Catholics told to `beget'
Roman Catholic leaders in southern Indian are urging their followers to have more babies because of the dwindling percentage of Catholics in a region long known as a center of Indian Christianity. In a letter to Catholics, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil of the southern state of Kerala wrote that members of the community need to "lead a life rooted in Christian values and beliefs." Using language that sounded almost Biblical, the letter said "there has been a growing feeling that children are a nuisance to pleasurable life. Even those who have the resources do not beget for selfish reasons." In short, have as many children as you can afford.
Controversial play banned
A play deemed to portray Muslims in a negative light was prohibited from being staged in Singapore yesterday and today after its arts entertainment license was withdrawn. The title of the English-language production, Smjegma, refers to genital secretions. The license was withdrawn by the Media Development Authority (MDA)on Friday after it had been issued on Tuesday. The play was scheduled to be performed by theater group Agni Kootthu at The Substation Guinness Theater during the weekend.
All-female beach approved
Hotels at a seaside resort are eager to act on the town's decision to authorize an all-female beach section for Muslim women. The city council of Riccione, a popular resort on the Adriatic coast, has said it is prepared to authorize requests to set up partitions on parts of the shoreline to satisfy requests from the town's growing numbers of Muslim tourists. Attilio Cenni, owner of the Grand Hotel des Bains, said he plans to open the first secluded section starting next month. Supporters of the idea say that the separate beaches would allow observant Muslim women to enjoy the sun in privacy.
Artworks take a tumble
Two fragile artworks on loan from the US slid from the walls of Paris' Pompidou Center and shattered, the museum said on Friday. Part of an exhibit on Los Angeles art from 1955 to 1985, the lost artworks were a 1971 untitled resin piece by Peter Alexander and a 1967 Plexiglas creation by artist Craig Kauffman called Untitled Wall Relief. The Pompidou said that it had carefully followed the loaners' instructions on how to display the pieces. Kauffman's work was hung from a cornice while representatives of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art -- which loaned the piece -- were present, the Paris museum said.
■ United States
Iranians turned away
At least 15 Iranian nationals were turned away from Californian airports in recent days after their visas were revoked without explanation. The Iranians were gathering this weekend for a reunion of graduates of Sharif University of Technology in Santa Clara, California. One of the Iranians, Kourosh Elahidoost, said the State Department informed him that his visa to travel in the US has been revoked "for reasons of national security." During a detention at Los Angeles International Airport that lasted almost two days, he was questioned about a number of personal matters.