It can be plain old cotton or extravagant Italian silk. Tied tightly under your chin or draped elegantly over your head. Headscarves in Turkey might be a political hot potato but for many women they’re also a fashion accessory. As Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul, how and what you wear as a headscarf can define where you’re from, who you are, and whether you’re in or out.
When you think of online dating services you tend to imagine them serving lonely people in large cities. What need do religious people have of such a service when they have the church community to meet partners through? But two years ago, three single and Catholic students from Warsaw started Poland's first online Catholic dating service. Right now the community is 27 thousand strong and growing. So Catholic singles in Poland seem to need to go online to find a spouse. NE finds out how and why.
One of the Netherlsnds’ most controversial politicians, Geert Wilders, has thrust himself back into the spotlight this week. You may have heard of Mr Wilders, journalists usually put the word “controversial” in front of his name. He’s a parliamentarian known as an Islam-basher and it’s now emerged he is making a film denouncing Islam and arguing for the Koran to be banned. Immediately, parallels are being drawn with the film “Submission”, made by murdered Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh and writer Ayan Hirsi-Ali. That film pushed the issue of Moslem integration in Holland up the political agenda, especially after Van Gogh’s murder by an Islamic extremist.
The Dutch have drawn inspiration in the past few years from funeral customs in Mexico and Spain. The project "Allerzielen alom" or "All Saints everywhere" is an effort to honour and remember dead relatives in a creative, communal way. There are events at five cemeteries this year where you can hear acapella choirs, see movies and pictures projected onto ice tablets hanging from trees, and of course there are lots of fires, not near the ice tablets presumably. Johan Huizingha from Radio Netherlands Worldwide went along to one such event this week and spoke to the project’s leader Ida van der Lee.
There is a funeral directors and coffin makers in Amsterdam who also approaches the subject of dealing with death in a modern way. Walter Carpay runs an undertakers in the dockland area of Amsterdam and looks for different ways to express grief in an artistic way. He also attempts to bring back some of the intimacy people used to benefit from before everybody stopped believing in god.
In Romania the communist archives are still the skeleton in the closet for both politicians and high clergy alike. The Romanian Orthodox Church is now at a turning point after its Patriarch passed away at the beginning of the month. The search for his successor has reopened the highly sensitive issue of the relationship between church leaders and the communist authorities before 1989. Radio Romania International's Iulian Muresan reports from Bucharest.
The resignation of the newly appointed archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, two days after he admitted that he'd collaborated with the communist secret services and only hours before his formal investiture ceremony, is surely one of the most important events in the history of the Polish Church. How serious is the crisis in the Church and what are the chances for healing the wounds? Michal Kubicki reports.
The Nazi regime and the atrocities of World War II almost wiped out Jewish life in Germany. But, the number of Jews has been steadily increasing since the early 1990s, mainly a result of many Jews from the former Soviet Union moving to Germany. Comprehensive education for rabbis is once again available in Germany. This year, for the first time since the war, three Rabbis were ordained in Dresden. Germany's Jewish communities are awakening to new life. Kirsten Rulf visited one of them as he settled into his new job.
Turkey's chances of joining the exclusive EU club took another downturn this week. The issue of whether Turkey joins the EU has become one of the most divisive issues in european political life. The question many want answered is if it were to become a member, would Turkey become more European or would, as some western Europeans fear, Europe become less secular? The European commission released a much anticpated report on Turkey's accession progress on Wednesday and it didn't make for cosey bed-time reading for Ankara. Turkey was attacked on its human rights, religious freedoms and its attitude towards the divided island of Cyprus. There wasn't a call for a suspension of talks but the report's bound to fuel speculation that Turkey's whole bid is going off the rails.
France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at between five and six million people. The majority live in the French capital, Paris, and there, Ramadan makes a real difference. The holy month is a joyous time of fellowship, worship and reflection. In multicultural neighbourhoods, such as Belleville, it’s also an opportunity for people with different religious backgrounds to mix.
Although most of the debate around intergration and tolerance focuses on the conflicts between mainly Christian Europe and its Muslims immigrants, conflicts can also arise within Muslim communites themselves. This is the experience of the Alevis in Turkey. The Alevi are a sect of Islam and are very different from the main stream Islamic faith. Along with not fasting during Ramadan, they also don’t believe in the Hajj, and men and women pray together. It is estimated that up to a third of Turkey’s population are followers of Alevi. But such differences in the interpretation of Islam, especially during the time of Ramadan, can lead to tensions.
In France, the traditional church is struggling to attract new blood but evangelical and charismatic ones are rapidly gaining ground. The country is warming to services that focus on miracles, gospel singing, adult immersions and speaking in tongues. One American preacher recently attracted an unprecedented 4,000 people a day to a meeting, swelling the ranks of France’s half a million evangelical followers.
Ceremonies have been held in the central Polish city of Kielce to mark the sixtieth anniversary of a Jewish pogrom by their Polish neighbours. Poles have still to confront the moral aspect of the tragedy. The massacre in which 39 Jews were butchered was taboo in communist Poland. And since, Official investigations have led nowhere. The Kielce pogrom, along with a series of similar events in other parts of Poland in the immediate aftermath of WWII caused an exodus of the country's Holocaust survivors. Radio Polonia's Slawek Szefs reports.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski has vowed zero tolerance of anti-Semitism, as he received the chief rabbi who was attacked in the streets of Warsaw. After the meeting, Rabbi Michael Schudrich said he was pleased that the president was taking the incident seriously. But he linked the aggression against him, to the appointment of far right politicians in the Polish government. Radio Polonia reports.
Berlin's famous "Love Parade" has moved to Bucharest. The capital city recently played host to Gay Fest 2006. The event included concerts, film screenings and parties. The parade took a rather unexpected turn, when a few hundred Christians came to disrupt the event. Radio Romania International reports.
The World Cup is going to be good for business in Germany. But what about the oldest trade of them all - prostitution? Sex workers are also gearing up for the championships. A lot of ladies will be coming from Poland for the event. And hot on their heels are going to be - not just football fans - but also a group of nuns. More from Radio Polonia.
This week's political debates in Europe have somehow taken second place to the real headline. Namely, the eagerly awaited world premiere of the Da Vinci Code at the Cannes film festival on Wednesday. Despite thumbs downs from critics no one doubts that it'll be a huge success. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown has sold more than 39 million copies. Some of the book's most dramatic scenes take place in London and there's so much interest in the various locations that the tour company, London Walks, is offering special Da Vinci Code Tours. Deutsche Welle reports from London.
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