Originally created 01/04/03

Faith digest



St. Paul's sets Epiphany service

St. Paul's Episcopal Church will celebrate Epiphany with the Feast of Lights, to be performed at 11 a.m. Sunday at the church, 605 Reynolds St. Costumed characters will tell the story of Christ's birth and the spread of Christianity throughout the world through scripture, carols and hymns.

Child care is available. Call (706) 724-2485.

Gospel quartet will perform

The Todd Nelon Quartet performs at 6 tonight at Talatha Baptist Church, 361 Talatha Church Road in Aiken. Admission costs $5 and an offering will be taken. Call (803) 642-5785.

Lawmakers vow swift Islamization

PESHAWAR, Pakistan - Lawmakers in Pakistan's deeply conservative northwestern province promised Thursday to speed up the adoption of new laws based on Islamic teaching.

The anti-American politicians in the North West Frontier Province came to power after elections late last year vowing to follow the lead of neighboring Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers, who enforced a strict interpretation of Islam, including banning women from any role in public life, and outlawing music and dance.

"We are Muslims and we should be governed under Islamic laws," Zar Gul Khan from a six-party alliance called Muthida Majlis-e-Amal or United Action Forum, told fellow legislators in Peshawar, the capital of the province that borders Afghanistan.

Asif Iqbal, the region's minister in charge of taxation, told the assembly that a committee has been formed to begin drafting new, Islamic-based laws and to encourage the enforcement of those already on the books but ignored under previous administrations.

Pointing to existing laws, police in the province have recently seized and burned videos deemed pornographic, which can mean men and women simply appearing together on screen. Scores of people have also been detained for producing or watching allegedly obscene films.

"We are working hard for enforcing Islamic laws in the province," Mr. Iqbal said.

Ruling against mosque questioned

MARIETTA, Ga. - Some Cobb County residents are questioning a city panel's decision barring construction of a 70-foot minaret atop a planned mosque.

The city Zoning Board denied a request from mosque leaders to build the minaret on the Islamic house of worship even though the city granted comparable variances for two taller church steeples in 1998. The 20,000-square-foot mosque, Masjid Al-Hedaya, still will be built.

The local zoning board denied that prejudice influenced the decision.

"We said no because of the height and the objection of neighbors," Chairman James Mills said. Board member Roy Schultz said he visited the property and determined a 70-foot minaret in that area "would look like the Eiffel Tower."

But another board member, William Wilkerson, believed religious differences were partly to blame for neighbors' opposition. More than 100 residents packed a Dec. 16 board meeting on the minaret and many asked questions unrelated to the spire, he said.

"People did not object to the height of the tower. They objected to the mosque being there in the first place," he said.

-3347 or tharon.giddens@augustachronicle.com.