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News of religious/ethical change,
conflict and/or intolerance

2009-August

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We also have a list of religious tolerance & information news for this month.
Sad to say, these are usually much shorter lists.

Events:

bullet2009-AUG-07: NS, Canada: Catholic diocese reaches abuse settlement: Bishop Raymond Lahey of the Antigonish diocese in Nova Scotia announced a $13 million CDN settlement with victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests that extended over decades. Children as young as 8 years-of-age were allegedly victimized. The settlement has to be approved by the provincial Supreme Court who will hear the case in September. Bishop Raymond Lahey of the Antigonish diocese said:

"I want to formally apologize to every victim and to their families for the sexual abuse that was inflicted upon those who were instead entitled to the trust and protection of priests. ... Money can never compensate fully, but we are trying ... to be fair, responsible, respectful and, most of all, compassionate." 1

bullet2009-AUG-07: ON, Canada: Parliamentary candidate found guilty of promoting hate: David Popescu, 61, a fundamentalist Christian and previous independent candidate for Parliament in Sudbury, ON was convicted of promoting hatred. He told a group of high school students in Greater Sudbury at an all-candidates meeting that homosexuals should be executed. He tried to use the religious exemption to section 319 of the criminal code. It allows unlimited sincere religious hate speech against persons of any sexual orientation. However the judge did not believe that his hate speech was religiously motivated. Popescu was given an 18 month suspended sentence. 2,3 More info.
 
bullet2009-AUG-11: Kenya: Canadian citizen stuck in Kenya as "impostor:" Suaad Hagi Mohamud is  Canadian citizen who was stopped at the Nairobi airport on her way home to Canada. An official approached her for a bribe; she refused; she was arrested for being an impostor in spite of a handful of identification documents. The Canadian government basically disowned her. Over two months later she was still stuck in Kenya. Her son and relatives back in Canada identified her voice. A face-recognition expert verified her identity. But the government was uninterested. She finally shamed the Canadian Government into performing a DNA test on her and her son who was back in Canada. The result was that she is who she said she is, to a certainty of 99.99%. 4

She had four strikes against her: TWB (Travelling While Black), TWM (Travelling While Muslim), TWF (Travelling While Female), and TWH (Travelling Wearing a Hijab).

I suffer from none of these factors. However I do not have any confidence that my federal government will care about me if I were to get into trouble in a foreign land.

An editorial in the Toronto Star newspaper criticized the Canadian government for its inadequate treatment of its citizens. The editorial stated:

"This is a government, after all, that has proven only too willing to abandon citizens. Omar Khadr still faces trial before a tainted Guantanamo tribunal. Ottawa had to be ordered by the courts to repatriate Abousfian Abdelrazik from Sudan. And to seek clemency for Ronald Smith, a murderer who faces execution in the United States. ..."

"On what 'conclusive investigations' and hard evidence did Canada's diplomats in Nairobi base their judgment that Mohamud was an imposter? Why didn't she get the benefit of the doubt? Why did it take so long to establish her citizenship?"

"Instead of blaming the victim, [Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence] Cannon should shoulder responsibility for this mess. And the Harper government owes it to all Canadians to spell out what will be done to ensure this doesn't happen again." 5

The government has accepted the DNA evidence and is preparing travel documents so that Suaad Hagi Mohamud can return home and be with her 12 year old son.

bullet2009-AUG-26: Romania: Madonna receives death threat; is booed after Roma plea: Madonna has a series of concerts scheduled in eastern Europe. Perhaps by coincidence, her concert in Warsaw was scheduled for AUG-15, which is the Feast of the Assumption when the Roman Catholic church teaches the Virgin Mary was transported bodily to Heaven. This generated a number of death threats aimed at Madonna. 6 She she kept a low profile during the tour. However, in the middle of her concert in Bucharest, she said:
"I've never been to Romania before and I am happy to be here. But I found out that there is a lot of discrimination against Gypsies in Eastern Europe, and that makes me very sad, especially because we believe in acceptance, Gypsies, homosexuals, people that are different. Everyone must be treated the same, don't forget that!"

Thousands of the fans among the 60,000 present reacted with boos and jeers. Ionut Dinu, a 23-year-old concertgoer, said: "I jeered her because it seemed false what she was telling us. What business does she have telling us these things?"

"Gypsies" is a slightly derogatory term for the Roma people, who are subjected to massive discrimination throughout Europe. There are officially 500,000 Roma in Romania. However, the actual number is probably much higher because many do not identify themselves because of fear. 7

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Alison Auld, "Settlement reached in lawsuit against N.S. diocese over alleged sex abuse," Canadian Press, 2009-AUG-07, at: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/
  2. "Popescu guilty of promoting hate, judge rules," The Sudbury Star, 2009-AUG-08, at: http://www.thesudburystar.com/v
  3. Austin Cline, "David Popescu: Homosexuals Should Be Executed," About, 2008-OCT-13, at: http://atheism.about.com/
  4. "Vindicated by her DNA," Toronto Star, 2009-AUG-11, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  5. "Ottawa's shameful 'imposter' case," Toronto Star editorial, 2009-AUG-12, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  6. "Scandal: Madonna concert angers Polish Catholic hardliners," EuroNews, 2009-AUG-13, at: http://www.euronews.net/
  7. "Madonna's Roma appeal sparks crowd jeers," CBC News, 2009-AUG-27, at: http://www.cbc.ca/

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Copyright © 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-AUG-09
Latest update: 2009-AUG-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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