The rise of Islamist radicalism continues to threaten U.S. interests in the greater Middle East. Last year's attacks on U.S. embassies, instability in the aftermath of the Arab uprisings, and an increase in political activism among Salafist movements are all cause for concern. In Pakistan, extremist networks use U.S. drone strikes and the killing of Osama bin Laden to rally people to their cause.

Last week the Journal de Montreal dropped a bomb on Quebec’s extremely shaky sense of identity by publishing leaked details from the upcoming Charter of Quebec Values set to be released in the fall. Apparently, the government plans to ban employees of public institutions like schools, hospitals and daycares from wearing religious symbols such as turbans, hijabs, kippas, crucifixes, or anything else “conspicuously religious.”

Pope Francis called for "mutual respect" between Christianity and Islam and an end to "unfair criticism" in a personal message on Friday congratulating Muslims on the feast of Eid al-Fitr. "We are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values," he said in a statement distributed by the Vatican press office.

In a South Delhi neighborhood, the sound of a man reciting Dari, a Farsi dialect spoken in Afghanistan, over a loudspeaker attached to a modest two-story building rose over the din of vegetable hawkers. The building was a church run by Afghan refugees who had converted to Christianity. The man was a young Afghan priest reading the Bible before a Sunday service in its basement.

We are all well aware that both India and China are rivals for supremacy in Asia and both are fishing for new strategies to tap to forge the alliances needed to strengthen that supremacy. If India and China nations that once put Buddhism aside for other priorities are now realizing that their answer for supremacy lies with Buddhism why has Sri Lanka’s policy makers not utilized this power which is under their very nose?

The official Facebook page of Israel’s embassy to Ireland this morning posted, and then abruptly deleted, a provocative message arguing that “hostile Palestinians” would “lynch” Jesus Christ and his mother, Mary, if they lived in today’s Bethlehem... The Facebook message, which begins “A thought for Christmas,” included an image of Jesus and Mary. It was live for about two hours before being deleted.

The India-China “battle for Buddha” has now reached Myanmar, with New Delhi sponsoring an International Conference on Buddhist Cultural Heritage in Yangon over the weekend, while Beijing has since last year been trying to leverage the legacy of “Shakya Muni” to connect with the religious majority in its south-western neighbour.