Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Unrest Has a High Cost to the Poor in Egypt
- Thousands Turn Out for Shahbaz Bhatti’s Funeral
- Libyan Refugee Crisis Called a ‘Logistical Nightmare’
- Evangelicals Push Back on Proposed Budget Cuts
Unrest Has a High Cost to the Poor in Egypt
During Egypt’s 18-day uprising, protesters decried the economic conditions that have left 20 percent of the population living below the poverty line. WORLD News Service reports that many of those living below the poverty line also decried the struggle to survive in cities shut down by unrest. Many can only afford to buy food for that day, creating dire situations when markets and economies shut down during protests. Poor populations in other troubled countries face a similar dilemma. According to a staffer at Stephen's Children, a Christian organization serving poor communities in Cairo, day laborers were “badly affected and couldn’t provide for their families. . . . They were indebted to the owners of their rented houses and were out of resources.”
Thousands Turn Out for Shahbaz Bhatti’s Funeral
Christians across Pakistan have protested the murder of Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti since his death on March 2, and thousands attended his funeral on Friday. Christian Today reports that Prime MInister Yousaf Raza Gilani attended the funeral, but President Asif Zardari and opposition leaders were absent. Roads were closed around the Catholic church of Our Lady of Fatima in Islamabad before the funeral. Gilani promised mourners that Pakistan would do its "utmost" to bring Bhatti's killers to account. "People like him, they are very rare. All the minorities have lost a great leader. I assure you, we will try our utmost to bring the culprits to justice." Bhatti was a rare voice against the country's draconian blasphemy laws before he was gunned down by alleged Islamic extremists.
Libyan Refugee Crisis Called a ‘Logistical Nightmare’
More than 180,000 people have fled Libya over the past two weeks, and even more have gathered at departure points to try and leave the troubled country. The New York Times reports that governments and aid agencies have all mobilized to facilitate the mass exodus, but buses and planes alike are in short supply compared to demand. António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, called the situation "a logistical nightmare." More than half of the refugees have fled into neighboring Tunisia. Its fledging government has welcomed Libyans but struggled to accommodate the masses. One hastily built refugee camp at the border was built for 10,000 people and is already overflowing. The International Medical Corps estimates that tens of thousands remained on the Libyan side on Friday.
Evangelicals Push Back on Proposed Budget Cuts
Evangelicals are divided about federal budget cuts, especially those that would affect the poor. "The Bible says that God has a special concern for the poor," said Ron Sider, president of the group Evangelicals for Social Action. "This is one of the central biblical teachings." Religion News Service reports that the evangelical leaders, convened Thursday by the left-leaning group Faith in Public Life, face an uphill challenge in trying to win over fellow evangelicals: a recent poll found that evangelicals are more likely than Americans overall to support cutting foreign aid while also supporting increased military spending. Many evangelicals have called the budget deficit is a moral problem, citing biblical injunctions against debt.