Tag Archives: Religion / Belief

Australia is enjoying Easter without any new local coronavirus cases | Instant News


MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australians celebrate Easter Sunday in a relatively unlimited manner as the country reports no locally acquired cases of the novel coronavirus.

FILE PHOTOS: A man crosses a largely empty downtown street as people in Greater Brisbane have been ordered to lockdown as authorities try to suppress the burgeoning coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cluster in Brisbane, Australia, March 30, 2021. Image taken March 30, 2021. AAP Image / Darren England via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE IS PROVIDED BY THIRD PARTIES. NO RESALS. WITHOUT ARCHIVES. AUSTRALIA OUT. NEW ZEALAND IS OUT / File Photo

Queensland, the epicenter of a recent small COVID-19 community outbreak, has had only one infection in the past three days. States have the strictest restrictions on public gatherings.

Elsewhere, Australians are flocking to beaches, taking advantage of the warm weather in many parts of the country, or hanging out with family, in stark contrast to last year’s Easter when a nationwide lockdown left people confined to their homes.

While many countries have imposed new lockdowns or restricted services for major Christian holidays trying to keep a third wave from spreading the coronavirus, Australian churches remain open and many attend services over the four-day weekend.

Christianity is the dominant religion in Australia, with 12 million people, and 86% Australian, identifying as Christian, according to the 2016 census.

Australia has become one of the world’s most successful countries in tackling the pandemic, with rapid lockdowns, border closings and rapid tracking limiting coronavirus infections to more than 29,300 infections, with 909 COVID-19 deaths.

However, the state has far less, with its inoculation boost, missing its March target of about 3.3 million doses as the state and federal government wrangle over the mistake.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday the country was on track to deliver the first dose of the vaccine to all Australians who want it by October.

“As supply increases with the manufacture of sovereign vaccines, so does the launch,” he said.

CSL Ltd. began producing 50 million doses of the University of Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine in March in Melbourne, with most Australians expected to receive the injection.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Edited by William Mallard

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Steve Bannon lost an offer to start a right-wing political academy in Italy | Instant News


ROME (Reuters) – Steve Bannon, a former adviser to former US President Donald Trump, lost a legal battle to set up a right-wing Catholic political academy at a convent in Italy.

FILE PHOTO: Former White House Chief Strategy Officer Steve Bannon exits Manhattan Federal Court, following trial of his indictment of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in the Manhattan area of ​​New York City, New York, USA August 20, 2020 REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

The Council of State on Monday ruled against the Dignitatis Humanae Institute (DHI), which is supported by Bannon, who wants to start school in an 800-year-old convent south of Rome.

The case has been in the Italian court system for years, with a lawsuit and counterclaim between DHI on the one hand and the ministry of culture, which owns property on the other, along with a group of local environmental and civil organizations.

Bannon, a Catholic, helped compile a curriculum for a leadership course aimed at right-wing Catholic activists at what became the Academy for Judeo-Christian Westerners in the city of Trisulti.

Bannon in a statement on Monday vowed to challenge the decision.

“We intend to appeal and win,” he said. The trident is Italy’s treasure trove and we will fight for it.

Many residents are against the school. In 2019, the ministry revoked the 19-year lease, citing breaches of contractual obligations. The agency appealed to a regional court saying the move was politically motivated and won last year’s appeal.

The institute’s founder, Benjamin Harnwell, confirmed Monday’s decision against DHI in a phone call with Reuters but said he did not immediately comment further. He said the lawyers were still studying the verdict.

During the Trump administration, the project for the agency won support among Italy’s populist right-wing politicians, such as former interior minister Matteo Salvini.

Over the years, the project lost support from prominent Roman Catholic conservatives, including American Cardinal Raymond Burke, who for years had been a strong supporter of Bannon and was the institute’s honorary president.

Burke withdrew his support after Bannon said he wanted to make a film from a book accusing homosexuality in the Vatican.

Days before leaving office in January, Trump granted clemency to Bannon, top adviser in the 2016 presidential election.

Bannon was charged last year of defrauding the president’s supporters into efforts to raise private funds to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. He pleaded not guilty.

Reporting by Philip Pullella, additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Edited by Giles Elgood and David Gregorio

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Swiss church bells mark the year since the first COVID-19 death | Instant News


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) – Swiss church bells rang at midday on Friday and people observed a minute of silence to mark one year since the country’s first death from COVID-19.

President Guy Parmelin announced the move on public television last Sunday, urging citizens to respect the more than 9,300 people who have died from the disease in Switzerland.

At the Notre-Dame cathedral in Lausanne, the French-speaking Swiss city in the west of the country, guard Renato Hausler rings the bells of the 16th-century ‘La Clemence’.

In April, as the pandemic began, Hausler told Reuters he had continued the practice of climbing 153 stone steps to his tower to ring the bell at night, to awaken the solidarity and courage of the population.

On Friday, Hausler said he rang the bell to pay respects and to remind people to stay strong.

“It is a call for courage, but it is a call for patience and perseverance, that’s for sure. Because it won’t end like this, as easy as we’d like or think, ”he said, standing in front of the gothic cathedral of Lausanne overlooking the city.

Enjoying the sight was Lausanne resident and pharmacist Simon Reboh, who were also contemplating.

“It’s great to be able to stop and think about what’s going on. We are dragged into our daily lives, we don’t have time to think, ”he said.

“That’s why I’m here, in front of a scene that allows me to slow down.”

Reporting by Cecile Mantovani and Denis Balibouse in Lausanne; Written by Stephanie Nebehay; Edited by Janet Lawrence and Raissa Kasolowsky

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Switzerland will vote to ban the veil in a referendum which it criticizes as Islamophobic | Instant News


ZURICH (Reuters) – “Stop Extremism!” urges a red billboard in a quiet village outside Zurich over an image of a sullen woman wearing a black headscarf and veil.

The billboard is part of a campaign by the far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP) to ban public face coverings and is to be elected in a binding national referendum on Sunday. Opinion polls indicate that a large part of Switzerland will support it and the ban will become law.

“In Switzerland, our tradition is to show your face. It is a sign of our basic freedom, ”said Walter Wobmann, member of the SVP parliament and chair of the referendum committee.

The proposal predates the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen all adults be forced to wear masks in many settings to prevent the spread of infection. It garnered the support needed to trigger a referendum in 2017.

It does not mention Islam directly, and also aims to stop violent street protesters and football rioters wearing masks. Still, local politicians, media and campaigners dub it a burqa ban.

The proposal has exacerbated Switzerland’s strained relations with Islam after residents voted to ban the construction of new towers in 2009. Two cantons have banned wearing face masks locally.

Wobmann said the vote was not against Islam itself, but added, “the face covering is a symbol of extreme political Islam which has become increasingly prominent in Europe and has no place in Switzerland.”

France banned the use of the veil in public in 2011 and Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Bulgaria have full or partial bans on wearing face coverings in public.

No one in Switzerland wears a burqa and only about 30 women wear the niqab, the University of Lucerne estimates. Muslims make up 5.2% of Switzerland’s population of 8.6 million people, with most of them coming from Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Swiss Muslims say right-wing parties are using the ballot to round up their supporters and vilify them and others have warned the ban could spark wider divisions.

“The niqab is a blank sheet that allows people to project their fears onto it,” said Andreas Tunger-Zanetti, manager of the Center for Religious Research at the University of Lucerne.

“But … you are very unlikely to meet someone on a Swiss street wearing one.”

He said the ban risks strengthening Switzerland’s image as anti-Islamic and could generate resentment among some Muslims.

Rifa’at Lenzin, 67, a Swiss Muslim woman, said she was completely against the ban, which addresses an issue that does not exist, in a country where Muslims are well integrated.

“Changing the constitution to tell people what they can and shouldn’t wear is a very bad idea. This is Switzerland, not Saudi Arabia.”

“We are Muslim but we are Swiss citizens who grew up here too,” said Lenzin. “This vote is completely racist and Islamophobic.”

Reporting by John Revill; Edited by Alexandra Hudson

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Germany bans Salafi Muslim groups | Instant News


BERLIN, February 25 (Reuters) – German authorities carried out raids at several locations in Berlin and Brandenburg on Thursday after banning Berlin’s Salafi Muslim group, police said.

Berlin’s senate interior department on Thursday said it had banned the “jihad-salafi” association Jama’atu Berlin, also known as the Berlin Tauhid, and that police had carried out the raid, without providing further details.

The German newspaper Tagesspiegel said the group glorified the battle for “Islamic State” on the internet and called for the killing of Jews, adding that criminal proceedings were awaiting decisions against some of its members.

The newspaper added that the group had been in contact with Anis Amri, a Tunisian asylum seeker who failed with Islamic ties, who hijacked a truck and took it to a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people in 2016.

Salafis – strict Sunni Muslims – include peaceful private individuals, activists seeking to implement Sharia law, and militants who advocate violence to establish a state they perceive to represent true Islam.

The number of Salafis has risen in Germany to an all-time high of 12,150 in 2019, Germany’s domestic intelligence said in its annual report last year, listing them among “Islamic extremists”.

It said the number of Salafis has more than tripled since 2011 and that Salafi groups in Germany are going through a consolidation stage, adding that followers remain a low profile in public. (Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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