Religion Today Summaries - August 4, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 4, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
 
In today's edition:

Blast Near Church in Kirkuk, Iraq Injures 13
Arrests Continue in Eritrea
Nigerian Military Opens Fire on Protesting Farmers
Colleges Sign Up for Obama's Interfaith Program



Blast Near Church in Kirkuk, Iraq Injures 13

A car blast outside a Syrian Catholic church in Kirkuk, Iraq Tuesday left 13 wounded as police located and disarmed two more car bombs targeting churches in the city, according to area sources. According to Compass Direct News online video images of the attack against the Holy Family Church showed one of its walls blasted open and all its surfaces covered with broken glass, rubble and dust from the entrance, where the explosion took place, to the sanctuary at the far end of the building. The blast occurred on the second day of the month-long Muslim fasting period of Ramadan. Nearby houses in one of Kirkuk’s oldest quarters were seriously damaged, and cars on the street were left in twisted piles of metal. Today all but one of the wounded residents in the church’s neighborhood – an elderly man who was seriously injured – reportedly had been released from the hospital. No terrorist or extremist group has taken responsibility for the attack, and local church leaders said it seems Christians in Iraq are trapped in a senseless game of power and intimidation. “Sometimes we feel there is some pressure over the Christians all over Iraq to make them leave their cities and go to the northern part of Iraq, to Kurdistan,” said a pastor on condition of anonymity, “but who knows? I can’t say those who did this want us to leave our city.”Authorities also located two other cars full of explosives in the area – one parked in front of the church building of Mar Gourgis, of the Assyrian Church of the East, and another packed with explosives was parked in front of a Protestant church.


Arrests Continue in Eritrea

Ninety Christians have been arrested in Eritrea in the last two months, as authorities continue a campaign against Christians that began in December. Voice of the Martyrs reports that six of the 90 arrested have been released, but the location of the other 84 is unknown. On June 2, 2011, police arrested 26 college students from Mai-Mefhi College of Technology. Students were not given a reason for their arrest, but Release Eritrea reports that the students may have been arrested because they did not participate in Independence Day Celebrations. In May, 64 Christians in a village near the Eritrean capital of Asmara were arrested and detained at Asmara’s 6th Police Station. Sources believe the arrested Christians either remain at the police station or have been moved to Mitire Prison in northeastern Eritrea. Mitire is a remote military prison that is notorious for torture and its harsh living and working conditions.


Nigerian Military Opens Fire on Protesting Farmers

Members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) charged with maintaining peace in Plateau State opened fire on a protest yesterday by hundreds of female farmers from Gyeri Village, seven kilometres from Bukuru, wounding three of them. The farmers had marched to the military outpost in protest at the lack of intervention during an attack by Fulani tribesmen armed with machetes on over 14 farms that had destroyed crops as they were ripening. The raid, which is thought to have begun on Monday evening, has affected farmland covering a three kilometre radius. Local sources informed Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that the timing of this destruction was calculated to cause both anger and hardship. Not only was a bumper harvest anticipated this year, but the farmers, who are mostly women, had also sunk their savings into acquiring costly fertilizer for their farms, and cannot replant because the rainy season is now at its peak. As hundreds of women dressed in black defied the torrential rain to mount a protest at the nearby military outpost, the soldiers responded by shooting two of them in the hip and one in the foot. Eyewitnesses also confirmed that the soldiers continued firing into the air for at least fifteen minutes before stopping. So far neither the JTF nor the Plateau State authorities have issued a statement on the incident.
 

Colleges Sign Up for Obama's Interfaith Program

According to RNS News, more than 250 colleges, universities and seminaries have submitted plans to the White House for yearlong interfaith service projects in response to a campaign launched by the Obama administration. Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said officials had hoped for 100 participants. "They don't have to agree about their different beliefs but we feel like they can agree on issues of service and strengthening our communities," he said Tuesday (Aug. 2). "And so many of them are responding and saying ... we want to take you up on this challenge." Projects range from Adrian College, a United Methodist-related school in Michigan, which will combat sex trafficking, to Southern Utah University, a state-supported school, which will help hungry families. The "campus challenge," which was launched in March, grew out of recommendations from advisers to DuBois' office who called for projects on more than 500 U.S. campuses by the end of 2012.

 

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