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INTERNATIONAL DIGEST: For Mexico, emigration to U.S. surpasses deaths

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Mexico loses more citizens each year to U.S. emigration than to death, according to a new study by the country’s census bureau.

An average of 577,000 Mexican citizens crossed the border into the United States each year from 2000 to 2005, while the country lost an average of 495,000 to death, the Associated Press reported. In 2006, the number of deaths climbed to 501,000 and the number of emigrants dropped to 559,000.

The report said that about 48 percent of Mexican immigrants entered the country illegally between 1993 and 1997 and increased to 68 percent between 1998 and 2001. An average of 78 percent entered illegally between 2001 and 2005, the study found. Ironically, that increase was attributed to stricter border controls after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, which made it more difficult to enter the country legally.

In 1970, approximately 800,000 Mexicans lived in the U.S. The report found that number today stands at about 11 million, counting both legal and illegal immigrants.

FALSELY ACCUSED CHRISTIAN RELEASED — Martha Bibi, a Christian accused of blasphemy against Islam was released on bail from a Pakistani prison May 3. The 40-year-old woman had been held since Jan. 22 on charges of making derogatory remarks against the Koran, Islam’s holy book, and “defiling” the name of Muhammad.

The All Pakistan Minorities Alliance said the false charges were lodged by Muslim contractors who didn’t want to pay for materials supplied by Bibi and her husband, a bricklayer. She was charged under Pakistan’s notorious “blasphemy law,” which allows non-Muslims to be jailed merely on the testimony of witnesses that an offense has occurred. The law is routinely used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities. The penalties often include lengthy jail terms and even death sentences.

Bibi’s lawyers told Asia News she was “physically worn out but overjoyed that she survived. She has not stopped thanking God for allowing justice to triumph. … This case and the release order show once again that the blasphemy law only serves as a means to settle personal disputes, always to the detriment of minorities. This is why it should be completely abolished.”

ABORIGINES GET FIRST ‘KRIOL BAIBUL’ — Australian aborigines finally have the Bible in their own language, thanks to the efforts of more than 100 translators working almost 30 years. The “Kriol Baibul” opens the way for most of the country’s 500,000 indigenous people to understand the Gospel message in a far better way.

Also known as Pidgin English, Kriol developed as aborigines in northern Australia interacted with English settlers, Daniel Willis, director of Australia’s Bible Society NSW told BBC News. Linguists faced the challenge not only of translating the Bible’s words into Kriol, but also capturing the meaning for Kriol culture.

For example, the phrase “to love God with all one’s heart” presented a challenge because some aborigine dialects use a word broadly translated “insides” as the seat of emotion, linguist Peter Carroll said. “So that to ‘love God with all your heart’ was to ‘want God with all your insides’ … it was that use of the word ‘insides,’ not the word ‘heart,’ that established the right connection with emotions and made the translation effective,” he said.

NIGERIAN PRIMATE INSTALLS ‘MISSIONARY BISHOP’ — The leader of Anglicans in Nigeria installed a new bishop for conservative Anglicans in the United States who object to the theological direction of the American Episcopal Church. Primate Peter J. Akinola performed the ceremony May 5 over the objections of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the American Episcopal Church.

Martyn Minns was installed as “missionary bishop” of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America during a ceremony held at Hylton Memorial Chapel, a nondenominational Christian event center in Woodbridge, Va., according to Episcopal News Service. Eleven Episcopal parishes in Virginia broke from the church in December and January after the ordination of a practicing homosexual as bishop.

In an April 30 letter to Akinola, Jefferts Schori said the installation would violate the “ancient customs of the church” and “display to the world division and disunity that are not part of the mind of Christ.” Akinola responded that appealing to the ancient church was ironic “when it is your own province’s deliberate rejection of the biblical and historic teaching of the church that has prompted our current crisis.”

‘MICKEY MOUSE’ PREACHES WAR — Militant Islamists in the Gaza Strip are using a mascot styled after Mickey Mouse to enlist children in their battle to establish the supremacy of Islam by force of arms.

“Farfour” may mean “butterfly” in the local language, but the giant black-and-white mouse is “unmistakably a rip-off of the Disney character,” according to the Associated Press. He appears each Friday during a children’s show on Al-Aqsa TV, which is operated by the militant group Hamas.

“You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists,” Farfour said in one episode of “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” according to the AP. “We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers.”

The program also takes calls from children, many of whom sing Hamas hymns about the glories of fighting Israel.

MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN SOCCER GAME SCRAPPED — A game of soccer intended to bridge gaps between Muslims and Christians in Oslo, Norway, on May 5 had to be canceled after Muslim leaders refused to allow their team to play because the Christian team included women. The Christians refused to play men only because barring women would have been discrimination.

“Some say that bodily contact is the problem. It leads to special feelings that can lead to something forbidden,” imam Senaid Kobilica told NRK public television, according to a report by Reuters news service. Kjersti Oestland Tveit, a woman priest from Norway’s Lutheran state church, called the disagreement “a setback for sexual equality in 2007.”

“There are both men and women priests in Oslo, and you can’t have a dialogue in which everyone can take part and then have a game where only men are allowed,” said Trond Bakkevig, captain of the Christian team.

VIOLENCE MARS FRENCH ELECTION OF CONSERVATIVE — Socialists in France made good on their threats of violence if conservative presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy won the May 6 election to succeed Jacques Chirac for the country’s next five-year term as president. The demonstrations, however, turned out far fewer protestors than predicted by Socialist candidate Segolene Royal, who had hoped to become France’s first woman president.

On May 7, about 500 protestors burned cars and looted stores in central Paris, police told the AFP news service. The next evening, around 150 people were dispersed by police. In Lyon, France’s second-largest city, about 400 people demonstrated peacefully before police clashed with 200 protestors that evening. Small clashes also occurred in other cities.

Royal had warned that France would erupt in violence if Sarkozy won the election. The “youths” reportedly participating in the violence were anarchists, members of far-left groups and immigrants, according to police. Sarkozy, a former interior minister, had taken a strong law-and-order stand during the election and promised major economic changes that would promote growth and move the country away from recent socialist policies.

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  • Mark Kelly