Lifestyle • Religion
Orthodox Church under fire in Romania after baptism death

Over 60,000 people in Romania petitioned for the abolition of immersing babies in baptism ceremonies, as the Ortodox Church blames the parents and stands by its practices following a baby’s death.

“Immersion has been practiced for two millennia and will continue for the next 1,000 years”, said the archbishop of Tomis to a nationalist TV broadcaster.

Lifestyle • Religion
German Pastor Olaf Latzel sentenced for incitement of the people
German Pastor Olaf Latzel sentenced for incitement of the people
Credit: Courtesy of St. Martini Gemeinde zu Bremen

The Bremen District Court has convicted the Lutheran pastor Olaf Latzel of the regional church St Martini parish in the Hanseatic city, of incitement of the people. The fundamentalist pastor had made homophobic and sexist remarks at a marriage seminar in October 2019, and a recording was posted online in March with his consent on his YouTube channel, which has nearly 25,000 subscribers.

According to the court, the statements are incitement and could emotionally justify violence against homosexuals.

Bernd Kuschnerus, the senior theologian of the Bremen Protestant Church, said he was "deeply saddened that a pastor of our church has been convicted of incitement of the people." The statements on which the verdict was based were unacceptable and damaged the reputation of the church, he said. There had been strong opposition to Latzel from the congregations of the Bremen Protestant Church for years. The church leadership has initiated disciplinary proceedings against the pastor, but these are suspended until a legally binding judgment is reached. Latzel's defense filed an appeal.

Diversity & Inclusion
New Zealand introduces Hijab to the police uniform
New Zealand introduces Hijab to the police uniform
Credit: Courtesy of NZ Police

Zeena Ali has become the first New Zealand police officer to wear a police-issued hijab as part of her official uniform. She had joined the police forces after the Christchurch terror attack and now worked with the police to design a hijab that is both functional for work as a police officer and considerate to her religion.

Regional News • Europe • France
Samuel Paty received the French Légion d’Honneur posthumously

Samuel Paty, the teacher decapitated in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, has been posthumously awarded the Légion d’honneur.

On October 21, during a private ceremony in the Sorbonne university, President Emmanuel Macron bestowed the country’s highest honour on the family of Paty.

Regional News • Europe • France
A history and geography teacher beheaded near Paris

The victim had made a recent intervention in class about freedom of speech where he mentioned the Muhammad cartoons controversy, which pushed the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor's Office to take over the investigation.

The assaillant has been shot by the police.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Two U.S. Supreme Court Justices Question Ruling That Allowed Same Sex Marriage
Two U.S. Supreme Court Justices Question Ruling That Allowed Same Sex Marriage
Credit: U.S. government. / Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has published an opinion piece in support of Justice Samuel Alito questioning same-sex marriage. Both had voted against the ruling in 2015 that permitted same-sex marriage.

Thomas stated that "those with sincere religious beliefs about marriage now find it increasingly difficult to be a part of society. The verdict would label those who believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman as fanatics. And this although they would only refuse to bend their religious attitudes to current legal beliefs".

Regional News • Asia • China
Report: China pays money for reports on underground churches
Excerpt "Notice on Rewarding Those Who Report Clues on Xie Jiao Illegal and Criminal Activities"
Excerpt "Notice on Rewarding Those Who Report Clues on Xie Jiao Illegal and Criminal Activities" Credit: Bitter Winter

According to the magazine Bitter Winter the Chinese government offers monetary rewards for reports of underground churches. The program awards people with up to around $14,000 if they report religious activities of groups banned by the Chinese Communist Party in private homes to the authorities.

In addition to these measures the Chinese government has started putting banners with anti-religious slogans up such as: "Don’t believe in any religion other than the Communist Party. It’s enough to believe in the Party and the People’s Government of China"


Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany: Baden-Württemberg bans burqas, niqabs in schools
Germany: Baden-Württemberg bans burqas, niqabs in schools
Credit: Flood G. (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

State Premier Winfried Kretschmann announced Baden-Württemberg will now ban full-face coverings for all school children. Kretschmann said burqas and niqabs did not belong in a free society.

Regional News • Middle East
Erdogan signs decree converting Istanbul's Hagia Sophia into mosque
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia Credit: Igor Vita (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Turkey's top administrative court, the Council of State, ruled Friday that Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia could be converted into a mosque. After the decision President Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree handing control of Hagia Sophia to the country’s religious directorate and to reopen it for worship.

Hagia Sophia was the Byzantine Empire’s main cathedral until it was changed into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic, then turned the domed building into a museum that attracts millions of tourists each year.

Egypt: Mosque reopening plans announced
Man praying in Mosque
Man praying in Mosque Credit: fatah

Plans were discussed to reopen mosques in Egypt by a parliamentary committee. Mosques need to follow a list of rules, incl. closing toilets, mandatory face masks and restricting entry for children. Mosques were closed in March and can reopen as soon as the Ministry of Health gives the green light to do so.

Lifestyle • Religion
Muslim community thanks IKEA for letting them pray in car park to keep physical distancing
Muslims praying in IKEA car park
Muslims praying in IKEA car park Credit: IGMG Wetzlar FATİH CAMİİ via Facebook

The Ikea store in Wetzlar near the German city of Frankfurt had agreed to let the local mosque use the car park for their prayers. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic distancing measures were required and in a Facebook post, the Muslim community IGMG Wetzlar FATİH CAMİİ thanked the local police and the store for their help in making the prayers possible.