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US Ambassador Slams Iran for Religious Rights Abuses against Christians, Other Minorities

The US is pushing back against religious injustice in Iran. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The Islamic Republic of Iran is not known for being open to religious minorities, and United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback highlighted some of the egregious Iranian offenses in a recent speech. Christians, Baha’is and even Sunni Muslims have faced religious persecution from Iranian authorities. “In Iran, blasphemy, apostasy from Islam, and proselytizing of Muslims are crimes punishable by death,” said Brownback in a speech last week published on the US State Department website.

“Minorities not recognized under the Iranian constitution—such as Baha’is and Christian converts—may not engage in public religious expression and are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, harassment, and arbitrary arrest.”

Brownback cited multiple examples of the plight facing Christians in Iran—noting that a dangerous label is to be called a Christian supporter of Israel. … Continue Reading

Oldest Found Copy of Lamentations Displayed in Jerusalem on Tragic Fast Day

July 26, 2015 News-Drash, Religious Life
Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Thousands of years after the saddest book of the Bible, Lamentations, mourned the destruction of Jerusalem, a 2,000-year-old scroll of the book was made available for Jerusalemites to see on the day traditionally set aside to read the tragic text. Lamentations is traditionally read on the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, known as Tisha B’Av—Hebrew for the ninth day of the month of Av—commemorates some of the most tragic moments in Israel’s history, including the destruction of the First and Second Temple.

The ancient scroll was publicly displayed in a Jerusalem museum for the first time over a span of four days leading up to and including Tisha B’Av, according to a news release on the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem website. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in comments released by his office, praised the importance of the scrolls appearance in Jerusalem. … Continue Reading

Israel Builds A Modern Highway and Finds an Ancient Village

Pablo Betzer, IAA District Archaeologist for Judah, with a coin from the Year Four of the Great Revolt. By Vladimir Niihin, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Pablo Betzer, IAA District Archaeologist for Judah, with a coin from the Year Four of the Great Revolt. By Vladimir Niihin, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Highway expansions can result in traffic jams, and in Israel it can turn into archaeology as well. That’s what happened to a recent project, after an Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) inspector found pottery shards during the Highway 1 project, a discovery that has since led to the uncovering of an entire settlement from nearly 2,000 years ago.

An IAA press release said the discovery included a hoard of coins described as “rare.” It included bronze coins from the first Israeli revolt against the Romans in the First Century CE, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple. The announcement was timely, as the IAA unveiled the find on Tisha B’av—the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, which commemorates that Temple’s calamity, among other tragedies. … Continue Reading

US Congresswoman Slams Egyptian Human Rights Abuses

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, advocate for conditioning aid to Egypt on government reforms. Photo Courtesy of the office of Rep. Ros-Lehtinen

For decades the United States has provided Egypt with millions of dollars worth of aid every year, but a growing list of human rights incidents in Egypt has an American Congresswoman calling for preconditions to be imposed on the funding. After arrest warrants were issued for five political activists and bloggers opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) slammed the government of President Mohammed Morsi, himself a past leader in the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, a human rights group has also assailed Egypt for its failure to protect the religious freedoms of Coptic Christians in the country. … Continue Reading

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