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  • German AfD rightist triggers fury with Holocaust memorial comments

    By Madeline Chambers BERLIN (Reuters) - A senior member of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) said on Wednesday that media had misrepresented comments he made about Berlin's Holocaust memorial and the need to rewrite history books to focus more on German victims. A speech by Bjoern Hoecke, the AfD's leader in the eastern state of Thuringia, on Tuesday triggered anger across Germany and even caused one member of the radical Left party to report him for incitement to racial hatred. The AfD's anti-immigrant rhetoric has won support among Germans worried about the influx of more than a million migrants in the last two years.

    Reuters 54 min ago
  • Popular Sufi leader in Morocco dies aged 95

    The head of one of Morocco's biggest Sufi orders, with tens of thousands of followers at home and abroad, died Wednesday aged 95, an official and local media said. Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi had been the spiritual leader of the Qadiriya Boutchichiya order since 1972. Seen as a "living master" by his followers and famed for his wisdom and kindness, he was believed to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed and belonged to a long line of Sufi leaders.

    AFP
  • Egypt puts retired football star on terrorism list

    By Arwa Gaballa CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt has added one of the country's most renowned athletes, retired football star Mohamed Aboutrika, to a terrorism list for alleged ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Fans expressed shock and called the government move an "injustice" against the former midfielder who led the country's national team for roughly a decade and is widely considered to be the most celebrated athlete of his generation in Egypt. Egypt has listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and jailed thousands of its supporters since the military removed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi from office in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule.

    Reuters
  • The 'Young Pope' Popedown, Episode 2: Release The Papal Kangaroo

    The Young Pope Popedown is a list of the five craziest and/or most notable things that happened in each episode of HBO’s The Young Pope, ranked from least to most crazy and/or notable. Yes yes, Jude Law berating members of the clergy and saying crazy things about soft drinks and pop culture is great, but as of last night my favorite part of the show is the cat-and-mouse between Cardinal Voiello and Sister Mary. You’ve got Voiello and his giggly henchman snooping around the Vatican in trench coats and digging into the new pope’s background to look for dirt, the latter of which is notable because it gives us a clear antagonist going forward and because we learned that Voiello discusses matters of subterfuge while playing billiards with a dog sitting on the table.

    UPROXX
  • Philippines' Duterte taunts bishops to take drugs

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday taunted the country's Catholic priests and bishops to take highly addictive crystal methamphetamine, as he accused them of "hypocrisy" for criticising his deadly drug war. Duterte launched his broadside in response to the powerful Catholic Church mounting a campaign to stop the killings in his anti-drugs drive, which has claimed about 6,000 lives in less than seven months. Duterte said that while parish priests around the country were well aware of the extent of the illegal drug problem, their leaders who had been railing about "extrajudicial killings" were clueless.

    AFP
  • Anthony Joshua hit with flood of Islamophobic abuse after tweeting mosque photo

    Anthony Joshua has been flooded with Islamophobic abuse on social media after he posted a photo of himself in a mosque on Twitter. The 27-year-old shared a picture of him kneeling with his friends in a mosque in Dubai on Monday (17 January) and was subsequently trolled and chastised by his followers. It was nice to join my brother as he led through afternoon prayer," Joshua tweeted.

    International Business Times
  • Pakistani forces kill leader of banned sectarian militant group

    By Mubasher Bukhari LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani security forces said on Wednesday they had killed the leader of the banned Sunni Muslim militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) along with three other militants accused of killing hundreds of civilians. The Counter Terrorism Department of the eastern province of Punjab said its forces had killed Asif Chotoo and his comrades during a shootout in the city of Sheikhupura after a tip-off that the group was planning an attack in nearby Lahore. The incident came 18 months after police gunned down Chotoo's predecessor, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi's longtime leader Malik Ishaq, in what police sources said bore halmarks of an "encounter", a term government critics use for extrajudicial killings in custody staged to resemble a shootout.

    Reuters
  • Ghost churches near Jordan River baptism site await reclamation

    By Ori Lewis QASR AL-YAHUD, West Bank (Reuters) - Ghost churches on the western bank of the Jordan River, near where Jesus is believed to have been baptized, could be reopened to pilgrims as part of a project to remove booby-traps and land mines. The river banks were once a war zone between Israel and Jordan, and were littered with thousands of mines and unexploded ordnance. The Gospel of John refers to "Bethany beyond the Jordan" without further details.

    Reuters
  • Bosnian Serb leader wants U.S. ambassador declared persona non grata

    By Maja Zuvela and Gordana Katana BANJA LUKA, Bosnia, (Reuters) - Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Wednesday he was proud of being blacklisted by the United States for obstructing a 1995 peace agreement and called on Bosnian authorities to declare the U.S. ambassador persona non grata in retaliation. The U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control imposed sanctions against Dodik on Tuesday, blocking access to his assets and banning any U.S. national from doing business with him. "I am very proud, and these sanctions are the proof that I was not ready to trade off with the interests of Republika Srpska," Dodik told reporters in Banja Luka.

    Reuters
  • Norway still violating killer Breivik's human rights -lawyer

    By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Norway is still violating the human rights of mass killer Anders Behring Breivik despite some easing of his near-isolation in jail since he massacred 77 people in 2011, his lawyer told a court on Wednesday at the end of a case about his conditions. In the Jan. 10-18 case, the Norwegian state is appealing against a lower court ruling in 2015 that jail conditions for neo-Nazi Breivik, 37, breach a ban on "inhuman and degrading treatment" under the European Convention on Human Rights. "It's too strict," Breivik's lawyer Oeystein Storrvik told the high-security court, saying Breivik had no contact with other inmates even though he has spent more time with guards and priests in recent years.

    Reuters
  • Nebraska targets ban on religious garb worn by teachers

    LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Sister Madeleine Miller applied for a high school teaching job in Nebraska thinking she would get judged on her credentials — not what she was wearing on her head.

    Associated Press
  • Istanbul nightclub attacker from Uzbekistan, admits guilt: governor

    ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The suspected gunman who killed 39 people in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year's Day was born in Uzbekistan and received training in Afghanistan, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said on Tuesday after police caught him in a city suburb. Sahin told reporters that the alleged attacker, whom he named as Abdulgadir Masharipov, born in 1983, had admitted his guilt and his fingerprints matched those at the scene. ...

    Reuters
  • Twitter Reacts to the Premiere of "The Young Pope"

    "He’s young. He’s the pope. So far it’s as advertised."

    Cosmopolitan
  • Philippine Church speaks out on drug killings

    People going to mass at one of the most famous churches in the Philippine capital over Christmas were met by a disturbing sight: poster-size pictures of Filipinos dying in pools of blood. The shock Baclaran church exhibit was part of a campaign by one of the nation's oldest and most powerful institutions to stop the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte's war against drugs, which has claimed about 6,000 thousand lives. "The Church right now is asserting its influence, that's why in the coming months the Church will be at the forefront in leading against extrajudicial killings," Jerome Secillano, public affairs chief for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, told AFP.

    AFP
  • Top German court rejects bid to outlaw far-right NPD party

    By Madeline Chambers and Ursula Knapp BERLIN/KARLSRUHE (Reuters) - Germany's Constitutional Court on Tuesday said the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) resembled Adolf Hitler's Nazi party, but ruled against banning it because it was too weak to endanger democracy. Germany's 16 federal states had pressed for the ban amid rising support for right-wing groups that has been stoked by popular resentment over the influx of large numbers of migrants. While the court said the NPD's aims, viewed by Germany's intelligence agency as racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist, violated the constitution, it said there was insufficient evidence that it could succeed and this made a ban impossible.

    Reuters
  • Egypt adds retired soccer star to terror list

    Egypt has added retired soccer star Mohamed Aboutrika, one of the country's most renowned athletes, to a terror list for alleged ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, his lawyer told Reuters on Tuesday. Egypt has listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and jailed thousands of its supporters since the military removed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi from office in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule. A committee established to seize and manage Brotherhood properties and funds had previously frozen the former player's assets.

    Reuters
  • Indonesian police question Islamist leader as authorities warn over extremism

    By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Kanupriya Kapoor JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police on Wednesday said they were investigating whether the controversial leader of a hardline Islamist group insulted the country's secular state ideology, as concern grows over the clout of fundamentalist groups. National police chief Tito Karnavian has warned against creeping Islamic extremism in the country of 250 million, home to dozens of religious and ethnic groups, and where the vast majority of citizens practice a moderate form of Islam. Police are questioning Habib Rizieq, head of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a key organizer of recent rallies by hundreds of thousands of Muslims against Jakarta's governor, an ethnic Chinese Christian, who is on trial over accusations that he insulted the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

    Reuters
  • U.S. imposes sanctions on Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Dodik

    The United States imposed sanctions on Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik on Tuesday for actively obstructing efforts to implement the 1995 Dayton Accords that ended the more than three-year war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dodik is the president of Republika Srpska, the autonomous Bosnian Serb half of the country established by the agreements. Once praised as a democratic reformer, Dodik oversaw the holding of a referendum in September on celebrating “The Day of Republika Srpska” on January 9 in defiance of a Constitutional Court ruling banning the vote for discriminating against non-Serbs.

    Reuters
  • Norwegians shun Breivik hearing; killer's only visitor is paid "friend"

    By Alister Doyle OSLO (Reuters) - Anders Behring Breivik's massacre of 77 people still haunts Norwegians, yet ever fewer care about the neo-Nazi locked in a cell where his only "friend" is paid to visit. Most of the 10 seats in an Oslo court for the public to watch a case about his prison conditions have been empty as Breivik sits glumly in a black suit, the first flecks of grey in his beard, appearing by video-link from a high-security jail. The Norwegian state is appealing against a lower court ruling in 2015 that it breached a ban on "inhuman and degrading treatment" under the European Convention on Human Rights by keeping Breivik, 37, in near-isolation since the 2011 killings.

    Reuters
  • ‘The Young Pope’ Major Characters Ranked From Worst to Best (Photos)

    HBO’s “The Young Pope” is amazing, and it’s got a cast of colorful characters that almost makes the Vatican seem like any other place on Earth. Not sure what this guy’s job is, but he seems to be the person who knows what the pope likes to eat for breakfast. That gall this young man has to be a character on “The Young Pope” who is younger than the Young Pope himself.

    The Wrap