Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 22, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 22, 2010

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

  • Malaysia Arrests Eight Suspects in Church Bombings
  • Christians Fear Pre-Election Violence in Burma
  • Pakistani Christian Woman Abducted by Muslim Men
  • Algerian Church Continues in Spite of Burnt Building

Malaysia Arrests Eight Suspects in Church Bombings

Christian Today reports that Malaysian police have arrested eight men in connection with the first of eleven recent church firebombings. The men allegedly firebombed Metro Tabernacle church in Kuala Lumpur after the country's high court ruled that the government could not ban non-Muslims from using "Allah" as a translation for "God." Federal criminal investigation chief Bakri Zinin says he believes the case is solved, as the eight men may also be connected to the city's other firebombings. A spokesman for Metro Tabernacle church said the church is ready to move on with its ministry. "We have put this behind us," Peter Yeow told Agence France-Presse. "We are trying to get out of the limelight and go on with our lives and relocate our church rather than look at who is to blame. We will let the police do their job." The Muslim-majority country had enjoyed relative religious peace before the ruling.

Christians Fear Pre-Election Violence in Burma

Compass Direct News reports that attacks on Burma's Christian minority could intensify as the military junta gears up for its first parliamentary election in two decades. Mungpi Suangtak, assistant editor of a New Delhi-based news agency run by exiled Burmese journalists, the Mizzima News, said the Burmese junta has "one of the world's worst human rights records" and will "definitely" attack religious and ethnic minorities more forcefully in the run-up to the election. The military regime, officially known as the State Peace and Development Council, pledged to hold the election this year, and analysts believe polls will be held after July in the country, also known as Myanmar. Suangtak told Compass that the Buddhist nationalist junta would target Christians particularly in Karen state, bordering Thailand, and in Chin state, bordering India and Bangladesh.

Pakistani Christian Woman Abducted by Muslim Men

ASSIST News Service reports that five Muslim men have allegedly abducted a 21-year-old Christian girl in Sargodha, Pakistan. According to International Christian Concern, Muhammad Afzal, Maqsood Ahmed, Muhammad Ashraf and two other unidentified Muslim men abducted Asifa Bibi from her home at gunpoint. The Muslim men then dragged her into an unregistered black car and drove to an undisclosed location. Asifa's father, Nasir Masih, said that Ashraf, one of the suspects, had previously asked Asifa to convert to Islam and marry him, a common gesture. If the girls refuse such advances in Pakistan, the men may abduct, rape and forcefully convert them to Islam. Asifa's family has reported the abduction to the police at Saddr police station. The police chief at the station told ICC that his office is investigating the case and hopes to arrest the suspects and secure the young woman's release as soon as possible.

Algerian Church Continues in Spite of Burnt Building

Compass Direct News reports that members of a church in Algeria's Kabylie region gathered to worship last Saturday (Jan. 16) in their new building despite a protest, vandalism and a fire that damaged the building the previous weekend. Local Muslims bent on running the congregation out of the neighborhood set fires inside and outside the building on Jan. 9. Before setting it on fire, the assailants ransacked the Tafat Church building in Tizi Ouzou, a city 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Algiers. The perpetrators damaged everything within the new building, including electrical appliances. "This last Saturday the church held a service even though not everyone was present," said Mustapha Krim, president of the Protestant Church of Algeria. "But they continue." The protests against the new church building were unique in the Kabylie region, where the majority of Algeria's Christians live.