Jewish group applauds arrest in Germany of former KKK leader David Duke
BERLIN (AP) _ An American Jewish group is applauding German police for taking former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke into custody before he could address a far-right gathering.
Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, said Wednesday the move "sends an important signal that firm action against those who advocate hate must remain central to Germany's moral and legal agenda."
Cologne police say Duke, 61, was taken into custody Friday before his speech for breaking a travel ban to many European nations, including Germany.
They say the U.S. resident was released and forced to leave the country and they do not know where he is now.
Duke's website called the incident "thuggish communist-style oppression to suppress the right-wing."
Santa Fe Catholic archbishop: Archdiocese again will oppose any driver's license repeal effort
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ The city's Roman Catholic archbishop said he will oppose any further attempt by Gov. Susana Martinez to repeal a state law allowing illegal immigrants to obtain a driver's license.
Archbishop Michael Sheehan said Tuesday the archdiocese does not condone people breaking the law, but state residents should welcome those who are already here.
Sheehan believes the Archdiocese's position helped sway public opinion in favor of keeping the law. Martinez has tried twice to repeal the law and has vowed to try again during the next session.
New Mexico is one of only three U.S. states to issue driver's licenses to people in the country illegally.
German court rules Berlin student doesn't have right to pray while in school
BERLIN (AP) _ Germany's top administrative court ruled Wednesday that students don't have the right to pray while in school if a conflict is created.
The court upheld a decision by a lower court which had denied that right to a Muslim student who had demanded a private prayer room at his Berlin high school.
The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig said while the decision did not prohibit students in general from praying during breaks, the Berlin student did not have a right to pray.
The court said praying should be banned if the religious act can cause religious conflicts at the school _ which it said was the case at the Berlin school. The court also said the creation of a separate prayer room would go beyond the capacities of the Berlin school.
Jailed Vermont Muslims say they've had to push for religious accommodations
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ A group of Muslim inmates say they have had to push prison staff to accommodate Islamic religious observance even though state policy requires the prisons to meet special religious needs.
Gregory Sierras, an inmate, said he had to pressure staff at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport to hold Friday prayer services and allow Muslim inmates to receive pre-dawn and after-dusk meals during Ramadan.
"They have this backwards idea of what Islam is," said Sierras, who has since been transferred to the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans. "We're not allowed to make our prayers together, we're not allowed to congregate."
Dominic Damato, corrections facilities operations manager, said the department made efforts to accommodate the inmates and it was never enough. "People's individual understandings of what (they feel) they're entitled to versus what they are entitled to sometimes vary," he said.
Prison rules require that an outside volunteer oversee religious services within the facilities and Muslim volunteers weren't available in Newport, Damato said.
In 1994, Muslim inmates at St. Albans prison complained their religious needs were being ignored. Prison officials blamed growing pains as the state accommodated an increasingly diverse population.
In 2007, the state changed its rules to allow inmates to attend any religious service of their choosing and the following year the state paid a $25,000 settlement to a Jewish inmate who accused the prison of denying him kosher food for Passover.
Andy Pallito, commissioner of the Department of Corrections, said he has instructed administrators to accommodate the Muslim inmates.
"I was a little bit surprised when I found out they had stopped again," Pallito said of the Friday services. "I gave them the order, `Just get this done. I don't want to have this conversation six times.'"
Lebanon PM invites pope to visit, discuses Syria tensions during Vatican audience
VATICAN CITY (AP) _ Lebanon's prime minister has invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit his country, which the Vatican sees as an important symbol of religious coexistence in the Middle East.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati met with Benedict for about 20 minutes Monday during an overnight visit to Rome that also included talks with the new Italian foreign minister.
The Vatican said the discussions touched on the crisis in Syria and "the need for all parties to commit themselves to peaceful coexistence founded on justice, reconciliation and respect for the dignity of human beings and their inalienable rights."
Members of Mikati's delegation said he extended an invitation to Benedict to visit Lebanon. There was no word from the Vatican, but such a trip has been rumored.
Judge declines to toss suit challenging display of Ten Commandments in Virginia school
ROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ A federal judge says he will not dismiss a lawsuit challenging the display of the Ten Commandments in a rural Virginia school.
U.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski ruled Monday in Roanoke on a request by the Giles County School Board, the southwest Virginia school panel that is defending the religious display in Narrows High School.
Urbanski said there are too many facts to explore to just dismiss the case.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed the lawsuit Sept. 13 on behalf of a student and the student's parent, identified only as Doe 1 and Doe 2.
The ACLU is also seeking a protective order to the two, citing bitter opposition locally to the suit.