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Using ‘flower speech’ and new Facebook tools, Myanmar fights online hate speech

YANGON, Myanmar (RNS) Sometimes a smiley-face emoticon just won’t do the trick. In Myanmar, the newest set of Facebook stickers features a flower in an animated character’s mouth. The 24 stickers carry a deeper message than the usual “Like” thumbs-up Facebook icon: “End hate speech wi...
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Despite death threats, cartoonists challenge religious hatred and censorship online

(RNS) “Just relax! It’s called a turban. Inside is my long unshorn waist length hair. Now let’s kick some intolerant ass.” That’s the caption floating above Vishavjit Singh’s drawing of a turbaned, bearded Captain America on his website Sikhtoons.com. Singh, who is Sikh, is a software...
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Turkey plans to establish an Islamic university with a broader Muslim curriculum

ISTANBUL (RNS) As Turkey’s political and economic influence rises across the Muslim world, the historically secular state could soon become a center for religious learning, too. The country’s state-sanctioned religious body, the Religious Affairs Directorate, has announced plans to es...
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Pope Francis challenges Muslims to condemn violence in the name of God

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Tuesday (Dec. 23) challenged Muslim religious leaders to “unanimously” condemn the violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East, as well as killing in the name of God. In an open Christmas letter to beleaguered Christians in the region, the p...
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My top 10 religion stories of 2014 (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) It was a topsy-turvy year in 2014, and here are my picks for the top 10 religion stories of the year: 1. Islamic extremist groups, especially the Islamic State and Boko Haram, dominated the year’s news with atrocities that included beheadings, crucifixions, mass killings and per...
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Myanmar women object to proposed restrictions on interfaith marriage

YANGON, Myanmar (RNS) Governments and religious leaders might control who marries whom in Myanmar, but laws can’t restrict love and faith, say women of different races and religions in the country. Late last month, Myanmar President U Thein Sein sent a controversial draft law to parli...
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What to say when your Muslim child asks about Peshawar

(RNS) The massacre of 145 people, nearly all of them children, at a Pakistani school on Tuesday (Dec. 16)  is almost too horrible for adults to talk about, much less children. But what if your Muslim child brings it up? What if you want to open the discussion? Does the fact that the...
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Atheists: the new persecuted minority, international report concludes (COMMENTARY)

(RNS) Atheists, humanists and liberals are now the targets of hate campaigns, according to a new Freedom of Thought Report, which found that some countries find the idea of atheism as a popular movement a threat to the prevailing order. The report by the International Humanist and Eth...
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After siege, Australia supports Muslims with #illridewithyou

Eds: A version of this story originally appeared in USA Today. It is available for use by RNS subscribers. Please use the USA Today byline. (RNS) A social media campaign supporting Australian Muslims exploded on Twitter Monday (Dec. 15) after a self-proclaimed Muslim cleric took 17 pe...
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‘Sacred Journeys’ weds new pilgrims to old paths

(RNS) At a time when membership in organized religion is shrinking, the number of spiritual or religious pilgrims has never been larger — more than 200 million per year. Why? That’s the main question behind “Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler,” a six-part television series that premi...
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