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INTERNATIONAL DIGEST: Christians in Honduras thankful for president’s removal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Christians in Honduras say the June 28 removal of Manuel Zelaya as president was a defense of democracy and an answer to prayer.

Thousands of protestors marched June 23 in the capital city, Tegucigalpa, to protest Zelaya’s call for a constitutional assembly to rewrite the country’s charter. Zelaya had expressed a desire to serve more than the constitutional limit of four years, but the country’s congress, public ministry, supreme electoral court and supreme court had all rejected Zelaya’s call as unlawful since only Honduras’ congress has the authority to convene such an assembly. When Zelaya moved to hold the election anyway, the supreme court ordered the military to remove him. The president was sent into exile June 28 and has appealed to allies such as Barack Obama, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega and the United Nations to help restore him to power.

The week before the showdown came to a head, evangelical leaders in Honduras led peaceful demonstrations against Zelaya’s efforts to keep himself in power, the Latin American Herald Tribune reported.

“It’s sad to see the OAS and the UN forcing Honduras to take back this president,” Maria Elena Umana-Alvarez, a Honduran evangelical leader, told Christianity Today. “We feel that what has happened is a reply to the fervent prayers of so many Christians. For many of us, it’s not a coup, but the rescue of our country and our democracy.”

INCIDENTS REVEAL ANTI-CHRISTIAN PREJUDICE — Two recent incidents in Pakistan demonstrate the deep-seated prejudice against Christians that permeate segments of the country’s Muslim majority.

In late June, a mosque leader in Bahmaniwala village used a loudspeaker to mobilize a mob to attack Christian homes, the Compass Direct news service reported July 3. At least 110 homes were ransacked and looted, women were beaten and cars were set ablaze. One woman was attacked with acid and later tried to commit suicide. A pregnant woman miscarried after being beaten.

The riot started after Sardar Masih, a lower-class Christian field worker, asked a Muslim man to move out of his way so his tractor could pass. Outraged, the man began beating Masih and when his family members intervened, a mob of 15 to 20 Muslims attacked them. The mosque leader then issued the call for villagers to “teach Christians an exemplary lesson” for blaspheming Islam. When Muslim leaders at the national level learned of the attacks, however, they condemned the violence and promised the government would pay for the damages. “Christians are our brothers and sisters, and what has been done to them is very unjust,” Sheikh Wasim of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz told Compass Direct.

In May, a Christian man, Ishtiaq Masih, was beaten to death at a roadside tea stall for using a cup reserved for Muslims, according to the human rights group International Christian Concern. He had ordered the tea when his bus stopped in Machharkay village during a rest stop. When he tried to pay for his tea, the owner noticed the young man was wearing a cross necklace and called for his employees to beat him for violating a “Muslims only” sign at the stall. The owner and 14 employees beat the young man with stones, iron rods and clubs and stabbed him multiple times. He died later at a local clinic.

International Christian Concern encouraged concerned individuals to contact Pakistan embassies and respectfully express concern about the treatment of Christians in the country. The embassy in the United States can be contacted by phone at 202-243-6500 and e-mail at [email protected].

SOMALI EXTREMISTS BEHEAD TWO BOYS — Islamic extremists in Somalia beheaded two young sons of a Christian leader because their father refused to divulge information about a church leader.

Hussein Musa Yusuf, 12, and Abdi Rahaman Musa Yusuf, 11, were dragged from their home in Yonday village and murdered by members of the al Shabaab extremist group, Compass Direct News reported. The day before, group members had interrogated their father, underground church leader Musa Mohammed Yusuf, about his relationship with another Christian leader, Salat Mberwa. When Yusuf refused to talk, the men left, saying they would return the next day. Yusuf fled the village for a nearby city, Kismayo, and when the men returned to his home they killed his two oldest sons in revenge.

When Yusuf heard that his sons had been killed and that the militants were still looking for him, he left Kismayo and walked for more than a month to reach Mbwera’s home. The Christian fellowship led by Mbwera raised money for Yusuf to reach a refugee camp in Kenya, Compass Direct reported. Soon after, Yusuf’s remaining family joined him in the camp, where they live without shelter or belongings. Their 80-year-old grandmother was unable to make the trip to Kenya and her situation is not known.

The al Shabaab militants reportedly are foreign fighters recruited by the al-Qaida terrorist network in Somalia. They play a key role in al-Qaida’s fight against the government of Somalia and have gained enough power in the capital city, Mogadishu, to carry out public amputations as punishment for robbery. More than 18,000 civilians have died and 1 million people forced to flee their homes in 18 years of turmoil in Somalia.

INDIA COURT RULES ‘GAY SEX’ LEGAL — A court in India has invalidated a 150-year-old law that made homosexual relations illegal. In a July 2 ruling, Chief Justice A.P. Shah of the Delhi High Court said the law violated basic human rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution.

The law’s wording outlawed “carnal intercourse against the order of nature, with any man, woman or animal,” the Bloomberg news service reported. Offenders faced imprisonment and a fine, but prosecutions were rare.

During the court’s seven months of hearings on the subject, advocates for the law argued the ban on homosexual intercourse protected public health and morals and reflected the public’s conservative views, Bloomberg reported. Opponents argued the law violated privacy and equality rights guaranteed by the constitution and said it was used to harass and blackmail homosexuals.

India’s National Aids Control Organization told the court the law obstructed its HIV/AIDS prevention program. The United Nations estimates about 2.4 million people in India are infected with HIV, about 1 million of them women.
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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