A historic and highly controversial prisoner swap between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has Middle East observers predicting a fresh wave of violence and attacks against the Jewish nation. On October 18, Israel freed 477 Palestinians it had captured over the past 30 years in the ongoing conflict over land claimed by Israel since the famed 1967 Six-Day War. Its reported prize in return for the prisoners — along with the promised release of several hundred more over the next year — was one lone Israeli soldier, 25-year-old Gilad Shalit (pictured at left), who had been held by Hamas since his capture more than five years ago.
For Zubaida Bibi, a Christian woman working in a garment factory in the Korangi Industrial Area of Karachi, Pakistan, the workday on October 12 at Crescent Enterprises probably began like most. Her job as a custodian helped make it possible for her to care for her children. But before her shift was over, a Muslim worker at the factory attempted to rape her, and then slit her throat, leaving four orphans without a mother to care for them. And the case of Zubaida Bibi is far from unique: In Pakistan, the phenomena of Islamic men raping Christian women is becoming more common.
There has been a series of varying reports on the latest news concerning 32-year-old Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani (pictured at left), who had been condemned to death by an Iranian court for refusing to renounce his Christian faith. According to Baptist Press News, Reuters News Service had reported on October 11 that Iran’s Supreme Court had sent the case back to the original court that had tried him, ruling that there had been insufficient investigation into the charges against the pastor. “The court will issue a new verdict,” Reuters reported, citing the Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) as its source.
American Christians may not see eye-to-eye on the justness or wisdom of their government’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but one thing on which they should be able to agree — because the facts are indisputable — is that the wars have been devastating for their coreligionists in those countries. Hundreds of thousands of Christians, including members of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, have either fled from or been killed in Iraq since 2003. Now, according to the U.S. State Department, the situation for Christians in Afghanistan has become so dire that not a single church remains in that country.
After months of threatening the execution of Youcef Nadarkhani (left), the Iranian government is backing away from putting the Christian pastor to death, and is claiming that news stories of the plan to execute him were “unsubstantiated.”
Not every nation and not every culture grants women the rights that they enjoy in America or those nations we usually call “Western” nations. Consider Najalaa Harriri of Saudi Arabia. She and other Saudi women began a campaign to be allowed to drive cars in June. The religiously orthodox kingdom observes closely the precepts of Islam, and the interpretation given to the Moslem rulers of Saudi Arabia is that activities like driving cars is restricted by Islam to males.
“I have read that Americans are peace-loving,” 58-year-old Pakistani writer Syed Zubair Ashraf told the Washington Post. “But their government has interfered in every country. Why?”
That is an excellent question, and one to which Americans ought to give serious consideration, especially as a presidential election approaches. Few Americans would consider themselves warlike. Who among us would choose to drop bombs on a foreign country at his own expense and risk? Yet the U.S. government, claiming to represent the American people, does so routinely — and then blames the inevitable retaliation on foreigners’ hatred of the United States’ liberty, not its government’s foreign policy.
A pastor in Iran who has twice refused to renounce his Christian faith may be executed within days, reported Baptist Press News. It would be the first time in over 20 years that the Iranian government has executed someone for apostasy against Islam. The Baptist news site reported that “Yousef Nadarkhani [pictured at left], who leads a 400-person house church movement, refused in court on Sept. 25 and Sept. 26 to recant Christianity and was scheduled to get two more chances on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, according to the British-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which monitors religious freedom.” The organization noted in a press release that without recanting, Nadarkhani would most likely be put to death.
Item: The New York Times for August 26 reported that Chinese defense officials had “denounced” a Pentagon “report that called China’s military buildup ‘potentially destabilizing.’” The paper cited a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman saying, “The report does not hold water as it severely distorted the facts.” The spokesman added: “China unswervingly adheres to the path of peaceful development, and its national defense policy is defensive in nature.”
The United Nations is preparing for what is sure to be a contentious showdown, as on September 23 the Palestinians sought recognition from the world body as an independent state.
Fox News reports:
In an effort touted as one to reduce tensions with the rest of the world, Iran has pledged to release two Americans held hostage in the country. The announcement comes just as Iranian President Ahmadinejad plans to visit the United Nations in New York to discuss nuclear talks.