Eight men — led by a Moroccan — are on trial in Germany for stealing from churches and schools in order to fund the Islamic State (IS), the Christian Headlines website reports today (October 24, 2015).
The men aiding the Islamic State stole 19,000 Euros worth of goods from churches and schools in Cologne and Siegen.
In the court case, chief prosecutor Nadja Gudermann said that the men stole church offertory funds, collection boxes, crosses, chalices, and a number of other valuable objects “dedicated to church services and religious worship.”
In addition to pilfering from churches, the men are also accused of stealing money, laptop computers, and a cash card from schools. The men sent the stolen items to Syria to fund Islamic State fighters in their terrorist campaign.
Just in case you were not aware, NATO has some 28 member countries that are supposed to protect themselves against Russia.
Warsaw—President Barack Obama said he would send more U.S. military equipment and increase joint exercises in Poland as he proposed a new $1 billion fund Tuesday to bolster European security.
The moves come as an extension of the White House campaign to reassure anxious Eastern European allies that the U.S. would act if what it sees as Russian aggression in Ukraine spreads to other parts of the region.
Mr. Obama also promised further deployments of American forces to Eastern Europe and said the proposed fund would pay for storing more military equipment and expanding exercises in Poland.
The fund—which the White House announced as Mr. Obama arrived in Poland at the start of a four-day visit to Europe—would require approval from Congress. It would pay for the increased military exercises and stepped-up U.S. presence in Europe, including further navy deployments to the Black and Baltic seas.
As Eastern European allies have grown fearful of Russia, the U.S. has sought to reassure them through an expanded series of exercises and deployments, including fighter jets and a company of about 150 soldiers in Poland.
Mr. Obama said shortly after arriving in Poland that European security is the “cornerstone of our own security and it is sacrosanct.”
“It is a commitment that is particularly important at this point in time,” Mr. Obama said in an airport hangar with U.S. and Polish troops.
Poland has been pushing for a larger deployment of U.S. forces as a deterrent after Russia moved to annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea and amid unrest in eastern Ukraine that the West accuses Russia of instigating. Russia denies starting the turmoil.
Polish President Bronisław Komorowski said the U.S. and Poland were “on the same page” and promised that his country would increase its military spending to 2% of its gross domestic product. The 2% GDP spending target is the official North Atlantic Treaty Organization standard, but few countries meet it.
A NATO military officer confirmed that most Russian troops have now pulled back from the Ukrainian border, a move the U.S. has said will help de-escalate tensions.
“Everyone is interested in developing as good a relationship with Russia as possible,” Mr. Komorowski said.
Mr. Obama agreed but insisted the U.S. wouldn’t be “sacrificing principle in pursuit of relations.”…
Russia didn’t immediately comment on the proposal, but officials have warned that any expansion of NATO military presence in Eastern Europe would constitute a threat to Russian security and lead the Kremlin to consider deploying more weapons of its own along its western borders. Russia has already been building up military forces in the Kaliningrad region, an enclave between Lithuania and Poland…
If I asked you to describe the state of Christianity in Europe, you’d probably answer “not good.” And there’d be ample reason to do so. Most of us are familiar with the depressing statistics regarding church attendance in Western Europe and Scandinavia.
But there is more to Europe than Britain, France, and Sweden. And in Central and Eastern Europe, a different story is being written.
Austria’s Vienna Archdiocese has defended its gifts of Catholic churches to Orthodox communities, as part of a current reorganization.
“Our own church is receding in Vienna, whereas other Christian confessions are on the rise because of immigration,” Michael Pruller, the archdiocese spokesman, told Catholic News Service Dec. 19.
“Many large churches were built in the 19th century for parishes numbering tens of thousands. As in other countries, we’re now having to get rid of churches, which can’t be maintained by their small congregations.”
He said the archdiocese had tried to find an “alternative Catholic use” for unwanted churches, to prevent them being turned into “supermarkets and cafes,” but would otherwise hand them over to other Christian denominations. No money is given as compensation, he said.
In 2015, the archdiocese will formally hand over St. Anthony of Padua Church to the Romanian Orthodox, who have already begun celebrating liturgies there. The Kathpress news agency reported that fewer than 30 Catholics currently attended Sunday Mass at the church.
Under the reorganization, unveiled in September 2012, the Vienna Archdiocese’s 660 parishes are to be merged into 150 larger units, each served by three-five priests. Lay volunteers will conduct Liturgies of the Word in smaller affiliated communities.
In November 2011, the Vatican approved the handover of Vienna’s Our Lady of Sorrows Church to the expanding Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Central Europe, despite protests by its predominantly Polish parishioners.
Two other churches have been given to the Coptic Orthodox community and one to the Syrian Orthodox Church, which is also negotiating the handover of a second.
Vibrant Jewish communities were reborn in Europe after the Holocaust. Is there a future for them in the 21st century?
Find out here.
Turkey is reclaiming its jihadi past, while Europe is simultaneously erasing its own Christian heritage.
While unrest in Turkey continues to capture attention, more subtle and more telling events concerning the Islamification of Turkey — and not just at the hands of Prime Minister Erdogan but majorities of Turks — are quietly transpiring. These include the fact that Turkey’s Hagia Sophia museum is on its way to becoming a mosque. Why does the fate of an old building matter?
Because Hagia Sophia — Greek for “Holy Wisdom” — was for some thousand years Christianity’s greatest cathedral. Built in 537 A.D. in Constantinople, the heart of the Christian empire, it was also a stalwart symbol of defiance against an ever encroaching Islam from the east.
After parrying centuries of jihadi thrusts, Constantinople was finally sacked by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Its crosses desecrated and icons defaced, Hagia Sophia — as well as thousands of other churches — was immediately converted into a mosque, the tall minarets of Islam surrounding it in triumph.
Then, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, as part of several reforms, secularist Ataturk transformed Hagia Sophia into a “neutral” museum in 1934 — a gesture of goodwill to a then-triumphant West from a then-crestfallen Turkey.
Thus the fate of this ancient building is full of portents. And according to Hurriyet Daily News, “A parliamentary commission is considering an application by citizens to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque…. A survey conducted with 401 people was attached to the application, in which more than 97 percent of interviewees requested the transformation of the ancient building into a mosque and afterwards for it to be reopened for Muslim worship.”
Even lesser known is the fact that other historic churches are currently being transformed into mosques, such as a 13thcentury church building — portentously also named Hagia Sophia — in Trabzon. After the Islamic conquest, it was turned into a mosque. But because of its “great historical and cultural significance” for Christians, it too, during Turkey’s secular age, was turned into a museum and its frescoes restored. Yet local authorities recently decreed that its Christian frescoes would again be covered and the church/museum turned into a mosque.
Similarly, the 5th century Studios Monastery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is set to become an active mosque. And the existence of the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, 5th century Mor Gabriel Monastery, is at risk. Inhabited today by only a few dozen Christians dedicated to learning the monastery’s teachings, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus, and the Orthodox Syriac tradition, neighboring Muslims filed a lawsuit accusing the monks of practicing “anti-Turkish activities” and of illegally occupying land which belongs to Muslim villagers. The highest appeals court in Ankara ruled in favor of the Muslim villagers, saying the land that had been part of the monastery for 1,600 years is not its property, absurdly claiming that the monastery was built over the ruins of a mosque — even though Muhammad was born 170 years after the monastery was built.
Turkey’s Christian minority, including the Orthodox Patriarch, are naturally protesting this renewed Islamic onslaught against what remains of their cultural heritage — to deaf ears…
And from the conclusion:
Indeed, at a time when Turkey is openly reclaiming its jihadi heritage, Europeans are actively erasing their Christian heritage which for centuries kept the Islamic jihad at bay. Among other capitulations, Europeans are currently betraying church buildings to Muslims to convert to mosques and scrubbing references of the historic Turkish jihads against Europe from classroom textbooks, lest Muslim students be offended.
Meanwhile, here are neighboring Turkey’s Muslims openly praising the same jihadi warlords who brutally conquered a portion of Europe centuries ago, converting thousands of churches into mosques, even as they openly prepare to finish the job — which may not even require force, as Europe actively sells its own soul.
Theology and Society reports:
A Paris museum — subsidized by the French government — opened an exhibition of photos of Palestinian suicide bombers, that the museum calls “freedom fighters,” the France 24 website reports today (June 12, 2013).
The exhibition of 68 photos — entitled “Death” by Ahlam Shibli — opened on May 28 at the Jeu de Paume Museum of Contemporary Art in Paris.
The museum’s website describes suicide bombers as “those who lost their lives fighting against the (Israeli) occupation,” and the exhibition as being about “the efforts of Palestinian society to preserve their presence.”
According to CRIF (Representative Council of the Jewish Institutions in France) — the umbrella body of French Jewish communities — the people commemorated in the photos are “mostly from the [Fatah-affiliated] al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades [of Hamas], and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” All three are designated by the European Union as terrorist groups.
France… another soon to be Islamic state… What else should we expect?