Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Southern Sudan Votes to Split from the North
- Churches Burned over Indonesia's Blasphemy Case
- Christian Persecution Continues Amid Egypt Turmoil
- Report in India Blames Attacks on Conversions to Christianity
Southern Sudan Votes to Split from the North
Sudan's referendum commission has announced the final results of last month's referendum, confirming the expectation that the South overwhelmingly voted to split from the North. CNN reports that the chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, which organized the vote and includes members from both sides, said 98.83% voted for separation, while 1.17% voted for unity. "It was a peaceful process," chairman Muhammad Ibrahim Khalil said at a ceremony Monday in Khartoum attended by Sudanese politicians, international diplomats, U.N. staff, academics and others. "It was a transparent process." Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and First Vice President Salva Kiir have said they will accept the results.
Churches Burned over Indonesia's Blasphemy Case
Thousands of angry Muslims rioted in Indonesia yesterday, burning two churches and violently beating a priest. The crowd became out of control after a man was sentenced to five years in prison by a local court in Temanggung, Central Java, for distributing books and literatures that allegedly spread hatred against Islam. The sentence is the maximum penalty for the crime. The Christian Post reports that Muslims saw the verdict as too soft and called for the man's execution. Police intervened with tear gas and warning shots but were unable to stop the mob. "We are shocked by this event. Violence is never a good solution," the Archbishop of Semarang and secretary of the Episcopal Conference, Johannes Pujasumarta, told Fides News Agency. Indonesia is currently celebrating Interfaith Harmony Week.
Christian Persecution Continues Amid Egypt Turmoil
Worthy News reports that protests in Egypt have not stopped religious violence in the country. Outside Al-Minya, 150 miles south of Cairo, 15 Christians were killed as police were busy elsewhere. "With no police available, no one was willing to help them," said Tom Doyle, Middle East director for E3 Partners. "Family members are taking turns keeping watch over their homes, as robberies, rape, looting, and car theft are occurring routinely now." He said Christians are "very nervous" about who will take the reins if Mubarak's regime falls. "Many times it's been stated that there's democracy, but it's just been a veil for authoritarianism."
Report in India Blames Attacks on Conversions to Christianity
Christians in India's southern state of Karnataka are preparing to file a court petition against a panel that blames Christians for anti-Christian attacks. In Mangalore, which bore the brunt of Hindu extremist attacks on churches in August-September 2008, the Justice B.K. Somashekhara Commission issued a report absolving the state government of any violence. Instead, Compass Direct News reports that the commission stated that an allegation of misuse of foreign funds for "mass conversions of innocent and helpless members of the society belonging to weaker sections ... is true." Dr. Sajan K. George of the Karnataka-based Global Council of Indian Christians called the report "a bundle of lies intended to mislead and confuse the people," and Dr. John Dayal, a member of the government's National Integration Council, said it "parroted" Hindu nationalists.