BURMA: Interfaith Prisoners of Conscience Pwint Phyu Latt & Zaw Zaw Latt Released

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed satisfaction that the government of Burma has released prisoners of conscience Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Zaw Latt. They were released along with more than 250 other prisoners Burma’s government freed as part of a presidential amnesty.

USCIRF Vice Chairman Daniel Mark, who has advocated on behalf of Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Zaw Latt, stated that he “welcomed this long-overdue step by Burma’s government. Pwint Phyu Latt and Zaw Zaw Latt, both Muslim, were wrongfully imprisoned for their interfaith activities. Although I welcome and applaud their release, the fact remains that they never should have been imprisoned in the first place. I hope their release signals a more positive trajectory for the freedom of religion or belief in Burma.”

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The “Buddhist pop song” that took sixth at Eurovision


On Saturday, an Italian song about the emptiness of Western consumer culture came sixth at Europe’s wildly popular song competition, Eurovision. Occidentali’s Karma, by Francesco Gabbani, was Italy’s entry to the contest, and while the song (which is flush with Buddhist references) didn’t win, it was a hit with critics. The song was the most watched music video of the contest and was chosen as a favourite by fans and the press.

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Whoever Wins Iran’s Election, Its Religious Minorities Lose

What will Iran’s May 19 presidential election mean for the Baha’i, the country’s largest non-Muslim religious group? Given that every candidate was handpicked by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s Guardian Council, the answer is simple: Nothing good.

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The extraordinary ways in which China humiliates Muslims

CHINA: Xinjiang’s 10 million Uighurs (nearly half of its population) have long been used to heavy-handed curbs: a ban on unauthorised pilgrimages to Mecca, orders to students not to fast during Ramadan, tough restrictions on Islamic garb (women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses), no entry to many mosques for people under 18, and so on.

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Pope to Al Azhar: ‘Violence Is Negation of Every Authentic Religious Expression’

While speaking to an international conference on peace at Al-Azhar, the highest theological and religious institution of Sunni Islam in the world and the oldest Islamic University, alongside its Grand Imam, Pope Francis said this, noting: “Above all and especially in our day, the religions are called to respect this imperative, since, for all our need of the Absolute, it is essential that we reject any “absolutizing” that would justify violence.”

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Vatican and Myanmar Establish Diplomatic Relations

The Holy See (Vatican) and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (Burma) are establishing bilateral diplomatic relations, announced a statement by the Holy See Press Office. Pope Francis received the Foreign Minister of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, in a private audience the morning of Thursday, May 4, 2017.

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