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World news in brief

24 May 2024


The Entombment by Filippo Vitale (c.1585-1650), a lot in a Christie’s Old Masters auction in New York on Thursday. Vitale, a Neapolitan painter, is credited with popularising the lighting techniques developed by Caravaggio. Estimate $30-50,000; sold for $37,000

The Entombment by Filippo Vitale (c.1585-1650), a lot in a Christie’s Old Masters auction in New York on Thursday. Vitale, a Neapolitan painter, is cr...


Prayers for Iran after President’s death

THE Pope and the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Professor Jerry Pillay, were among those who sent condolences to the Islamic Republic of Iran, after its President, Dr Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, and members of his delegation were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday. In a telegram to the country’s Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, who has announced five days of mourning, Pope Francis said: “Entrusting the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty, and with prayers for those who mourn their loss, especially their families, I send the assurance of spiritual closeness to the nation at this difficult time.” In a letter to the same recipient, Professor Pillay wrote: “This loss is deeply felt, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and to all who grieve in your nation.” An investigation into the crash is being carried out.


Anglican development charity welcomes new patron

THE Anglican development charity Five Talents has appointed the Archbishop of Kenya, the Most Revd Jackson Ole Sapit, as its new patron. The Archbishop of Canterbury will continue to be the UK patron of the charity. A release said that Five Talents has had “a longstanding relationship” with Archbishop Ole Sapit, who has supported its work since he was Bishop Kericho. He said: “The work of Five Talents aligns so well with our own vision here in Kenya. A key part of the decade strategy for the Anglican Church of Kenya is a focus on individual and community empowerment, and empowerment is something which sits at the heart of the Five Talents programme model.”


UN urges Nigeria to release singer on death row

A GROUP of United Nations Special Rapporteurs has renewed its call on the Nigerian authorities to release “immediately and unconditionally” the singer Yahaya Sharif-Aminu from death row. He was sentenced in 2020 under blasphemy law to be hanged for a song that he had performed and posted on WhatsApp (News, 2 October 2020). In 2021, a High Court Judge ordered a retrial of the case (News, 29 January 2021). In a statement on Thursday of last week, the UN human-rights experts said: “Although his death sentence was quashed by a court of appeal, we remain deeply concerned that Mr Sharif-Aminu’s case will be re-prosecuted based on the same legal framework, the Kano State Sharia Penal Code Law, with serious risks that the death sentence will be confirmed.” They urged the Supreme Court to prioritise the case with human-rights in mind.


More US giants embracing religious diversity

MOST of the largest companies in the United States — including American Airlines and Accenture — are committing themselves to religious inclusivity in the workplace, the latest Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Index and Monitor, released by the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation this week, reports. The REDI’s report says that 429 Fortune 500 companies (85.8 per cent) now mention or illustrate religion as part of their broader commitment to diversity — more than double the number in 2022 (202 companies, or 40.4 per cent). The study also found a 68-per-cent increase in the number of Fortune 500 companies showcasing that they have faith-orientated employee business resource groups (EBRGs), up from 37 companies in 2022 to 62 in 2024.


Rastafarian seeks damages for prison haircut

A RASTAFARIAN in the US, Damon Landor, who is serving a five-month sentence in a Louisiana state prison, has filed a Supreme Court petition to seek damages, after prison guards cut his dreadlocks, which, he said, he wore for religious reasons. He is arguing that the prison, therefore, infringed his religious rights. The law firm representing him, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said that a provision of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act was at stake. “Without damages, this law provides no real protection, and members of minority faiths in particular are exposed to serious abuse,” Zack Tripp, a lawyer with the firm, said.

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