trovare vera persecuzione, guardare oltre il mare

trovare vera persecuzione, guardare oltre il mare

Colorado Springs, 21 dicembre (World Watch Monitor) - Per Steve Rabey
Gesù avvertì i suoi seguaci che avrebbero sperimentare persecuzione, una previsione che era già avverando prima che i libri del Nuovo Testamento sono stati completati. Oggi, Shortt afferma, "i più grandi cordoli delle libertà religiose si svolgono in paesi a maggioranza musulmana."
Prendete l'Egitto, dove il cristianesimo è cresciuto radici profonde nei secoli prima di Maometto. Oggi, ci sono più di 10 milioni di cristiani su una popolazione di oltre 80 milioni di euro. Ma i cristiani hanno dovuto affrontare pressioni crescenti negli ultimi decenni, e il rovesciamento di un dittatore e di una storica elezione che ha promosso la Fratelli Musulmani Mohamed Morsi hanno complicato le cose ancora di più. Il libro documenta come gli attacchi e bombardamenti delle chiese sono aumentati dopo le elezioni; emigrazione forzata si sta riducendo la popolazione cristiana, i cristiani copti (il più grande gruppo di cristiani egiziani) ad affrontare gli ostacoli sistematici alla promozione delle professioni dell'esercito, della polizia e di diritto, le donne copte sono state rapite e costrette a convertirsi all'Islam, e musulmani che si convertono al cristianesimo può essere evitato, molestato, fisicamente danneggiato e persino uccisi. Shortt si affretta a sottolineare che non incolpare l'Islam di per sé per la crescente pressione sui cristiani. Dopo tutto, cristiani e musulmani marciavano mano nella mano nel 2011 durante le manifestazioni piazza Tahrir contro il regime di Mubarak. Piuttosto, un ceppo sempre più fervente di "islamismo politicizzato" ha spazzato il mondo arabo, sfruttando ansie popolari e mettere in pericolo interreligioso. La religione è solo diventare più politicizzato come previsto 15 dicembre votazione di una proposta di costituzione egiziana si avvicina. Eppure, Shortt prende atto delle cause del conflitto sono spesso più banali, come le differenze nello stile di vita, o le paure che duro lavoro, parsimonioso e di auto- cristiani disciplinati possono avere un vantaggio sui loro vicini nel concorso quotidiana per la sopravvivenza. "Respingo la fantasia ... che contiene l'Islam di essere unicamente violenta", scrive. In effetti, egli afferma, "molto pregiudizio anticristiano e la violenza non ha nulla a che vedere con l'Islam militante." In tutto il Medio Oriente, ad esempio, sia antichi rancori e governare moderni contribuiscono alla vulnerabilità dei cristiani. L'Occidente ha abbracciato, sostenuto e armato di una serie di dittatori impopolari, involontariamente aumentare la credibilità di gruppi come Al Qaeda. E interventi che poteva sembrare una buona idea in una certa, al momento, come ad esempio il ripristino Shah dell'Iran al potere nel 1953, hanno più profondamente radicati sentimenti sia anti-occidentali e anti-cristiana. Né Shortt tenere cristiani irreprensibile nella crescita del l'intolleranza religiosa. Per prima cosa, le chiese cristiane della regione hanno la loro storia lunga di "intolleranza violenta." Cristiani in molti paesi sono stati anche lenta nell'abbracciare o promuovere il dialogo interreligioso e la tolleranza. In altri luoghi, i cristiani hanno permesso tra le chiese divisioni per indebolire sia la loro testimonianza e il tessuto sociale. Non tutti i capi della chiesa sono stati ben addestrati o temperato. E in alcuni casi, egli scrive, i credenti troppo zelanti hanno consentito ai loro esuberanti casa servizi di culto della chiesa di antagonizzare i loro vicini. In Nigeria, dove la popolazione ha numeri approssimativamente uguali di cristiani e musulmani, conflitti religiosi giocare in un contesto di cronici problemi settari tra circa 500 gruppi etnici. Quando la tensione salire, i seguaci di Gesù e seguaci di Maometto sembrano più inclini a dare la colpa e attaccare l'un l'altro piuttosto che di amare e lavorare con l'altro. "I musulmani hanno (anche) sofferto tremendamente per mano dei cristiani", scrive Shortt. In troppi di questi casi, i conflitti girare mortale. Shortt descrive conflitti scoppiati dopo le elezioni del 2011 presidenziali nigeriane in cui è stato eletto un candidato cristiano. I risultati hanno portato a esplosioni di violenza che hanno lasciato più di 800 morti, più di 300 chiese rase al suolo e circa 65.000 sfollati. In Iraq, egli dice, l'invasione americana del 2003 è stato un "disastro" per una popolazione che lotta cristiana che contava tra 1,2 e 1,4 milioni nel 1990. Oggi la popolazione cristiana in questo "cuore culturale e spirituale del cristianesimo" si è ridotta a meno di 200.000 anime. I cristiani che rimangono hanno assistito alla distruzione e profanazione delle loro chiese, conventi, monasteri e orfanotrofi. Vescovi sono stati assassinati o decapitati nelle loro chiese. "Poche le popolazioni della terra hanno sofferto acutamente come l'Iraq negli ultimi anni", scrive. Shortt non fa la sua mostra di controversie meschine, calcolo erroneo diplomatica occidentale e cristiana colpevolezza di essere scuse per violenze contro i cristiani. Né spiega perché può essere importante per i credenti ad affrontare queste realtà. Al di là della tesi secondo cui la minaccia per i cristiani è di gran lunga sotto-riconosciuta, egli trae alcune conclusioni dal suo solo-i-fatti approccio al tema. In alcuni paesi dove i cristiani sono perseguitati, le costituzioni nazionali ufficialmente sancire la libertà religiosa. Il problema, scrive Shortt, è che "le credenze si manifesti solo in modi particolari." Il pericolo non è abbracciare la dottrina cristiana, ma nel vivere fuori. Paese dopo paese, i cristiani che frequentano i servizi di culto della chiesa, leggere la letteratura cristiana, osservare le festività cristiane o indossare croci sottomettersi a ostracismo sociale, la violenza o accuse penali e campi raramente sostenere i loro diritti costituzionalmente mandato. condizioni sono cattivi e sta peggiorando. Allora, che cosa si può fare? Se si sperava la primavera araba, con la sua promessa di democrazia, avrebbe portato sollievo, pensa di nuovo. "Al giorno d'oggi," dice Shortt, "dove i sistemi politici riflettono i valori delle persone, di solito riflettono anche forti convinzioni religiose delle persone". Anche in "secolari" nazioni come la Turchia, un paese "diviso tra due versioni di se stesso," i valori religiosi spesso prevalere politiche ufficiali. Nel 1965, di Harvard Harvey Cox predetto l'imminente aumento della "città secolare", ma Shortt vede la religione in aumento. "Dio sta vincendo nella politica globale", scrive. In alcuni casi, perseverare cristiani in mezzo alla persecuzione. Tale è il caso della Cina, dove decenni di repressione a seguito Rivoluzione Culturale di Mao non sono stati in grado di fermare la crescita delle chiese sotterranee e la casa che dice Shortt hanno portato "una rinascita spirituale" che è considerato da alcuni come "il più grande rinascita religiosa nella storia. " Altrove, un punto luminoso è l'influenza di singoli cristiani incarnazionali chi ministro ai bisogni della gente e di fungere da ambasciatori di Cristo. Shortt dice che questi infermieri e medici negli ospedali, gli insegnanti delle scuole e "donne della Bibbia" che lavorano nei villaggi di tutto il mondo sono "traduttori" che "aiutano a interpretare il cristianesimo in lingue e culture locali." Queste persone impegnate non può singlehandedly sradicare il crescente problema globale della persecuzione cristiana, ma almeno si può incarnare il messaggio che Shortt trasmette a tutte le persone di fede: "religione buona promuove la risoluzione dei conflitti; cattiva religione favorisce la discordia." (Steve Rabey) Steve Rabey Colorado è uno scrittore, editore e consulente che ha scritto più di 2.000 articoli e più di 30 libri (www.rabeywords.com).cristianofobia Rupert Shortt, 298 pp (incluso indice), 2012, Ryder / Random House (UK)





Fonte: Compass Direct News



Book review: To find true persecution, look overseas


To find true persecution, look overseas

Colorado Springs, December 21 (World Watch Monitor) — By Steve Rabey 
Jesus warned his followers that they would experience persecution, a prediction that was already coming true before the books of the New Testament were completed. Today, Shortt argues, "the greatest curbs on religious freedoms take place in Muslim majority countries."
Take Egypt, where Christianity grew deep roots in the centuries before Mohammed. Today, there are more than 10 million Christians among a population of more than 80 million. But Christians have faced increasing pressures in recent decades, and the overthrow of a dictator and a historic election that promoted the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi have complicated matters even more.

The book documents how attacks and bombings of churches have increased since the election; forced emigration is shrinking the Christian population; Coptic Christians (the largest group of Egyptian Christians) face systematic obstacles to promotion in the army, police and legal professions; Coptic women have been abducted and forced to convert to Islam; and Muslims who convert to Christianity may be shunned, harassed, physically harmed and even killed.

Shortt is quick to point out he doesn't blame Islam per se for the growing pressure on Christians. After all, Christians and Muslims marched hand-in-hand in 2011 during the Tahrir Square demonstrations against the Mubarak regime. Rather, an increasingly fervent strain of "politicized Islamism" has swept the Arab world, exploiting popular anxieties and endangering interfaith. Religion has only become more politicized as the scheduled Dec. 15 vote on a proposed Egyptian constitution nears.

Still, Shortt notes the causes of conflict often are more mundane, such as differences in lifestyle, or fears that hard-working, thrifty and self-disciplined Christians may have an edge over their neighbors in the daily competition for survival. "I reject the...fantasy that holds Islam to be uniquely violent," he writes. In fact, he asserts, "much anti-Christian prejudice and violence has nothing to do with militant Islam."

Throughout the Middle East, for example, both ancient grudges and modern statecraft contribute to Christians' vulnerabilities. The West has embraced, supported and armed a series of unpopular dictators, unintentionally increasing the credibility of groups like Al Qaeda. And interventions that may have seemed like a good idea to some at the time, such as restoring Iran's Shah to power in 1953, have more deeply entrenched both anti-Western and anti-Christian feelings.

Nor does Shortt hold Christians blameless in the rise of religious intolerance. For one thing, Christian churches in the region have their own long history of "violent intolerance." Christians in many countries have also been slow in embracing or promoting interfaith dialogue and tolerance. In other places, Christians have allowed inter-church divisions to weaken both their witness and the social fabric. Not all church leaders have been well trained or temperate. And in some cases, he writes, overzealous believers have allowed their exuberant house church worship services to antagonize their neighbors.

In Nigeria, where the population has roughly equal numbers of Christians and Muslims, religious conflicts play out against a backdrop of chronic sectarian problems among some 500 ethnic groups. When tensions rise, followers of Jesus and followers of Mohammed seem more apt to blame and attack each other rather than to love and work with each other. "Muslims have (also) suffered grievously at the hands of Christians," writes Shortt. In too many of these cases, the conflicts turn deadly. Shortt describes conflicts that erupted after the 2011 Nigerian Presidential elections in which a Christian candidate was elected. The results led to outbursts of violence that left more than 800 people dead, more than 300 churches razed and some 65,000 people displaced.

In Iraq, he says, the American-led invasion of 2003 has been a "disaster" for a struggling Christian population that numbered between 1.2 and 1.4 million in 1990. Today the Christian population in this "cultural and spiritual heartland of Christianity" has dwindled to fewer than 200,000 souls. The Christians who remain have witnessed the destruction and desecration of their churches, convents, monasteries and orphanages. Bishops have been murdered or beheaded in their churches. "Few populations on earth have suffered as acutely as Iraq's in recent years," he writes.

Shortt does not make out his exhibition of petty disputes, Western diplomatic miscalculation and Christian culpability to be excuses for anti-Christian violence. Nor does he explain why it may be important to believers to face up to these realities. Beyond the argument that the threat to Christians is vastly under-recognized, he draws few conclusions from his just-the-facts approach to the subject.

In some countries where Christians are persecuted, national constitutions officially enshrine religious freedom. The problem, writes Shortt, is that "beliefs may be manifested only in particular ways." The danger is not in embracing Christian doctrine, but in living it out. In country after country, Christians who attend church worship services, read Christian literature, observe Christian holidays or wear crosses subject themselves to social ostracism, violence or criminal charges, and courts seldom support their constitutionally mandated rights.

Conditions are bad and getting worse. So, what can be done? If you were hoping the Arab Spring, with its promise of democracy, would bring relief, think again. "Nowadays," says Shortt, "where political systems reflect people's values, they usually also reflect people's strong religious beliefs." Even in "secular" nations such as Turkey, a country "torn between two versions of itself," religious values often trump official policies. In 1965, Harvard's Harvey Cox predicted the imminent rise of "the secular city," but Shortt sees religion on the rise. "God is winning in global politics," he writes.

In some cases, Christians persevere amidst the persecution. Such is the case in China, where decades of suppression following Mao's Cultural Revolution haven't been able to halt the growth of underground and house churches that Shortt says have brought about "a spiritual renaissance" that is considered by some to be "the greatest religious revival in history."

Elsewhere, one bright spot is the influence of individual, incarnational Christians who minister to people's needs and serve as ambassadors of Christ. Shortt says these nurses and doctors in hospitals, teachers in schools and "Bible women" who work in villages around the globe are "translators" who "help interpret Christianity in local languages and cultures."

Such committed individuals can't singlehandedly eradicate the growing global problem of Christian persecution, but at least they can embody the message that Shortt conveys to all people of faith: "Good religion promotes conflict resolution; bad religion fosters discord."
(Steve Rabey)
Steve Rabey is a Colorado writer, editor and consultant who has written more than 2,000 articles and more than 30 books (www.rabeywords.com).

Christianophobia
Rupert Shortt, 298 pp. (including index), 2012, Ryder/Random House (UK)
Source: Compass Direct News



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    You Very Very Very So Rude
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  • BrotherhoodUniversal
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    That is so sad. the repute for five years the Satanists of the IMF, ie, Pharisees Neturei Karta, 666 of god owl, Baal Marduk, satan synagogue, masonic system, have never been atto answer my questions! Why Should survive, who deserves to die? I can let you all go to hell .. Israel and me: we have saved alone, the whole human race, is why, I am unius REI, the king of Israel. there is nothing epic, are five years, 666 That IMF talmud, always lose against me, I have demolished Continually, the kingdom of Satan synagogue: of Neturei Karta 666, 322, NWO, Israel has said to me that he will kill the Illuminati ofIMF
  • BrotherhoodUniversal
    BrotherhoodUniversal ha pubblicato un commento 
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    That is so sad. the fact that for five years the Satanists of the IMF, ie, farisei Neturei Karta, 666 of god owl, Baal Marduk, satan synagogue, masonic system , have never been able to answer my questions! why should sopravvivere, who deserves to die? I can let you all go to hell
  • Riddikic
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    24 minuti fa
    You have wasted 5 years with this pointless dribble. That is so sad.
  • BrotherhoodUniversal
    BrotherhoodUniversal ha pubblicato un commento 
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    Israel and me: we have saved alone, the whole human race, is why, I am Unius REI, the king of Israel
  • BrotherhoodUniversal
    BrotherhoodUniversal ha pubblicato un commento 
    31 minuti fa
    there is nothing epic, are five years, that IMF 666 talmud, always lose against me, I have continually demolished, the kingdom of Satan synagogue: of Neturei karta 666, 322, NWO, Israel has said to me that he will kill the Illuminati, of IFM
  • sukiliks
    sukiliks ha pubblicato un commento 
    31 minuti fa
    [Sarsaparilla]
  • BrotherhoodUniversal
    BrotherhoodUniversal ha pubblicato un commento 
    34 minuti fa
    FED ECB IMF 322 666 666 CIA sukiliks, suk my iliks -- this is the truth you have shown in Rothschild 666 IMF, of you could not protect him, in his challenge to the death, deadly challenge against Israel , for do new Shoah, against Israel.. I destroyed the agenda of the Talmud
  • RiddikicGames
    RiddikicGames ha pubblicato un commento 
    36 minuti fa
    EPIC BATTLE BETWEEN GOOD N EVIL. Taking place on spotlight youtube.
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    sukiliks ha pubblicato un commento 
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  • BrotherhoodUniversal
    BrotherhoodUniversal ha pubblicato un commento 
    43 minuti fa
    Victorbaby - you must not be so presumptuous - you can not know all the reasons that are in the people .. what I send to a Satanist, puts him in danger of life .. That's why, it does not hurt you, because you are not a Satanist
  • Victor Iliescu
    Victor Iliescu ha pubblicato un commento 
    44 minuti fa
    @BrotherhoodUniversal: I hope you step on the car! That you deserve, Satanist!
  • Victor Iliescu
    Victor Iliescu ha pubblicato un commento 
    46 minuti fa
    @BrotherhoodUniversal: Eat my dick you and me you, uneducated hypocrite. Who do you think you know me-death, satanistule, to give me reply with swearing? Fuck you a satanist nation borate! I put my dick-n-hold my heart! I take your religion for dick!
  • BrotherhoodUniversal
    BrotherhoodUniversal ha pubblicato un commento 
    46 minuti fa
    VictorBaby fuch idiot Iliescu SHIT --- THEY, 322 666 FED IMF, ARE HIDDEN POWERS, of all the false democracies, of the banking seigniorage, ie, the Masonic system, of banking seigniorage: on all the world, but you do not know these things of course! --- LORO SONO I POTERI OCCULTI, di tutte le false democrazie del signoraggio bancario, cioè il sistema massonico mondiale del signoraggio bancario, ma tu non sai queste cose ovviamente!
  • Victor Iliescu
    Victor Iliescu ha pubblicato un commento 
    49 minuti fa
    @BrotherhoodUniversal: Also a Satanist tired to stick a comment tenfold. Do you have a twitch? No seriously, if I see for the first time that I'd say :))
  • BrotherhoodUniversal
    BrotherhoodUniversal ha pubblicato un commento 
    49 minuti fa
    Victor baby fuch idiot Iliescu --- how old are you have to play with, animated cartoons, again? and to talk about things you may not know, the Satanists are an ideology of the IMF 322 NWO talmud kabbalah, and they have already conquered the world! quanti anni tu hai per giocare con i cartoni animati, again? e per parlare di cose che tu non puoi conoscere, i satanisti sono una ideologia del FMI, e loro hanno già conquistato il mondo!



Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] Gunmen kill 12 Nigerian Christmas-Eve worshipers
Boko Haram suspected. Potiskum, December 25 (World Watch Monitor) — UPDATE: In two separate attacks, gunmen shot and killed12 worshippers who had gathered for Christmas-Eve services. One attackoccurred in the northeaster Nigerian state of Yobe. Among the dead was the church's pastor, according to news reports. The second attack occurred at a Baptist churchin Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. World Watch Monitor has used Storify to assemblea roundup of early news coverage of thekillings.Read full story »


Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] Book review: To find true persecution, look overseas. To find true persecution, look overseas. Colorado Springs, December 21 (World Watch Monitor) — By Steve Rabey Jesus warned his followers that they would experience persecution, a prediction that was already coming true before the books of the New Testament were completed. Today, Shortt argues, "the greatest curbs on religious freedoms take place in Muslim majority countries." Take Egypt, where Christianity grew deep roots in the centuries before Mohammed. Today, there are more than 10 million Christians among a population of more than 80 million. But Christians... Read full story »


Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] Finally, Istanbul gives Syriac Christians a place to build: a cemetery. Syriacs call it a ploy to pit Christian communities against each other. Istanbul, December 18 (World Watch Monitor) — Three years after a Syrian Orthodox foundation applied to build a church in Istanbul, the Greater Istanbul Municipality has granted them a large plot of land and a building permit. Banner headlines in the Turkish media praised the early-December decision as “a first in the history of the Republic,” declaring that never before had Turkey allowed a non-Muslim minority to build an official new house of worship. Stil... Read full story »


Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] Likely to lose constitution vote, Egyptian Christians gird for long struggle. Religious freedom will have to be won within Islamic system of laws. Cairo, December 14 (World Watch Monitor) — Politically connected Christians in Egypt give credit to the Muslim Brotherhood for one thing: they can win elections. The Brotherhood got 13 million ordinary Egyptians, many of them poor, rural and illiterate, to the polls in June to vote for their presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi. Governing has been a different matter. “What is helping us today is that the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam are not always clever,” said Hassan Ismail, secretary ... Read full story »


Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] China removes Shanghai Catholic bishop from state-run church post. Bishop had sworn loyalty to Pope Benedict. London, December 14 (World Watch Monitor) — In a move characterised in Western media as a fresh challenge to Vatican authority, China's state-run Catholic Church has revoked the title of the auxiliary Bishop of Shanghai. Thaddeus Ma Daqin, who is in his mid-forties, was ordained in July. His appointment had the rare approval of both Pope Benedict XVI and the state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CCPA). Both lay claim to the leadership of China’s Catholics, who are said to number up to about 12 million. Both claim ... Read full story »


Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] Prosecutor yanked from Turkish Christian murder trials. Asserting a link to earlier killing, he is removed from High Council duty. Istanbul, December 7 (World Watch Monitor) — A High Council prosecutor probing links between the Malatya murders of three Christians in eastern Turkey and the earlier assassination of a Christian newspaper editor was abruptly transferred from his position last week and re-assigned prosecution duties in an Istanbul court. Prosecutor Hikmet Usta was preparing objections to the verdict of the Turkish Supreme Court that “no illegal group” had been behind the Janua... Read full story »


Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] 10 killed, four churches burned in Nigeria. Boko Haram suspected in rampage in predominantly Christian area. Lagos, December 6 (World Watch Monitor) — Ten people were killed and four churches burned in two separate Dec. 1 attacks in northeast Nigeria by gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram Islamist group. The victims included nine Christians and one Muslim, who were killed in Kwaple village, Chibok Local Government Area of Borno state when the Islamic group members went on rampage and burned 20 houses and a church in the area. Three other churches were burned in Gamboru Ngala. “I have just received a me... Read full story »


Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] Uzbek pastor released from Kazakhstan prison. Reunited with family, flies to Europe with UN assistance. London, December 5 (World Watch Monitor) — Uzbek pastor Makset Djabbarbergenov has been released from prison in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He was released Dec. 4 and taken to the airport, where he was reunited with his wife and four children. According to the Norwegian religious-freedom watchdog agency Forum 18, they were flown to Germany. After arrival at Frankfurt they were taken to a safe location in another, unnamed European country. His friends in Almaty told Forum 18 "we need to thank the Kazakh government - they d... Read full story »


Compass Direct News [opendoorsuk: criminal islamists salafis, for sharia imperialism saudi arabia] Algerian faces 5 years in prison for sharing Christian faith. Lawyer says no proof, accusers produce no evidence at appeal hearing. Istanbul, December 2 (World Watch Monitor) — Accusers who say an Algerian Christian insulted Islam provided no evidence to a judge hearing the Christian’s appeal of his original sentence. Karim Siaghi, a convert to Christianity, was sentenced in May 2011 to five years in prison and fined 200,000 Algerian Dinars, or about U.S. $2,500, even though prosecutors had brought no evidence or witnesses before the court. More than a year later, in mid-November, Siaghi’s appeal hearing was held in the coast... Read full story »




Funeral for 7-year old Josephine Gay, killed days after her birthday (1:11) 

Dec. 22 - Newtown buries another young victim of the Connecticut shooting just days before Christmas. Deborah Lutterbeck reports. ( Transcript )




Dec 25 (Reuters) - Gunmen killed six people at a church in northeast Nigeria early on Tuesday, the third year running that Christmas services have come under deadly attack in the country, the military said.

The strike took place after a Christmas Eve midnight service outside the town of Potiskum in northeastern Yobe state, where Islamist sect Boko Haram has carried out several attacks this year.

"Unknown gunmen attempted to attack Potiskum but were repelled by the troops. While they were fleeing, they attacked a church in a village known as Jiri," said military spokesman Eli Lazarus, who confirmed that six people were killed.

Members of Boko Haram have killed hundreds in a campaign to impose sharia law in northern Nigeria.

The group killed dozens in a series of bombings across northern Nigeria on churches on Christmas Day last year, mirroring similar attacks in 2010 which killed more than 40.

This year the police and army pledged to protect churches, boosting security in major northern towns and cities and restricting people's movement.

At least 2,800 people have died in fighting in the largely Muslim north since Boko Haram launched an uprising against the government in 2009, watchdog Human Rights Watch says.

Potiskum, which lies in Boko Haram's northeastern stronghold, has been one of the areas worst affected by the insurgency.

Security experts believe Boko Haram is targeting worshippers to spark a religious conflict in a country of 160 million people split roughly equally between Christians and Muslims.

Many churches in Nigeria's biggest northern city, Kano, and elsewhere in the north were almost empty for Christmas Day services on Tuesday, local residents said.

Two people were killed in separate attacks on Tuesday in Kano, a police source said. He said gunmen riding motorcycles killed the driver of a government worker and another civilian.

Pope Benedict used part of his Christmas message to the world on Tuesday to highlight the need for reconciliation in Nigeria, saying "savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians". (Reporting by Isaac Abrak; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)