Posts in Middle East
The U.S. must speak directly with Iran's religious and ethnic minorities

(OPINION) President Trump announced Sept. 23 that the U.S. would devote $25 million to religious freedom issues and continue pressuring countries to end religious persecution, but in Iran, the U.S. is neglecting ethnic and religious minorities. Baha’is, numbering 300,000 in Iran, are particularly persecuted.

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Yazidi journalists, still In peril, seek international spotlight

A group of Yazidi journalists visited the Religion Unplugged offices in New York, hosted by the U.S. State Department, to talk about the current state of affairs in Iraq for the persecuted people group.

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Yemenis debate whether swarm of locusts during famine is halal, a blessing or curse

Locusts destroyed crops in Yemen this summer during a famine that’s already reaching biblical proportions. While some see the insects as a blessing to eat, others believe the pests are a punishment from Allah.

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Is the Iranian apocalypse really coming?

(OPINION) Over the weekend, Israeli forces struck an Iranian base in Syria after intelligence of “killer drones” there. While Iran’s hostility increases, Middle East observers should remember that many of Iran’s leaders have particular minority Shia beliefs about preparing the world for the reappearance of a hidden imam.

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5 reasons the world needs a wake-up call on religious persecution

(OPINION) The United Nations has established for the first time ever on Aug. 22 a day to draw attention to people groups around the world violently persecuted for their religious beliefs: Yazidis in Syria and Iraq, Christians in Nigeria, faith minorities in Pakistan, Rohingya in Myanmar, Uighur Muslims in China and others.

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The Yazidi community five years after Islamic State massacre

We talked to human rights activist Dr. Widad Akreyi about the Yazidi community’s wait for justice on the international stage after the start of a genocide on Aug. 3, 2014. Thousands captured by Islamic State fighters remain missing.

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5 Takeaways from the International Religious Freedom Report

Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and Myanmar are the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom in 2018, according to the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report.

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American anti-Semitism is growing from new, surprising sources

A recent poll found that only 80% of Americans believe that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.

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Jewish leaders in Israel face sexual misconduct allegations and Slutwalk protest

(NEWS ANALYSIS) Top rabbis and politicians have been accused of sexual assault this year, and Israelis are protesting for their convictions and removals from leadership.

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Lag b'Omer: the Jewish holiday of faith and folklore

The annual pilgrimage is the 33rd day of Judaism's somber seven-week "counting" between Passover and Pentecost and marks the ceasing of a plague that killed 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva ( c. 50–135 CE), a sage martyred by the Romans during the genocidal persecution of the Emperor Hadrian. 

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A Reporter's Notebook: the Israelis wishing a generous Ramadan to Palestinians

“I think we have arrived at the days of the Messiah,” Jewish community spokesman Naom Arnon said at an iftar dinner that marks the end of the day’s Ramadan fast, hosted by the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a joint Israeli-Palestinian group to promote business ties and economic cooperation in the West Bank.

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Jerusalem teen wins International Bible Quiz

The annual quiz was held last week in Jerusalem in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other prominent Israeli leaders. The outgoing education minister Naftali Bennett spoke about the current challenges Israel is facing in losing its people to the Diaspora.

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Nationalism and Catholicism collide in run-up to the European elections

(NEWS ANALYSIS) Matteo Salvini, who leads the League party, could take his anti-immigration stances to Brussels if opinion polls prove correct. His hardline stance on the issue has put him at odds with the Catholic church in Italy as well as with Pope Francis, who has repeatedly spoken in favor of refugees seeking asylum in Western Europe.

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The Eurovision Song Contest is rocking Israel

(NEWS ANALYSIS) Palestinian jihadi militants in the Gaza Strip fired more than 700 rockets and mortars over the weekend, right as tens of thousands of musicians and fans are arriving to Tel Aviv for the 64th annual Eurovision festival. The move doesn’t make sense militarily, but likely aims instead to damage Israeli tourism.

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New evidence suggests Biblical King Balak existed

Scholars have deciphered lines of text on a partly broken and illegible tablet that most closely resemble the king’s name rather than the phrase “House of David,” adding historical credibility to the Book of Numbers.

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Muslim families are suing Israel to bury their dead in a coveted cemetery

Jews, Christians and Muslims have buried their loved ones in Jerusalem’s Bab al-Rahma Cemetery for hundreds of years, but more recently Israel has banned burials, citing the need to protect Jewish antiquities. Now, Palestinian families who claim to own the land are suing Israel.

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