Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 30, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 30, 2009

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

  • Pakistani Christian on Run from Taliban Death Threat
  • Egyptian State Security Accused of Cover-up in Muslim Riots
  • Red Kettle Campaign Expands Beyond Pocket Change
  • China Releases Uyghur Church Leader from Prison

Pakistani Christian on Run from Taliban Death Threat

Compass Direct News reports that a young Christian man is in hiding in Pakistan as Taliban militants seek to kill him for "blasphemy." In February Jehanzaib Asher, 22, was working in a barbershop his family jointly owns with his cousin in Wana, South Waziristan, when the Islamic militants showed up to try to convert him to Islam. It was not the first time the Taliban's Noor Hassan had delivered strident sermons to him and his relatives. This time, Asher defended Christianity by citing verses from the Bible, leading Hassan and another Islamic militant viciously beat him - breaking his left leg and some ribs and crippling his left hand. The Taliban militants began spreading the word to local residents that Asher and his cousin Christopher Masih had blasphemed Muhammad. His picture was posted at check-points in an attempt to help the Taliban and other Islamists identify and kill him. Earlier this month, Asher told Compass, he disguised himself as a Muslim with a long beard and left Wana.

Egyptian State Security Accused of Cover-up in Muslim Riots

ASSIST News Service reports that Egyptian State Security has intensified its pressure on the Coptic Church and victims of last week's violence, hoping to force their acceptance of extrajudicial reconciliation. Dozens of Coptic shops and businesses were vandalized and looted by a Muslim mob in Farshoot and neighboring towns last week, but police have allegedly been ordered not to issue reports on the violence. Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hammadi Diocese said the damage will cost U.S. $1 million to repair. "There will be no reconciliation before full financial compensation has been paid to the Coptic victims, and the criminals are brought to justice, so that safety and security can be restored to the district," he said.

Red Kettle Campaign Expands Beyond Pocket Change

The Christian Post reports that The Salvation Army's signature campaign is now letting people donate plastic in 120 cities. The 118th Red Kettle Christmas campaign added credit card readers to more than 300 kettle sites and marketed virtual red kettles on various corporate and individual websites, including Facebook. "These electronic payment machines let everyone get into the charitable Christmas spirit even if they don't have quarters, dimes and nickels," said Major George Hood, The Salvation Army's National Community Relations and Development Secretary. The move acknowledges that fewer people are paying for Christmas with cash. "Our local units are taking the initiative to meet donors wherever they are, and however they would choose to give, whether that be with a credit card, online, or in our traditional Red Kettles," he added.

China Releases Uyghur Church Leader from Prison

Compass Direct News reports that an Uyghur Christian in China's troubled Xinjiang region was released last week after serving two years in a labor camp for alleged "illegal proselytizing" and "leaking state secrets." Authorities had called for a 10-15 year prison sentence for house church leader Osman Imin (Wusiman Yaming in Chinese) but significantly reduced the term following international media attention. An outspoken leader of the Uyghur church in the northwestern region of China, Osman was first arrested in 2004 and kept at a detention center in Hotan, southern Xinjiang. Local sources said his arrest was almost certainly related to his church work. Authorities eventually moved him to the labor camp outside Kashgar. While in prison Osman was forced to work 12 to 15 hours a day, and his health quickly deteriorated. He was reportedly suffering malnutrition throughout his confinement.