Archive for the ‘Christianity’ category

The Palestinian grinch that stole Christmas once again

December 25, 2017

The Palestinian grinch that stole Christmas once again | Anne’s Opinions, 24th December 2017

The Palestinian Authority has a nasty habit of taking out its rage against Israel on its Christian citizens. They have done it before and this year the Palestinian grinch is stealing Christmas once again, as Lahav Harkov explains:

It came as no surprise that the Palestinian leadership responded angrily to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the obvious reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

But beyond the usual “day of rage,” rockets shot at Israeli preschools and firebombs thrown at passing Israeli civilians’ cars, the Palestinian Authority decided to make like the Grinch and steal Christmas, only proving that Trump was right not to fold to the whims of the side that has a pattern of violating religious freedoms, when it comes to a city holy to three religions.

Bethlehem, thought to be Jesus’ birthplace, and Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital, turned off their Christmas lights within an hour of Trump’s announcement.

Business is slow in Bethlehem

In Nazareth, the town where Jesus is thought to have grown up, now the largest Arab city in Israel, the Muslim mayor scaled back Christmas celebrations in identification with the Palestinians.

And ahead of US Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to Jerusalem this week, now postponed, Adeeb Joudeh, the Muslim man whose family has held the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for generations, announced that he wouldn’t let Pence, a devout Evangelical Christian, enter.

This tactic of protesting by denying Christians their Christmas celebrations reaffirms that Trump did the right thing in declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital, and for his administration to say last Friday that it envisions the Western Wall within Israeli Jerusalem in a final-status deal.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claims that he is a defender of Christian Arabs in areas under his control. He repeatedly said that Jerusalem is a Muslim and Christian – but not Jewish – holy city in his speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation last week.

But the Palestinians’ track record, even before putting a damper on Christmas this year, should leave Christians skeptical.

In 1950, the Christian population of the Bethlehem area was 86%, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Today, it’s only 12%, and Christians are only 2% of the Palestinian population, even though they were more than twice that a generation ago. The situation in Gaza, controlled by the terrorist group Hamas, is even worse. When Hamas took control in 2006, there were 6,000 Christians, and as of a year ago, there were 1,100. In Israel, the Christian population has stayed mostly stable at around 2%, growing by about 5,000 in the past 20 years.

Christians have been fleeing Palestinian-controlled territories, and it’s easy to understand why, in light of their systemic abuse. In 2002, terrorists affiliated with Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat raided and trashed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, holding monks hostage in the church, leading to a standoff with the Israeli Army. One of the Palestinian leaders of the raid later said they chose the church as a combat base intentionally in order to put make Israel look bad.

In Gaza, Palestinian Christians have been murdered for their faith, including Rami Ayad, a leader of the Gaza Baptist Church and the manager of the area’s only Christian bookstore. The church has been commandeered by Hamas for combat, because it’s one of the tallest buildings in Gaza City.

After all that, the Palestinian leadership still claims that they are the best choice to control Christian holy sites.

Since Israel liberated the Old City in 1967, people of all religions are free to visit and worship in Jerusalem’s holy sites. This follows the verse in Isaiah used in Jewish prayers that says God’s “House,” meaning the Temple, “will be called a House of prayer for all nations.”

In fact the only religious discrimination in Jerusalem is that faced by the Jews!

The exception is the Temple Mount, which, while under Israeli sovereignty, is administered by an Islamic Trust, as a condition of Israel and Jordan’s peace treaty. Non-Muslims are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount, even though the site is holy for all three major monotheistic religions. The rule is strictly enforced, and people have been thrown out for violating it.

The solution is obvious – obvious to anyone except the UN and its warped institutions:

No matter what the city will eventually look like, all of the above is overwhelming evidence that Israel is the right choice to control the heart of Jerusalem – the Old City – because only Israel is willing to protect the religious freedom of Jews, Christians and Muslims who call it holy.

RJ Streets, blogging at Israellycool, provides a poignant look at Bethlehem under the diktats of Mahmoud Abbas and his decision to cancel Christmas in protest at Trump, comparing it to last year’s celebrations:

Business was reported slow last year. It must be even slower so far this year, with calls for protests before Christmas in Bethlehem, using Jerusalem as the latest excuse.

And listen to the voice of Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli Christian, who tells us the truth about the treatment of Christians in Israel and under the Palestinian Authority:

Last minute update: The Nazareth festivities have been reinstated due to public pressure:

Let’s just keep in mind the sequence of events:

The Muslim Palestinians are angry at the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, i.e. the Jewish capital. So in revenge, they cancel Christmas.

They don’t cancel Ramadan or Eid. They don’t cancel Chanukah. They cancel Christmas. Because Jews. Or because America. Or because they are bigoted supremacist supercessionists. Take your pick. Any one of the above, or all, are correct.

 

EXCLUSIVE: First Liberty Institute Seeks Justice for Air Force Colonel Targeted for His Faith

March 29, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: First Liberty Institute Seeks Justice for Air Force Colonel Targeted for His Faith, Breitbart, Penny Starr, March 29, 2017

(Thought experiment: The victim here was a Christian who apparently held, but did not express, what many see as traditional Christian views on homosexuality. See, e.g., the Roman Catholic Church. What if the victim were instead an adherent to the Islamic religion, held and expressed Islamist views on homosexuality and the proper way of dealing with homosexuals. Would he have been dealt with in similar fashion? — DM

First Liberty Institute, a national law firm committed to protecting religious liberty, is taking up the case of Air Force Col. Michael Madrid. He has been targeted by his commanding officer for reprimand involving a closed investigation that cleared the colonel of false claims by a court-marshaled soldier that Madrid had made disparaging remarks about his homosexuality.

Two years after the case was closed and Madrid had continued his exemplary military career, including the promotion to colonel, he was placed under a new commander, Maj. Gen. John E. McCoy. McCoy accessed the report and without any new evidence decided that Madrid was guilty and issued a letter of reprimand —  crippling, if not ending, his chance for future promotions.

On Wednesday, the institute sent a demand letter to the U.S. Air Force stating that Madrid had been denied due process and that the Letter of Admonishment should be rescinded. If not, the letter said the institute is prepared to take legal action.

“Col. Madrid submitted to an extensive military investigation and the Air Force cleared him,” Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for the First Liberty, said. “Major General McCoy has no right to ignore the rule of law and arbitrarily decide, more than two years later and without any new evidence, that he can punish Col. Madrid.”

Berry said that McCoy never provided reasons for sending the letter, but that this is not the first case of what seems like institutional hostility toward military personnel who openly express their religious beliefs.

“At First Liberty Institute, we’ve seen multiple cases in which military officials have refused to tolerate service members’ traditional religious beliefs,” Berry said. “That shouldn’t happen to anyone.”

“Col. Madrid doesn’t hide the fact that he is a devout Christian,” Berry said. “We are concerned that Major Gen. McCoy judged and punished Madrid – a decorated Air Force officer – because he became aware of Col. Madrid’s traditional religious views. If so, that not only harms the military, but it is illegal.”

“I feel like I’ve been singled out because of my faith,” Madrid told Breitbart News. “Now I’m afraid if I say anything about even being a Christian, I’ll step on a landmine that could blow up my career.

“I hate feeling like I have to constantly look over my shoulder to see if someone is coming after me because of what I believe,” Madrid said. “We have many good service members who are people of faith and they shouldn’t have to live in fear of being punished for what they believe.

“I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else,” Madrid said. “I just want to resolve this situation and have the letter removed from my record so I can continue to serve our nation with honor.”

The Background of the Case:

In August 2012, Madrid was transferred to Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. Soon after, a young Airman arrived on base who was struggling with his medical career. Col. Madrid worked to support and mentor the young man.

In 2013, the Airman was charged with multiple criminal offenses, including illegally bringing a loaded weapon onto the Air Force base, prescribing narcotics illegally, and performing duties while under the influence of narcotics. He was soon court-martialed and found guilty of the charges.

Despite mentoring the young Airman, Madrid supported the court-martial because the Airman committed such serious crimes. During his court-martial, the Airman, who is gay, filed a complaint alleging that Madrid had made derogatory comments about homosexuality.

Madrid, whose has never hidden his traditional Christian beliefs about marriage as the union of one man and one woman, denied the accusations, but submitted to a thorough Air Force investigation.

Based on records, interviews, and fact-finding, the Air Force found the allegations “unsubstantiated” and closed the investigation in 2014.

“Religious intolerance and discrimination against anyone in the military is inexcusable,” Berry said. “We ask the Air Force to take immediate action to hold Major General McCoy accountable and to provide justice and due process for Col. Madrid.”

France’s Fatal Attraction to Islam

March 4, 2017

France’s Fatal Attraction to Islam, Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, March 4, 2017

Instead of fighting to save what is savable, French opinion-makers are already writing the terms of surrender.

By hybridizing cultures and rejecting Christianity, France will soon end up not even teaching also Arabic, but only Arabic, and marking Ramadan instead of Easter.

Instead of wasting their time trying to organize an “Islam of France”, French political leaders, opinion makers and think tanks should look for ways to counter the creeping Islamization of their country. Otherwise, we may soon be seeing not only a “Grand Imam de France”, but also lashes and stonings on the Champs Élysées.

Two years ago, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, suggested converting empty churches into mosques, to accommodate the growing Muslim community in abandoned Christian sites. Now, many people in France seem to have taken the idea so seriously that a report released by the foundation Terra Nova, France’s main think tank that provides ideas to the governing Socialist Party, suggests that in order to integrate Muslims better, French authorities should replace the two Catholic holidays — Easter Monday and Pentecost — with Islamic holidays. To be ecumenical, they also included a Jewish holiday.

Written by Alain Christnacht and Marc-Olivier Padis, the study, “The Emancipation of Islam of France,” states: “In order to treat all the denominations equally, it should include two important new holidays, Yom Kippur and Eid el Kebir, with the removal of two Mondays that do not correspond to particular solemnity”.

Thus, Easter and Pentecost can be sacrificed to keep the ever-elusive multicultural “peace”.

Terra Nova’s proposal was rejected by the Episcopal Conference of France, but endorsed by the Union of Islamic Organizations of France, close to the Muslim Brotherhood, which would also like to include the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha in the calendar. The idea of replacing the Christian holidays was also sponsored by the Observatory of Secularism, an organ created by President François Hollande to coordinate secularist policies. The Observatory of Secularism also proposed eliminating some Christian holidays to make way for the Islamic, Jewish and secular holidays. “France must replace two Christian holidays to make way for the Yom Kippur and Eid,” said Dounia Bouzar, a member of the Observatory.

1800In his recent book, Will the Church Bells Ring Tomorrow?, Philippe de Villiers notes the disappearance of churches in France, and their replacement by mosques. Pictured above: On August 3, 2016, French riot police dragged a priest and his congregation from the church of St Rita in Paris, prior to its scheduled demolition. Front National leader Marine Le Pen said in fury: “And what if they built parking lots in the place of Salafist mosques, and not of our churches?” (Image source: RT video screenshot)

“France is no longer a Catholic country”, wrote Frederic Lenoir, editor-in-chief of Le Monde des Religions. The newspaper Le Figaro wondered if Islam can already be considered “France’s prime religion.” Instead of fighting to save what is savable, French opinion-makers are already writing the terms of surrender. That is the meaning of Terra Nova’s proposal.

A similar shocking idea came from another think tank, the Montaigne Institute, which provides ideas to another presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron. In its report, written by Hakim El Karoui, the Montaigne Institute proposed the creation of a “Grand Imam of France“, no less, as if Paris and Cairo would have the same historic roots. Macron recently apologized for French colonialism, feeding a defeatist sense of guilt that fuels Islamic extremists in their demands.

The Montaigne Institute has also suggested teaching Arabic in public schools. This idea was also sponsored by Jack Lang, president of the Institute of the Arab world, who stated, “the Arab world is part of us”. By hybridizing cultures and rejecting Christianity, France will soon end up not even teaching also Arabic, but only Arabic, and Ramadan instead of Easter.

If the goal is accommodating Muslims in the French Republic instead of assimilating them, why not ban pork in the schools, avoid sensitive subjects such as the Crusades and the Holocaust, separate men and women in swimming pools, call cartoonists to “responsibility,” and allow Islamic veils in the public administration? In fact, all these things are taking place in France today. And the result is not “emancipation,” but religious segregation.

It is in this Apartheid that Islamic extremists grow and permeate hearts and minds. France’s director-general of intelligence, Patrick Calvar, has been clear: “The confrontation is inevitable,” he said. There are an estimated 15,000 Salafists among France’s seven million Muslims, “whose radical-fundamentalist creed dominates many of the predominantly Muslim housing projects at the edges of cities such as Paris, Nice or Lyon. Their preachers call for a civil war, with all Muslims tasked to wipe out the infidels down the street”.

The Socialist front-runner for the Presidential elections, Benoit Hamon, to whom the Terra Nova’s report was directed, even justified the disappearance of French women from the cafés in Muslim-majority areas: “Historically, in the workers’ cafes, there were no women,” he said.

Instead of wasting their time trying to organize an “Islam of France”, French political leaders, opinion-makers and think tanks should look for ways to counter the creeping Islamization of their country. Otherwise we may soon be seeing not only a “Grand Imam de France”, but also lashes and stonings on the Champs Élysées.

Sisi’s church donation stirs religious controversy

January 27, 2017

Sisi’s church donation stirs religious controversy, Al-Monitor

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends a meeting with Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, with some members of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt July 28, 2016 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency. The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTSK39U

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attends a meeting with Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church, with some members of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt July 28, 2016 in this handout picture courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency.

“In addition to making a donation for the building of a church, [Sisi] also donated his money to establish a mosque, thus putting both communities [Christian and Muslim] on the same pedestal.”

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CAIRO — Egypt’s Coptic Christians have become used to visits by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. On Jan. 6, for the third year in a row, Sisi celebrated Coptic Christmas at the Abbasiya Cathedral in Cairo, extending Christmas wishes to the country’s Copts and Tawadros II, the pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of St. Mark.

This year, the celebration was different. The cathedral where Sisi addressed the congregation and delivered Christmas wishes stands just meters from St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church, where an explosion during a service on Dec. 11 claimed the lives of 27 people and wounded 48, mostly women and children.

Sisi responded to the attack not just by visiting the church, but by announcing a 100,000 Egyptian pound (roughly $5,200) personal donation toward building a church and mosque in the new administrative capital of New Cairo.

Hamdi Rizq, the host of the show “Al-Nazra” (“The View”) on satellite TV channel Sada al-Balad, reacted by announcing during his show Jan. 6 that donations were being collected for the building of a mosque and a church in the new capital.

Amina Naseer, a professor of religion at Al-Azhar University and a member of parliament, who also serves on the parliamentary education committee, said in a Jan. 7 phone call on “Al-Nazra” that she had also donated 100,000 pounds to be split equally between the mosque and the church.

During the same show, other donors came forward: Farag Amer, the chair of the parliamentary committee for youth and sport; member of parliament Mustafa Bakry; and businessman Mohammed Abul-Enein, the owner of the Sada al-Balad network.

“The president’s call for donations for a mosque and a church should be an example to all,” Alaa Wali, head of the parliament’s housing committee, told Al-Monitor. “I suggested setting up a fund to receive donations for places of worship in general, including for renovating churches damaged because of terrorist attacks, but the priority will be a mosque and a church in the administrative capital so they can be as beautiful as possible.”

Naseer told Al-Monitor she had urged all members of parliament to donate to the fund. “Those donations are for all Egyptians, not just for the Copts,” she said. “It is true that they will go toward building a church, but that is a reaction by all Egyptians against everyone who tries to impose a foreign mandate on us, as the US Congress tried to do.”

Naseer was referring to a bill debated in Congress on Dec. 28 that would require Egypt to report annually to the US State Department on its work to restore churches vandalized by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was toppled from power in July 2013. Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeed rejected in a press statement issued on the same day the bill and the debate, calling it flagrant intervention in Egypt’s affairs.

While Sisi’s donation was welcomed by some, the suggestion that Egyptians should donate to the fund was slammed by his opponents. Lawyer Tarek Elawady wrote on Facebook Jan. 6: “Sir, Egypt does not need mosques and churches; it needs schools, factories and workplaces.”

Magda Ghonem, a professor of economics and rural development at Ain Shams University in Cairo, tweeted on Jan. 7: “We have a surplus of places of worship, no smaller than the surplus in outbidding and hypocrisy. What about building the biggest home for street children, or the biggest university, or the biggest training center?”

In a lengthy post on Facebook Jan. 7, Cairo University political science professor Hazem Hosny said that the state may not have allocated the necessary funds for a church or a mosque, rather intending to rely on donations made by the citizens. “The president made the first donation, but the whole thing is an attempt to get Egyptians to pay for the new capital under the pretext of building a mosque or a church,” Hosny wrote.

Political activist Mamdouh Hamza satirized Sisi’s donation, tweeting Jan. 7: “Donate for the building of a mosque or a church, because the faithful are lining up outside thousands of mosques and churches; there’s a critical shortage of places for prayer.”

While some critics played down the importance of building mosques and churches at the present time, other bloggers and anonymous activists condemned the idea of donating for church building on religious grounds, saying it violates Sharia.

“The Christian faith is in opposition with Sharia and Islamic doctrine on many issues,” a Salafist scholar who asked not to be named told Al-Monitor. “It is haram for Muslims to donate to the building of any institution that will be a base for discussion and promotion of anything that contradicts Sharia and Islamic doctrine.”

For his part, Abdel Fattah Idriss, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, told Al-Monitor, “There is no jurisprudence proof or any sunna in the holy Quran that prohibits a head of state from donating funds for the building of a church or any other house of worship for the monotheistic religions. Islamic Sharia had approved of this as per Prophet Muhammad who gave the right for Jews of Medina to build their temples.”

Idriss said, “The donation made by a head of state is widely welcomed, as he is considered the [protector] of all communities residing in Egypt and has the complete authority to build houses of worship. Such donations strengthen people’s patriotism and make them feel part of the nation, qualities that Islam has always sought to instill.”

He added, “In addition to making a donation for the building of a church, [Sisi] also donated his money to establish a mosque, thus putting both communities [Christian and Muslim] on the same pedestal.”

A similar controversy broke out in 2009 regarding Sharia rulings on Muslim donations for the building of churches. The sheikh of Al-Azhar at the time, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, met a delegation from the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, headed by Naguib Gibrael, an adviser to the Orthodox Church. The media reported he had ruled that Muslims donating for church building was permitted by Islamic law. His office denied the reports after a wave of opposition from scholars at Al-Azhar.

Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa, a government body that advises on Islamic religious affairs, ruled on Jan. 7, 2016, “Christians in Egypt may, according to Islamic law, build churches if they need that for their worship, and Islam demands they be allowed to remain, according to the laws laid down by the Egyptian state. There is nothing in any reliable text on Islamic law to prohibit that.”

Sisi’s attempt to rein in the anger of the Copts after the bombing attack of St. Peter and St. Paul Coptic Orthodox Church thus prompted a range of criticism. But it appears that the opposition comes from a pre-existing state of antagonism between him and his critics who bemoan the lack of social, economic and educational progress in Egypt.

Islamism Rises from Europe’s Secularism

July 24, 2016

Islamism Rises from Europe’s Secularism, Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, July 24, 2016

♦ In France, the Socialist government imposed a “secularism charter” in every school, banning Christianity from the educational system. Municipalities have already changed the enrollment form for schoolchildren by eliminating the words “father” and “mother”, replacing them with “legal manager 1” and “legal manager 2”. It is George Orwell’s “Newspeak”.

♦ After two major terror attacks in 2015, France, instead of promoting a cultural “jihad” based on Western values, responded to Islamic fundamentalism with a ridiculous “Day of Secularism” to be celebrated every 9th of December.

♦ This narrow secularism has also prevented France from openly supporting Eastern Christians under Islamist oppression.

♦ The empty 13th century Oude Kerk church in Amsterdam is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is “Sexyland”, offering “Live F*ck Shows”, a coffee shop for drugs and an “Erotic Supermarket” for dildos. For seven euros one can also visit the church.

On October 2000, in the sunny French city of Nice, the 105-member European Convention drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Drawn up by the committee of former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the document only referred to the “cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe”. The European Parliament had rejected a proposal from Christian Democrat MEPs and Pope John Paul II, to include in the text Europe’s “Judaeo-Christian roots”.

In the 75,000-word Charter there is not a single mention of Christianity. Since then, a wind of aggressive secularism has pervaded all EU policies. The European Court of Human Rights, for example, asked to remove crucifixes from classrooms: they were allegedly a threat to democracy.

The city of Nice — where exactly sixteen years ago Europe’s rulers decided to eliminate the Judeo-Christian roots from the (never approved) EU Constitution — has just witnessed the bloody manifestation of another religion: radical Islam. “Nature abhors a vacuum”: This is the truth to which our élites do not want to listen; Islamism rises from what William McGurn, George W. Bush’s speechwriter, called “Europe’s feckless secularism“.

You can see it not only in Europe’s churches, three-quarters empty, and the boom of Europeans converting to Islam, but also from what is happening in Europe’s schools. The trends do not support Viktor Orbán‘s vision for a Christian Europe.

A few days ago, Belgium, which was recently targeted in terror attacks, decided that religion classes in French-speaking primary and secondary schools will be cut in half starting in October 2016, and replaced with an hour of “citizenship classes“: lessons in secularism. In Brussels, half the children in public schools already choose to take classes in Islam.

In France, the Socialist government imposed a “secularism charter” in every school, banning Christianity from the educational system. That charter is the manifesto of the “révolution douce” (“soft revolution”), France’s extreme secularism. It is an attempt to eliminate any claim of identity. A Jewish yarmulke, a Christian cross and an Islamic veil are treated the same way. This secularism is what has been rightly defined “the Left’s blind spot with Islam“.

It is a secularism that has also gone mad. The Yves Codou elementary school in the village of La Môle, for example, celebrated “Parents’ Day” instead of Mother’s Day, in order not to upset gay couples. Municipalities have already changed the enrollment form for schoolchildren by eliminating the words “father” and “mother”, replacing them with “legal manager 1” and “legal manager 2”. It is George Orwell’s “Newspeak”.

After two major terror attacks in 2015, France, instead of promoting a cultural “jihad” based on Western values, responded to Islamic fundamentalism with a ridiculous “Day of Secularism” to be celebrated every 9th of December.

It is not that this secularism “exacerbated” cultural tensions, as many liberals say. It is that this secularism severed French culture from the very ideals that created the West. Severing it made this culture blind to the incompatibility of Islamism with secular-minded values. A French teacher,Isabelle Rey, after the massacre at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, wrote that

“many of our students do not share our dismay at the events. We can pretend to have a consensus, but it is a fact that a significant portion of our population believes that the journalists deserved their fate or that the Kouachi brothers [the murderers] died as heroes”.

This narrow secularism has also prevented France from openly supporting Eastern Christians under Islamist oppression. The music group “The Priests” had planned to advertise an upcoming concert in Paris with a banner on a poster that said proceeds would go towards the cause of Christians persecuted in Iraq and Syria — but the company operating the Paris subway system initially banned the ad, saying it considered the banner as a violation of secularism.

Sweden, one of the European countries more infiltrated by radical Islam, is listed as “the least religious” nation in the West. According to Statistics Sweden, just 5% of Swedes are regular churchgoers, and one in three couples that get married chooses a civil ceremony. How did Sweden get there? Many years ago, the Swedish government banned any religious activities in schools except for those directly related to religion classes.

Not only has secularism no answers for terrorism; it also leaves Europeans unsure about what is worth fighting, killing, and dying for. If you believe, as the secularists do, that our values are mere accidents of history and that the highest good is comfort, then you will care nothing for the future of civilization.

The symbol of this Euro-Secularism is the Oude Kerk, dating from the 13th century, and one of the most famous churches in Amsterdam. The empty church is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is “Sexyland”, offering “Live F*ck Shows”, a coffee shop for drugs and an “Erotic Supermarket” for dildos. For seven euros one can also visit the church.

1707The symbol of Euro-Secularism is the 13th century Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. The empty church is now used for exhibitions and can be rented for gala dinners. In front of it there is “Sexyland”, offering “Live F*ck Shows”, a coffee shop for drugs and an “Erotic Supermarket” for dildos. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Welcome to Amsterdam, where the most practised religion is Islam.

The Imam Celebrated by the Church of Sweden: “The Jews are Behind the Islamic State!”

June 29, 2016

The Imam Celebrated by the Church of Sweden: “The Jews are Behind the Islamic State!” Gatestone InstituteIngrid Carlqvist, June 29, 2016

♦ Priests are afraid to talk about Jesus during mass. — Eva Hamberg, priest and professor, who in protest resigned from the priesthood and left the Church.

♦ The Church of Sweden may be headed towards “Chrislam” — a merging of Christianity and Islam. Swedish priests, noting the religious fervor among the Muslims now living in Sweden, enthusiastically take part in various interfaith projects

♦ “There are reliable sources from Egypt, showing that the Saudi royal family is really a Jewish family that came from Iraq to the Arabian Peninsula sometime in the 1700s. They built an army with the aid of British officers fighting the Ottoman sultanate.” — Imam Awad Olwan, with whom a priest, Henrik Larsson, is cooperating in an interfaith project.

♦ “The involvement that the Church of Sweden has shown for the vulnerability of Christian Palestinians, has been replaced with indifference to the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Syria and Iraq. In these countries, it is mostly Muslims who commit the atrocities, which is evidently enough to make the Church of Sweden concentrate on climate change and environmental issues instead.” — Eli Göndör, scholar of religion.

The Church of Sweden has departed from being a strong and stern state church. In the past, Swedes were born into it and, until 1951, no one was allowed to leave the church. These days, however, it is an institution that has very little to do with Christianity or Jesus. Sweden now, according to the World Values Survey, is one of the world’s most secular countries; every year a large number of Swedes leave the church.

It used to be that only atheists left the church; now it is the devout Christians that leave — in protest against the church’s increasingly questionable relationship to the Christian faith.

When, for example, the current Archbishop, Antje Jackelén, just before being appointed, participated in a question-and-answer session in the fall of 2013, and one of the questions was: “Does Jesus convey a more truthful image of God than Muhammad does?” surprisingly, the would-be archbishop did not immediately say yes, but instead involved herself in a long monologue about there being many ways to God. Evidently, this upset a lot of parishioners. A high-profile priest and professor, Eva Hamberg, resigned from the priesthood in protest and left the Church of Sweden.

“This made me leave faster,” she told the Christian newspaper, Dagen. “If the future Archbishop cannot stand by the Apostles’ Creed, but rather, rationalizes it, then secularization has gone too far.”

Hamberg, who has conducted research on the secularization process, said that in Sweden, secularization has escalated ever faster — even within the Church of Sweden. As an example, Hamberg said that Antje Jackelén does not believe in Immaculate Conception, but says it is a metaphor. Hamberg also said that there is a lack of reverence before the Triune God, and that the priests are afraid to talk about Jesus during mass.

“There is also a clear lack of tolerance within the Church of Sweden. The candidates [for the position of archbishop] were all very keen to talk about dialogue, and that sounds great, but it is all just empty phrases. The church leaders, in fact, persecute dissidents. If you do not agree with the ordination of women, you will not get ordained. The ceiling is incredibly low.”

When Antje Jackelén won the election and became Sweden’s first female Archbishop, it was time for the next shock. As her motto, she chose “God is Greater” — “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic. Jackelén referred to 1 John 3:19-21, which says:

“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

However, few believe the choice of motto is anything other than an open flirt with the Muslims of Sweden. In Islam, “Allahu Akbar” are the first words heard in every call to prayer, from every minaret around the world, and it is the cry we hear time and again in connection with Islamist suicide bombings, decapitations of non-Muslims, and terrorist attacks.

1448The King, Queen and Crown Princess of Sweden attend the archiepiscopal ordination of Bishop Antje Jackelén at Uppsala Cathedral, June 15, 2014. (Image source: Church of Sweden)

Archbishop Jackelén’s choice of a motto was not an exception; merely the most visible sign that the Church of Sweden may be headed towards “Chrislam” — a merging of Christianity and Islam. Swedish priests, noting the religious fervor among the Muslims now living in Sweden, enthusiastically take part in various interreligious projects. Last year, Stockholm’s Bishop, Eva Brunne, suggested removing the cross from the Seamen’s Church, enabling Muslims to pray there.

Gatestone Institute called her closest associate, Diocesan Priest Bo Larsson, to ask about this proposal.

Gatestone: Can the Christians in Muslim countries expect the same service in mosques?

Bo Larsson: “No, I don’t think so. To Muslims, the buildings have such a holy dignity.”

Gatestone: But not to Swedes?

Bo Larsson: “Apparently not. But there are already many mosques in Sweden.”

Gatestone: So why the need to pray in the Seamen’s Church?

Bo Larsson: “You know, it was just a suggestion. Many people on social media got it into their heads that this means Brunne is no longer a Christian, but that is not true of course.”

Gatestone: So we Christians should show Muslims respect, even though they do not respect us?

Bo Larsson: “I think so. That is my opinion. I have been a priest for 40 years. We are still the largest church in Sweden, and so we must provide opportunities for Muslims and Jews.”

Gatestone: “Are you sayingIf you cannot beat them, join them?'”

Bo Larsson “That is one way to look at it.”

Gatestone: The Church of Sweden is known for its positive attitude towards homosexuals. Your own bishop, Eva Brunne, is openly gay. Yet you support Islam, which persecutes homosexuals?

Bo Larsson: “That is a difficult question to answer. But sure, it is terrible that gay people do not have any rights in Muslim countries and cannot live openly. Terrible.”

Gatestone: And you still want to support this religion?

Bo Larsson: “There are Christians who are opposed to homosexuality, too, you know.”

Gatestone: Who want to hang gays?

Bo Larsson: “No, maybe not. But I think you’re oversimplifying. What we want in Sweden is a dialogue with the Muslim people.”

Gatestone: Have you discussed homosexuality with Muslims?

Bo Larsson: “No.”

Gatestone: Do you think you can change Islam in Sweden into a tolerant, open-minded religion?

Bo Larsson: “There are fundamentalist Christians in the United States who do not accept homosexuals.”

Gatestone: But do you think there is a difference between not accepting and wanting to kill?

Bo Larsson: “I have never heard a Muslim say he wants to kill homosexuals.”

“Chrislam” has gone farthest in the immigrant-heavy Stockholm suburb of Fisksätra, in which 8,000 people, speaking 100 different languages live. There, the Church of Sweden is now raising money to build a mosque — a project named “House of God” — next to the existing church. This is how the project is described on its official website:

“The House of God represents a desire for peace, and real work in the spirit of peace. We are building a mosque adjacent to the existing church in Fisksätra. Between the church and the mosque, a glass enclosed, joint indoor square will be built. The House of God is unique, and an example of the cooperation and religious dialogue that is so important in our time. Come join our work!”

Gatestone called Henrik Larsson, a priest and one of the founders of the House of God project. He assured us that Islam is peaceful and democratic, but then gave some other answers indicating that he may not be so enthralled by this religion after all.

“We Christians have also done some horrible things over the centuries,” he said. ” We have burned witches, we have colonized other countries, and sided with different armies throughout our history. I think all religions can be used in a similar way.”

Gatestone: Are you saying that we live in 2016, and that they are still stuck in the 1400s?

H. Larsson: “If that. They are striving towards creating a society like the one that existed right after the Prophet Muhammad’s death, and that means we are talking 600s, 700s and 800s. That is their ideal. But there is also an Islam searching for new ways, a European Islam, those who want to try to be Muslims within the democratic and secular society.”

Gatestone: Many Muslims in Sweden seem not to want to adapt to Swedish culture. Look at all the rapes and sexual assaults at public swimming pools.

H. Larsson: “Yes, it is not easy for Afghan boys who have grown up in a society where women have to throw a sheet over themselves before leaving the house; of course they are marinated in an attitude towards women miles away from ours. Of course they should not be allowed to do that, but it is no wonder that there are conflicts. But they need to learn how we see men and women here in Sweden.”

Henrik Larsson celebrates the imam with whom he is cooperating in the “House of God.” His name is Awad Olwan, a Palestinian who came to Sweden in the 1960s. According to Henrik Larsson, Olwan is a modern Muslim, who became an imam late in life and likes democracy.

But when Gatestone called Olwan, to ask why he supported the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in the 1970s and refused to denounce the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games, he at first pretended not to know what the PFLP was. The BBC has described it as “Combining Arab nationalism with Marxist-Leninist ideology, the PFLP saw the destruction of Israel as integral to its struggle to remove Western capitalism from the Middle East.”

Olwan: “Oh, well, yes, we had a lot of different organizations back then, but forget that — that is history now. It meant Palestine Liberation something. I really do not remember to be quite honest.”

Gatestone: You refused to denounce the attack on the Jewish Olympians in Munich?

Olwan: “Yes, that’s right, but that was in the 70s! I don’t remember what I said then.”

Gatestone: Is your attitude different now?

Olwan: “Yes, of course. It was murder and nothing else.”

During our first conversation, Awad Olwan claimed to be very positive towards Jews. He said that there are no Jews in the House of God is simply because there is no Jewish congregation in Fisksätra, but that the organizers have invited a Jewish choir and are cooperating very well with them.

During our second talk, however, other thoughts emerged. When Olwan was asked some questions about the Quran and the hadith, he began cursing and saying that everything was the fault of “those f**king Mecca-Arabs.”

Gatestone: Are you saying Islam is not the problem; that it is the Saudi interpretation of Islam that messes everything up?

Olwan: “Exactly! And their religion [Wahhabism] was invented by a British imperialist 200 years ago. I cannot say anything more, because then I am an anti-Semite and whatnot.”

Gatestone: What is the truth about the Jews?

Olwan: “Okay, there are reliable sources from Egypt, showing that the Saudi royal family is really a Jewish family that came from Iraq to the Arabian Peninsula sometime in the 1700s. They built an army with the aid of British officers fighting the Ottoman sultanate. After that, they created the Jordanian army and so on and so on.”

Gatestone: Are you saying this is the reason the Jews are so quiet?

Olwan: “Yes. I wrote in my book that the purpose of ISIS/Daesh is to shift the focus from the Arab-Israeli conflict, and make this a conflict between Sunni and Shia — and they have succeeded. And now, they will erase the entire Middle East. You will see! It is Catholic land, Muslim land and a lot of other crap countries just to justify the existence of a Jewish state.”

Gatestone: I read online that many believe it was Mossad and the Jews who started ISIS?

Olwan: “Yes, that is a common theory in the Middle East, but if you say that in the West, you are told that you are a conspiracy nut and that you have no evidence. But here’s the deal: You cannot wage war against strong forces without having weapons delivered every day, you need planning and logistics. These are not f**king terrorists who have learned how to wage war on the internet, these are highly trained, highly skilled people. I have to go now.”

Gatestone: Are you referring to the Jews?

Olwan: “Exactly, exactly.”

Olwan is most likely a typical example of an imam who shows a conciliatory and friendly attitude towards naïve Swedish priests, but with a bit of encouragement, admits his hatred of Jews. He is, it seems, not too fond of the Church of Sweden’s friendly attitude towards gays, either.

Since the Church of Sweden became one of the first Christian communions in the world to approve gay marriage in 2005, more and more priests have come out as gay. In 2009, when Eva Brunne was appointed bishop of Stockholm, tongues wagged that the church is now being ruled by the “Lesbian League.” The Church of Sweden has participated in the Pride Festivals in Stockholm on many occasions, and several churches have allowed themselves be LGBT-certified. The price for this may be that the church will be forced to cut certain passages from Bible. Ulrika Westerlund, the chairperson for the RFSL (Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights), has warned the church: “There are elements in religious scriptures that are used against LGBT persons. Then we have to discuss if you want this certification, we do not want you to quote these passages from the Bible.”

Henrik Larsson, the priest, sees a problem with imams constantly condemning homosexuality as a sin — an Islamic tenet that presumably can never change because Allah said it [Quran,7:80-84.IG]. “We have to hope they catch up with us there. It was not so long ago that Christianity preached the same things.”

Gatestone: Do you hope and believe that Muslims can change, even though some hurl homosexuals from rooftops, hang them and flog them?

H. Larsson: “Yes, it is awful. But I believe that people are innately good at heart.”

Awad Olwan does not agree with Henrik Larsson. He thinks the Church of Sweden’s attitude towards homosexuality is a great sin:

“I disagree with them. Homosexuality is not good for the morals of society, and it is not what Jesus and Moses stood for. It is better if the whole thing with homosexuality in public life becomes a parenthesis.”

In the meantime, as the Church of Sweden is busy developing “Chrislam,” it never acknowledges that in the Middle East, Christians are being killed and effectively eradicated. In 2015, Eli Göndör, a scholar of religion, wrote in the magazine Dagens Samhälle:

“The involvement that the Church of Sweden has shown for the vulnerability of Christian Palestinians, has been replaced with indifference to the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Syria and Iraq. In these countries, it is mostly Muslims who commit the atrocities, which is evidently enough to make the Church of Sweden concentrate on climate change and environmental issues instead.”

To be fair, in February 2016, the Church of Sweden did do something for the Christians of the Middle East — it encouraged congregations and individuals to pray for them. The words Islam or Muslims were not mentioned in the appeal.

Gatestone called the Church of Sweden’s information service, to ask if the prayers had helped.

“I cannot answer that,” the voice on the phone said. “Can you send an e-mail with your question, and I’ll ask my colleagues to get you a reply?”

ISIS is a Footnote: The Real Threat is Sharia and Islamic Supremacism

June 29, 2016

ISIS is a Footnote: The Real Threat is Sharia and Islamic Supremacism, CounterjihadShireen Qudosi, June 29, 2016

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a top North American Muslim Reformer, sees Muslim reformers “as the most essential head of spear in the battle against Islamic theocracy.” The largest collective of Muslim Reformers are presently in the United States.

“Ideas of freedom can happen in the laboratory of America,” adds Dr. Jasser. The West offers Muslim voices for humanity a level of freedom that is unmatched in any other part of the world, making Western Muslim reformers critical in this battle against radical Islam — particularly because truthful conversations on faith are painted as persecution, courtesy of the regressive left.

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The battle against radical Islam isn’t an ‘over there’ fight confined to the wastebin landscape of some forgotten town. It’s a ubiquitous problem that takes place on American soil in two forms. The first is through direct jihadi attacks as we most recently saw in Orlando; the second takes the form of political warfare.

Yesterday, the battle of ideas took place on the floor of a Senate hearing spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz. The “Willful Blindness” hearing, attended by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser,Philip Haney, and Andrew McCarthy among others, offered testimony to better understand barriers to combating radical Islam.

Other witnesses included soft-Islamist Farhana Khera, President and Executive Director of Muslim Advocates, who refused to admit that jihad or radicalization had absolutely anything to do with radical Islam. In fact, Senator Cruz’s attempt to engage Khera in dialogue yielded a minimum of 6 instances of denial within five minutes, with Khera defaulting to a regressive left narrative that the conversation is somehow empowering ISIS.

National security consultant Chris Gaubatz debunks the myth of an all-powerful and seeing ISIS:

“The global Islamic movement is made of terrorist groups and nation states; all seeking to impose sharia.”

ISIS is a footnote at best, not the bogeyman that Islamists try to threaten free speech with. The real threat is sharia and a mindset of Islamic supremacism.

Testimony was also provided by Michael German, a fellow of the Brennan Center for Justice and a former FBI Special Agent. German sees radical Islam as a problem but not in the context we would assume is logical based on the facts and common sense. In the same line of thinking as Khera, German denounces a theological association with violent acts of terror under a political doctrine.

German’s reasoning fails. He is neither expert in nor a student of Islamic theology. Had he an objective mind and trained scholar in both academic and traditional Islam, he would see that Islam has become a highly political system that forms and orchestrates national movement. The version of radical Islam adopted by terror groups is not that different than the version of Islam adopted by Islamic states – and to go further – the version of Islam that Islamists identify with. All versions ultimately hold Islam as supreme, paving the way for what is an undeniable theological supremacy. In other words, Islamic supremacy. And that understanding of Islam is adopted by billions of adherents.

In the same vein of thought as Islamists, German believes “radical Islam” is used to smear a faith group. He further argues “collective national security [is not achieved] by undermining security of others.” For German, “Ideas cannot be killed and ideologies cannot be destroyed.” He points to Nazi ideology that while defeated, was not destroyed.

However, radical Islamic ideology can be challenged and destroyed…from within. A growing movement in partnership with allies is already underway by Muslim reformers. Reformers are the new wave of Muslim scholars appearing nearly a millennia after the original Muslim free thinkers, the Mu’tazilites. The waves of movement in Islamic critical thought from the time of the Prophet, through his passing, and till today, shows that Islam is not the monolith German and Khera try to depict.

Andrew McCarthy, a former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney, understands Islam has seen a struggle to define itself from its earliest days. As McCarthy points out, Muslims “have not settled the question what is an authentic Islam.”

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a top North American Muslim Reformer, sees Muslim reformers “as the most essential head of spear in the battle against Islamic theocracy.” The largest collective of Muslim Reformers are presently in the United States.

“Ideas of freedom can happen in the laboratory of America,” adds Dr. Jasser. The West offers Muslim voices for humanity a level of freedom that is unmatched in any other part of the world, making Western Muslim reformers critical in this battle against radical Islam — particularly because truthful conversations on faith are painted as persecution, courtesy of the regressive left.

For McCarthy, the focus needs to shift to the supremacist interpretation of Islam that is fundamentally at odds with Western values. A clash of civilizations between Islam and the West is not a case of multiculturalism where room can be made for both. Islamic supremacism in its nature allows for only one ideology: its own.

So while German underscores that radical Islam is not a problem – that it is a misnomer – McCarthy points to history which shows us something entirely different. He summarizes that a struggle in Islam has been “ongoing for fourteen centuries supported by centuries of scholarship,” adding that “Islam is less a religion than a political radicalization with a religious veneer.”

McCarthy doesn’t see this as something the U.S. can fix, but it is something that we need to understand and not obscure – particularly because as Chris Gaubatz added, “We can kill every member of Al-Qaeda tomorrow, but it won’t end.”

Zuhdi Jasser added that America has “a sophisticated whack-a-mole system” of combatting terrorism. These are key assessment recognizing that ultimately we need to target the ideology and develop a system that moves beyond a fear of might trigger ISIS – a running theme for both Khera and German.

Khera along with German were both supported by Senator Dick Durbin who brought up a failed ongoing argument that needs to die: Westboro and the KKK are no more Christian than ISIS is Islamic. A cheap, tired trick, it shows a fundamental lack of knowledge about both Islam and Christianity.

Westboro and KKK are not acting in the footsteps of Jesus. However, ISIS is in many ways following the post-Medina violent warring behavior of its prophet, Muhammad. If we’re to see whether something is Islamic or Christian, we need to look at the verses and the leadership. Christianity did not have a violent Jesus and the teachings of Christ himself do not advocate violence. On the other hand, Islam has a violent version of Muhamad, which however justified in whatever context, is still violent and includes violent rhetoric that justified jihadi and supremacist agendas.

Germans builds on the back and forth highlighting Nazi Germany was defeated in part by criminalizing the ideology, something he feels can’t be done with Islam because the ideology can’t be scrubbed. I would argue we’ve already scrubbed so much: over 900 instances of references to jihad and Islam from official documents in what is a systematic purge of intelligence in a critical war.

Let’s go further still and get to the actual problem: the ideology. We need to do the same to political and violent doctrines in Islam, while supporting alternate voices found in reformers who are well on their way by outrightly challenging the theology or through grassroots efforts calling for modernized adaptations.