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After 3 Years Under ISIS, Mosul’s Children Go Back to School

posted on October 9, 2017

NPR’s Jane Arraf reports that children in Mosul are returning to school for the first time in three years, after Iraqi troops drove ISIS out of the city earlier this year. Arraf writes, “ISIS sent government teachers home and ran its own schools – focused on religion and weapons training. Even basic math had a militaristic twist, using the image of bullets to teach children to count.” Arraf notes that hundreds of schools were destroyed by ISIS. One school official said, “We are beginning from zero. We don’t have books, we don’t have pencils, we don’t have anything.”

Read at NPR

ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender en Masse

posted on October 9, 2017

The New York Times’s Rod Nordland reports that more than a thousand ISIS fighters have fled their collapsing Hawija stronghold and surrendered to Kurdish authorities since last Sunday. Nordland writes, “Many of the fighters claimed to have been just cooks or clerks. So many said they had been members of the Islamic State for only a month or two that interrogators suspected they had been coached to say that.” He adds, “Kurdish officials have been perplexed by the number of fighters who have surrendered. Many of the militants said they were ordered by their leaders to turn themselves in to the Kurds, who were known to take prisoners instead of killing them.”

Read at The New York Times

North Carolina Imam Urges Congress to “Celebrate” Difference

posted on October 5, 2017

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports that  an imam from Duke University delivered an opening prayer to the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Abdullah Antepli said, “As the Creator of all, you made us different. Enable us to understand, appreciate and celebrate our differences.” Shimron writes, “As a native of Turkey who came to this country after serving in several countries as a faith-based humanitarian relief worker, Antepli takes great pride in the American experiment that mixes pluralism and religious freedom.”

Read at Religion News Service

Fired by ESPN for a Racist Headline, He’s Finding His Second Chance as a Catholic Priest

posted on October 3, 2017

The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer reports that an ESPN journalist who was fired after writing a racist headline about Jeremy Lin is working to become a Catholic priest five years later. Anthony Federico, 33, said, “Looking back, I think God allowed this to happen to me to put me on a path to being a priest, a path that I was avoiding.” Zauzmer writes, “The skills he learned in his first career are often useful in unpredictable ways – the art of telling a story in a way that’s relevant to listeners and gets quickly to the point is invaluable in the homiletics class he’s taking right now. Sometimes, the best way to interest a young kid is to talk sports and share some behind-the-scenes stories from his days on the road with ESPN before talking about Jesus.”

Read at The Washington Post

Travel Ban Lawsuits Filed by Legal Center, Muslim Advocates

posted on October 3, 2017

The Associated Press’s Juliet Linderman reports, “A coalition of Muslim and Iranian-American advocates and a nonpartisan legal institute filed the first lawsuits against the Trump administration’s new travel restrictions for citizens of eight countries, including Iran, that were announced late last month.” Two lawsuits were filed on Monday: one argues that restricting travel from predominately Muslim countries violates the Constitution, while the other is suing for the right to view documents submitted by the Department of Homeland Security that supposedly justify the travel ban. Johnathan Smith, legal director for Muslim Advocates, an organization involved in both lawsuits, said, “In addition to the challenge of constitutionality to the program, it’s equally important to bring some transparency, some light, some sunshine to these processes so all Americans can see what’s happening.”

 

Read at The Associated Press

After the Massacre, a Las Vegas Church Seizes the Chance to Serve

posted on October 3, 2017

Religion News Service’s Yonat Shimron reports on a Las Vegas church’s response to Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. Hope Church, a multi-ethnic congregation associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, mobilized pastors and congregants on Monday morning, urging them to donate blood and provide emotional support to victims. Vance Pitman, the church’s founder and senior pastor, said, “Scripture says God is a refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). We think this is an opportunity for people to run to the Lord and to find shelter and peace and comfort and strength in Him.”

Read at Religion News Service

Trump Calls for Unity and Prayer in the Face of “Pure Evil”

posted on October 3, 2017

The Los Angeles Times’s Noah Bierman reports on President Trump’s response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more. Bierman writes, “Trump, reading from a teleprompter in the Diplomatic Reception Room, appeared downcast as he read. He said many Americans would be feeling anger and conceded that ‘the answers do not come easily.’ But he urged resiliency.” Bierman adds, “The president quoted scripture, Psalm 34:18: ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”’

Read at The Los Angeles Times

St. Louis Faith Leaders Criticize Arrest, Pepper-Spraying of Clergyman at Protest

posted on October 3, 2017

St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Erin Heffernan reports that on Monday, protesters and faith leaders in St. Louis called Friday’s arrest of a clergyman at a demonstration an example of excessive use of force by law enforcement. She writes, “At a gathering of about 20 faith leaders at the Wayman African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Darryl Gray pointed to the jail bracelet still on his wrist, which lists him as inmate 171 at the St. Louis City Justice Center.” Gray, who was pepper-sprayed before the arrest, said, “(We) will continue to stand up for what is wrong, which will make us targets. We’ll get the full brunt of whatever frustration and anger some in law enforcement have.”

Read at St. Louis Post Dispatch

And So Jedidiah Brown Gave All of Himself to the City He Loved

posted on October 2, 2017

For Highline, Ben Austen profiles Jedidiah Brown, a Black Lives Matter activist and minister from Chicago. Austen writes, “I’ve now heard Jedidiah speak dozens of times, addressing city officials, television cameras, people on the street. Even more than his pastorly locutions, it’s his unmannered rawness that is most striking. Completely immersed in the moment, he braids together bits of Scripture, snatches of recent conversations, current events and his recurring themes of community and fairness – ‘letting the spirit come out of me,’ as he puts it.” Brown has struggled with handling the trauma that comes with his work. Austen writes, “Many of these activists were unprepared for the emotional anguish, the self-recrimination and financial burden, the media spotlight, the attacks from outside and within the movement.”

Read at Highline

How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down

posted on October 2, 2017

The New York Times’s Caitlin Dickerson reports on a 2016 sexual assault case in Twin Falls, Idaho, which involved two young refugee boys and an American-born girl. The case made headlines and became part of online anti-Islam conspiracies. Dickerson writes, “The Twin Falls story aligned perfectly with the ideology that Stephen Bannon, then the head of Breitbart News, had been developing for years, about the havoc brought on by unchecked immigration and Islamism, all of it backed by big-business interests and establishment politicians.” A lot of misinformation was spread about the case online, as Russian-connected Facebook accounts fanned the flames. Anti-refugee activists continue to use the case to support their agenda.

Read at The New York Times