Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Pakistan Declares State of Emergency
- Britain 'No Longer Christian,' Says Influential Liberal Think Tank
- Christian Human Rights Lawyer Reports More Persecution in China
- Malatya Murder Trial Set to Open in Turkey
Pakistan Declares State of Emergency
ASSIST News reports that Gen. Pervez Musharraf has suspended the Pakistan constitution and deployed troops in the capital, claiming that rising Islamic extremism forced him to take the emergency measures. According to the Pakistan Christian Post, authorities began rounding up opposition politicians despite calls from Washington and other Western allies not to take authoritarian measures. The U.S. called for Musharraf to restore democracy. However, the Pentagon said the emergency declaration does not affect U.S. military support for Pakistan and its efforts in the war on terrorism. Britain said it was deeply concerned. “The extremists are taking the writ of the government in their own hands, and even worse they are imposing their obsolete ideas on moderates,” the Pakistan Christian Post reported the president said in an address to the nation late Sat. on state-run television.
Britain 'No Longer Christian,' Says Influential Liberal Think Tank
It's time for Britain to recognize that it is no longer a Christian nation and should embrace multiculturalism, according to a liberal think-tank favored by Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Christmas should be just one of many religious holidays recognized by the government, says a report soon to be released by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Echoing sentiments heard throughout Britain in recent years, the authors of the report say that the traditional pillars of British identity have now vanished or been greatly weakened. Church attendance is at historically low levels, the British Empire is gone, the monarchy is far less popular and the Second World War is inexorably slipping into memory. The report suggests that cities should build downtown areas that promote better interaction between different groups. The government also should work on getting minorities out into the largely white countryside. With regards to religion, bishops from the Church of England should no longer sit in the House of Lords and a new constitution could be created to defend "the right of citizens to practice whatever faith they please."
Christian Human Rights Lawyer Reports More Persecution in China
As the 2008 Beijing Olympics approaches, ASSIST News points out that Chinese Christians are facing increased levels of persecution as authorities seek to keep dissidents away from international media, according to a Christian attorney in Beijing. The Baptist Standard reported that Christian human rights lawyer Li Heping says he was kidnaped and tortured for nearly six hours on Sept. 29, and two other Beijing Christian activists have been held under house arrest since Oct. 1. Li, who has defended a number of cases involving Christians arrested for underground house-church activities, is a partner in the Beijing Global Law Firm. He also serves as an editorial board member of the journal Chinese Law & Religion Monitor. The Baptist Standard reported that Li described his ordeal in a statement to the international community titled “May the Light of Rule of Law Shine on China – Personal Statement from Attorney Li Heping on Being Beaten.” Li reported being kidnapped, interrogated and tortured by four men who claimed to be members of the Beijing State Security Bureau.
Malatya Murder Trial Set to Open in Turkey
Malatya’s Third Criminal Court has set November 23, 2007 to open the trial of the confessed murderers of Turkish convert Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and a German Christian, Tilmann Geske. All news about the pending trial in the Turkish press last week sensationalized justifications the killers offered for their crimes while under police interrogation, Compass Direct reports, including far-fetched allegations against the victims. The three Protestant Christians were tortured and killed by having their throats cut on April 18 of this year in the Zirve Publishing Company’s office in the southern province of Malatya. After six months of confidential investigations, criminal prosecutors in Malatya had filed formal charges against the five accused killers on October 15, demanding the jailed culprits serve three consecutive life sentences in prison for their crimes. Defendants Emre Gunaydin, Abuzer Yildirim, Hamit Ceker, Cuma Ozdemir and Salih Guler are accused of founding an armed group and murdering the victims in a deliberate, organized manner. The five killers are 19 and 20 years old. An additional seven persons have also been charged for allegedly “aiding and abetting” the murder culprits. According to reports in the Turkish media, these seven unnamed suspects have not been arrested.