Religion Today Summaries, November 25, 2002

Religion Today Summaries, November 25, 2002

In Today's Edition:

  • Muslim Riots Over Beauty Contest Turn Ugly in Nigeria
  • Services in Oregon and Lebanon Memorialize Slain Missionary
  • While Recent Peace Talks Fail Sudanese Cease Fire Extended
  • Indian Pastor and Missions Team Beaten by Mob in Goa

Muslim Riots Over Beauty Contest Turn Ugly in Nigeria

(Charisma) At least 100 people were killed and 500 injured yesterday as Muslim youths rampaged through the capital of Kaduna State in protest of a newspaper article that reportedly blasphemed the prophet Muhammad.  According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), several churches were also burned down as non-Muslims were singled out for the attacks.  In a "This Day" story published last Saturday, a journalist questioned Muslim objections to the Miss World contest to be held in the federal capital, Abuja.  She wrote that Muhammad himself would not have been against marrying a Miss World contestant had he been alive today.  The newspaper was inundated with calls from Muslims demanding an apology for the article.  Although the paper immediately apologized, thousands of youths set fire to the "This Day" offices in Kaduna and then went on a rampage in the city.  CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas added: "The fact that Muslim youths were bussed into the area and committed these offenses five days after publication of the offending article indicates that these attacks were deliberately orchestrated, and that the understandable anger at a newspaper article was used as a pretext for attacks against Christians and other non-Muslims."

Services in Oregon and Lebanon Memorialize Slain Missionary

(Baptist Press) Worshipers in two very different parts of the world gathered in churches Nov. 24 to memorialize Bonnie Penner Witherall, the evangelical Christian missionary who was shot to death Nov. 21 in southern Lebanon. Witherall was 31.  U.S. and Lebanese officials have not identified a suspect or released information about what motivated the attack, but investigators believe that Witherall was killed in retaliation for trying to convert Muslims to the Christian faith.  "So many people think my wife's death was a waste ... but we believe that coming here with the message of Jesus would never be a waste," Gary Witherall said during a eulogy reported in The Oregonian newspaper. "It is a message worth laying our lives down for."  In Lebanon, about 400 people filled a small chapel at the clinic where Witherall helped provide prenatal care to Palestinian women from a nearby refugee camp. Witherall, who grew up in Vancouver, had just opened the clinic when she answered the door and was shot three times in the head by a lone gunman.  Witherall's death profoundly impacted the Portland community, and The Oregonian memorialized her death in an editorial titled, "Bonnie Penner Witherall, Christian."

While Recent Peace Talks Fail Sudanese Cease Fire Extended

(Voice of the Martyrs) Representatives of the Sudanese Government and the SPLA failed to resolve their political differences at recent talks. However, they have agreed to extend their truce until March 31, 2003, with talks resuming in early January. An estimated two million people have been killed in 19 years of fighting between the Christian and animist south and the Arabic-speaking Muslim north. Differences discussed in the talks involved percentages of representatives in civil service and the parliament and income from oil revenues, with the SPLA demanding 60% and the government offering only 10%.

Indian Pastor and Missions Team Beaten by Mob in Goa
Dan Wooding
(ASSIST News) An Indian pastor and members of a team from Operation Mobilization (OM) India were savagely beaten by a mob on the evening of November 18 in a small town in the state of Goa, India, after showing a film about the life of Christ.  A spokesperson for OM India said that an OM India film team of three young men was invited to show the Dayasagar film (life of Christ filmed in the Indian context) to a local family in a small town in the state of Goa.  "While the team was eating, a mob of approximately 30 people came to the house and dragged the local pastor out of the family's home and physically beat him. The three OM India team members rushed to the pastor's rescue, but sadly they were also beaten badly.  They proceeded to break the windshield of the team vehicle and had plans to burn the jeep. During that time, however, the police arrived on the scene and began questioning everyone involved."  A formal complaint was filed and the incident is now under investigation.