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Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 9, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 9, 2010


Daily briefs of the top Christian news and persecution stories impacting believers around the world.

In today's edition:

  • U.S. Medical Workers among 10 Killed by Taliban in Afghanistan
  • China Landslides Leave More than 100 Dead
  • Christian-Muslim Relations Turn Bitter in India
  • Zanzibar Officials Stop Church Building, Erect Mosque


 U.S. Medical Workers among 10 Killed by Taliban in Afghanistan

Major news outlets across the world reported this past weekend that eight foreigners and two Afghans have been found shot dead next to abandoned vehicles in the north-eastern Afghan province of Badakhshan on Friday. The BBC report says the foreigners are believed to be six Americans, one Briton and a German, who worked for the charity International Assistance Mission providing eye care and medical help. According to the New York Times, the attack is the largest massacre in years of aid workers in Afghanistan, and offers chilling evidence of the increasing insecurity in the northern part of the country. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings, accusing the group of being spies and Christian missionaries. Dirk Frans, director of the International Assistance Mission, told the Associated Press that IAM is registered as a nonprofit Christian organization but it does not proselytize. "This tragedy negatively impacts our ability to continue serving the Afghan people as IAM has been doing since 1966," according to a statement released by the charity. "We hope it will not stop our work that benefits over a quarter of a million Afghans each year."

China Landslides Leave More than 100 Dead

The Guardian (U.K.) reports that at least 127 people are dead and another 2,000 missing after landslides and floodwaters swept through a county in north-western China overnight. Half of the town of Zhouqu, in the south of Gansu province, was submerged. Water rose to the third storey of buildings and sludge as thick as two metres blocked major roads. Three hundred homes were engulfed by mud in the nearby village of Yueyuan, said an official. China's worst flooding for a decade has already killed more than 1,400 people, left hundreds missing and caused tens of billions of pounds in damage across a large swath of the country. About 12 million people have been evacuated. But last night's disaster in the Gannan Tibetan prefecture appears to be the worst single incident so far this year. Landslides levelled an area about 5km long and 500 metres wide, officials said, and more than 300 houses collapsed. Residents rescued about 700 survivors, the state news agency Xinhua reported. Another 45,000 people were evacuated and thousands of soldiers converged on the area to dig out survivors and blast away debris that had created a barrier lake several kilometres long.

Christian-Muslim Relations Turn Bitter in India

According to Religion New Service, tensions between Christians and Muslims in India's Kerala state have reached the boiling point over allegations of widespread coerced conversions to Islam. Kerala's communist Chief Minister, V.S. Achuthanandan, accused an Islamist opposition party of conspiring to turn Kerala into a Muslim-dominated state. "Youngsters are being given money and are being lured to convert to Islam," he told reporters at a news conference. Opposition parties accused the government of playing the "Hindu card" ahead of local elections. Muslims and Christian minorities in India generally enjoy good relations and see each other as fellow victims of alleged persecution by right-wing Hindu groups. Kerala's population of 31.8 million is 56 percent Hindu, 24 percent Muslim and 19 percent Christian. The chief minister's statement came after alleged members of the Islamist party Popular Front of India (PFI) cut off a Christian professor's hand on July 4 in the central district of Kottayam. India's National Investigation Agency is investigating the role of PFI in terrorism.

Zanzibar Officials Stop Church Building, Erect Mosque

Compass Direct reports that on an island off the coast of East Africa where the local government limits the ability of Christians to obtain land, officials in one town have colluded with area Muslims to erect a mosque in place of a planned church building. On the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, Pastor Paulo Kamole Masegi of the Evangelistic Assemblies of God had purchased land in April 2007 for a church building in Mwanyanya-Mtoni, and by November of that year he had built a house that served as a temporary worship center, he said. Soon area Muslim residents objected, said Pastor Lucian Mgaywa of the Church of God in Tanzania. In August 2009, local Muslims began to build a mosque just three feet away from the church plot. In November 2009, Pastor Masegi began building a permanent church structure. Angry Muslims invaded the compound and destroyed the structure's foundation, the pastors said. Church leaders reported the destruction to police, who took no action - and also refused to release the crime report, so that the case could not go to court. The planned church building's fate appeared to have been sealed earlier this year when Western District Commissioner Ali Mohammed Ali notified Pastor Masegi that he had no right to hold worship in a house. "Now the Christian faithful are feeling targeted even by the government officials," said Pastor Masegi.