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Religion Today Daily Headlines - November 21, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - November 21, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Christian Convert From Islam Beheaded in Somalia
  • Pakistani Court Drops Blasphemy Charges Against 14-Year-Old Rimsha Masih
  • Hamas Kills Suspected Collaborators With Israel
  • Court: Hobby Lobby Must Provide Morning-After Pill


Christian Convert From Islam Beheaded in Somalia

Islamic extremists from Somalia's rebel al Shabaab militants killed a Christian in Somalia's coastal city of Barawa on Nov. 16, accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Morning Star News reports. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, underground Christians in Somalia said. Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, which is nearly 83 percent Christian, opposed to Somalia, which is close to 100 percent Muslim. Mose had converted to Christianity in 2010 while in Kenya. Sources said a crowd assembled in Barawa to watch the slaughter of Mose. "His body was split into two, then carried away, only to be dumped near the beach of Barawa city," a Christian who witnessed the murder said. Other Muslim witnesses independently described the same scene, saying the extremists accused Mose of being a spy for foreigners and of embracing the "foreign religion of Christianity." Al Shabaab rebels have killed dozens of Christian converts from Islam since embarking on a campaign to rid Somalia of Christianity. The extremists, variously estimated at 3,000 to 7,000, seek to impose a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) on Somalia.

Pakistani Court Drops Blasphemy Charges Against 14-Year-Old Rimsha Masih

The case against Rimsha Masih, the teenage Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy, was dropped Tuesday by the court in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Rimsha, who was arrested in August on suspicion of desecrating Islamic texts, was originally charged in an adult court with a penalty of life imprisonment, but her case was transferred to a juvenile court after her age was certified and medical evidence emerged that her mental capacity was impaired. Since then, her case went through several dramatic twists and turns, during which she spent three weeks in protective custody in a maximum security prison. Rimsha's lawyer, Akmal Bhatti, said Tuesday her case had been a misuse of law. "The court has quashed the case, declaring Rimsha innocent," he said. An imam of a mosque near Rimsha's former family home, Khalid Jadoon, now faces a charge for allegedly planting torn Quranic pages as evidence to frame Rimsha. So far, there has been no response from Rimsha or her family, who remain in hiding at an undisclosed location and will never be able to return to their home for safety reasons. "This is the first case of its kind when a person charged under the strict blasphemy laws is exonerated from the accusation," said Naveed Chaudry, another of Rimsha's lawyers. "This case has also brought for the first time a debate on how these laws are misused to target innocent people."

Hamas Kills Suspected Collaborators With Israel

Masked gunmen publicly shot dead six suspected collaborators with Israel in a large Gaza City intersection Tuesday, witnesses said. An Associated Press reporter saw a mob surrounding five of the bloodied corpses soon after the killing. Some in the crowd stomped and spit on the bodies, and a sixth corpse was tied to a motorcycle and dragged through the streets as people screamed, "Spy! Spy!" The Hamas military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam, claimed responsibility, saying the six were killed because they gave Israel information about fighters and rocket launching sites. Israel relies on a network of local informers to identify its targets in Gaza; the killings brought to eight the number of suspected informers being shot dead in public since Israel began its military offensive against Hamas last Wednesday. On Friday, the body of one alleged informer was found in a garbage bin, and another was shot dead in the street. Hamas claimed responsibility for both.

Court: Hobby Lobby Must Provide Morning-After Pill

A federal judge on Monday denied a legal challenge to President Barack Obama's signature heath reforms, ruling that the owners of arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby must provide emergency contraceptives in their group health care plan, Reuters reports. The Christian owners of Hobby Lobby asked to be exempted from providing the "morning-after" and "week-after" pills on religious grounds, arguing that it would violate their belief that abortion is wrong. But judge Joe Heaton of the U.S. District for the Western District of Oklahoma denied the request for a preliminary injunction, ruling that while individual members of the family that owns and operates Hobby Lobby have religious rights, the companies the family owns are secular, for-profit enterprises that do not possess the same rights. Hobby Lobby is the largest non-Catholic U.S. company to go to court over the issue of the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare. There are more than 40 other lawsuits challenging the mandate that requires all group health plans to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Publication date: November 21, 2012