evangelical community about the variations of belief that should be allowed. In the comment section under Hawkins’ original Facebook post, Mangis, the psychology professor, had written to defend Hawkins’ statement in early December. “If you get any grief at work give me a heads-up because I’ll be leading my spring psychology of religion class in Muslim prayers,” he wrote. Hawkins was not contacted by the administration with concern about her post until Dec. 15. But four days earlier, Provost Jones wrote to Mangis, giving him an opportunity to withdraw and apologize for his Facebook post. “I cannot tell you what a disaster this brief comment from you on Facebook is shaping up to be,” wrote Jones. “Larycia Hawkins also meant something similarly innocuous, but her theological comments are being taken up as an endorsement of Islam and a clear and emphatic statement that Islam and Christianity are approximately the same.” In the emails obtained by TIME, Mangis initially pushed back. “I personally don’t usually give much thought to how someone’s paranoia might lead them to draw inappropriate conclusions from simple statements,” he wrote to Jones, saying he respected what Hawkins was doing. In the same email, he said he understood the college was vulnerable and he wanted to help. Jones offered Mangis language for a suggested clarification statement, which explained that he only wanted students to experiment with different postures of prayer. “I am not a syncretist,” the statement that Jones crafted says. “I do not teach students to pray to Allah or consider Islamic spirituality equivalent to Christian faith.” Meanwhile, a friend told Hawkins that Mangis’ comment was causing questions, and she deleted Mangis’ comment from her Facebook wall. Mangis and Jones closed their emails exchanging “Salaam alaykum”—Arabic for “Peace be upon you”—and Mangis faced no further theological scrutiny. Wheaton administration responded on Saturday to TIME’s questions about why it treated Mangis’ and Hawkins’ Facebook posts differently. “Dr. Jones was similarly concerned about the theological implications of Dr. Hawkins’ December 10 Facebook post regarding Christianity and Islam, despite viewing her intention as presumably innocuous,” Wheaton told TIME in a statement. “Dr. Jones hoped that once the issues regarding the theological content of her post were brought to her attention, Dr. Hawkins would offer a retraction or a satisfactory clarification.” Instead of contacting Hawkins directly, Jones had asked another faculty member to approach Hawkins about her post, and Hawkins wrote a second post on Dec. 13, clarifying her initial words. “Unlike Dr. Mangis’ immediate apology, retraction, and collaboration in preparing a public statement, Dr. Hawkins’ second Facebook post did not adequately clarify the theological issues raised in the first post, and instead created significant concerns about her alignment with the college’s Statement of Faith,” Wheaton tells TIME. On Dec. 15 Jones summoned Hawkins to a meeting, where he presented Hawkins with a two-page document outlining “areas of significant concern” over her theological views and asked her to respond in two days. At the same meeting, he placed Hawkins on paid administrative leave. Hawkins submitted a four-page theological statement on Dec. 17 as requested, and has repeatedly maintained that her comments emerged from her evangelical conviction of solidarity with Muslims. The college requested additional theological explanation. Hawkins says she then declined the college’s proposal to let her teach in the fall but undergo a two-year review of her theology, during which her tenure would be revoked. On January 4, Jones sent Hawkins a notice that the college was beginning the process of terminating her employment, and the college explained that “Dr. Hawkins declined to participate in further dialogue about the theological implications of her public statements and her December 17 response.” The college has not made public the full document outlining all reasons behind its move to fire her, but says on its website that what is “at issue are the theological implications of Dr. Hawkins’ statements and requested explanation.” Hawkins made her theological statement public on Wednesday following a press conference. “When calling on one member to over and above every and above member of the campus community to answer for a Facebook post that was actually committed to living out the love of Christ and the principles of the Statement of Faith, no one is safe,” she added. “What is at stake for me is the integrity of my Christian testimony,” Hawkins tells TIME. “The administration, particularly Provost Stan Jones, insists that my Facebook post is a theological statement rather than an act of human solidarity emanating out of my faith commitment, that strikes me a drawing a line in the evangelical sand, and my body happens to be in the middle of that.” Around the same time, Wheaton administrators responded to five faculty who took flowers and letters of support to a nearby Islamic Center earlier in December. English professor Tiffany Eberle Kriner wrote a letter expressing fury at abuses against Muslims, especially by fundamentalist evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, and expressed a desire to be better friends rooted in “shared love of the one God.” The administration did not contact all faculty who visited, but did reach out to Kriner to request clarification about her comments. “The administration was concerned when her personal letter, which had been printed on college letterhead, appeared on social media,” Wheaton tells TIME in a statement. “Dr. Kriner immediately apologized for using college letterhead for a personal statement, and expressed regret for the theological confusion that could potentially follow from her statement. After discussion with Dr. Jones, she articulated her alignment with the theological standards of the college, and worked with him to finalize a clarification that could be used publicly if needed.” The controversy is perhaps the most explosive for the school since Wheaton faculty engaged theories of evolution in the 1960s. It comes as the school is fighting the Obama administration’s contraception mandate on religious liberty claims, as racial and political demographic shifts change American evangelicalism, and as Muslims face heightened backlash for terrorism in Paris and San Bernardino. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson has compared Hawkins to Rosa Parks. Jones will prosecute Hawkins at a hearing of nine tenured faculty members in the coming weeks. They will then submit a recommendation to Wheaton’s president Philip Ryken, who will submit a recommendation to the Board of Trustees, who will issue a final decision about her future at the college. Now that Hawkins’ theological statement has been made public, faculty at Wheaton are starting to defend her. Some plan to wear their academic regalia in solidarity with her when classes resume on Monday. “Anyone who reads the document where Dr. Hawkins clarified her theological position to the administration can see that it is deeply rooted in the Statement of Faith that all Wheaton College faculty are asked to affirm annually,” says George Kalantzis, professor of theology and director of the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies. The debate centers on what room should be allowed within an evangelical doctrine of God for a range of perspectives. “Evangelicals need to sort out what is theologically essential from what is theologically peripheral,” Burge, the New Testament professor, explains. “Christian colleges like Wheaton write statements of faith to protect what is essential but they also need to discern where faculty are free to express private views. This is the very essence of academic freedom. Dr. Hawkins’ theological commitments place her squarely within the bounds of what is theologically essential at Wheaton College—and she should be free to express her other views where they do not violate those essentials.” Brian Howell, professor of anthropology, notes that as a faith-based institution, Wheaton has long faced specific tensions other schools do not. “I am deeply troubled by issues of process in this case, and there are many questions I know faculty want answered in the coming weeks, but I do not think that this reflects some new pathology at Wheaton,” Howell says. “We are an unusual institution, and I know this will occasionally lead to conflict internal and external. I only hope we can handle it now and in the future with love for all concerned.” The moment is complicated by the broader cultural and political forces at play in the U.S. and in the world. “My fear is that the political extremes we now see in our country, typified and exacerbated perhaps by Donald Trump, have now been baptized and brought into the evangelical world,” Burge says. “This likely influenced the public reactivity to Dr. Hawkins words and actions. My hope is that the Wheaton community will not be influenced by the polarizing political pressures we see everywhere today.” A general attitude of fear and concern has also swept through the faculty, who are wondering now what expressions of their evangelical faith the college will deem acceptable, which cross the line, and what standard the college will use to decide. Their rights as workers, and as evangelical workers, is now part of what Hawkins is fighting for. “It has also been very shocking to me at Wheaton at every turn to have to explain my evangelical chops like I need to, like I was not already thoroughly vetted when I applied there, like I don’t assent to the Statement of Faith every year when I sign my contract,” Hawkins says. “Yes, Wheaton has a right to say only evangelicals can work here, I assent to that, but what they are seemingly saying now is actually you don’t have freedom to say things that other evangelicals say.” Reconciliation between Hawkins and the college is still possible. In fact, some see reason to hope for a unifying solution. “Unwarranted pressure was exerted on everyone involved to respond in ways that would satisfy the partisan interests of outside groups and their respective perceptions of ‘orthodoxy’ or ‘Evangelicalism,’” Kalantzis explains. “However, as an institution rooted in the Christian tradition, Wheaton College and every one of us intimately involved with it as staff, as faculty, as administrators and as board of trustees are deeply committed to the Christian concept of reconciliation, redemption, and peace.” Hawkins original message of showing love to Muslims, especially Muslim women, was prompted by her decision to wear the hijab for the season of Advent leading to the celebration of Christmas, which prompted her Facebook post a month ago. “Through it all we’ve lost what she was trying to do—show solidarity for people that have been despised and rejected,” says Gene Green, Wheaton professor of New Testament. “Jesus got accused of being friends with tax collectors and sinner, he goes to the margins, to people everyone else pushes out, the Samaritan woman, the centurion’s servant. He’s really, really, good. And Larycia was doing a good thing.” Elizabeth Dias is a correspondent for TIME covering religion and politics. She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and Wheaton College, Ill, where she studied theology. […]

Sikhs Feel Vulnerable Amid Anti-Muslim Backlash

(CHICAGO) — Pardeep Kaleka spent several days after 9/11 at his father’s South Milwaukee gas station, fearing that his family would be targeted by people who assumed they were Muslim. No, Kaleka explained on behalf of his father, who wore a turban and beard and spoke only in broken English, the family was Sikh, a southeast Asian religion based on equality and unrelated to Islam. But amid a new wave of anti-Islamic sentiment since the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Kaleka is vowing to take an entirely different approach. “For us it does not matter who they’re targeting,” said Kaleka, a former Milwaukee police officer and teacher whose father was one of six people killed in 2012 when a white supremacist opened fire at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. “This time we cannot differentiate ourselves; when hate rhetoric is being spewed we cannot be on the sidelines.” Across the U.S., Sikhs and Muslims are banding together to defend their respective religions. Someone bent on harming Muslims wouldn’t understand — or care — about the distinction between the two faiths, they say, and both also deserve to live in peace. So they plan educational sessions and rallies. They successfully pushed the FBI to track hate crimes against Sikhs. They speak to lawmakers and support each other’s legal action, including a lawsuit filed over a New York City police surveillance program targeting New Jersey Muslims. “We are in this fight together,” said Gurjot Kaur, a senior staff attorney at The Sikh Coalition, founded the night of Sept. 11. Sikhism, a monotheistic faith, was founded more than 500 years ago in Southeast Asia and has roughly 27 million followers worldwide, most of them in India. There are more than 500,000 Sikhs in the U.S. Male followers often cover their heads with turbans — which are considered sacred — and refrain from shaving their beards. Reports of bullying, harassment and vandalism against Sikhs have risen in recent weeks. Last week, a Sikh temple in Orange County, California, was vandalized, as was a truck in the parking lot by someone who misspelled the word “Islam” and made an obscene reference to ISIS. A Sikh woman said she recently was forced to show her breast pump before taking her seat on an airplane in Minneapolis because another passenger thought she might be a terrorist. Several Sikh football fans said they initially were not allowed into Qualcomm Stadium to watch the San Diego Chargers game against the Denver Broncos last Sunday because several of them were wearing turbans. Schoolchildren say they’ve been bullied. For most Sikhs, much of the backlash has been frequent stares or comments and occasional online insults. Former NCAA basketball player Darsh Singh said he has heard insults throughout his life, including recently when someone recently yelled “Osama!” at him as he was crossing a street in Phoenix. Then last week, a photo making the rounds on Facebook showed the former Trinity University basketball player — the first turbaned Sikh to play in the NCAA — with the caption: “Nobody wants to guard Muhammad, he’s too explosive.” A friend came to his defense with a lengthy post —saying, “do the world a favor and educate yourself” — which got tens of thousands of likes. “A lot of people act out of fear or ignorance,” said Singh. “I don’t know who started it, but whoever they are, I forgive them.” Rajinder Singh Mago, community outreach director at the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago, said it’s more difficult for Sikh schoolchildren who sometimes are bullied. “Ninety-nine percent of Americans are good … then that one person who just came out of a tavern after a few beers, you don’t know what he’s thinking at that point,” Mago said. Madihha Ahussain, a staff attorney at the national group Muslim Advocates, said people who are misinformed about both religions not only are “blaming entire faith communities, now they’re blaming multiple groups for the acts of a couple individuals.” As a result, some Sikhs have encountered violence. A Chicago-area teenager was charged with a hate crime after a September road rage incident in which he called 53-year-old Sikh taxi driver Inderjit Mukker “Bin Laden” and repeatedly hit him in the face, breaking his cheekbone. In 2013, a Green Bay, Wisconsin, man was charged with a hate crime for allegedly setting fire to a convenience store owned by a Sikh-American. That was less than a year after white supremacist Wade Michael Page killed six people and wounded four others at the Oak Creek temple. Kaleka said his father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was the last person killed inside the temple, after Page broke into an office where the elder Kaleka was calling 911. Kaleka said the Muslim community reached out to Sikhs in the aftermath, and members of both faiths — along with Christians, Jews and others — are continuing to work together to combat inflammatory rhetoric. Last weekend, he spoke at a Muslim women’s coalition. “I think this is just another test and, unfortunately, I think as bad as the comments are from some politicians, it does surface some underlying issues we haven’t addressed,” in this country, he said. […]

Islamic Leaders Issue Bold Call for Rapid Phase Out of Fossil Fuels

Islamic Leaders Issue Bold Call for Rapid Phase Out of Fossil Fuels

Posted by on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Religious scholars, experts, and teachers from around the world unite to call for climate action.


Islamic leaders have issued a clarion call to 1.6 billion Muslims around the world to work towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a 100 percent renewable energy strategy.

The grand muftis of Lebanon and Uganda endorsed the Islamic declaration on climate change, along with prominent Islamic scholars and teachers from 20 countries, at a symposium in Istanbul.

Their collective statement makes several detailed political demands likely to increase pressure on Gulf states ahead of the Paris climate summit in December.

“We particularly call on the well-off nations and oil-producing states to lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century,” it says.

Clear emissions reductions targets and monitoring systems should be agreed in Paris, the statement says, along with “generous financial and technical support” for poorer countries to help wean them off fossil fuels.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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