Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 24, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Feb. 24, 2009

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

  • FBI, Police Rescue Child Prostitutes around U.S.
  • Nigeria: 11 Dead as Religious Violence Flares Again
  • Baptist Pastor Convicted on Weapons Charges in Azerbaijan
  • Egyptian Law Granting Twins to Muslim to be Reviewed

FBI, Police Rescue Child Prostitutes around U.S.

Associated Press reports that federal and local law enforcement have recovered 48 teenage girls from alleged prostitution rings across the nation after a three-night sweep. Some of the girls are only 13 years old. "We may not be able to return their innocence but we can remove them from this cycle of abuse and violence," said FBI Director Robert Mueller. Operation Cross Country, which paired FBI and local officers, also arrested at least 571 suspects on various prostitution-related charges. "The goal is to recover kids. We consider them the child victims of prostitution," said FBI Deputy Assistant Director Daniel Roberts. "Unfortunately, the vast majority of these kids are what they term 'throwaway kids,' with no family support, no friends... Many are runaways," Roberts said

Nigeria: 11 Dead as Religious Violence Flares Again

Agence-France Presse reports that 11 people are dead after Muslim and Christian groups clashed in northern Nigeria this weekend. The violence left 38 wounded, and burned six churches and about a dozen houses. Trouble began Feb. 13, when a group of Christians blockaded the way to a mosque. Tensions escalated during a dispute between congregations of a mosque and a nearby church on Feb. 20, and two mosques were burned that night in the state capital Bauchi. Muslim youths retaliated the next day by torching buildings and attacking Christians. The Red Cross says hundreds have been displaced and are now sheltering in military barracks, churches and two camps. Bauchi lies in between Nigeria's largely Muslim north and mostly Christian south, creating a religious fault line. Tensions have remained high since more than 300 people died in religious violence in Jos, Nigeria, last November.

Baptist Pastor Convicted on Weapons Charges in Azerbaijan

ASSIST News Service reports that a Baptist pastor in Azerbaijan has been found guilty of possessing an illegal weapon and given "a two-year corrective labor sentence." Hamid Shabanov, who pastors a house church of approximately 60 members in the town of Aliabad, was arrested on June 20, 2008, after police claimed to have found an illegal weapon in his home after a raid. Shabanov's friends and family maintain that the weapon was deliberately planted by police. The two-year corrective labor sentence is equivalent to eight months in prison, thus Shabanov, who has already spent more than seven months in detention or under house arrest, will not be locked up. "I will continue to fight against this sentence and to clear my name," Shabanov said after his conviction on February 11. Shabanov is the second Baptist pastor in Aliabad to be convicted of a bogus crime.

Egyptian Law Granting Twins to Muslim to Be Reviewed

Compass Direct News reports that Egyptian Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud last week granted the mother of 14-year-old twins Andrew and Mario Medhat Ramses the right to appeal a custody decision awarding her sons to their Muslim father. Medhat Ramses Labib gained custody of the boys last September, contrary an Egyptian law which states children should remain with their mother until age 15. With support from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Gaballah will appeal the Family Court’s decision awarding custody to the father before the Court of Cassation. The Court of Cassation will pronounce a decision on the legal rule that Christian children, when one of their parents converts to Islam, should be automatically moved to the Muslim parent’s custody,” EIPR Director Hossam Bahgat said. “So it is very important in terms of changing the legal rule, but according to the law it will not have a direct impact on Andrew and Mario themselves.”