Interfaith memorial for victims of last year’s Israel-Gaza conflict provides rare opportunity to set aside religious and ethnic divisions.
  • “From Mourning to Hope” took place at Kibbutz Kfar Azza, three miles from Gaza’s eastern neighborhoods.
  • The concert featured a Catholic funerary Mass, musical performances by Jewish and Arab artists in Hebrew and Arabic, and three attendees approved to visit from Gaza.
  • While some dismissed the activities as ineffective, others lauded the acknowledgment of joint suffering and desire for peace.

“I don’t know if this will help, but I support the idea of better neighborly relations…I have music in Tel Aviv too, but the combination of music and this location is meaningful.”

More on this story at The Times of Israel.

(Image Credit: Noam Ekhaus, via The Times of Israel)

Belgian town sees interfaith support as Muslim community raises funds to help Jewish community reopen shuttered synagogue.
  • Despite not having a permanent mosque of their own, local Muslims rallied to provide the Synagogue d’Arlon, the oldest Jewish house of worship in the country, with 2,400 in assistance after it was shuttered because of structural problems.
  • The funds were presented at an interfaith roundtable discussion on “Living Together” bringing together local religious and secular leaders.

“Jews and Muslims have lived together for centuries. Do you know that the first hydraulic clock was invented by a Jew so that Muslims can observe prayer times? Imams in France protected Jews during war. It is regrettable that religions are used for political purposes and sow discord between men.”

More on this story at the Huffington Post.

(Image Credit: Association of Muslims of Arlon, via The Huffington Post)

Immigrant children in New York school find cultural bridge and new friends through soccer.
  • Immigrant students at the School for International Studies report their extracurricular soccer program as a key channel for them to develop language, social, and cultural skills.
  • One U.S.-born student shares how he took up Arabic to learn how to better communicate with his teammates on the field.
  • New York City has a population of more than 150,000 English language-learners in its school system.

“Any game, I make friends. When we play basketball, I make friends, like, you play with your friends. You make new friends any ways.”

More on this story at BBC.

Saudi supreme court upholds sentencing of 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for blogger accused of “insulting Islam.”
  • After being sentenced for speaking out against the religious police in Saudi Arabia, Raif Badawi received the first 50 of his lashes in January before subsequent rounds were postponed for medical reasons.
  • Badawi and his lawyer Walid Abulkhair, also an imprisoned rights activist, have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by a Norweigian parliamentarian.
  • Badawi’s supporters have launched a Twitter solidarity campaign called #backlash, drawing red marks on their backs with lipstick to draw attention to his plight.
“All this cruel suffering happened to me because I expressed my opinion.”
More on this story at Middle East Eye.
(Image Credit: AFP Photo / Stephane de Sakutin, via Middle East Eye)
U.S. family detention centers face renewed scrutiny following attempted suicide of 19-year-old immigrant mother.
  • The young Honduran had been held with her four-year-old son in the Karnes detention camp in Texas for eight months.
  • She was detained for attempting to enter the country for a second time without proper immigration papers, the result of a crackdown following last summer’s dramatic increase in border-crossings by families and unaccompanied minors.
  • The policy has subjected families (including young children) to up to a year of detention, leading to extreme stress and suicide attempts.

“I don’t feel I can live going back to my country. But you have treated us like an animal, you look down on us.”

More on this story at The Guardian.

EU ships take in more than 3,000 more migrants from the Mediterranean over the weekend.
  • Fifteen operations over a 24-hour period included British, Irish, Italian, and German ships.
  • With approximately one million in Libya waiting to make the journey across the Mediterranean, British authorities predict up to 500,000 may attempt the dangerous trip over the summer.
  • The current migration rate stands roughly 30% higher than last year’s at this time.

“We don’t know when the rest will be arriving [in southern coastal processing centers], because it’s simply a logistical nightmare for Italian authorities as many of them are ending up on mainland Italy.”

More on this story at Al Jazeera.

Clashes erupt between marchers and ultra-right nationalists at Pride march in Kiev.
  • Nine (including five police officers) were injured among the 300 marching in the parade.
  • The march was only the second of its kind in Ukraine’s post-Soviet era.
  • President Petro Poroshenko had stated earlier that while he would not be attending, the marchers were constitutionally guaranteed the right to march and should not be disrupted.

More on this story at VICE.

(Image Credit: Roman Pilipey/EPA, via VICE)