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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 11, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 11, 2010

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

  • Malaysian Churches Attacked with Firebombs
  • Yemen: Ray of Hope for Abducted Christians
  • Activist's Entry into N. Korea Likely to Harm Christians
  • Three Arrested after Egypt Copt Killings

Malaysian Churches Attacked with Firebombs

UK Guardian reports that backlash against a Malaysian court's decision to let Christians use the word "Allah" has resulted in the firebombing of three churches in Kuala Lumpur. Many in the Muslim-majority country pledged on Jan. 8 to prevent Christians from using the term. "We will not allow the word Allah to be inscribed in your churches," one shouted into a loudspeaker at the Kampung Bahru mosque. About 50 other people carried posters reading "Heresy arises from words wrongly used" and "Allah is only for us". The country's Muslims and religious minorities usually coexist peacefully, but the recent ruling has sparked religious violence. "Islam is above all. Every citizen must respect that," said Ahmad Johari, who attended prayers at the National Mosque. "I hope the court will understand the feeling of the majority Muslims of Malaysia. We can fight to the death over this issue."

Yemen: Ray of Hope for Abducted Christians

ASSIST News Service reports that the families of six Christians who were abducted in Yemen six months ago may have new hope. A German Christian family of five and a British engineer were abducted in June. According to German media, a recent video shows the three children, Lydia (age 5), Anna (3) and Simon (1). They appear to be exhausted. This leaves the grandparents and other relatives wondering what may have happened to the parents, Johannes and Sabine Hentschel. The crisis task force at the German foreign office would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the video. The task force was still working hard to find a solution, according to a spokesperson. The family was kidnapped on an excursion with two German students and a South Korean teacher, who were killed in the attack.

Activist's Entry into N. Korea Likely to Harm Christians

The Christian Post reports that an American activist's reckless entry into North Korea has a "very, very small" chance of helping Christians in the country. "It is hard for us to know how it will impact the Christians in North Korea," said Carl Moeller, president/CEO of Open Doors USA, the world's largest mission agency working on behalf of persecuted Christians. "[But] I can say clearly - though I don't know Mr. [Robert] Park and I don't actually understand his motivation for this type of method - the likelihood of it helping the Christians [in North Korea] in the short term is very, very small." Open Doors recently ranked North Korea as the number one persecutor of Christians worldwide for the eighth year in a row. An estimated 40,000 to 60,000 Christians are imprisoned in North Korea's black prison camps.

Three Arrested after Egypt Copt Killings

BBC News reports that three people have been arrested in connection with a drive-by shooting that killed six Coptic Christians after a Christmas Eve service. One Egyptian policeman was also killed in the shooting. The church's Bishop Kirollos said he had feared violence in the small town of Naga Hamady for days, especially on Christmas Eve. "A driving car swerved near me, so I took the back door," he said. "By the time I shook hands with someone at the gate, I heard the mayhem, lots of machine-gun shots." More than 1,000 Christians protested police handling of the shooting on Jan. 7, demanding the hospital release the bodies of the Christian victims. Witness Youssef Sidhom told the BBC that the attack shocked everyone, including police guarding the church.