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 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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