EU institutions do not do God. But for some religious leaders in EU-aspirant countries, member states' Christian origins are still politicaly important.
The morning call to prayer at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul means different things to different people.
For Muslims, it is an invitation to muster spiritual energy for the working day. For some Western visitors it is a sign that they are on the edge of an exotic world.
Despite Vatican lobbying, the EU Treaty does not mention the word "Christian" on any of its 403 pages.
It begins by saying the Union "[draws] inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe." Later on, it says that any "European state" can join.The EU is already home to 13 million Muslims, over 1 million Jews and 370 million people who tell polsters they are Christian. Apart from Turkey, two other majority Muslim places - Albania and Kosovo - are in line to join.
Clash of civilisations?
Rosen believes there is no clash of civilisations, but that there is a clash between antiquity and modernity.
"It is ... between the enlightened (who embrace the good things of modernity - science, individual autonomy, human rights) and the reactionary (who feel threatened by those things). The enlightened are those who do not claim a monopoly on truth and the reactionary are those that do," he said."Muslims from 'Europeanized' (e.g. Balkan) societies, which can even include some Arab societies (e.g. the educated elite in Morocco), are able to be part of European society as well as anyone else."The bishop, who used to work with Comece, a Brussels-based Christian lobby, added that Armenian communities in, say, Belgium or France have "fully assimilated," while Muslims are "a challenge" in terms of integration.
The US invasion of Iraq and the Arab Spring have prompted fresh waves of sectarian violence in the home of the world's oldest Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities.
Up to 1 million Iraqi Christians have fled the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Dozens of Egyptian Copts have been killed since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
Israel's EU-and-US-endorsed ethnic cleansing of occupied territories also acts as a "lightning conductor" - in Rosen's phrase - for anti-Western feeling.
German politicians from across the spectrum have reacted furiously to warnings by Italy’s Mario Monti that Bundestag control over EU debt policies threatens to bring about the “disintegration” of the European project.The dispute comes as relations between Germany and Italy touch the lowest ebb since the Second World War, with Il Giornale publishing a front-page picture of Chancellor Angela Merkel under the headline “Fourth Reich”.“The tone of the debate has turned dangerous. We must be careful that Europe does not rip itself apart,” said German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle. He himself fanned the flames over the weekend, saying he was “categorically” against further expansion of the EU rescue machinery or bond purchases by the European Central Bank. “I can’t imagine that a majority of the Bundestag will back unlimited debt liabilities,” he said.
The German opposition has endorsed plans for a national referendum on creating a full-blown fiscal Union.
The leader of the centre-left SPD party, Sigmar Gabriel, rolled out the proposals at a small press conference in Berlin on Monday (6 August).
He said the euro can only be saved by pooling debt and sovereignty."You will not be able to hold the euro together without a common financial and tax policy ... We have a common currency, but no common finance or budget policy."
They added: "There are only two coherent strategies for overcoming the current crisis: either a return to national currencies in the EU, with each country subject to unpredictable fluctuations in highly speculative currency markets, or the institutional consolidation of a common fiscal, economic and social policy in the euro area."
The world wasted 10 years of Israeli warnings on Iran’s nuclear program and another eight years before imposing belated sanctions, says Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States.
His op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal was another implied hint that Israel cannot wait much longer before trying to delay Iran’s nuclear program with a military attack, and such articles by the ambassador to the United States presumably are coordinated with Israel's highest officials.
“Historically, Israel has exercised that right [to defend itself] only after exhausting all reasonable diplomatic means,” he wrote. “But as the repeated attempts to negotiate with Iran have demonstrated, neither diplomacy nor sanctions has removed the threat.”
“Iran is also the world's leading state sponsor of terror. It has supplied more than 70,000 rockets to terrorist organizations deployed on Israel's borders and has tried to murder civilians across five continents and 25 countries, including in the United States… By providing fighters and , Iran is enabling Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to massacre his own people.”
If Iran gets a nuclear bomb it may actually use it, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday, rejecting the notion that Tehran would act responsibly if it became a member of the world’s nuclear “club.”Netanyahu, in a meeting with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, spelled out five things that would likely happen, were Iran allowed to go nuclear: There will be nuclear proliferation in the Middle East as various other actors will then want to have a bomb; Iran will have a firmer hand on the “choke point of the world’s oil supply,” namely the Strait of Hormuz; there will be a magnification of global terrorism because the terrorists under Iran’s sway will believe that they have immunity; and Israel’s cities will be rocketed even more because those firing the rockets will feel that they enjoy a nuclear umbrella.
Just days after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Israel it seems that the Obama administration's efforts to calm down the Israeli government on the topic of Iran have not made an impression with Jerusalem decision makers.
Senior officials on Sunday leveled severe criticism against the US, declaring that the American position on a date for a military strike against Iran was a "wretched red line."
A government source said that "Hezbollah is the long arm of Iran," adding that "this terrorist organization will undoubtedly barrage Israel with thousands of missiles. It won't begin withKiryat Shmona and end in Haifa, but will reach further into Israel. Hezbollah could cover Israel with rockets."