Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

GlobalPlus: Religious attire in the public square

Religious fashion matters. It matters to individuals who view wearing head scarves, kippas and turbans as a positive expression of faith, and it matters to societies increasingly setting restrictions on religious attire in response to concerns ranging from security to the belief that increasing diversity represents a threat to the essential character of their nations. So how, in the face of intense political and social pressures, can nations balance issues of religious freedom, tolerance and national identity? A developing body of research sheds some light on the debate.

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GlobalPlus: Religion and violence: Pakistan’s story

How extremist organizations that preach violence have gained such a foothold in Pakistan is less a story of faith than a textbook example of the cycle of violence and conflict that erupts when governments and political interest groups use favoritism and coercion to manipulate religion to their own ends. The result is the world’s second-largest Muslim nation finds itself in its fourth decade of warfare, with a precarious democracy hanging in the balance.

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GlobalPlus: Ebola, religion and health in Africa

At their best, faith-based organizations and religious communities have embraced Ebola victims with loving care, heedless of their own safety in treating the suffering and working with public health officials in education and prevention efforts. Still, amid the uncertainty that has gripped governments, world health officials and religious groups alike, responses have been varied over religious rituals such as Muslim and traditional African burial practices encouraging the washing of the dead, Christian practices such as exchanging hugs and handshakes and receiving communion orally and the reliance on traditional healers that provide sources of comfort and hope to believers but also pose public health risks.

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GlobalPlus: Democracy & Islam

Our inaugural report focuses on the issue of Islam and democracy. A period of discouragement has followed the heady early days of the Arab Spring, when mass demonstrations eventually led to the election of the first democratically elected government in Egypt and popular movements seeking to bring reforms flourished throughout the Middle East. Today, after a military takeover in Egypt and with Syrians caught between Islamic State militants and the dictatorial government of Bashar al-Assad, some may wonder about the prospect for expanding political freedoms in the Middle East. But it would be unwise to make simplistic or stereotypical assertions about the compatibility of Islam and democracy in the midst of these unfolding events. As this month’s overview from the celebrated Indonesian journalist Endy Bayuni makes clear, two of the largest Muslim-majority nations in the world are prospering under democracy. “Democracy in both countries has strengthened in spite of, or because of, the rise of political Islam,” notes Mr. Bayuni.,

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