Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 11, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 11, 2009

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

  • Relief Groups Gear Up to Aid Thousands in El Salvador
  • New Report Details Human Trafficking in Egypt
  • Coptic Blogger in Egypt Threatens Hunger Strike
  • Missionary Activity Could Be Restricted in Russia

Relief Groups Gear Up to Aid Thousands in El Salvador

The Christian Post reports that Christian relief and aid groups are working fast to find survivors of El Salvador's recent floods and mudslides. At least 130 people have died and at least 60 are still missing after heavy rains triggered disasters on Thursday. "We're gearing up to respond to the aftermath of the hurricane by sending staff out to the worst-affected sites to look at the damage and limit further risks," said Wilfredo Ramirez Escobar from Caritas El Salvador on Monday. The country has declared a national emergency. Children's aid group Compassion International says at least 21 of its child development centers have been affected by the crisis. The group is working to provide immediate assistance to those areas. Almost 7,000 people have lost their homes or been displaced by floodwaters after a low-pressure spinoff from Hurricane Ida blew through the area.

New Report Details Human Trafficking in Egypt

Christian Newswire reports that Christian Solidarity International (CSI) and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights yesterday released a pioneering report on human trafficking in Egypt. Researched in Egypt by American anti-trafficking specialist Michele Clark and Egyptian women's rights activist Nadia Ghaly, the report documents a criminal pattern involving deception, sexual violence, captivity, compulsion to convert to Islam and forced marriage. This phenomenon of violence against Egypt's Christian women corresponds to internationally recognized definitions of human trafficking. The report includes cases of underage girls, some as young as 15, who were forcibly converted, raped, and married to Muslim men. The report alleges that Egyptian authorities have tacitly allowed these human rights violations to continue due to lack of investigation and enforcement.

Coptic Blogger in Egypt Threatens Hunger Strike

Compass Direct News reports that a Coptic Christian blogger in Egypt held in prison for more than a year without charge said today he will go on a hunger strike unless authorities grant his next application for release. Hani Nazeer, a 28-year-old high school social worker from Qena, Egypt and author of the blog "Karz El Hob," received word on Monday that his latest application for release was denied. His attorneys said they would re-apply for his release immediately. The interior ministry did not "supply the grounds for refusal" according to Rawda Ahamad, Nazeer's lead defense attorney. Nazeer was arrested by Egypt's State Security Investigations (SSI) on Oct 3, 2008, and sent to Burj Al-Arab prison. Nazeer ran afoul of SSI officers a few days before his arrest when a group of local teenagers visited his website and clicked on a link to an online copy of "Azazil's Goat in Mecca," a novel written under the pseudonym "Father Utah."

Missionary Activity Could Be Restricted in Russia

Baptist Press reports that new legislation being considered by Russian lawmakers could drastically restrict missions activity if made into law. Restrictions could include requiring missionaries and Russian Christians to obtain permission to engage in missionary activity and limiting its locations and participants, such as tourists and minors. While the proposals are currently in the draft stages, language introduced by the Russian Ministry of Justice Oct. 12 indicates that if these laws are enacted they will greatly restrict religious freedom. Russian Baptist officials say they believe the new language primarily targets Roman Catholics and Protestants and believe it has already found favor with leaders of Russian Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism -- Russia's four most prominent religions.