Myanmar president signs bills perceived as targeting Muslim minorities, interfaith couples, and the unmarried into law
- President Thein Sein signed four “Race and Religious Protection Laws” into being in the lead-up to November elections.
- The laws include one criminalizing polygamy and unmarried cohabitation and two laws restricting religious conversion and interfaith marriage.
- Buddhist nationalists in the country have promoted the laws as the latest in a series of measures restricting the activities and practices of the country’s Muslim minority.
“They set out the potential for discrimination on religious grounds and pose the possibility for serious communal tension.”
Read the full story at Reuters.
(Image Credit: Toru Hanai/Reuters)
Displaced Iraqis find support across sectarian lines in central Iraq
- In cities like Najaf and Hillah, Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike have provided humanitarian support to those displaced by Islamic State violence regardless of affiliation.
- Communities have rallied to include all in free evening iftar dinners and other forms of charity during Ramadan, with new arrivals discovering new economic opportunity as well.
- In late June, the UN put the number of internally displaced Iraqis at 3 million, mostly from the northern and western provinces.
“In reality, the situation is very different from what media outlets interested in political spats report. … You will not find sectarianism here. Sectarianism is found among political elites and armed factions, especially those who came from outside of Iraq, most notably IS.”
Read the full story at Al-Monitor.
(Image Credit: Ahmed Saad/Reuters, via Al-Monitor)
Myanmar passes controversial law restricting interfaith marriage
- The law requires partners of different faiths to register their intent to marry with the government, after which they can marry only if there are no objections following public notice of the engagement.
- Violation of the law could lead to imprisonment, which has led to an outcry from rights organizations who slam the law as discriminatory against ethnic minorities and women.
- Proposed by the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, the law claims to focus on the protection of Buddhist women from being coerced into interfaith marriages and losing their rights.
“This kind of law shouldn’t be issued by parliament because it is not an essential law for all ethnic [groups] in Myanmar; it is just a law that discriminates against ethnic people when it comes to religion.”
Read the full story at Radio Free Asia.
(Image Credit: AFP, via Radio Free Asia)
Inaugural International Yoga Day draws millions around the world to celebrate the ancient spiritual practice
- In India, PM Narendra Modi joined 37,000 in Rajpath in New Delhi for 1.5 hours of asanas.
- An estimated 200 million from 192 countries took part in events around the world that followed the rising of the sun, including politicians, military units, and other public workers.
- Despite some pushback from Muslim leaders in the country and the ongoing holy month of Ramadan, India’s events saw many Muslims joining in the festivities.
“It marks a new era of training of human mind for peace and harmony.”
Read the full story at the Times of India.
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)