Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Peaceful Muslims have no relation to extremists – supreme mufti of Russia

Talgat Tajuddin, the head of the Central Muslim Board of Russia, has cautioned against attacks on Muslims in retaliation for recent terrorist attacks... “Peaceful, good Muslims should not become the target of so-called 'acts of retaliation'. People who follow traditional Islam have no relation to extremists,” Tadzhuddin said on Monday. Tajuddin reiterated that Muslims “are trying to prevent the spread of extremism, radicalism and terrorism.” (Scroll down for full article.)

Fears over backlash and hate crimes against Muslims are also the immediate response here in the U.S. after every Muslim terrorist attack or foiled plot. Of course any hate crime or targeting of any person, Muslim or otherwise, is abhorrent. One crime is too many. But for the record, crimes against Muslims in the U.S. are a small percentage of all anti-religious crimes, as per this report:

With the annual release of the FBI’s hate crime numbers, statistical proof is once again available for those who are interested in the real answer as to which groups are subjected to the most attacks… Of the 1,340 incidents of anti-religious hate crimes reported, 674 or 62.4 percent were anti-Jewish in nature. Only 130 incidents or 11.6 percent involved Muslim victims. These figures are not much different from those assembled by the government for previous years. In virtually every year, the number of anti-Semitic incidents is a multiple of those involving Muslims.

The supreme mufti of Russia assures us that Muslims "are trying to prevent the spread of extremism, radicalism and terrorism," yet the extremists seem to have no difficulty gaining devout adherents, including among converts to Islam. Indeed, the two Muslim suicide bombers identified in the Volgograd attacks are recent converts to Islam. Why is that?

Extremist Muslims, or Islamists, always cite the Quran to support their actions. Suicide jihadists have often left videos behind where they make their confession of Islam and tell why they are going to perform an attack which will kill innocent people. Although there are peaceful Muslims who oppose this aspect of Islam (see The Clarion Project for profiles on and articles by such ‘moderate’ Muslims), it seems that the jihadists have Islamic scripture, tradition and teaching on their side. Jihad is mandated in the Quran, and Muhammad himself practiced and commanded jihad. Muhammad’s life and example is both a personal guide for Muslims (he is called “the most beautiful pattern of conduct” in the Quran), as well as the key to understanding the Quran and Islamic doctrine.

Putin pledges "full annihilation" of terrorists; Dozens rounded up in Volgograd

CBS News reports:
Police detained dozens of people on Tuesday in sweeps through Volgograd after the attacks raised security fears ahead of the Winter Olympics. 
There has been no claim of responsibility for either bombing, but they came only months after the leader of an Islamic insurgency in southern Russia threatened new attacks on civilian targets in the country, including on the Winter Games that are to begin Feb. 7 in Sochi.

Putin pledges "full annihilation" of terrorists
From RT.com — 12/31/2013

Volgograd trolley bus blast: LIVE UPDATES

At least 16 people have been killed in a trolley bus blast in Volgograd, emergency services report, only a day after a suicide bomb ripped through the city's railway station, killing 18. Security has been ramped up across the nation.

Read our full story of the second Volgograd suicide bombing.

Tuesday, December 31

13:45 GMT: Putin declared that Russia would "fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation", speaking at a New Year’s reception in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk that suffered massive flooding this summer.

“This year, we had to face problems, including inhuman terrorist attacks in Volgograd and unprecedented natural disasters in Russia’s Far East,” Putin said.

According to the latest data, 34 people were killed in the terrorist attacks in Volgograd, while 72 others were wounded, with 62 of them currently in hospitals, Russia’s Health Ministry reported, as cited by Interfax news agency.

13:05 GMT: Over 150 units of firearms, as well as almost 5 kilograms of drugs, have been seized in Volgograd in a special operation, Interfax reported citing the region’s security forces as saying.

Following the terrorist attacks in Volgograd, people have been actively helping the security forces, calling them and reporting on any suspicious objects in the city.

Much more on the RT Volgograd page, updated throughout the day...

Putin named Times’ International Person of the Year

RT via OCP Media — 12/31/2013

One of Britain’s most influential newspapers has named Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘Man of the Year.’ The Times awarded the title because Putin “succeeded in one of his most enduring ambitions: to bring Moscow back to the international high table.”

According to the newspaper, it was the Syrian insurgency that “propelled the president back into the front ranks of effective world statesmen,” when he managed to steer the West away from military intervention. He then used the escalating conflict to boost Russia’s clout on the international stage.

“The narrow, but achievable and worthy aim of taking apart President Assad’s chemical arsenal was a face-saver for the West. And it established Mr Putin as a Middle East player once again; for Arab leaders and the Iranians he was suddenly the man who knew how to head off Western-led regime change,” The Times said.

Putin’s approach of rejecting the use of force and promoting political dialogue and compromise has proved fruitful in the Middle East. Syria, in its turn, has agreed to relinquish its stockpile of chemical weapons amid accusations that Damascus used sarin gas against rebel forces. The Russia-brokered deal cut short Washington’s intention to use military force against Syria in retaliation for the alleged attack.

“In Syria the world community had to make a joint and fateful decision. It was either the continuation of the degradation of the world order, the rule of the right of might, the right of the fist, the multiplication of chaos. Or to collectively take responsible decisions,” Putin said earlier this month while addressing the Federal Assembly.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Russia: Rush-hour blast kills 14 on trolley bus in Volgograd, Russia; 3rd deadly attack in four days.

NBC News — 12/30/2013
By Albina Kovalyova and Daniel Arkin

MOSCOW -- At least 14 people were killed and 28 wounded when an explosion ripped through a trolley bus in the Russian city of Volgograd on Monday, the country's third deadly attack in four days.

Members of the emergency services work at the site of a bomb blast on a trolleybus in Volgograd December 30, 2013. (Reuters / Sergei Karpov)

The explosion, which authorities blamed on a suicide bomber, tore out much of the electric bus' exterior, left mangled bodies on the street and raised fears about more violence in the lead-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics that Russia will host in six weeks.

"For the second day, we are dying -- it's a nightmare," a woman near the scene told Reuters, her voice trembling. "What are we supposed to do, just walk now?"

Volgograd, a city of around one million about 400 miles northeast of Sochi, is a key transport hub for southern Russia, with many bus routes linking it to the volatile provinces in the North Caucasus.

On Sunday, 17 people were killed in a terror attack by a suspected female suicide bomber at a railway station in Volgograd. And on Friday, a car bomb killed three people in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, 170 miles east of Sochi, where the Olympics will be held.

The blasts on Sunday and Monday were probably connected because the TNT and shrapnel-packed bombs were "identical," said Vladimir Markin, spokesman for Russia's main investigative agency.

Russian terror attacks could be chilling prelude to Olympic violence, say experts


Fox News — 12/30/2013

A pair of suicide bombings that left 31 dead in Russia could be a chilling tune-up for the Olympic Games, where a Muslim terrorist leader has vowed to put Chechnya’s long-standing grievance with Moscow in the international spotlight, according to terrorism experts.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the twin bombings, which occurred less than 24 hours apart in the city of Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, terror experts strongly suspect they were inspired, if not ordered, by Chechen Muslim rebel leader Doku Umarov. Umarov, who calls himself the emir of the terror group the Caucasus Emirate, has called on Muslims to attack civilians and to prevent the Olympics from occurring.

"He comes not as a fierce man of war..."

The Nativity of Christ reveals the true nature of Muhammad and Islam

He comes not as a fierce man of war threatening all things living with death, but as a newly born babe, bringing the hope of rebirth and life into the entire realm of death; He comes — but the land of destruction does not meet, does not embrace, does not praise, does not even see the Saviour, and does not hear the Word of God keeping silence in the manger. Virtually in vain does the glory which Jesus Christ had with God the Father before the world was (John 17:5) on the lips of angels, follow Him descending into the world and pursuing Him, attain even unto the earth.
— St Philaret of Moscow (†1867)

St Philaret of Moscow may very well have had Muhammad in mind when he wrote this passage contrasting the meek and vulnerable "Word of God keeping silence in the manger" with the "fierce man of war" who dwells in the "land of destruction."

He would not be the first to draw this comparison. St Gregory Palamas is recorded saying this to his Muslim captors circa 1354:

It is true that Muhammad started from the east and came to the west, as the sun travels from east to west. Nevertheless he came with war, knives, pillaging, forced enslavement, murders, and acts that are not from the good God but instigated by the chief manslayer, the devil.  (Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos, The Life of Gregory Palamas, Thessalonika, Greece, 1984, p 371. Translated from the Greek and published in English in The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista CO, 1990.)

In his famous Regensburg address in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI quoted the fourteenth century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who, in his dialogue [ca. 1391] with a Persian Muslim offered this blunt polemic:

Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

Muslims around the world affirmed that they are followers of Muhammad by rioting and raging against Pope Benedict after his remarks. What is illustrative of the nature of Islam and its followers is that they completely missed the subtlety of his point, namely, that it is not reasonable for God to will His followers to advance the knowledge and worship of Him by violence:

Syria: The End of Christian Civilization?

What fourteen hundred years of Islamic jihad and occupation of Christian lands had been unable to do, just a decade of Islam's renewed war against Christianity seems poised to accomplish. Studied observers and historians are calling Muslim persecution of Christians "apocalyptic" and "genocidal."

The brutal religious cleansing of Christians from their ancestral lands has been aided by U.S. intervention in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East. Obama has openly accelerated the jihad through his Islamophilic worldview, crowning decades of wrong-headed pro-Muslim, anti-Christian U.S. foreign policy by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood (recently named a terrorist organization by Egypt, and now openly allied with Al Qaeda) and Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and other jihad terrorist groups in Syria.

Christians must loudly protest against America's support for Muslim groups waging jihad against our brothers and sisters. To remain silent and/or do nothing is to crucify Christ all over again. God help us.

Syria: The End of Christian Civilization?
by Milena Faustova, VOR via Pravoslavie — 12/24/2013

The third-largest city in Syria, Homs has almost completely lost its Christian population. Thousands have been murdered, on the order of millions have fled. The same situation can be observed in Damascus, Aleppo, Khame, Latakia, and other cities. “This is a real religious war, which the world community assiduously takes no notice of,” the President of the Near East Institute, Eugene Satanovsky, believes:

It is the accepted belief that religious wars have become a thing of the past. But they have become a thing of the past only for those Western politicians who pay no attention to them. Religious wars are going on both in Africa and the Near East. Syria is only one of the bridgeheads for the swift de-Christianization of this region. And since these wars are carried on by fanatic Islamists, representatives of radical terrorist movements, it is not to the advantage of the world community to interfere in them. So far no one has abolished this double standard, and — unlike the 19th century, when the genocide of Christians in Syria or Lebanon still upset a person in Europe or America — today people simply close their eyes to this, out of both economic and geopolitical considerations.”

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Egypt's Coptic churches on alert during Christmas holidays

With the approach of Christmas celebrations, the Egyptian Church is tense in anticipation of violence and bombings against Coptic churches, similar to what happened when the Rabia al-Adawiya sit-in was broken up in August.

AL Monitor — 12/23/2013
Walaa Hussein, author — Rani Geha, translator

Egyptian Coptic Christians carry a cross and chant prayers during a candlelight protest marking one week since sectarian clashes with soldiers and riot police at a protest against an attack on the Abassaiya Cathedral, Cairo, Oct. 16, 2011. (photo by REUTERS/Stringer)

The current tension is due to reports by Egyptian media outlets about a plot by Muslim Brotherhood militias to blow up a number of churches during the celebrations for Coptic Christmas at the beginning of January, which will coincide with the second session of the trial of ousted President Mohammed Morsi on Jan. 8.

That information has worried church officials, who have expressed their apprehensions to Pope Tawadros. Tawadros said he would meet with senior officials to discuss how to secure the churches. He is also considering the church’s proposal to move prayer time earlier to help the security services in protecting the churches.

The US State Department was quick to warn its nationals in Egypt of a new wave of violence that would coincide with the holiday season, calling for caution and avoiding unnecessary risks. In a statement published on its website, the US Embassy in Cairo advised: “Demonstrations continue throughout the country, oftentimes accompanied by sporadic exchanges of violence between protesters and security forces and/or residents.”

The statement noted that embassy personnel are required to get permission before traveling outside of Cairo or Alexandria, adding that the tourist resorts in Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh, Luxor and Aswan “tend to be safe.”

The embassy also stressed that US nationals in Egypt should avoid going to areas that may see large concentrations of people, and that demonstrations whose organizers assert will be “peaceful” may turn violent, thus breaking the law of the right to demonstrate recently approved by the government.

This comes against the backdrop of information that Egyptian intelligence services are monitoring correspondence between the international wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and members of Hamas on the one hand and terrorist and jihadist groups in the Sinai Peninsula on the other hand, to implement simultaneous terrorist operations against tourist sites and churches on New Year’s Eve. 

According to the security information, those groups have been instructed to continue their so-called holy war against the Egyptian army and police, and that money and weapons will arrive within a few days through the tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula by three persons belonging to the military wing of Hamas. 

A Grim Christmas for those driven from Syria's Maalula

Pravoslavie — 12/24/2013

Maalula before the Jihad

After fleeing a rebel assault on the historic Syrian town of Maalula, hundreds of Christian families sheltering in Damascus are preparing for a bleak Christmas away from home.

The picturesque hamlet -- where residents still speak the ancient Aramaic of Jesus Christ -- was a symbol of the long Christian presence in Syria's ethnic and religious mosaic, now shattered by war.

The residents of Maalula are among the millions of Syrians displaced by a war that shows no sign of ending, and what should be a joyful holiday season is instead the latest painful reminder of all that has been lost.

"The most beautiful gift I could possibly receive for Christmas would be to return to Maalula," whispered Hneineh Taalab, who fled in early September after jihadist fighters entered the town and is now sheltering at a Damascus convent.

Taalab said jihadists from Al-Nusra Front, a rebel group linked to Al-Qaeda, murdered her 20-year-old son Sarkis Zakhem when they took over Maalula on September 8, after four days of fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

"Al-Nusra also killed my brother and my cousin because they refused to convert to Islam."

More and More Muslim Volunteers from Western Countries Fighting on the Side of Islamists in Syria

Pravoslavie — 12/26/2013

About 20% of 10,000 foreigners, who are fighting on the side of islamist militants in Syria, came there from Western countries, and their number in percentage terms is increasing, reports Strategy Page—an American website, specializing on military themes—with the reference to the information of the Israeli intelligence service.

Besides that, according to estimates of the Israeli secret services, this year no fewer than 15,000 militants of Hezbollah have participated in the fighting in Syria. The majority of them arrived there for several months, as many supporters of Hezbollah in Lebanon have a negative attitude to the fact that fighters from this movement are joining one of the sides of the Syrian conflict.

Strategy Page reports that Britain's reaction to the information on its subjects fighting in Syria was to revoke the passports of 20 of the 240 British Muslims, who, according to information of the Israeli intelligence services, are warring in Syria. This step has provoked protest from British Muslims, but the British government has stated in response that the British citizenship is a privilege and not a right, especially for those who legally hold passports of two states.

The website's sources in the Israeli special service have acknowledged the fact that their intelligence services are coordinating their action on the territory of Syria with intelligence services of Western countries, and are secretly collaborating with intelligence services of Arab countries. The information received by these joint efforts indicates that the militants are losing ground under pressure from the government forces, mainly because of lack of unity among the rebels and the conflicts between insurgent groups, which are becoming more frequent.

Christmas in Iraq: Slaughtered Christians

"Expect more such news to emerge from other corners of the Islamic world in the coming days, including New Year’s and Orthodox Christmas."

by Raymond Ibrahim, 12/25/2013

As expected, Christmas did not pass the Islamic world without church attacks and slaughtered Christians.   It’s apparently a tradition there, from the dawn of Islam down to this very Christmas. According to an AP report published today, December 25:

Militants in Iraq targeted Christians in three separate Christmas Day bombings in Baghdad, killing at least 37 people, officials said Wednesday.  In one attack, a car bomb went off near a church in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, killing at least 26 people and wounding 38, a police officer said. 
Earlier, two bombs ripped through a nearby outdoor market simultaneously in the Christian section of Athorien, killing 11 people and wounding 21, the officer said…There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but Iraq’s dwindling Christian community, which is estimated to number about 400,000 to 600,000 people, often has been targeted by al-Qaida and other insurgents who see the Christians as heretics.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ireland's ancient legacy from Egypt

This fascinating article provides us a sense of what is at stake in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and the Middle East, where Muslims openly threaten the complete eradication of Christian faith and culture. Islam's renewed war against Christianity is a threat to all Christians everywhere.

Ireland's ancient legacy from Egypt
by Valerie Cuthbert, Catholic Herald Archives — h/t Fr A
Originally printed in the July 12, 1991 edition of Catholic Herald

Valerie Cuthbert looks at the long forgotten ties between the early churches of Alexandria and St Patrick.

EGYPT, one of the most fervent Moslem countries in the Middle East, was once famous as one of the corner-stones of early Christianity. Even today, large numbers of Egyptians, who regard themselves as the true descendants of the Ancients, are still practising Christians.

St Mark the Evangelist, who was martyred and buried in Alexandria, where his body remained until it was taken by stealth to Venice centuries after the Arabs had conquered Egypt, is generally believed to have founded the Egyptian — known as the Coptic — Church and its Patriarch is regarded as the successor of St Mark in the same way that the Pope is the successor of St Peter in the western church.

In the early days of Christianity, the patriarch of the Egyptian church was second only in authority to Rome. It was ruled from Constantinople until the fifth century when it separated itself from the western church because of a theological disagreement with the Byzantine emperor. This rift caused nearly two centuries of bloodshed as patriarchs representing either the Greek or Egyptian creeds succeeded one another on the throne.

In the end the Egyptian church split completely from the Greek church and each went its own way.

The Egyptian National Monophysite Church emerged and, because of the way they felt towards the Byzantine church, the Egyptians no longer wished to use Greek in their churches and the liturgy and the gospels were translated into Egyptian.

The Egyptian church still celebrates the Korbin or mass in the language of the Pharaohs or, rather, the debased form of it which was spoken in the fifth century.

When the Arabs occupied Egypt in the seventh century [i.e., when the Muslims conquered Egypt during the first wave of jihad], they tolerated their Christian subjects at first and called them Copts — a word which simply means Egyptians — and the label has stuck.

In the heart of Old Cairo, there is a Coptic museum where the most interesting and varied collection of early Christian relics have been carefully preserved. When these are examined, there is an amazing resemblance between many of the Coptic antiquities and those of the early Celtic church in Ireland.

There then emerged the probability that, although so far apart, the two Christian communities must have been in close touch with one another on religious matters during the first six centuries of the Christian era. Visits perhaps were exchanged during this period between the Irish and Coptic monks, and indeed seven Coptic monks are said to be buried at Disert Ulidh in Ireland.

Christian Syrian Refugees Denied Visas to West

This is an extremely urgent issue, which reveals the hypocrisy and downright villainy of the Western nations, led by the United States. Christian refugees fleeing their Muslim persecutors are denied Visas, asylum and solace, while the U.S. is opening the gates to Muslim refugees, offering permanent resettlement, and enabling Saudi student visas to double over the last two years

Contributing to the bloodshed in Syria, Obama and Cameron openly support cannibalistic Muslim jihadis, and claim as peace partners the Taliban, who play soccer with the severed heads of their slain adversaries.

If we are silent in the face of this wave of evil, we will be called to account before the Lord. 

I call upon our beloved and revered Orthodox hierarchs in North America to continue to "speak truth to power," that they would perform with courage and vigor their prophetic role, warning, encouraging and admonishing our leaders to care for the dwindling, beleaguered flock in Syria, Egypt, and everywhere Christians are being persecuted.

Christian Syrian Refugees Denied Visas to West
Voice of the Persecuted — 12/26/2013

Christian Syrian refugees have found temporary shelter in Jordan, but their immigration requests have been rejected by Western countries.

Some of them have spoken to the Associated Press, but want to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

One Syrian refugee said, “Everyone sold whatever they owned in Syria in order to get here, so that we could apply for visas at an embassy. We were all surprised to be rejected on the basis that there was no reason for us to go to Europe. Their reasons were all false – nothing correct in them.”

Persecution at Christmastime

Muslim persecution of Christians "has been catastrophic... Churches of all faith traditions are deliberately targeted; Pope Francis calls this "the ecumenism of blood."

by Nina Shea, Christian Post — 12/26/2013

Nina Shea is director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom and co-author of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.

During this holy season, Christians turn their thoughts to that first Christmas and to the early Christians. This year, we should prayerfully reflect on the fact that those church communities founded by Thomas, Mark, Paul, Andrew, and the other disciples of Jesus, communities that have remained faithful for 2,000 years, are now suffering mightily for their faith.

The reason is religious persecution. Christians will always be persecuted, the Scriptures tell us, but the unbearable scope of this wave is due to burgeoning extremism within some Muslim sectors. It now poses an existential threat to Middle Eastern Christians - though it is not limited to the Middle East.

Muslim Violence Forces Coptic Church in Egypt to Close

Christian Post via AINA — 12/27/2013

Copts in the village of Tarshoub, Beni Suef, Upper Egypt, are experiencing intimidation after extremists attacked them on Monday. Aggressors threw stones at Coptic homes, burned a tuk-tuk truck owned by a Copt named Magdy Fathi Rizk and a store owned by Badr Maher.

They also destroyed the fronts of some houses and called for the closure of the church, which dates back more than 40 years in the village.

Father Malak Shehata from the Fashn Diocese told Mideast Christian News that the village of Tarshoub has been served by Father Andrawis, who moved to serve in another location. When the Fashn Diocese delegated a new priest to serve in the village and Copts tried to prepare a residence for him in the church, some Muslims gathered and refused to let the priest enter the church. This was led by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the village.

During a reconciliation meeting held yesterday to resolve the situation, the Brotherhood members mobilized the villagers to attack the homes of Christians and prevented the priest from entering the village. They closed the church and Copts could not practice their prayers.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society asks UN to defend Syrian Christians

Another lesson in the confusion and fear of many parties to address the issue of Islamic supremacism and jihad against Christians. 

Sadly, this letter and many other communiqués being issued regarding the Syria crisis go out of their way to avoid stating that these "rebels" are in fact Muslims waging jihad against Christians [and Alawite Muslims] in Syria, with the goal of establishing a Sunni Islam caliphate. This is not a case of generic "rebels" committing random crimes, but of devout Muslims from all over the world traveling to Syria with the purpose of waging religiously motivated jihad, using the Quran and the example of Muhammad as their justification, motivation, and guide. Not naming the enemy and their motivation does no one any good.

A Syrian Orthodox church destroyed by Muslims.

Interfax via Pravmir — 12/26/2013

Moscow, December 26, Interfax – The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society has called on United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to put an end to the lawlessness perpetrated by [Muslim] rebels in Syria.

“The brutal attack by rebels on the ancient Convent of St. Thecla in Maalula and the cynical abduction of the mother superior and nuns of this ancient convent, where forty orphaned girls lives, is a challenge to the whole global community and an insult to all civilized norms,” the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society said in its letter to Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, a copy of which was obtained by Interfax-Religion on Thursday, says.

Among these crimes is the abduction of Syrian hierarchs such as Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo and Metropolitan Gregory Ibrahim, whose fate remains unknown.

The letter says that over sixty ancient churches have been destroyed by rebels and Christians are being subjected to especially cruel violence.

Moscow condemns Baghdad church bombing

See also Christmas Bomb Attacks Kill 20 in Baghdad’s Christian Areas.

Interfax via Pravmir — 12/26/2013

Moscow, December 26, Interfax – The Russian Foreign Ministry is demanding a resolute response to terrorist attacks on [Christian] religious sites in Iraq, Syria and other countries of the region in the wake of a series of terrorist acts in Baghdad.

Debris at the site of the attack at the marketplace in Baghdad. Photograph: Reuters

“Attempts by extremist groups to destabilize the situation in the country and sow dissent among its different religious groups are a matter of serious concern. In our opinion, it is exceptionally important to offer a resolute response to criminal attacks staged by terrorists on churches, mosques and other spiritual places in Iraq, Syria and other countries of the region. Followers of Islam, Christianity and all the faiths that have lived side-by-side peacefully in the Middle East for centuries must be protected from attacks,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Moscow resolutely condemns such inhuman crimes and extends its sincere condolences to the families of victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured,” it said.

Over 20 people were killed and another 30 were injured in three bombings in Christian areas of Baghdad on Wednesday, the Russian ministry said.

“The most powerful explosion occurred outside Catholic St. John the Baptist Church in the south of the capital as a Christmas service was conducted there,” it added.

Orthodox Church in Kosovo turned into public toilet and garbage dump

As much as the Albanian and Bosnian Muslims would like to destroy the Orthodox Christian faith, and especially the very site where St. Tsar-Martyr Lazar of Serbia and his army attended Liturgy and received holy communion before the Battle of Kosovo, we know from the Lord's promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the His Church.

Regarding the Battle of Kosovo, I wrote this in my book, Facing Islam:

The Great-Martyr Tsar Lazar of Serbia, inspired by a vision, sacrificed himself and his army in the epic Battle of Kosovo on June 15, 1389. At the Divine Liturgy, before going out to battle, they chanted “For the glorious Cross and golden freedom!” and the stirring motto of St Sava of Serbia, “Give up everything for Christ, but Christ for nothing!” The battle waged by Tsar-Martyr Lazar and his army at Kosovo weakened the Muslim invaders enough so as to prevent them from conquering Western Europe.
Make no mistake, the repeated Muslim desecrations of the Church of the Beheading of St John the Baptist are specifically targeting this Serbian Orthodox National Shrine, which holds immense symbolic importance for the Serbs, all of Europe, and free people everywhere. Albanian Muslim attacks on this church are an attack on us all, and a new chapter in Islam's very old war against Christianity.

Orthodox Church in Kosovo turned into public toilet and garbage dump
InSerbia via Pravmir — 12/25/2013

Orthodox church dedicated to the Beheading of St. John the Baptist in the village of Samodreza near Vucitrn, was desecrated and turned into a garbage dump. The altar of this Serbian shrine, built on the place where Prince Lazar received communion with the army before the Battle of Kosovo, Albanian children turned into a public toilet, writes “Kurir”.

Photo: Kurir

All attempts to stop the desecration of the Orthodox church were unsuccessful because the Albanian population is against its renewal. The church was burned, vandalized and desecrated for the first time in 1999 after international forces arrived in Kosovo, writes the daily.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Unlocking the Meaning of the Nativity

Video in four parts...

Fr. Igumen Sergius, Abbot of St Tikhon's Monastery, presents a talk on the Nativity of Christ based largely on the theology of St Maximus the Confessor. Part 1 is below. Go to St Tikhon's website for all four parts.

The Holy Fathers on the Incarnation of Christ

A Word from the Holy Fathers     ~ On the Incarnation ~

Here is a unique collection of reflections on the Incarnation, the Nativity of Christ our God in the Flesh, from the podcast A Word from the Holy Fathers. These brief and clear talks on the Nativity, by Fr. Deacon Matthew (now Hieromonk Irenaeus) Steenburg of Monachos.net, present the insights and wisdom of the Great Fathers of the Church to aid us in our contemplation of the awesome mystery of the Birth of God. 

Stream and play right on your computer, or download and save to your iPod, iPhone or other device, or subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.

Why not set aside a few minutes each day during the celebration of the Nativity for these quiet and profound insights...

Ancient Faith Radio
has dozens more podcasts by its many contributors reflecting on the Feast of the Incarnation. You can explore them on this special page.

For a wide selection of excellent resources on the Nativity of Christ, go here.


Troparion (Tone 4)

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shown to the world the light of wisdom,
For by it those who worshiped the stars
were taught by a star to adore Thee,
The Sun of Righteousness,
And to know Thee, the Orient from on High,
O Lord, Glory to Thee!

Kontakion (Tone 3)

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One,
And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!
Angels with shepherds glorify Him,
The Wise Men journey with a star!
Since for our sake the Eternal God was born
As a little child!

Hymn To The Theotokos (Birthgiver of God):

Magnify, O my soul, the most-pure Virgin Theotokos, 
More honorable and more glorious than the heavenly hosts.
I behold a strange, most glorious mystery: 
Heaven—the cave; 
The cherubic throne—the Virgin; 
The manger—the place where Christ lay—
The Uncontainable God, Whom we magnify in song!

For an excellent collection of resources, including patristic texts, suggested books, videos, icons, and more, go here.

Archpastoral Nativity Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

via The Orthodox Church in America

To the Honorable Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,

My Beloved Brethren and Blessed Children in the Lord,

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Today, as we proclaim with joyous hearts that “God is With Us,” we give glory to God for the Feast of the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. At the same time, we are surrounded by a host of images, symbols, icons, and representations of what the world thinks this Feast is, and what it should be. From Christmas trees live and fake, to reindeer and snowmen, the world is drowning in empty images of Christmas. And even in those images that seem to follow the tradition of the Church, we find lacking a true engagement with the brokenness and emptiness around us.

In the Church, we behold “a strange, most glorious mystery” — a child, born in a tomb-like cave, laid in the feeding trough of animals, born into this world to a people unprepared to receive His message, a people unable to accept His message. This is indeed a strange image, an image of weakness, an image of defeat, poverty and lowliness. It is an image which could easily be dismissed if it were not so wondrous in its inexplicability. It is an image that has at its core the message of the life of the world to come. It is the image of our salvation.

When faced with this image of Christ born in a tomb, we are, as the Mother of God was, faced with a choice to say: “Yes Lord enter into my members, my veins, my heart; cleanse me, purify me, adorn me.” Or, we can choose to turn away and reject the joy, health and gladness offered us through the Christ and our communion with Him. And yet, this choice is not simply an intellectual assent to some vague and nebulous idea or concept.

When we decide to turn to Christ and invite Him into our hearts, we commit to a life of action, a life in which we not only hear, but act upon the commandments of Christ and the teaching of the Holy Fathers of the Church. In speaking of the motherhood of the Theotokos, Father Georges Florovsky reminds us that the act accepting Christ into our lives is not one that is exhausted by the initial moment, “even as natural motherhood is not exhausted by the fact of physical birth. The fulfillment of motherhood lies in sacrificial love. By this love for the One born the passive self-centeredness of the heart is broken. In this love is shown the natural image of love for another person, for the neighbor.”

Our turning to the tomb-like cave of Christ’s birth, and our acceptance of Him into our lives, commits us to a life of love for our neighbor and for all mankind. Our turning to the One Who laid in a manger is our accepting of the call to minister to our fellow man, here and now. Our turning to the One Who was born of a Virgin is a proclamation of our love of Christ and of His Cross. Indeed, our turning to the God Who is now with us is a proclamation of our anticipation of the life of the world to come.

With heartfelt prayers and in the ineffable love of the Holy Christ child,

With love in the Lord,

Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Patriarch John X of Antioch: We will never submit to those who transgress against sanctities

AXIOS to His Beatitude for explicitly refusing to "submit." "Islam" means "submission," and those who submit are Muslims. Christians should never submit to Islam or Muslims.

May the Lord continue to bless, strengthen and protect Patriarch John X and his flock!

Patriarch Yazigi: We will never submit to those who transgress against sanctities
SANA via OCP Media — 12/24/2013

Damascus, (SANA) – Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X Yazigi affirmed that there will be no submission to those who transgress against sanctities, nor will there be silence over the abduction of bishops, priests and innocent people.

In his Christmas letter issued on Tuesday, Patriarch Yazigi said “we will not be silent over the abduction of our Bishops John Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi… we will stand against those who imprison the voice of our peace, and by that I mean the nuns and orphans of Maaloula.”

Christmas Holiday, Islamic Horror

by Raymond Ibrahim — 12/24/2013

As Christians in the West go to church and worship during this Christmas season, it is well to reflect on how these two simple acts—going to church to worship—can be life-threatening for Christians in the Islamic world, especially on Christmas.  The following excerpt from my book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (pgs. 42-45), provides a glimpse of the horrors and humiliations Christians throughout the Muslim world can be exposed to whenever they try to meet and worship in church on Christmas and other Christian holidays.  One can only hope—perhaps in vain—that this coming Christmas does not add new victims to the list.

Christians in the Islamic world today are suffering attacks motivated by the very same diabolical animus as a thousand years ago under Hakim [Egyptian caliph who ordered the destruction of reportedly 30,000 churches in the 10th –11th century].  Proof of this is that some of the most terrible assaults occur precisely on Christian holidays—Christmas, Easter, and New Year’s Eve (which is a major church day in the Middle East). And no wonder, considering that some Muslim clerics insist that “saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication . . . or killing someone.”

After some fourteen centuries of church attacks and other persecution—punctuated by a brief Christian Golden Age—Egypt’s Copts began the new year in 2011 once again under assault, at one of their largest churches: during midnight Mass in the early hours of January 1, 2011, the Two Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria, crowded with hundreds of Christian worshippers, was bombed, leaving at least twenty-three dead and approximately a hundred injured. According to eyewitnesses, “body parts were strewn all over the street outside the church. The body parts were covered with newspapers until they were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants,” including “Allahu Akbar!” Witnesses further attest that “security forces withdrew one hour before the church blast.” And a year earlier, Muslims shot and killed six Christians as they were leaving church after celebrating the Coptic Christmas Eve midnight Mass in Nag Hammadi.

Hymns of the Royal Hours of the Nativity

During the Royal Hours for the Nativity this morning, I was struck by so many of the hymns of the Church. This year they seemed to me to have extra significance, extra weight. 

Any of us who sing, read or listen to these hymns with faith are confessing the profound Mystery of Christ, the Incarnation of the Pre-Eternal Word of God. And in the Muslim world and other hotbeds of persecution, confessing one's faith in Jesus Christ, in the Incarnation, makes one a Confessor, and may very well lead to martyrdom. It is for this reason that many of the worst massacres of Christians by Muslims over the last several years have been precisely at Christmas.

Here in the United States, where hatred for Jesus Christ and true Christians is boiling up all around us, yet where we Christians are lulled to sleep by comfort and prosperity, persecution of the Church is done "more by sneer than by spear." Let us rouse ourselves to zeal and watchfulness, for how quickly it may turn!

Let us intercede for our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the Islamic world, and let us allow the words and hymns from the Divine Services to "sink down into our ears" this year as we celebrate the Birth of Christ. And let us prepare to be good and faithful confessors all the days of our lives.

Kontakion of the Prefeast
(Audio below)

Today the Virgin  comes to the cave,
To give birth ineffably  to the pre-eternal Word.
Hearing this,  be of good cheer, O inhabited earth,
And with the angels and the shepherds glorify Him
Whose will it was to be made manifest  
A young child,  the pre-eternal God.

Patriarch Kirill concerned about Islamists’ activities in Moscow

Many migrants have radical views and “are recruited by extremist and terrorist organizations, sometimes right in Moscow... The radicals are extremely negative to Orthodox faith: they killed six Orthodox priests, including Moscow priest Daniil Sysoyev, in the past 15 years." —Patriarch Kirill.

Interfax via Pravmir — 12/23/2013

Moscow, December 23, Interfax – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has expressed concerns about Islamists’ activities in Moscow.

“The increase in the number of migrants, primarily from Central Asia and the Caucasus, in Moscow has increased the risk of ethnic conflicts,” the patriarch said at the Moscow Diocese assembly, according to the Moscow Patriarchate website.

Many migrants have radical views and “are recruited by extremist and terrorist organizations, sometimes right in Moscow,” the patriarch said, adding that such propaganda has intensified among Slavic youth, including in educational establishments, prisons, sports groups, and social networking sites.

Christmas a day of terror for Christians in Iraq, say human rights groups

"We're deeply concerned that Christianity is being squeezed out to extinction maybe in the next decade or so in the Middle East." — David Curry, Open Doors

by Cristina Corbin, Fox News — 12/23/2013

While millions of Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Christmas, a dwindling number of believers in Iraq will be forced to mark the birth of Christ in private, if at all.

Guards are seen protecting a church in a suburb of Baghdad in this February 2012 photo. Concrete walls are often put around churches for protection against terrorist attacks. (OPEN DOORS)

Christians are afraid to put up a Christmas tree or other decorations, according to one Christian pastor in Iraq. Such displays of faith in an increasingly extremist nation can bring threats and violence, say human rights groups. Christian churches must be regularly guarded, but congregants are even more on edge during their holiest days.

"There's a culture of fear that has developed there that makes it hard for people to want to go to church to express their faith, especially at the holiday season," David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, told FoxNews.com. "These extremist groups desire religious cleansing and they're increasing in number particularly in northern Iraq" -- once considered a safe haven for Christians.

Iraq, which was once home to more than 1 million Christians, has seen an exodus as persecution has risen, according to Open Doors, a human rights group which monitors treatment of Christians in the Middle East. There are now an estimated 330,000 Christians in Iraq, and the nation ranks No. 4 on Open Doors' 2013 list of nations considered the worst persecutors of Christians. North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan rank as the top three.

"We're deeply concerned that Christianity is being squeezed out to extinction maybe in the next decade or so in the Middle East," Curry said. "Some of these countries, especially Iraq, have environments that are very hostile because of extremists in the region."

Neo-Martyr Ahmet, an Ottoman Saint (Dec 24)

Pemptousia — 12/23/2013 

In every age, the Church has been adorned with saints. This means that our long-suffering and merciful God, the Consubstantial Trinity, and our Most Holy Lady do not leave the world without consolation. And so prophets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, hierarchs, saints, hieromartyrs and new martyrs, activating the gifts of the Holy Spirit, have become members of the body of Christ (see I Cor. 12, 27).

Saints are manifested in accordance with the social and historical conditions of their time. Thus, we had the martyrs in the period of the persecutions, whereas in the time of the freedom of the faith and the flowering of education and letters, scholars and important hymnographers made their appearance. The new martyrs arose in the time of Turkish rule, as resistance fighters for Modern Greece and Hellenism, as models of faith and patience. As the apostle says, the testing of faith produces perseverance, which must endure to the end (see James 1, 4).

In the New Martyrology, Saint Nikodimos the Athonite states that it pleased God to manifest the New Martyrs for five reasons: because they contributed to the renewal of the Orthodox faith; they will render those of other faiths speechless on the day of judgement; they are the glory and boast of the Eastern Church and the shame of the heterodox; they are an example of patience and a model for Christians to imitate.

Among the Lives of the New Martyrs, there is also the brief account of Ahmet the Apprentice, who was a Muslim who became a Christian in a miraculous way and was martyred in 1682. We honour his memory on 24 December and 3 May. 

The New Martyrology has this to say: 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Syria's War: The Next Phase

"Moderate" myth is dropped as West prepares to leverage terror threat to end war in their favor. 

This shocking approach of the Obama administration and its Western allies is morally bankrupt and an alliance with evil. By openly siding with the Muslim jihadists in Syria, Obama advances his 'Proxy War Against Mideast Christians', and indirectly threatens Christian Russia and the Christian nations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

See also this article in Foreign Policy, Obama Advisor: 'Extremism' Could Be Key to Ending Syrian Civil War, referenced in the article below.

Syria's War: The Next Phase
"Moderate" myth is dropped as West prepares to leverage terror threat to end war in their favor. 
by Tony Cartalucci, Land Destroyer Report — 12/13/2013 — h/t Abraham

The alleged fleeing of General Selim Idriss of the so-called "Free Syrian Army" (FSA), was more symbolic than anything else. Whether or not he really fled, and whether he is in Turkey or Qatar is of little consequence. The so-called "moderates" he commanded were nothing more than a smokescreen, a cheap veneer applied to the hardcore Wahabist extremists of Al Qaeda's Al Nusra franchise and similar fronts that have formed the core of foreign-backed militancy turned against the Syrian people from the very beginning of the conflict. 

Image (AFP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas): The West has abandoned the "moderate" myth to fully embrace the terror menace it itself has created in Syria. By threatening Syria's allies with a prolonged Iraq-style terror threat, and the possibility of it being used as a springboard for operations elsewhere, it hopes to pressure the end of their support for the Syrian government and an end to the conflict favorable for Western interests. Instead, this new "terror threat" gives Syria's allies a chance to more openly and extensively support Syria to combat what is truly a "war on terror." 

It was as early as 2007 when it was revealed that the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were planning on building up extremists within and around Syria for the purpose of eventually overthrowing the government. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh warned about this in his extensive report titled, "The Redirection: Is the Administration's new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?" which prophetically stated (emphasis added): 
"To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda."
While the initial conflict was disingenuously portrayed as the spontaneous militarization of unarmed protesters fighting against a "brutal regime," in reality Al Nusra was already inside the country and operating on a national scale.  The US State Department itself would reveal this in its December 2012 "Terrorist Designations of the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qa'ida in Iraq," which stated:
Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed. 
And while the West has attempted to portray these extremist groups as entities entirely separate from the "moderates" they have claimed to be openly training, funding, arming, and equipping to the tune of billions of dollars, there is no other logical explanation for Al Nusra's ability to rise above these Western-backed "moderates," unless of course they never existed and the West was, as was planned in 2007, simply arming Al Qaeda all along.

In Hersh's 2007 report, it was noted that the West could not directly arm or fund the militant groups and that the US and Israel would have to funnel weapons and cash through nations like Saudi Arabia and Lebanon instead. Since 2011 when these plans went fully operational, Qatar and Turkey have also entered the fray. When questions are raised about Al Nusra's rising prominence in the conflict, the West has been increasingly unsuccessful in convincing the world of its own plausible deniability.

As the Syrian government began early this year to decisively turn the tide against the West's proxy invasion, and after several abortive attempts to directly intervene militarily, the West appears to have resigned the myth of "moderates" and as of this week, symbolically ended its so-called "non-lethal aid" to terrorists operating in Syria. In fact, the myth of "moderates" was perpetuated solely to justify intervening directly on their behalf. With direct intervention taken off the table, it appears a new phase in the war has begun.

A Miracle of the Lord: A True Story of Faith

Christian mercy and miracles prompt Muslim conversions to Orthodoxy in Bulgaria

by Simona Georgieva, Lentata via Pravoslavie — 12/21/2013

Fr. Stoyan, from the Holy Trinity Church in the Bulgarian town of Dobrich, has for over eight years been helping people who have fallen on hard times. In 2004, at his initiative a shelter was built as an addition to the church where he has served as rector since 1997. Here, people who have lost all hope in the future can find refuge. The priest stretches out his hand to help scores of needy people; single mothers and their children, orphans, the elderly, and the simply desperate. They all find hope after meeting this Christian.

Fr Stoyan

This man of God is famous for his mercy throughout Bulgaria. His uncle, Fr. Georgy, was the first of his relatives to become a priest. He was also Fr. Stoyan's spiritual father. Stoyan was brought up in the faith, and remembers from his early childhood how his uncle turned his parents’ house into a church in the village of Zheglartsy. In 1962, Stoyan entered the seminary. The first to become priests in his family were his two brothers, the twins Marin and Nedyalko, and then the older brother; even one of his sisters is graduating from the theological department.

Fr. Stoyan does not drive a large car and does not make use of his status as a servant of God to better his material standing. More than that, he has built seven churches and one monastery, feeds the hungry, gives shelter to the poor, and comforts the despairing.

In 2003, three brothers, Moslems, came to this priest hoping to find food and a roof over their head. One of the brothers was named Erkhan. Fr. Stoyan says that he is a kind and honest fellow. The three brothers would help Fr. Stoyan from day to day, building churches in various villages. Erkhan would listen to Fr. Stoyan's instructions with great thirst and reverence, and the priest's kindness had a strong influence on him, despite their differing religions.

Erkhan was a Moslem, but the more time he spent with the Christian Stoyan, the more he saw the priest’s striving to do good, the more he wanted to change his religious views. His wife Tanya is a Christian. They had been without children for thirteen years. His wife easily conceived, but every time, late in the pregnancy, the child would die. This happened nine times.

Christian group plans 100-foot-tall Jesus statue in Muslim-dominated Nazareth

“Slowly, but surely, the Christian identity in Nazareth is beginning to disappear.” Signs in the main square declare that "There is no power but Allah."

by Paul Aster, Fox News — 12/20/2013

A statue of Jesus planned for the Israeli city of Nazareth would be even bigger than the "Christ the Redeemer" statue that towers above Rio de Janeiro. (Reuters)

HAIFA, ISRAEL –  As Christians from across the globe flock to the Holy Land in time for Christmas prayers and ceremonies, some in the community in Nazareth are seeking to reaffirm the historical importance of their town by erecting a statue of Jesus that would tower more than 100 feet above the city.

The idea for the statue comes from Bishara Shlayan, a Christian merchant seaman who lives in Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus. Shlayan has seen the demographics of Nazareth change considerably in recent years, with the Christian community becoming a minority while the Muslim population has grown to 70 percent of the 80,000 residents of the northern Israeli town.

“Slowly, but surely, the Christian identity in Nazareth is beginning to disappear,” said Shlayan, noting that signs in the main square declare that "There is no power but Allah."

The plan is for the statue of Jesus to be sit atop Mount Precipice, also known as the Mount of the Leap of the Lord, the promontory where according to Luke 4:29-30, a mob attempted to drive Jesus off the hilltop only for him to pass through them without injury. Shlayan is raising money for the project, but recently got what may be even more important backing: Israel’s Tourism Minister Uzi Landau gave him the green light, saying, “Start it, and we will bless it.”

“I don’t believe in statues, but it is a symbol of love and peace,” Shlayan told The Jerusalem Post. “People who are against it, it comes from jealousy.”

 The statue is inspired by the iconic Christ the Redeemer figure that dominates the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, but would be even taller, said Shlayan. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jihadi Cleric Omar Bakri Defends Anti-Hizbullah, Anti-Iran Suicide Bombings

"Blowing oneself up for the sake of Allah is acceptable." People who want to ban this are "trying to alter the religion of Allah."

This is yet another refutation of the Saudi Grand Mufti's denunciation of suicide bombings, which I discussed here. One doesn't have to look far to find Muslim leaders preaching jihad, terrorist attacks, and suicide bombings. And a recent Pew Poll shows strong support for jihad terrorism and suicide bombings in eleven Muslim countries.

MEMRI — 12/21/2013

Go here for the video.

In a TV interview, Syrian-born Islamist cleric Omar Bakri said that the recent bombings of Hizbullah targets and the Iranian embassy in Beirut were justified. "Blowing oneself up for the sake of Allah is acceptable, so long as the target is legitimate," he said.

Following are excerpts from the interview, which aired on the Lebanese Al-Jadid/New TV on November 26, 2013:

Omar Bakri: When a [martyrdom-seeker] wishes to please Allah, the pinnacle of what he can do is to die for His sake, in a justified battle or confrontation with the enemies of Allah – in order to elevate the word of Allah – and attains either victory for the religion of Allah or martyrdom.

Alabama: 15-year sentences for 2 American-born jihad plotting Muslims

Once again, jihad popping up in Americana. 

Creeping Sharia — 12/21/2013

MOBILE, Alabama – Citing a lack of remorse and a failure to renounce their intentions to commit violent jihad abroad, a federal judge Friday sentenced a pair of silent men to the maximum punishment for a plot hatched in Alabama.

Randy “Rasheed” Wilson and Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, both 26, will spend 15 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and then will be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for three years.

U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose said she read hundreds of pages of recorded conversations and intercepted emails from the defendants and searched for evidence that they were “just talking a big game.” And, she added that she had reserved judgment, hoping they would renounce their intentions.

“Unfortunately, there is no other reasonable conclusion that (their conversations) were for the primary purpose of committing violent jihad,” she said. “I don’t have to speculate about that.”