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UNOG: “I am keen to learn more about the coexistence of different religious or belief communities in Lebanon and find positive examples,” Mr. Bielefeldt said. “It will also be an opportunity for me to assess the freedom of religion or belief of refugees and migrants.”
AL Monitor: On Jan. 22, the Lebanese army opened a new chapter in the war against terrorism, thwarting an Islamic State (IS) attack against a guard post for the army’s second land border regiment in Tallet al-Hamra, in the lands beyond Ras Baalbek, in the east of Lebanon. This attack, the second in the same place in three months, ended with the army regaining control over the site after dozens of militants and eight soldiers were killed.
Religion News Service: Watching ancient Christian communities stand nearly defenseless as Islamic militants roll across swaths of the Middle East, coalitions of Christians are banding together to sound the alarm and demand government action.
WorldWatch Monitor: Declaring the plight of Christians in the Middle East a “state of emergency,” evangelical and Protestant churches in Syria and Lebanon have issued a plea for Western advocacy and aid.
Religion Clause Blog: Last Sunday, the country’s President, Michel Sulaiman , indicated that he would support legislation to create civil marriage inside Lebanon
Pakistan Today: An Islamic group headed by influential cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi on Friday demanded Pope Benedict XVI apologise to Muslims over inflammatory remarks he made in 2006.
Catholic Culture: In a September 15 address, Pope Benedict XVI explained why a commitment to religious freedom is a requirement for stability in the Middle East.
Google News (AFP): Pope Benedict XVI visits Lebanon this week at a time when Christian refugees from the war-torn city of Aleppo in neighbouring Syria are fearful for their future.
AP: Judges at the U.N.-backed tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri have rejected challenges to the court’s jurisdiction.
Religion Clause Blog: Lebanon’s Daily Star reports on a lawsuit that has been filed in Beirut against Wiam Wahhab, leader of the Tawhid Party, by 70 Lebanese and Saudi women for remarks Wahhab made about Muslim women’s veils.
Washington Times: “Hezbollah secured the support from a majority of parliament Monday to nominate its candidate for prime minister, putting the Iranian-backed militant group in position to control Lebanon‘s new government.”
Ahram Online: “A draft law calling for a 15-year ban on property sales between Lebanese Christians and Muslims has sparked controversy, with many saying it is aimed at stemming the sale of Christian land to Hezbollah supporters.”
Daily Star: “Labor Minister Butros Harb has authored a draft law that would prevent Christians and Muslims from selling property to each other for a period of 15 years, in order to ‘safeguard national coexistence.’”
Via The Volokh Conspiracy: “The case is Charara v. Yatim (Mass. Ct. App., decided today) [opinion can be accessed at this link]: ‘Following a trial, a judge of the Probate and Family Court concluded that no deference was due the custody order issued by a Jaafarite religious tribunal (Jaafarite Court) in Lebanon. The probate judge based his decision on evidence, including the testimony of experts, that the Jaafarite Court’s custody order was not made in “substantial conformity” with Massachusetts law regarding the best interests of the children . . . ”
Telegraph: “Omar Bakri Mohammed, known as the ‘Tottenham Ayatollah’, was on the run after a court in Beirut found him guilty of funding al-Qaeda and starting a militant group to weaken the Lebanese government.”
Associated Press: “BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. says it has no way of providing government officials with the text of encrypted corporate e-mails its devices serve up. But if the companies that employ BlackBerry phones want to hand over the encryption keys to their e-mail, it won’t object . . . ”
Assyrian International News Agency: “The number of Christians in the Middle East is swiftly declining, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir warned Nicholas Sarkozy during a meeting with the French president at the Elysee Palace.”
TIME: “Demonstrations are hardly unusual in Lebanon, where politics is often conducted on the streets. But the few thousand people who gathered in Beirut on Sunday to march on the country’s parliament made for an unusual sight, mostly because of what was missing. There were hardly any religious symbols or sectarian political banners among them, in a country where religion and politics are practically synonymous. But those who showed up for Sunday’s Secular Pride March bore no crosses, crescents or portraits of saints or martyrs; they carried only roses and the red and white cedar flag of the republic in protest at religion’s domination over civil and political life in Lebanon. ‘What’s your sect? None of your business!’ they chanted.”
AP: “In the Middle East, civil marriage doesn’t exist and no religious authority will perform an interfaith wedding. Lebanon and Israel are different in that they recognize civil marriages as long as they’re performed abroad, and the closest venue abroad is Cyprus, 150 miles from Lebanon and 230 miles from Israel.”
AP: “It’s an unusual alliance in a country where your religion usually determines your politics: Christians siding with Shiite Muslim militant Hezbollah. But it has shaken up Lebanon’s politics, and backers say it represents the future of this long divided nation.”
BBC: “Lebanese journalist with links to militant group Hezbollah has been barred from entering Britain. Ibrahim Moussawi was due to speak at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, but the home secretary has ruled he should be denied a visa . . . ”