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Dutch Catholics have re-branded the Lenten fast as “Christian Ramadan” in an attempt to appeal to young Dutchmen who are likely to know more about Islam than Christianity. “The image of the Catholic Lent must be polished,” said Martin Van der Kuil, director of the Catholic charity Vastenaktie. “The fact that we use a Muslim term is related to the fact that Ramadan is a better-known concept among young people than Lent.” Charity organizers hope that by linking the fast to Ramadan they can remind Christians who may be less observant than Muslims of the “spirituality and sobriety” of Lent (Telegraph, Feb. 12).
Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits in the U.K. Even though polygamy is still a crime, the decision means that polygamous marriages can now be recognized formally by the state, so long as the weddings took place in countries where the arrangement is legal. The outcome will chiefly benefit Muslim men with more than one wife, as is permitted under Islamic law. Ministers estimate that up to a thousand polygamous partnerships exist in Britain today. Islamic law permits men to have up to four wives at any one time — known as a harem — provided the husband spends equal amounts of time with and money on each of them (Telegraph, Feb. 4).
The world’s first pet-cloning service promises to offer animal lovers the chance to recreate their dead companions. South Korean company RNL Bio announced that it is already working on its first order from an American who wants a clone of her dead pit bull. Ear tissue from the dog had been preserved at a biotech laboratory before its death; DNA from the sample is now being used in an attempt to create a doggy clone, although the chances of success hover around 25 percent. RNL Bio is charging customers $150,000 for the clones, which clients pay only after they receive their new pet (Guardian, Feb. 15).
Over 150 men and women stripped to the buff on the steps of the St. Eulalia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, in silent protest against the fur industry. Daubed in red paint, the nude protesters curled into fetal positions on the steps of the Gothic church. The protest was timed so that noonday worshipers had to file past the contorted nude protestors. AnimaNaturalis, the pressure group that organized the exhibition, explained in a press release that the “word ‘holocaust’ can be applied to the animal holocaust as well as to the Jews, without diminishing the importance of the latter. The comparison is valid from the moment that both are seized and placed in cages. Both are tortured and die of hunger as it frequently happens to egg-laying chickens. Both are finally murdered” (Spero News, Jan. 28).
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