ISTANBUL, Turkey — In a small music studio on the city’s outskirts, Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer is recording the last tracks of his rock band’s debut album.
The 42-year-old with a shaved, boyish face sings passionately: “Not much time left, something new coming soon, when the time of change comes, all this pain will end.”
Seeing Tuzer’s long hair, skinny jeans and black T-shirt, you wouldn’t picture him leading prayers in a mosque. But that’s exactly what this imam does in a tiny village in southern Turkey called Pinarbasi.
That’s when he’s not singing with FiRock, the band he formed several months ago.
Now dubbed the Rocking Imam, he says his friends convinced him to do it. “I wouldn’t have even imagined I’d form a band,” he explains in his soft-spoken voice.
Tuzer, who started singing as a child, says his idol was Freddie Mercury and that he admires Pink Floyd. He kept those tastes after he became an imam at the age of 19, following in the steps of his father and grandfather.
In trying to live up to Jesus’s message about solidarity with the poor, Pope Francis has called for a church geared to social justice. This pope wants church officials to live more modestly.
As he told newly-named bishops in Rome on Sept. 19, according to The Tablet, “We pastors must not be men with a ‘princely mindset.’”
But try telling that to Cardinal Raymond Burke, the chief judge of the Vatican’s supreme court.
The fruits of high officialdom come naturally to Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American, as found in photographs that show him in lavish procession with a train of watered silk, wearing fine scarlet gloves and jeweled red hats, suggesting nobility.
Many of these photos appear on the website of the ultra-orthodox group Burke has championed, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which promotes Latin Mass and a return to a traditional, pre-Vatican II religious life. In a blistering interview posted on a more obscure Catholic website, Burke calls gay marriage the work of Satan and the Obama administration “totalitarian” for its support of gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act, which covers contraceptives.
Cardinal Burke, who made his remarks several weeks before the government shutdown, is often clad in the sumptuous attire of a Prince of the Church, as cardinals are called. Francis seemed to have ornamental practices in mind when he said in an interview with La Repubblica published this week: “Heads of the church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers.”
Just released: Despite hopes that the political uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa would lead to greater freedoms for the people of the region, a new studyfinds that restrictions on religion continued to increase in 2011.
“We know that there have been agitations from all over the world that the church should change in the light of the new thinking,” said Reverend Father Ojaje Idoko, the director of pastoral affairs at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria while sitting on a wooden bench after the Friday mass. He dabbed his face with a handkerchief, having just spent almost an hour celebrating Mass for about 100 in crowded room in the height of Nigeria’s hot season.
“I’m worried that if we open up too much to what the world is saying that we will be listening to the world instead of the world listening to us,” he added.
The Catholic Church has been criticized for its strong stance against homosexuality, euthanasia, abortion, stem cell research and contraception, among other things. But Idoko said on these issues, the church should ignore the chorus of complaints and remain steadfast.
“There are certain things the world cannot teach the church,” he said. “The church needs to teach the world.”
“As they set out to change the nature of the community,” explains the head of the community, Sister Mary David Walgenbach, “We received emails from all over the place. Some positive. Others thought we fell into hell for sure. But that’s just the way it is. Some people are future-oriented, broad-minded and deal with diversity and other people have a set, black-and-white perception.”
NEW DELHI, India — Almost as soon as the bombs ripped through a crowded Hyderabad street on Thursday, fingers started pointing at Pakistan.
Given the recent execution by Indian authorities of Kashmiri militant Mohammed Afzal Guru, many assumed a Pakistan-based terror outfit like Lashkar e Toiba was seeking revenge. Many braced for heightened cross-border tensions.
But, some say, the real fallout may be new conflict between Hindus and Muslims within India, rather than a further deterioration of New Delhi’s relations with Islamabad, especially with 2014 national elections looming.
“Investigations have just begun,” said Hashmi, “but the media is already saying it is the [Lashkar e Toiba-backed] Indian Mujahideen, and taking all these names.”
"There’s almost an atmosphere of terror where Muslims live together. Nobody knows whose son will be picked up for this.”
JERUSALEM — A group of Jewish women gathered in prayer Monday at the Western Wall to mark Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the new lunar month.
Even as they gathered to pray, police closed in. The women fell to the ground, unwilling to be dragged away.
Police did not want to be seen apprehending women at prayer, so they stepped back, waiting. Only after the service ended did police arrest 10, including three American rabbis: Robyn Fryer Bodzin, Debra Cantor and Susan Silverman, sister of famed comedienne Sarah Silverman.
Their crime? Being women wearing traditionally male religious garb at what is considered the holiest of Jewish sites.