We previously discussed the truly bizarre scene of having Saudi Arabia sit on the UN Human Rights Council despite being one of the most infamous violators of human rights. As if to remind the world of the crushing irony, Saudi Arabia has issued a statement telling the world that it has no business objecting to the planned execution of a religious dissent. The Saudi Arabian embassy in the UK has denounced “any form of interference in its internal affairs” regarding the case of 21-year-old dissident Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who has been sentenced to death by beheading for engaging in pro-democracy protests.
St. Margaret of Cortona Church in Little Ferry, N.J. this week is dealing with the arrest of its pastor, The Rev. Kevin Carter, 54. Even more shocking is the charge: aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child. However, on closer examination, the arrest and charge seems wildly out of place according to published reports. What was a gag based on football rivalry has turned into a full fledged criminal case due to the refusal of the police or prosecutors to show a modicum of discretion or logic.
Augustus Sol Invictus is not your typical politician. While most politicians are known for kissing babies, Invictus is best known for admitting that he killed a goat and drank its blood in a ritual of thanks after returning from a journey in the Mojave Desert. Invictus changed his former name (which he will reportedly not reveal) to the Latin Sol Invictus (“Unconquered Sun”), which was the official sun god of the Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. It appears the 32-year-old lawyer is willing to admit that critics got his goat, or at least the story, but insists that people can look beyond a goat-blood drinking Senator. “I did sacrifice a goat. I know that’s probably a quibble in the mind of most Americans. I sacrificed an animal to the god of the wilderness … Yes, I drank the goat’s blood.”
The elevation of Saudi Arabia (in what appears now a secret deal with England) in 2013 to the United Nations Human Rights Council was to say the least controversial. After all, the Kingdom denies basic rights to women, bars basic religious freedom for non-Muslim (including the construction of any church in the Kingdom), engages in torture, and applies a medieval Sharia law that imposes grotesque and draconian punishments. It is widely viewed as the appropriate target (not a member) of the Council. Saudi Arabia has not wasted time in obstructing human rights measures. This week for example the Kingdom blocked plans for an international inquiry into human rights violations by all parties in the war in Yemen despite massive death counts among civilians in the last six months. It also announced at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that it will opposed any and all protections for gay people as anti-Islamic.
The lawyer for Kentucky clerk Kim Davis has stated that she met with Pope Francis during the pontiff’s visit to Washington D.C. last week and received encouragement from him in the meeting. It is a surprising disclosure, if true, but Attorney Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel insists that the Pope spoke to Davis and her husband in English and said “Thank you for your courage” and told her to “stay strong.”
There is a deeply disturbing trial unfolding in Germany involving another “honor killing.” Asadullah Khan, 51, strangled his 19-year-old daughter to death for bringing dishonor on his Muslim family after she stopped wearing the Islamic head scarf and continued to see her boyfriend and was then caught shoplifting condoms. The father and mother, Sharzia, 41, then dressed the dead body of Lareeb, put the corpse into a wheelchair to bring it to a car, then drove from Darmstadt to a remote forest where they rolled her down an embankment (she was found the next day). Both are charged and the key witness against them is their daughter Nida. The parents are from Pakistan and Khan speaks little German.
There is a new conflict over religious rights in public education in New Jersey where Muslim families demanded an official holiday for Eid al-Adha. The meeting erupted when the school board refused to create such a holiday just six days before Eid al-Adha, which would have required thousands to families to scramble to find accommodations for their children. It also raises the slippery slope of adopting some religious holidays and not others. For example, the Jewish community noted that their families do not have official holidays for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The confrontations raises the question of why public schools should create religious holidays as opposed to giving students excused absences for such holidays, which New Jersey does.