Thursday, August 30, 2012

'Tomatoes are Christian,' Egyptian Salafi group warns

This will never fly in Turkey, where tomatoes are such a staple of life, but is interesting none the less:

A Salafi group called the "Popular Egyptian Islamic Association" has warned Muslims against eating tomatoes on the grounds that the fruit is a "Christian food," has reported. 
The group based its claim on the fact that a shape resembling a cross is revealed when one cuts a tomato in half. 
The association published the warning on its Facebook page with a photo of a tomato cut in half, revealing a cross-shaped interior. 

A message posted on the page read, "Eating tomatoes is forbidden because they are Christian. [The tomato] praises the cross instead of Allah and says that Allah is three [in reference to the Holy Trinity]."
The message went on to say, "I implore you to spread this photo because there is a sister from Palestine who saw the Prophet of Allah in a vision and he was crying, warning his nation against eating [tomatoes]. If you don’t spread this [message], know that it is the devil who stopped you.”

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bell-tower of Armenian church in Turkey back after 97 years

The bell-tower of Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakır, Turkey, is set to return to use after a 97-year interval, with a new bell made in Russia, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

As part of repair and restoration work at the Surp Giragos Church a new bell was made in Moscow, and has been delivered to Diyarbakır. The bronze bell weighs 100 kilograms, and will ring from the bell-tower beginning at its reopening ceremony on November 4.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How far will new Constitution protect freedom of religion or belief?

Turkey's Constitutional Reconciliation Commission (AUK) has begun the drafting a new Constitution. But the political parties represented on the AUK have not reached a consensus on freedom of religion or belief, Forum 18 News Service notes. What are the implications of the new Constitution's possible omission of parts of Turkey's international religious freedom commitments, affecting for example religious education, conscientious objection, and the neutrality of the state? The scope of constitutional guarantees of religious freedom in Turkey should not be limited by the boundaries of the AKP government. Constitutional provisions must reflect the provisions on religious freedom in Turkey's international human rights commitments.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Turks in Germany are Religious, but Favor Integration

When news hit the headlines this spring that Salafists in Germany were handing out free Korans in city centers across the country, the outcry was immediate. Politicians called for the campaign to be banned, journalists wrote extensively about Salafist radicalism and even the publishing house printing the free Korans distanced itself.

One group of people living in Germany, however, was not nearly as put off by the promotion. According to a new survey among those of Turkish descent living in the country, almost two-thirds of those aged between 15 and 29 consider the distribution of the Koran to be "good" or "very good," and one-third of them would donate money to the cause.

The result, says Holger Liljeberg, who heads Info GmbH, the company that conducted the survey, "could be the result of a resurgence among young people of religious values from their parents' homeland." Liljeberg, however, warned against concluding that the survey results -- based on interviews with 1,011 people of Turkish heritage in Germany over the age of 15 -- indicate a trend toward radicalization. Indeed, even as the number of those who identify themselves as strictly religious is rising (from 33 percent in 2009 to 37 percent this year), so too is the share of immigrants who wish to integrate completely into German society.

The willingness of Turkish migrants and their descendents to integrate into German society remains high and is climbing. Whereas 70 percent said in 2010 that they want to "absolutely and without reservations integrate into German society," the new survey found that 78 percent of respondents agreed. Similarly, whereas 59 percent said two years ago that they wanted to belong to German society, 75 percent say so now. Fully 95 percent say that all children with Turkish backgrounds should go to day care facilities so as to learn German prior to entering school.

Overall, the survey released on Friday paints an image of a Turkish community in Germany that is split between a trend toward increased religiosity, particularly among the younger generations, and a desire to fit into German society. For example, whereas only 8 percent of those surveyed said they were in favor of purely Turkish-language elementary schools for children with Turkish backgrounds, 62 percent (up from 40 percent in 2010) said they prefer hanging out with fellow Turks.