Catholic priests burn Harry Potter books in Poland

The Harry Potter series of books spins an epic tale of good and evil focused on the adventures of the eponymous bespectacled young wizard. (AFP)
Updated 01 April 2019

Catholic priests burn Harry Potter books in Poland

  • ‘We obey the Word,’ priests said in a Facebook post showing photographs of the public book burning
  • ‘It’s hard for me to believe that we’re so backward!’

WARSAW: Catholic priests in the northern Polish city of Koszalin burned books they say are sacrilegious this weekend, including tomes from British author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of fantasy novels.
“We obey the Word,” priests said in a Facebook post showing photographs of the public book burning and quoting Biblical passages from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament.
One passage exhorting believers to destroy the enemies of God includes the passage “burn their idols in the fire.”
The post shows three priests carrying a basket of books and other items including an African-styled face mask through a church to an outside fire pit.
Photographs show priests saying prayers over the fire pit, where other items including a ‘Hello Kitty’ umbrella and a Hindu religious figurine, are also burning.
The Facebook page belongs to the “SMS from Heaven” Catholic evangelical foundation set up to spread Christian message via mobile phone text messages.
“I’d like to believe this is a joke... Seriously? Are people burning fantasy literature in the 21st century in some kind of sick ritual?!” one Facebook user said in a comment underneath.
“It’s hard for me to believe that we’re so backward!” they added.
Launched in 1997, the Harry Potter series of books spins an epic tale of good and evil focused on the adventures of the eponymous bespectacled young wizard as he struggles against the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.
It has sometimes drawn criticism from religious and conservative circles for what they say is its focus on witchcraft.
In recent months, Poland’s influential Roman Catholic church has been struggling to deal with the fallout of revelations about pedophilia among priests that are unprecedented in this overwhelmingly Catholic country.
Last month, the Polish episcopate admitted for the first time that nearly 400 of its clergy had sexually abused children and minors over the last three decades.
That reflected the findings published in February by a charity focused on sex abuse in the church.


Keepers, animals keep each other company at Cairo’s shuttered zoo

Updated 03 April 2020

Keepers, animals keep each other company at Cairo’s shuttered zoo

  • The zoo in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, is one of the few green spaces in the usually bustling city of 23 million and is often crammed with families
  • Egypt, like other countries, is trying to curb the spread of coronavirus cases by restricting people’s movements

CAIRO: The chimpanzees, lions and hippos of Cairo’s zoo are getting a rare spell of peace and quiet alone with their keepers as a closure caused by the coronavirus outbreak keeps the public away.
The zoo in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, is one of the few green spaces in the usually bustling city of 23 million and is often crammed with families seeking diversion from the grind of daily life.
Now keepers do their rounds at the zoo along deserted pathways, feeding animals apples and bananas through the railings of their cages and bringing fresh hay to their enclosures.
Veteran keeper Mohamed Aly holds hands with 12-year-old chimpanzee Jolia in a gesture of friendship, while noting that keepers are careful about cleaning hands between rounds.
“I’ve been here about 25 years,” he said. “(I’ve spent) my whole life with them, they may not speak but they feel everything, and of course all of them are looking for people to play with.”
Egypt, like other countries, is trying to curb the spread of coronavirus cases by restricting people’s movements. It has imposed a night curfew and shut schools, mosques and tourist sites including the pyramids. It has so far confirmed more than 850 cases of the virus, including more than 50 deaths.
The zoo, which has been closed along with others in Egypt since March 18, is sprayed with disinfectant twice a week.

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