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Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 18, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 18, 2009

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

  • Pakistan to Impose Shariah Law in Terrorist-Prone Areas
  • Vietnam Churches Growing, In Need of Bibles
  • Christian Bookshop in Turkey Vandalized
  • Bangladeshi Christians Seek Justice in Church Bomb Blast

Pakistan to Impose Shariah Law in Terrorist-Prone Areas

Time magazine reports that the government of Pakistan has announced the imposition of Islamic shariah law in the Swat Valley, an area held by Islamic militants. The militants have agreed to hold a "tentative ceasefire" in the region, Time reports, and many believe the move is just to appease these extremists. The imposition of Shariah law is a serious violation of the rights of all peoples in the region, regardless of their religious identity," Joseph K. Grieboski, president Washington-based Institute on Religion & Public Policy, told the Christian Post. "Since the 'democratic' imposition of Shariah law in the Northwest Frontier Province, there has been a marked increase in extremist activity and acts of terror." He continued, "This imposition will not strengthen the hand of the Pakistani government; it will undermine and destroy it..."

Vietnam Churches Growing, In Need of Bibles

Mission News Network reports that despite government intervention and intimidation, Christianity is flourishing in Vietnam. "A large church that actually had about 1,000 members was burned to the ground recently by the government. But in spite of the persecution, the church continues to grow," said Patrick Klein, president of Vision Beyond Borders. "It seems like the Central Highlands and the north are very much persecuted. In the south, they've backed off because there's a strong foreign presence. But the Central Highland and the north are very much persecuted, especially the tribal Christians." Klein reports that Bibles are in critical demand in Vietnam, where the shortage is as well-known as in places such as China.

Christian Bookshop in Turkey Vandalized

Compass Direct News reports that, following threats from Muslim nationalists, a Turkish Bible Society bookshop in the southern city of Adana was vandalized for the second time in a week on Thursday (Feb. 12). Security camera footage shows two youths attacking the storefront of the Soz Kitapevi bookshop, kicking and smashing glass in both the window and the door. The door frame was also damaged. During the first attack on Feb. 7, the glass of the front door was smashed and the security camera mangled. The bookshop has received threats from both Muslim hardliners and nationalists. Last November, a man entered the shop and began making accusations that the Soz Kitapevi bookshop was in league with the CIA, saying, “You work with them killing people in Muslim countries, harming Muslim countries.”

Bangladeshi Christians Seek Justice in Church Bomb Blast

The 55-year-old mother of one of 10 people killed in a church bomb attack here is hoping the new government in Bangladesh will bring justice after an investigation waned under an Islamic-allied government, Compass Direct News reports. Anna Halder, whose son Suman Halder was 23 at the time of the 2001 bomb attack, told Compass she wants to see justice within her lifetime. With the election of a new government last Dec. 29, the chief priest of Baniarchar Catholic Church, Father Jacob Gobbi, said he has urged officials to revive the investigation that previously faltered. “It is unfortunate that nobody is arrested so far, and there is no improvement of investigation in eight years – there is negligence on this case,” Fr. Gobbi said. “We want a proper investigation so that the perpetrators get punished, which will help heal the scars of the Christians.”