The Closing of the Cultural Mind? 
By Giulio Meotti

In the West, books and documentaries have been cancelled. In France, recently, a group of intellectuals published a manifesto asking the Islamic world to eliminate anti-Semitic verses from the Koran. The initiative followed the murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Mireille Knoll. The Turkish Council of Higher Education responded with a moratorium on establishing additional departments of French studies in Turkey. For years, under the presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish culture has been closing in on itself. "Going into a Turkish bookstore is like walking into a psychiatric ward," according to the British journalist Gareth Jenkins in The New Yorker. Turkey sentenced journalists and writers to prison, and put publishers of foreign novels, such as its most famous translator, Necmiye Alpay, on trial. The problem, however, may not be just Turkish, but, as the author Robert R. Reilly called it, "the closing of the Muslim mind".

A new report for the Atlantic Council written by Hossam Abouzahr, the founder of the Living Arabic Project, details the dramatic cultural change in the Arab world:

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Christians ‘excluded’ from Iraq’s reconstruction plans

Christians are being excluded from the reconstruction plans for northern Iraq, further eroding the likelihood of their return once Islamic State has been militarily defeated there, an alliance of UK-based charities has warned.  Iraqi Christians firmly believe that Iraq is their spiritual homeland; their presence dates back at least to the 3rd Century.

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Syrian Refugees Not Welcome in Eastern Europe   
By Neli Esipova and Julie Ray

Though the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe has slowed since 2015, hundreds of thousands of Syrians were still seeking asylum there last year.  If many in Eastern Europe had their way, however, the number would be zero. In nine out of 15 Eastern European countries and areas surveyed in 2016, at least half the population believed their country should not accept any Syrian refugees.  Many of the countries with the strongest opposition to allowing Syrian refugees are located along the Balkan route that once channeled asylum seekers from Greece to Germany. 

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Egypt’s Islamists and Pope Francis
By Nervana Mahmoud

“The Pope of Terrorism” ____ a hashtag used by Islamists on Twitter to comment on Pope Francis’s recent visit to Egypt. Despite his clear message of tolerance, fraternity, and co-existence, and his commitment to forge closer Muslim-Christian ties, political Islamists view the Catholic Pope as the enemy, showering him with hatred and unfounded accusations. While the Pope hoped his trip could help peace and inter-religious dialogue, and spoke unambiguously in support of dignity and rights for all, his words, however, fell on deaf ears among Islamists.

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Getting the Christmas Point 
Kathryn Jean Lopez

It’s a time to remember persecuted Christians in the Middle East — and tell their story to the world.

 ‘Why do people go to church on Christmas?” It was one of the questions passersby asked as they noticed the security line before midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Christmas Eve. There were some colorful things said, as well, as you might imagine after 10 p.m. on a Saturday night in the Big Apple. And there were also some who mistook the crowd on Madison Avenue as a very long line for the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. But the enhanced security — with New York’s and counterterrorism’s finest all around — did become an opportunity for solidarity with those whose lives are at risk simply for what they believe.

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Despite Egypt’s Dismal Human Rights Record, U.S. Restores Military Aid
By Declan Walsh

CAIRO — Egypt’s jail population has swelled. New prisoners include a Lebanese tourist who complained about Egypt on Facebook; a democracy activist who spoke out about sexual harassment; and a visiting grad student from an American university who was arrested as he researched the judiciary.

In Sinai, human rights activists say the army has demolished the houses of 3,000 families as part of operations against the Islamic State.

The State Department’s take on Egypt’s human rights progress? A thumbs up.

This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted restrictions on $195 million in military aid that was frozen last year to protest Egypt’s dire human rights record and its relationship with North Korea, a State Department official said. The aid had been reinstated in response to steps taken by Egypt on specific U.S. conc

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How Will U.S. Policy Affect Middle East's Christians in 2017?
Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

A wide variety of issues, both domestic and foreign, have been raised during the presidential transition. One that hasn’t received much notice is the situation of the beleaguered Christian community in the Middle East.   Given the interest in, and media coverage of, those other issues, it’s an open question as to just what the United States would do for the Middle East’s Christian minorities under the presidential administration of Donald J. Trump. Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, said he would reintroduce a bill he first introduced in September that would ensure U.S. aid specifically reaches Christian refugees and internally displaced people in the region.

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Muslim Persecution of Christians
Raymond Ibrahim

Muslim attacks on Christian churches are on the rise all around the world -- including in America. The worst occurred last month when a bomb exploded in Egypt’s St. Peter’s Cathedral, killing 28, mostly women and children. Preliminary investigations had indicated that a woman entered the church, sat in the women’s section, and then left an unattended purse that later detonated. Later reports asserted that, although others were involved, including one Muslim woman, a male suicide-bomber was the chief culprit (graphic pictures of his remains here).

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Iraq’s grisly liberation
Mindy Belz

Areas freed from the Islamic State’s grip display the depth of the terror group’s war crimes. As Iraqi forces continue that fight, American aid groups are staking out front-line positions, too

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Austria Calls for Closure of Mediterranean Route After 9,000 Migrants Ferried to Europe at Easter
By Virginia Hale

Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has called for the European Union (EU) to seal the Mediterranean route after 9,000 migrants were ferried from Africa during Easter weekend.  The minister told local media that closing the route and securing Europe’s external borders “is the only way to end the tragic and senseless dying in the Mediterranean.

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Muslim Aversion to Non-Muslim Rule and the Jakarta Riots

 Mark Durie

Violence between protesters and police in Jakarta broke out Friday night, November 4, 2016, when an estimated 200,000 Muslims emerged from Friday prayers in mosques to rally outside the Indonesian president's palace. Clashes with police led to tear gas being used on demonstrators, and Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, had to postpone his planned visit to Australia to deal with the crisis.

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Iraqi Christian Relief Council supports the creation of a Nineveh Plain Province
Contact Nicole Foy

Iraqi Christian Relief Council stands with Iraq’s persecuted religious and ethnic minorities native to the fertile Nineveh Plain north east of Mosul who demand a recognized and protected safe-haven in the form of a new federal province within Iraq. Nineveh Plain minorities are calling on the international community to uphold a 2014 Iraqi Council of Ministers decision promising a stand alone province for Iraq’s rapidly disappearing Nineveh Plain minorities.

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Strengthening the ties between the United States, United Kingdom, and the English speaking world.

Iraqi Christian Relief Council urges Trump to create safe zones – not only prioritized resettlement for Assyrian Christians in Iraq
Kelsie Wendelberger, Director of Communications

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 28, 2017 —  In light of the Trump administration’s executive order on refugees and immigrants, Iraqi Christian Relief Council requests the creation of a safe zone in Iraq to preserve the homeland of Assyrian Christians, also known as Chaldean and Syriac, and other ethnic and religious minorities. 

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