Century Marks

Century Marks

Extreme measure

The bombing of the Medina mosque where Muham­mad is supposedly buried wasn’t the only recent violent act condemned by a broad spectrum of Muslims. In June a mother was killed by twin sons when she refused to let them go to Syria to join ISIS. The killing has provoked a debate among elite Muslims over the influence of Ibn Taymiyya, 13th-century Islamic scholar who espoused a version of Islam that prescribed a severe form of excommunication used by ISIS to justify killing those viewed as apostate Muslims. Many in Saudi society who support strict measures of purifying Islam thought this matricide went too far (The Christian Science Monitor, July 6).

Welcome mat

The Canadian government affords citizens a rare opportunity and responsibility: they can band together in groups to adopt refugees from Syria. The sponsorship program provides financial support and practical aid to refugees for a year and helps them learn English and find jobs. The Trudeau government first committed to taking 25,000 refugees, then added more. The Canadian immigration minister said he can’t keep up with the demand of people wanting to sponsor refugees. President Obama pledged that the United States would take 10,000 Syrian refugees, but so far only about half that many have been admitted into the country (New York Times, July 1).

Gloomy outlook

Many African Americans say they didn’t realize how racist the country is until it elected its first black president. They say it’s been very painful watching racist reactions to the first family. There has been a mood change in the African-American community during the Obama administration: many are less hopeful about the future of the country and more suspicious of white people. White-black friendships have been frayed over arguments about whether opposition to Obama is motivated by racism or by policy disagreements (CNN, July 1).

Blue lives

Gary Holden, founder of the Police Chaplain Program, says his organization started seeing an uptick in requests for chaplaincy ser­vices after African-American men died at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland. Holden characterizes the police chaplaincy as a ministry of presence to police officers and to the communities they serve. To earn the trust of those in a community, chaplains ride along with police officers and attend community events. “We do a lot of hugging just to let [people] know we care,” Holden said (NPR, July 10).

Dry bones

The discovery of a Phil­istine cemetery outside the walls of the ancient city Ashkelon on the southern coast of Israel may provide clues to the origins of the ancient Philistines. A team of scholars is using DNA research and other techniques to determine the Phil­istines’ origins. Existing archaeological and textual evidence indicates that they originated somewhere in the Aegean region (National Geographic, July).