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Archive of May 10, 2008

Former Jordanian minister insists Islam will conquer Rome

CNA STAFF, May 10, 2008 (CNA) - A former Jordanian minister has seized upon commentary about the decline of Western power, saying on Arabic-language television that Islam will conquer Rome.  He went on to say that Spain is an Islamic land that should be retaken and that America has begun to realize its “end is near.”

The remarks by former Jordanian Minister of Religious Endowment Ali Al-Faqir were broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV on May 2. 

According to a transcript prepared by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Al-Faqir said Palestine from the Jordan to the Mediterranean is an Islamic land.  “Spain – Andalusia – is also the land of Islam,” he said.

“Islamic lands that were occupied by the enemies will once again become Islamic. Furthermore, we will reach beyond these countries, which are lost at one point. We proclaim that we will conquer Rome, like Constantinople was conquered once, and as it will be conquered again.

“America has occupied, thundered, and foamed with rage, and proclaimed, like Pharaoh, ‘I am your supreme God,’ but it will come to its end, and they have begun to realize that their end is near,” he said.

Al-Faqir then alluded to commentary about the declining prominence of America and Europe.

“We have begun to read in American and European newspapers that ‘our glory is on the wane, and there is nothing we can do about it,’” Al-Faqir said, according to the MEMRI transcript. 

“This morning on Al-Jazeera TV, I saw American scientists and strategic theoreticians, who said that America would soon come to its end. They said it before about the USSR, and, indeed, it has come to its end, and we say now that America and the EU will come to an end, and only the rising force of Islam will prevail.”

American and European pundits and commentators have recently discussed the perceived decline in American power, especially economic power. 

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, national security columnist Fred Kaplan said President George W. Bush’s “follies” had accelerated the decline of American influence.  “For half a century, we had been a super-power," Kaplan wrote. "Now we're upper-middle management in a world without bosses.” 

Parag Khanna, a research fellow at the New America Foundation, wrote in the New York Times that the U.S. is “competing—and losing—in a geopolitical marketplace,” arguing that globalization has eroded American primacy.

Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, published excerpts from his new book in the May 12 issue of Newsweek.  Zakaria argued that a “seismic shift” in power and attitudes has transported the world into a post-American phase where the United States will not have the vastly unequal influence it has enjoyed in recent decades.

Other writers argue that American economic and cultural dominance will continue.  The American Enterprise Institute’s economic policy director Kevin Hassett has advised readers to “ignore the obituaries.”

A video of Ali Al-Faqir's remarks can be viewed at: http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1761.htm

 

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Report suggests Europe an “elderly continent” in “demographic winter”

Brussels, Belgium, May 10, 2008 (CNA) - A new report presented to the European Parliament on Wednesday shows more evidence of a “demographic winter” in Europe, where a decline in both birth and marriage rates have helped create an “elderly continent.”

The Institute for Family Policy’s report, “The Evolution of the Family in Europe 2008,” is a study that was undertaken by experts from several disciplines including demography, psychology, sociology, and family studies.

Lola Velarde, president of the Institute for Family Policy European Network, said that concern about the European family and its problems has grown, as evidenced by several recently adopted European Union documents.  However, she said this action is “clearly inadequate” and family problems continue to worsen.

According to the report, which was released to CNA, indicators of population, birth, marriage, and family breakdowns have all worsened in the past 27 years.  People over age 65 outnumber those under age 14 by 6 million. Additionally, there are now one million fewer births per year than there were in 1980. 

At present, there are almost 1.2 million abortions per year in the E.U., making abortion the leading cause of mortality in Europe.  The figures are equivalent to the population of Luxembourg and Malta combined.  Nearly 18.5 percent of all pregnancies in the E.U. end in abortion.

The fall in the European Union marriage rate has also been drastic.  In 2006 there were 732,752 fewer marriages than in 1980, a decrease of 23.9 percent.  When they do marry, people are starting families later, with women marrying at an average age of 29 and men at an average age of 31.  This represents an increase in the average age of marriage by more than five years.

In 2006, the report said, divorces numbered over one million-- 365,000 more than in 1980.  Between 1996 and 2006 there were over 10.1 million marital breakdowns, affecting more than 15 million children.

European Union households themselves are shrinking in size, with an average 2.4 members per household.  One in four households is occupied only by a single resident.

Even the population growth of the European Union, which added 14.2 million people between 2000 and 2007, portends demographic problems.  Twelve million of the added population, 84 percent, resulted from immigration.  The immigrant population now stands at 27 million people, representing 5.5 percent of Europe’s population.

The report points out that there is no European Union organization in charge of family policy and calls for greater defense family. According to the report, there is a clear correlation between direct assistance to families and the number of children.  Countries offering higher family benefit levels have higher birth rates.

The Institute for Family Policy recommended several proposals to develop “family-friendly” government policies.  These include making a “family-oriented” policy approach integral to all European Union laws; recognizing and promoting family rights in all areas, particularly in child care and education; promoting uniformity between national family policies to avoid differences between countries; and establishing equality of opportunity for all families to avoid discrimination based on number of children, levels of income, or distribution of income.

The full IFP report is viewable at www.ipfe.org

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Evangelical group issues political manifesto against “single-issue politics”

Washington D.C., May 10, 2008 (CNA) - A group of prominent Evangelicals has urged Christian conservatives to expand their concerns beyond “single-issue politics” in a new 19-page document examining the place of Evangelicals in political life.

The document, called “An Evangelical Manifesto,” was signed by more than 70 theologians, pastors, and other figures.  It warns Christians against adopting any one political view and too closely mixing religion and politics.

"That way faith loses its independence, Christians become 'useful idiots' for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology," they wrote.

The manifesto asks for “an expansion of our concern beyond single-issue politics, such as abortion and marriage."  It also condemns anti-intellectualism among fundamentalists and the many U.S. evangelicals who “pose as victims.” 

Drafters and early signers of the document include Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in California; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners Magazine; and Frank Wright, president of the National Religious Broadcasters.
 
The document argues that the culture war has become a “holy war” with a “dangerous incubation of conflicts, hatreds and lawsuits.”

"Our problem is not mislabeling by the press or rebranding because we have a bad image," Os Guiness, an evangelical scholar and a drafter of the document, told the Associated Press. "The problem is reality. Much of evangelicalism is not evangelical."

Organizers of the manifesto insisted they did not time the release for the presidential election.  Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has had difficulty winning over evangelicals. 

According to the Associated Press, John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum for Religion and Public Life, said the document was relevant to both major political parties.

“Republicans need to realize that evangelicals care about a lot of things," Green said. "The message to Democrats is similar: Don't ignore us. If you pursue the right issues and have the right platform, there are many evangelicals who will consider voting for you.”

James Dobson, founder of the conservative group Focus on the Family, reviewed the document and was asked to sign it, Dobson spokesman Gary Schneeberger said.  Dobson reportedly consulted the group’s board of directors but did not sign it “due to myriad concerns about the effort,” according to Schneeberger.

Schneeberger said one of Dobson’s concerns was that no African-American pastors or theologians were on the invitation list.

Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant group in the country, said he was not asked to sign the document, the Associated Press reports.

Janice Shaw Crouse, director of the Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, weighed-in on the document saying that it was “blurring the distinctions between liberal and conservative” and would confuse Christian voters about important issues like opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

To read the entire manifesto go to: http://www.evangelicalmanifesto.com/

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