Religion Today Summaries - March 4, 2011

Religion Today Summaries - March 4, 2011

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

In today's edition:

  • Sentence Upheld for Chinese Christian Convicted of 'Separatism'
  • Imprisoned Afghan Convert: Execution Could Be Near
  • Christian Students Attacked by Muslim Mob in Ethiopia
  • Christian Leaders Urged to Rethink Twitter Campaigns


Sentence Upheld for Chinese Christian Convicted of 'Separatism'

Chinese Christian Alimujiang Yimiti, a Uyghur convert from Islam to Christianity, has lost his appeal before a court in Xinjiang, China. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that the Higher People's Court upheld his 15-year sentence on charges of “instigating separatism and revealing state secrets to foreigners." A United Nations Working Group called Yimiti's detention "arbitrary" and alleged he was being held "solely on account of his faith." Yimiti was an agricultural worker before he was arrested in January 2008 and most likely had no access to state secrets. CSW’s National Director Stuart Windsor said, “The 15-year sentence in Mr. Yimiti’s case represents a gross violation of justice. The failure of the appeal represents the difficulty facing the system of the rule of law in China, where there is no independent judiciary and verdicts can be politically motivated.”

Imprisoned Afghan Convert: Execution Could Be Near

Although one Afghan Christian on death row was recently released, Baptist Press reports that  another convert remains in prison. Shoaib Assadullah, 23, smuggled a handwritten letter out of prison saying he has been beaten and likely faces the death penalty for his conversion. International Christian Concern posted Assadullah's letter on its website this week. Assadullah was arrested Oct. 21 in Mazar-e Sharif after he gave a Bible to a man who turned him in. During a Dec. 28 court hearing Assadullah was given one week to recant Christianity or face the death penalty, but the U.S. and other governments put enough pressure on Afghanistan authorities to spare his life. He is in prison in Mazar-e Sharif. Assadullah said he believes his life is still in danger, as he expects his case to be tried under Sharia law.

Christian Students Attacked by Muslim Mob in Ethiopia

ASSIST News Service reports that 17 Christian college students on a mission trip were assaulted and wounded on Feb. 26 after a Muslim crowd attacked them. The crowd also overwhelmed the militia who attempted to protect the students. The students, on a trip from Meda Welabu University in Oromia, Ethiopia, had been distributing Bibles and talking with passerby. One of the villagers started arguing with them, encouraging a crowd to throw rocks and beat the students with rods. When the Christians fled the village, the mob unsuccessfully attempted to set fire to their car, ICC reported. One of the victims who wanted to remain anonymous said, “We thank God that no one was killed. It’s sad that we suffered the attacks despite the Ethiopian laws which say there is freedom of religion and equality in the country.”

Christian Leaders Urged to Rethink Twitter Campaigns

Twitter has played an increasing role in organizing revolution and advocating for human rights, but sometimes the limelight doesn't have the intended effect on the plight of oppressed believers. The Christian Post reports that U.S. government officials and various, high-profile Christian leaders met Wednesday for a private conversation about leveraging their voices in social media campaigns. Christian leaders including Rick Warren and John Piper joined a Twitter campaign in February to raise awareness about Afghan convert Said Musa, who was awaiting execution. “There are some highly volatile situations in the world – and Afghanistan being one of them – where high public attention can actually be detrimental to securing the outcome we want,” said one Christian leader, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the talk. “So we have to, within the Christian community, become more nuanced and informed and interact with each other before making public statements and campaign,” he said, noting that this includes all public communication and not just Twitter.