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European court upholds blasphemy standard

International | The ruling threatens free expression and aligns with laws in Islamic-led countries
by Mindy Belz
Posted 10/26/18, 02:09 pm

EUROPE: The European Court of Human Rights upheld lower court decisions that defaming Islam’s Muhammad “could stir up prejudice” and thus exceeds the limits of free expression. The ruling—stemming from a nearly decade-old case in which an Austrian woman was accused of disparaging Muhammad’s marriage to 9-year-old Aisha—in effect sides with blasphemy laws in Islamic-led countries. Download and read the decision and case details.

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Moving to the music

Music | In Japan, gospel music is a big hit—and an evangelistic tool
by Sophia Lee
Posted 10/25/18, 04:12 pm

Hips sway. Hands clap. Arms wave in the air, heels bounce, and faces lift up wide smiles as the choir belts out, “You are good, and Your mercy endures forever.” The audience smiles as it listens. Irresistibly, a toe starts tapping along to the beat, shoulders begin loosening, and heads begin bopping.

That’s the magic of gospel music. A synergy of vocals, facial language, and body movement, a genre of Christian music dating back to the late 19th century, when African-American churches in the U.S. South fused classic hymns with traditional African-American spirituals and beats.

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Associated Press/Photo by Ludivine Laniepce (file)

Suspected extremists kidnap priest in Niger

International | Al-Qaeda and ISIS increasingly terrorize the region
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 9/25/18, 05:19 pm

Extremists likely carried out last week’s kidnapping of an Italian priest from southern Niger, state and religious officials confirmed. The kidnapping is the latest in a growing number of extremism-fueled attacks in the western part of the country.

The Rev. Pierluigi Maccalli was kidnapped on Sept. 17 from the parish house in the village of Bomanga, near the Burkina Faso border, government spokesman Zakaria Abdourahmane confirmed.

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