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How an Iraqi Friar Saved Ancient Christian Manuscripts from IS

Bullets whistled overhead, a black Islamic State flag flapping in the distance, but all Friar Najeeb Michaeel could think of as he fled the jihadists was how to save hundreds of ancient Iraqi manuscripts in his possession.

"You are going to get us killed with your archives," Michaeel's assistant Watheq Qassab grumbled as he struggled to carry six boxes of the documents dated between the 13th and 19th century across the border from Iraq into Kurdistan in August last year.

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Sotheby's to Make First Sale from Nazi-Era Art trove

A painting by Max Liebermann from a Nazi-era art trove found in Germany last year will go on sale in London next month, the first from the collection to be sold off, Sotheby's said on Friday.

One of the rightful heirs -- to whom the painting was returned -- last remembered seeing it the day his great-uncle signed over his estate to the Nazis at a villa in what is now Poland.

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Ireland awaits Count in Historic Gay Marriage Vote

Ireland waited Saturday to learn the outcome of a historic referendum on same-sex marriage, with crowds of anxiously optimistic "Yes" supporters expected at Dublin Castle to hear the result.

Counting was due to begin at 9:00 am (0800 GMT) in 43 constituencies across the country, with the smallest among them expected to start producing results from midday. The nationwide result is expected in the afternoon.

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Kenyan Catholics Celebrate Beatification of Italian Nun

Tens of thousands of Catholics gathered in the Kenyan town of Nyeri on Saturday for the beatification ceremony of an Italian nun, a key step towards sainthood.

Irene Stefani was an Italian member of the Consolata Missionary Sisters who helped the wounded in Kenya and Tanzania during World War I before shed died of the plague in 1930.

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Dutch Cabinet Backs Partial Islamic Burqa Ban

The Dutch cabinet on Friday approved a partial ban on wearing the face-covering Islamic veil, including in schools, hospitals and on public transport.

"Face-covering clothing will in future not be accepted in education and healthcare institutions, government buildings and on public transport," the government said in a statement after the cabinet backed Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk's bill.

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Berlin Art Show Pairs Impressionist, Expressionist Paintings

Camille Pissarro's famous "Boulevard Montmartre at Night" shows a brightly illuminated avenue in Paris — the city lights turned into gentle dabs of oil paint. Next to the French impressionist's 1897 work is a painting by German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner from 1912 depicting a Berlin street scene in flashy yellow, blue and black — the broad brush stokes clearly visible.

Both masterpieces are featured in "Impressionism - Expressionism: Art at a Turning Point," a Berlin exhibition which opens Friday at the city's Alte Nationalgalerie museum.

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Qatar's Pearl Divers Seek Tradition and Riches

From a distance it could be a scene from Qatar's ancient past, long before the country's modern-day wealth was secured by the discovery of gas and oil.

Several kilometers (miles) off the coast of southern Qatar, five traditional dhow boats bob gently up and down on the becalmed blue-green waters of the Gulf.

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El Salvador's Beatified Romero Symbol of New Church

Thirty-five years after he was gunned down while delivering mass, controversial Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero will be beatified Saturday, held up by Pope Francis as a symbol of a Catholic Church dedicated to the poor.

In a move long resisted by conservative Catholics and the Salvadoran right, Romero will be declared "blessed" in a ceremony led by the pope's envoy, Cardinal Angelo Amato, on San Salvador's main square.

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Jbeil Again in the Spotlight, Wins Arab Tourism Capital Title

Lebanon will celebrate in June the crowning of its ancient city of Jbeil as the 2016 Arab Tourism Capital, a title chosen by the Arab Council of Tourism.

Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon announced the event late Wednesday from the Grand Serail, voicing hopes that the security plan implemented in Lebanon paves way for the country to benefit from the event.

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Tibetans: Communist China's Unlikely Catholic Outpost

Opening the church door in Baihanluo reveals a large portrait of Pope Francis -- something of a paradox in an ethnically Tibetan area of Communist China.

The village is only reachable on foot or by horse, and surrounded by snow-capped Himalayan peaks.

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