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ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing

ARABICA - A Daily Shot Of What the Arab World is Saying/Hearing/Sharing
Kristen Gillespie

A R A B I C A ارابيكا

CNN Arabic is reporting that fleeing Gaddafi family members agreed to certain conditions by the Algerian government before being given sanctuary in that country. A Libyan convoy of seven cars carrying 31 people, including Gaddafi family members, arrived at the Algerian border at 8:45 Monday morning.

The family is "allowed no phone calls from outside" Algeria, CNN Arabic reports. Algerian paper A-Nahar reported that the family agreed to make no public statements and take no calls because "any phone call would put Algeria in a position of political embarrassment," and could be interpreted as "managing the war from a distance."

Muammar Gaddafi's daughter Aisha, a UN Goodwill Ambassador believed to be in her 30s, gave birth on the Algerian side in the early hours on Tuesday morning.

Ibrahim Almojel, a Saudi citizen, tweets: "The Arab League must intervene in Syria. What is happening in Syria far exceeds the craziness of Libya."

Sheikh Gamal Qutb, chairman of the Fatwa Committee of Egypt's Islamic Al-Azhar University, spoke to the press to dispel persistent rumors that Israel was to blame for "discord and confusion" regarding the sighting of the moon that signals the end of Ramadan. Qutb stressed that "what is being said is not true at all," and that in fact, Saudi Arabia and Egypt did agree on the sighting of the new moon and that the three-day holiday of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan began on the correct day. The sheikh did not elaborate on how Israel might have sabotaged the appearance of the new moon.

Egyptian local news website Al Youm Al Sabaa reports that thousands of Egyptian residents of the town of Wadi Natroun blocked the nearby desert highway for hours on Wednesday to protest the many fatalities and accidents on the perilous road. Residents attribute the high casualty rate to a lack of bridge or tunnel for pedestrians to safely cross the highway. Families have been calling for a pedestrian crossing for decades to no avail. The final straw for residents was the death of a small child this week after being hit by a speeding car on the highway.

A local official arrived on the scene and promised to install temporary speed bumps. The protesters opened the road after the bumps were placed on the highway. The website confirmed the official's promise that the General Authority for Roads and Bridges will begin building a bridge over the highway next week.

August 31, 2011

photo credit: illustir

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How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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