Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan ban Valentine’s Day celebrations

Iran and Indonesia have cracked down on Valentine’s Day celebrations, arguing that the commercial observance of February 14 promotes the spreading of “decadent” western culture. The rising popularity of the annual homage to romance, which tradition says is named after an early Christian martyr, has in recent years become an irritation for some Muslim clerics […]

Tony Robbins saves nuns’ humble Tenderloin soup kitchen

The French nuns who were in danger of being evicted from their dingy little Tenderloin soup kitchen have won a reprieve, thanks to an unlikely benefactor — business coach and media star Tony Robbins. Under a deal struck Friday, the nuns of the Fraternite Notre Dame Mary of Nazareth Soup Kitchen at 54 Turk St. […]

Iranians launch app to escape morality police

Iranian developers just launched a mobile app called “Gershad”, which alerts users if the morality police are nearby. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the morality police, a unit of the National Police, are charged with insuring that Iranian citizens comply with so-called Islamic law. For example, morality officers have to make sure that women […]

How Saudis outwit customs to smuggle in booze

The Twitter account of Saudi customs showcases the lengths to which would-be booze smugglers go to in their efforts to bring alcohol into the country. However, not everyone gets caught. Our Saudi Observer tells us how he managed to get his hands on such a rare – and illegal – commodity. Whether it’s by taping […]

Syria’s top Catholic cleric upset that Iran’s Rouhani didn’t see nude statues during Italy visit

The kerfuffle over the decision by Italian authorities to cover up statues of nude figures during the visit this week of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani isn’t quite finished. The initial uproar was sparked after the Iranian president toured the Capitoline museum alongside Italian Premier Mateo Renzi. The institution houses some priceless objects of Roman antiquity […]

Italy’s culture minister calls the decision to cover up naked statues ‘incomprehensible’

 Italy’s culture minister has criticized as “incomprehensible” the decision to cover up naked statues at a Rome museum where Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was visiting, adding a new twist to the controversy that has dominated Rouhani’s deal-making visit to Italy. Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told reporters Wednesday that neither he nor Premier Matteo Renzi were […]

Top Saudi cleric declared playing of chess ” forbidden”

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric has declared the playing of chess “forbidden,” calling it a waste of time and money that creates hatred between players. In a fatwa, or religious decree, issued in response to a question from a caller to a Saudi television show, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh said that the game was “the […]

Pork is a must eat at a Danish city

A city in Denmark has made pork mandatory on municipal menus, including for schools and daycare centers, with politicians insisting the move is necessary for preserving the country’s food traditions and is not an attack on Muslims. Frank Noergaard, a member of the council in Randers that narrowly approved the decision, says it was made […]