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Religion Today Daily Headlines - August 21, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - August 21, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Pakistani Girl, 11, Arrested for 'Blasphemy'
  • Wounded FRC Security Guard: 'I Feel God Put Me in a Position to Be There at That Time'
  • German City Becomes First to Officially Recognize Islamic Holidays
  • Two More Churches in West Java, Indonesia, Sealed Off


Pakistani Girl, 11, Arrested for 'Blasphemy'

An 11-year-old Pakistani Christian girl with Down syndrome was arrested and charged with blasphemy on August 17, ASSIST News Service reports. The girl, Rimsha Masih, is a resident of Umara Jaffar in sector G-12 of Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: "Allegedly, a Quran was found [by Muslims] with some of its pages burned ... in a Christian area of Islamabad. In previous cases, the burning has nearly always shown to have been done by Muslims, or by mentally unstable people -- and worse, they have had an 11-year-old Christian girl with Down syndrome called Rimsha Masih arrested and charged with the crime. Muslim extremists are threatening to burn down every Christian house in the community. Several thousand Christians have fled the suburb and are in hiding, along with the family of the victim. ... It is quite clear that the police are hostile to the accused, have presumed her guilt and have no regard for her status as a minor or as one with Down syndrome. Please pray for her and her family." Chowdhry said local Christian rights workers were planning to apply for bail for Rimsha immediately after the end of the currently ongoing Muslim Eid celebrations.

Wounded FRC Security Guard: 'I Feel God Put Me in a Position to Be There at That Time'

The security guard who stopped a gunman at the Family Research Council last week, despite suffering a shot to the arm, said God put him there at that time to stop the attack, CNSNews.com reports. The shooter, Floyd Lee Corkins II -- who was carrying a 9mm handgun with two extra loaded magazines and another 50 rounds of ammunition in his backpack -- posed as an intern and opened fire without warning just before 11 a.m. Wednesday. Leo Johnson, the building operation manager at the FRC, has been hailed as a hero by authorities for not letting Corkins get too far past the front door. Although wounded, Johnson disarmed and subdued Corkins, a volunteer at The DC Center for the LGBT Community who said his actions were not about the security guard but about the FRC's policies. "I felt my arm snap back so I knew I was hit but I didn't feel any pain," Johnson said. "Although I didn't want to get shot, nobody wants to get shot, I feel that God put me in a position to be there at that time." Tony Perkins, president of the FRC, called Johnson a hero and said he expected him to be back "very soon assuming his duties here running the building and making sure this environment is secure, which he did [Wednesday], to which our entire team here is grateful."

German City Becomes First to Officially Recognize Islamic Holidays

The city of Hamburg, Germany, has become the first in the country to officially recognize Islamic holidays by allowing Muslim employees and students to take time off to celebrate, CBN News reports. The announcement made last week by Hamburg's mayor, Olaf Scholz, followed an agreement between city officials and local Muslim groups. The city said it had similar agreements with Christian and Jewish groups, and Scholz said he hoped the deal would encourage other German cities to follow suit. Hamburg's population of almost 2 million people has a growing number of Muslims, estimating 150,000.

Two More Churches in West Java, Indonesia, Sealed Off

Two more churches in Indonesia's West Java province have been forcibly closed amid opposition and disputes over paperwork, Barnabas Fund reports. A large tent used for services by St. Johannes Baptista Church in Bogor was sealed off by authorities on August 7. The congregation had been using the tent since 2006 as temporary location while awaiting a permit for a proper building, which it applied for in 2000. Dace Supriadi, head of the Bogor Public Order Agency, said the church was given a week to find an alternative place of worship, adding, "If they continue to use this tent, we will tear it down." Gatot Wotoseputro, leader of the church, said he was perplexed as to why authorities would now decide to seal off the tent, but suspected their action was linked to the growth of the congregation, which has reached around 500. Meanwhile, Batak Karo Protestant Church in Bandung was sealed off by protesters on July 29, who claimed the congregation had agreed not to use the building for worship in an agreement signed in 2011. The church, which was formed in 2007, signed the agreement but had since received all the required permits from authorities allowing it to hold services.

Publication date: August 21, 2012