A disputed limestone box believed by some to contain the remains of James, the brother of Jesus Christ, has allegedly been vandalized by Israeli officials who had been analyzing it for forgery.
"It could be the earliest inscription of the word 'Jesus' ever found, but we may never know. In their fruitless zeal to prove that the inscription 'James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus' was forged by Oded Golan or an Egyptian craftsman working under his direction, the Israel Antiquities Authority permitted a series of destructive tests that proved nothing and may have destroyed the chances of ever knowing the truth," wrote Jerusalem-based journalist Matthew Kalman in a blog.
The inscription on the 2000-year-old burial box was initially suspected by Israeli officials to be a forgery by Golan, a private collector, who said that he obtained the box along with an ancient tablet from Arab traders in East Jerusalem about a decade ago. more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been denied medication and blankets his father tried to give him in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, with prison officials saying the U.S. citizen is not allowed to have any personal belongings. The update follows reports that the prison is severely overcrowded, leading to "deadly and inhuman" conditions.
"Saeed's health had been improving with his medication in Evin prison, but with horrendous conditions in Rajai Shahr and the lack of proper medication, Saeed's health will likely deteriorate quickly," wrote Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), in an update on Monday on the pastor's condition.
The ACLJ, which represents the pastor's wife and two children in the U.S., reported that Abedini had been moved from Evin prison to Rajai Shahr last week, though an explanation for this sudden change has not been provided. An international campaign backed by a number of U.S. political leaders, including President Barack Obama, has called for the pastor's release, but so far Iranian authorities have refused to release him or reduce his eight-year sentence. more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been placed in a single cell with five death row inmates in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj and is prevented from having any visitors, the American Center for Law and Justice said, raising further concerns that officials placed him there to "disappear."
"Rajai Shahr is a murders' jail. It's a violent criminals' jail," said ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow on Fox News following news that the U.S. pastor was abruptly transferred from Evin Prison in Tehran on Monday.
"He is not allowed any visitors, and he is under quarantine. He is in Ward 9, which is the murders' ward. So he's sharing a 10x10 cell with five people who have been convicted of violent crimes, these are people who are basically on death row. So unlike being in a prison that is horrendous and you may face torture, you are now imprisoned with people who are just as violent as maybe those prison guards." more >>
Antti Korkeakivi, the head of the department of indigenous people and minorities at the United Nations has said that "serious violations against Christians in Egypt and Syria" have been recorded.
"The challenge before us is a great one, especially if we look at the data relating to those violations, which date back to 2011," Korkeakivi told Mideast Christian News.
He pointed out the need to discuss the plight of religious minorities and the need to have security forces monitor the situation more closely. more >>
The Russian Orthodox Church announced it intends to participate in the second International Meeting of the Clergy on the Settlement of the Syrian Crisis.
The meeting will be organized by the World Council of Churches before the Geneva 2 conference in late November.
Metropolitan Hilarion, the Russian Church's spokesperson, said extremists in the Middle East are exterminating Christians in the region in order to erase Christianity's presence there. more >>
Brigadier General Abbas Ibrahim, Lebanese General Security Chief, has revealed that he has received information concerning the location of the two kidnapped Syrian bishops Bolous Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim, who were abducted on April 22.
According to the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA), Ibrahim refused to set a time to secure their release insisting it was early in the negotiating process.
"We are now indirectly communicating with the kidnappers. This is a crucial point upon which we can build so as to reach conclusions." more >>