An Iranian Christian prisoner has decided to go on a hunger strike despite suffering from intense physical pain in order to protest the rejection of his conditional release.
"Vahid [Hakkani] has suffered intense physical mistreatment and has been in dire need of medical treatment throughout his detention, and he was transferred to a hospital to receive some necessary treatment," Todd Daniels, International Christian Concern's regional manager for the Middle East, told The Christian Post in an email Thursday. "He and his family have pressured the government to grant him a conditional release so that he can receive the treatment he needs, but the officials have repeatedly denied this request."
Hakkani, who is a Christian convert from the city of Shiraz, was arrested along with three other men in February 2012 and later sentenced to three years and eight months in prison by Iran's Revolutionary Court for attending house church gatherings and contacting foreign Christian ministers, which is forbidden in Iran. more >>
The Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday that it has uncovered a "spectacular" 1,500-year-old Byzantine monastery, complete with a prayer hall and intact floor mosaics, in southern Israel. The monastery, suspected of being used for Christian worship in the 6th century, was discovered as part of a salvage excavation before construction of a new highway in the Negev Desert.
The IAA said Tuesday that the Byzantine structure is 65 feet by 115 feet, and has four rooms, including a prayer hall and a dining room. The floors of the structure are lined with intact, colorful mosaics featuring classic Byzantine motifs, including flora, animals, baskets, and geometric patterns mixed in with blue, green, yellow, and red colors. The blue and red are historically associated with Christianity, but the green and yellow colors are more rare, perhaps indicating the stones that were regionally available at the time.
The mosaics also contained discretely hidden cross images meant to represent Christianity. The crosses were hidden into the design of the mosaics in order to honor an edict that prohibited crosses from being artistically created on floors where they would be easily stepped on. more >>
Israeli authorities have uncovered 11 stolen burial boxes containing bones and believed to be from the time of Jesus in Jerusalem.
The Israeli Antiquities Authority announced Monday that they had recovered 11 burial boxes last week when police noticed a suspicious transaction taking place between two cars at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The antiquities authority confirmed that suspects were trying to sell the burial boxes to Jewish merchants at the checkpoint; the thieves most likely raided the boxes from a burial cave in Jerusalem, authorities said.
As LiveScience reports, the boxes, also known as ossuaries, are suspected of being 2,000 years old and are covered in Hebrew inscriptions, as well as some paint remnants. They are filled with bones and possibly pottery that was buried with the deceased. more >>
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple from Los Angeles, were sentenced in Qatar Thursday to three years in prison for allegedly killing their 8-year-old adopted daughter, Gloria. Supporters say the Huangs have been wrongly accused.
"We have just been wrongfully convicted and we feel as if we are being kidnapped by the Qatar judicial system. This verdict is wrong and appears to be nothing more than an effort to save face," Matthew Huang said, according to FreeMattandGrace.com, a website that supports the Huangs.
"The prosecutor accused us of trafficking our legal adopted children with the intent of selling their organs. That is how ridiculous this is .... So we are calling on the United States President Obama to call the Head of State in Qatar and explain to him why American families adopt high-needs children. more >>
Persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern asked why U.S. President Barack Obama failed to talk religious freedom with Saudi Arabia King Abdullah during his visit last week, after identifying the issue as a key component of U.S. foreign policy at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.
"This visit was an excellent opportunity for the president to speak up on an issue that affects millions of Saudi citizens and millions more foreign workers living in Saudi Arabia," said ICC Middle East Regional Manager Todd Daniels in a statement Saturday.
"Only last month the president clearly stated that promoting religious freedom is a key objective of American foreign policy, and then reaffirmed that opinion in remarks following his meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday, according to the White House. On top of this, 70 members of Congress specifically asked him to publicly address the issue, as well as other human rights concerns, with King Abdullah today. How, despite all of this, the president could stay completely silent about religious freedom during his meeting is remarkable." more >>
British scientists have recently discovered a unique tattoo of the Archangel Michael on a 1,300-year-old female mummy from Egypt.
The British Museum announced its discovery earlier this week, saying that the female mummy was from 700 A.D. and discovered in 2005 on the banks of the Nile, in what is now Sudan. The female, suspected to be aged 20 to 35 at the time of her death, was wrapped in linen and woolen cloth at the time of her burial.
After conducting advanced Computed Tomography (CT) scans, researchers discovered a tattoo on the mummy's upper right inner thigh with the letters "M-I-X-A-H-A" spelled out, meaning "Michael" in Ancient Greek. It is suspected that the women lived in one of the many Christian communities that dotted the Nile, and perhaps had the tattoo as a form of protection, either from sexual attacks or to protect a pregnancy. more >>