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National Shorts - NewsBriefsMuslims protect Christians in Kenyan bus attack

(WNS)–Islamic militants with Somalia’s al-Shabaab are suspected of attacking a commuter bus in northeast Kenya on Dec. 21. The attack killed two people and injured at least six others. A group of Islamist gunmen ambushed the bus, boarded it, and attempted to divide passengers into Muslim and Christian groups. But Muslim passengers refused to cooperate, Reuters reported. Gov. Ali Roba told Kenya’s Daily Nation they “told the attackers to kill all passengers or leave,” and their courage prevented a repeat of a previous massacre. One Muslim passenger, Abdi Mohamud Abdi, told Reuters more than 10 al-Shabaab fighters told them to separate from the Christians, but they did not comply.

Was U.S. aid worker in Afghanistan killed for her newfound Christian faith?

(WNS)–As U.S. aid worker Lisa Akbari left the gym at her apartment complex Dec. 23 in Kabul, Afghanistan, someone fatally shot her. A few miles from the attack, Afghan police arrested a mullah, or Muslim scholar, who lives at the same complex, authorities said. He was injured during the arrest and had to be hospitalized. As of Monday, he had not been questioned. But investigators found documents in the mullah’s apartment linking him to terrorist groups, according to Kabul District Police Chief Fraidoon Obaidi. Akbari, a 25-year-old American, lived in Afghanistan for three years. Mayana Aliah Akbari told CNN her sister recently become a Christian and had been making efforts to share her faith.

Missing booksellers bad news for freedom in Hong Kong

(WNS)–Five Hong Kong booksellers connected to a publishing house specializing in sensational books critical of China’s top leaders have gone missing, raising fears in the former British colony that its freedoms of press, speech, and religion are deteriorating. The mystery deepened on Jan. 4 after the wife of Lee Bo, co-owner of Causeway Bay Bookstore, dropped the missing person’s report she filed last week. She claimed to have received a letter from Lee saying he was fine and just helping with an investigation in mainland China. But at the time of his disappearance last week, Lee had left his travel permit at home, and Hong Kong police said officials had no record he legally crossed the border. “I believe he wasn’t forced to write it, so that’s why I withdrew the request for police help,” Lee’s wife Choi Ka-ping told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. But democratic lawmakers are skeptical and believe Choi may have been under pressure to drop the case after international media picked up on the disappearances. Lee is a British citizen.

Irish pastor acquitted of anti-Muslim hate speech

(WNS)—A court in Belfast, Ireland, has acquitted an evangelical preacher accused of hate speech in 2014 for calling Islam “satanic.” Dismissing the case against pastor James McConnell of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Church on Jan. 5, District Judge Liam McNally said courts must be “careful not to criminalize speech which, however contemptible, is no more than offensive. It is not the task of criminal law to censor offensive utterances.” After the decision, the 78-year-old pastor who faced the possibility of six months imprisonment told UTV he had been “ready” to go to jail for his criticism of Islam. “I did not mean to hurt them. And when I preached that in here, you’ve got to realize this place was packed, and you’re preaching this—I never thought of the Muslim community,” McConnell told UTV. “I was preaching against Islam. But if I’d thought that I had done so much hurt I’d have curbed my words.” But he clarified that he would not change his doctrine: “I would still say Islam is evil.”

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