By Geoff Mortimore, from The Local:

As religious tensions continue to cause friction in Sweden and elsewhere, Lutherans, Catholics, and Muslims in a small Stockholm suburb have come together to present a new model for religious tolerance, The Local’s Geoff Mortimore discovers.On the other side of the Atlantic, an emotional debate rages about the suitability of building a mosque near the Ground Zero site in New York City.

At the same time, the recent political upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East has raised concerns in some quarters that religious fundamentalism may fill the void.

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by Sarah Posner, for the Religion Dispatches:

The emails started popping into my inbox: First, supposed “ex-terrorist” Walid Shoebat would be available for an interview about how “regime change” in Egypt would elevate the Muslim Brotherhood. “The Muslim Brotherhood, a group to which I once belonged, is supporting these protests,” says Shoebat, “and when you know what the long term goals of the Brotherhood are, you come to realize it’s not good.” He then goes on to compare what’s happening in Egypt to the Islamic revolution in Iran — a theory that Haroon Moghul has ably debunked here at RD. Then Christian talk radio host and evangelist Michael Youssef announced that he would be appearing on CNN through out the day:

“Before you judge the motives of the protesters, you must know who is really behind those young people on the streets,” stated Michael Youssef, Ph.D. “The Muslim Brotherhood has been thirsting for power in Egypt for many, many years. Should they succeed, it will not only spell disaster to the west and to Israel, but also to the Christians and the secular-minded Muslims.”

Article entitled, “Mixed Message: The testimony of a self-described former terrorist,” by Doug Howard, for ChristianityToday.com:

On Christmas Day 2009, our youngest son, Jay, found himself on Delta Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. Toward the end of the flight, Jay’s seatmate, a Nigerian Muslim about his age named Umar abd al-Muttalib, tried to blow up the plane using a bomb hidden in his underwear. Reflecting on Jay’s experience, and on Umar and the failed efforts by his father to warn authorities, has helped me clarify my attitude toward American Christian anti-Islamic literary polemics, including Kamal Saleem’s “memoir,” The Blood of Lambs. The book fits the familiar pattern of reassuring Christians of the superiority of their own faith tradition by negative comparisons with a dehumanized Islam. But Kamal Saleem’s titillating dance with violence and fame makes the book more complicated and more uncomfortable than most like it. By embracing the glamorous violence it claims to abhor, it raises readers’ hopes of touching secret human meanings through it.

I first encountered Kamal Saleem when he appeared at Calvin College in November 2007. A look at his website told me immediately that he was not who he said he was. The signature of his deception was his statement that “in my family was the Grand Wazir of Islam.” The term is ridiculous, a spurious title meant to mislead the innocent with an aura of authority. The audience, including many from the Grand Rapids Muslim community, watched Kamal Saleem’s performance with quiet restraint. He told stories, now repeated in The Blood of Lambs, of being recruited as a child for missions against Israel via tunnels under the Golan Heights, disguised as sheep; of visions of a rider on a white horse who, drawn swords in hand, commanded him to sever the heads of the infidels. In one painfully disturbing account, the mother of his friend screamed with joy that her little boy had met a violent death and joined the martyrs in heaven. He continued with the story of his immigration to America to recruit for jihad. Instead he was converted to Christianity as the result of a car accident, when he was taken into the home of a Christian physician and cared for out of selfless love. These tales were interspersed with exhortations for America to “wake up” to the threat of radical Islam and testimonials to the power of Christ in helping him forsake his old life.

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By Gana Pianigiani, for the New York Times:

SIENA, Italy — No horse race is more sacred in Italy than the Palio, which traces its lineage back 700 years. This year, however, the hotly contested chase has taken an unexpectedly ecumenical — and disputed — twist.

For the first time, a Muslim painter was asked to design the Palio, or banner, that the winner takes home at the end of the race, which is conducted two days every year around Siena’s distinctive shell-shaped square.

Not everyone was pleased with the choice, though that was not evident Friday evening, when residents of the winning district, or contrada, as Siena’s 17 neighborhoods within the city walls are known, jumped over fencing that lined the square to grab the Palio, crying and shouting with joy.

The horse representing their contrada had won the race, and they did not seem particularly bothered that the banner has generated controversy in the local and national media during the past weeks over what some have called “a profanation” of the Sienese tradition.

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By Robert Wright, for the New York Times:

Last Friday night a New York Times headline underwent an online transformation. The article formerly known as “A Christian Overture to Muslims Has Its Critics” acquired a new billing: “A Dispute on Using the Koran as a Path to Jesus.”

For my money this was a big improvement, and explaining what I mean will illuminate a dirty little secret: some American Christians are fostering religious strife abroad. They mean well, but the damage they’re doing can be seen all the way from Nigeria, where Christians and Muslims are killing each other, to Malaysia, where Muslims are trying to keep Christians from using the term “Allah” for God.

The Times story is about an outreach technique that some Baptist missionaries use with Muslims. It involves stressing commonalities between the Koran and the Bible and affirming that the Allah of the Koran and the God of the Bible are one and the same.

You can see how a headline writer might call this an “overture.” And certainly the Christians who deploy the technique see it in sunny terms. Their name for it — the “Camel Method” — comes from the acronym for Chosen Angels Miracles Eternal Life.

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From the Washington Post:

JOS, Nigeria — An international human rights group is calling on Nigerian officials to investigate reports that at least 150 Muslims were killed in a central Nigerian town.

Human Rights Watch on Saturday cited reports of a massacre in a town located south of Jos, where fighting broke out between Christians and Muslims about a week ago.

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From the the blog of Andrew Brown, for the Guardian:

George Carey doesn’t do subtlety: watching him try is like watching someone working an iPhone wearing boxing gloves. But he does have good political instincts. His settlement with (and of) the liberals in the Church of England has endured: women priests and, in time, women bishops but no open gays. Now he has called for a drastic cut in immigration. Will this be the future line of the Church of England?

If it is, that would represent a huge, wrenching change. The upper ranks of the Church are almost all in favour of better treatment for asylum seekers; both Archbishops speak about the subject recently, and Carey himself, when in Canterbury, incurred the wrath of the Daily Mail for defending them on the Today show. Parts of the Church have been eager to reach out to Muslims on a local level.

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