Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Anglican Bishops Call Mugabe to Step Down
- Pakistan: Christian Accused of Blasphemy Sentenced
- Relief Crews Set to Work after Midwest Ice Storm
- Charges Filed in Rape of Nun in Orissa, India
Anglican Bishops Call Mugabe to Step Down
Religion News Service reports that leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion called on Zimbabwe's embattled president, Robert Mugabe, to step down and bring an end to "the apparent breakdown of the rule of law in the country." Top Anglican archbishops, or primates, said Mugabe "illegitimately holds on to power" after losing an election to rival Morgan Tsvangirai last year and then rejecting a power-sharing agreement brokered by African leaders. "There appears to be a total disregard for life, consistently demonstrated by Mr. Mugabe through systematic kidnap, torture and the killing of the Zimbabwean people," the primates said Tuesday (Feb. 3) during their meeting in Alexandria, Egypt. The statement praised "the faithful witness of the Christians of Zimbabwe during this time of pain and suffering" and asked the world's Anglicans to pray for the people of Zimbabwe
Pakistan: Christian Accused of Blasphemy Sentenced
ASSIST News Service reports that Hector Aleem, a Pakistani Christian activist who last month was accused of committing blasphemy, has been sent to the district jail in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws have been widely abused by hard-line Muslims for settling personal scores or as a means of taking vendetta. Hector Aleem was running a Human Rights Organization called Peace Worldwide before the blasphemy allegation was leveled against him. The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), a Pakistan based human rights group which is pursuing his case said that several Muslim men submitted affidavits to the police stating that Aleem is innocent. It is not known why Aleem was sentenced to jail despite receiving affidavits in his favor.
Relief Crews Set to Work after Midwest Ice Storm
Baptist Press reports that as 100 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief crews from a dozen states continue to mobilize, more than 160,000 people remain without electricity in Arkansas and Kentucky, the two states hardest hit by devastating ice storms in late January. An estimated 600,000 Kentucky customers initially were without power. Louisville Gas and Electric now is reporting that 16,000 of its customers still have no power, while Kentucky Utilities says 54,000 of its customers remain in the dark. In Arkansas, 97,000 are still without power. The historic storm left as much as two inches of ice and killed 55 people. Volunteers plan to tackle the hundreds of requests to clear downed trees that are lying on houses and blocking people in their neighborhoods.
Charges Filed in Rape of Nun in Orissa, India
Compass Direct News reports that Orissa police on Thursday (Jan. 29) filed preliminary charges against 10 men in the rape of a nun during anti-Christian violence in Orissa last August. A native of Dhama area in Sambalpur district of Orissa, the nun said she was raped in K. Nuagaon village on Aug. 25, 2008, during large-scale violence against Christians that broke out in Kandhamal and surrounding districts of Orissa. The 29-year-old nun, who was working at Divyajyoti Pastoral Centre in K. Nuagaon, was allegedly dragged and raped by the accused as police looked on. In her First Information Report filed on Aug. 26, she said 40 armed men arrived at the ministry center on Aug. 24. All of the accused had been arrested earlier by Orissa police.