Taliban attacks on the rise in Afghanistan
(WNS)–The Taliban claimed responsibility for two attacks in Afghanistan that killed at least 15 police officials at checkpoints, officials confirmed Oct 30. The latest attack comes amid a spate of Taliban strikes against security officials across the country. More than 200 people died in Taliban attacks in October alone. Ari Noori, government spokesman of the eastern Ghazni province, said the insurgents attacked a checkpoint in the region in a battle that lasted more than an hour. Militants killed nine police officers, and security forces killed seven of the insurgents before the attack ended, Noori said. Militants attacked another checkpoint in the southern Zabul province. Amir Jan Alokozai, a district administrative chief, said six police officials died in the ensuing clashes. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Indonesian church forced to cancel Reformation event
(WNS)–Muslim objections prompted the cancellation of an Indonesian prayer service meant to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The act renewed concerns over deteriorating tolerance in the nation once known for religious freedom. The Reformed Evangelical Church of Indonesia planned an event at Kridosono Stadium in Yogyakarta, Java, for Oct. 25 but learned on Oct. 12 that stadium officials had canceled their rental agreement. UCA News reported the Forum Ukhuwah Islamiyah (FUI), an arm of Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, asked stadium officials to prevent the gathering, claiming it was designed to convert Muslims and had “potential to become an arena of apostasy under the guise of mass healing.”
U.S., UN respond to Burma’s Rohingya crisis
(WNS)–The U.S. State Department on Oct. 23 threatened to take further action against Myanmar’s military if it fails to end its attacks against the Rohingya Muslim minority. The threat comes as the United Nations held a donor conference to raise funds and awareness about the dire humanitarian conditions of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees seeking shelter in Bangladesh. The UN said 35 countries and international organizations pledged $335 million to aid the refugees in Bangladesh at a one-day emergency funding conference. The UN set a $434 million target as it raised concern for the refugees’ plight. Rohingya militants on Aug. 25 staged an attack on Myanmar military posts in Rakhine state. The UN accused the Myanmar military of ethnic cleansing after it responded with clearance operations that also targeted civilians. Some 603,000 Rohingya have since fled into neighboring Bangladesh, and aid workers on the ground said more people continue to arrive. Many of the Rohingya who fled told stories of burned houses, killings, and rape. Bangladesh, already one of the world’s poorest countries, is struggling to assist the refugees.
Hungary steps up to fight persecution
(WNS)–Under Prime Minister Victor Orban’s leadership, Hungary is taking the lead in helping persecuted Middle Eastern Christians. At a government-sponsored conference in October on the topic, Orban reminded attendees that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. While condemning all persecution of Christians, Orban focused on regions where violence and genocide caused the “forced expulsion” of millions of Middle Eastern and African Christians in recent years. “The greatest danger we face today is the indifferent, apathetic silence of a Europe which denies its Christian roots,” Orban said. There is “no excuse for Hungarians not taking action and not honoring the obligation rooted in their Christian faith,” he added.
Scotland backs spanking ban
(WNS)–Scotland plans to ban spanking, or “smacking” as Scots commonly call it. The government in October confirmed it would back a bill introduced by Scottish parliament member John Finnie criminalizing physical punishment of a child. If passed, Scotland would be the first member of the United Kingdom to ban spanking. Scotland previously allowed a defense of “justifiable assault” in cases of physical punishment of children. The bill would remove that defense. Parents could face fines or jail time for spanking. Opponents of the law called the decision a U-turn by Scottish government officials who said months ago they would not back an attempt to ban spanking.
Indian Christians accused of kidnapping, forced conversion
(WNS)–A court allowed seven Christian children in India to return to their families a week after Hindu radicals falsely accused their chaperones of kidnapping them to forcibly convert them. It was the third situation of its kind in Madhya Pradesh state since May. The children and adults were traveling to Mumbai for a Christian event when extremists intervened, beat them, and accused the caretakers of kidnapping, The Indian Express reported. Forced conversion is a crime in the state. Police took the Christians into custody. Parents provided baptism certificates proving the children were Christians already, and the state’s high court authorized their return. Two female chaperones remain accused and jailed, UCA News reported. Several Christians accused of the same crimes in a nearby town in May were released on bail but await prosecution, according to International Christian Concern (ICC).