The head of Aleppo's Evangelical Church has said that the burning of churches and the raising of black Islamist flags on them in the Syrian city of Reka is not acceptable.
Pastor Ibrahim Noseir called on the U.N. General Assembly to adopt a clear position to suspend attacks against Christian sites.
"What is the position of the international community on such actions," Noseir asked. more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has found out that President Barack Obama spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and pressed for his release last week, which is said to provide the American citizen a "glimmer of hope" that he might finally be released.
"Early Monday morning in Tehran, Pastor Saeed's Iranian family was able to sit and visit with him – through a glass partition – during regular visitation hours at Evin Prison," The American Center for Law and Justice (ALJ) said in a press release.
"For the first time, Pastor Saeed had a glimmer of hope that he would soon be released. Iranian news sources had reported on President Obama's phone call with President Rouhani." more >>
International aid agency Oxfam has praised the upcoming Geneva peace conference in November that may bring Syrians closer to a much-needed resolution to the two-and-a-half-year civil war that has torn the nation apart.
"The Syrian people have cried out for peace for more than two years, and the world has finally answered their pleas," Oxfam said in a statement. "Secretary Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov now have a real opportunity to help bring an end to the death, displacement, and suffering taking place."
A number of leading nations are expected to be involved in the US-Russia peace talks, including Britain, France and China, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius revealed on Monday. The conference, being dubbed Geneva 2, will include all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, rebuffing claims by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Europe needs to stay out of the talks. more >>
Iranian sources have claimed that CNN incorrectly translated a quote from President Hassan Rouhani that made him sound like he believes the Holocaust took place, and accused the American news network of "insulting the public understanding." Meanwhile, CNN has denied the accusations saying that the Iranian president was translated by a person supplied by the Iranian government itself.
"Now that the network knows the untrustworthiness of the translation, it has the responsibility to inform the public of the mistake and air the interview again, but this time with a deserving translation," the Iranian Fars News network said in a statement on Friday. "This plus a professional apology will be the least thing the American network can do to make up for its gross mistake, instead of whitewashing what, otherwise, would be the purposeful falsification of the remarks and views of the president of a world state and projecting the blame on others."
The incident in question refers to an interview Rouhani held with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, which aired on Wednesday, where according to the CNN translation, he says: "I am not a historian, and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect on it. But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis committed toward the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, was reprehensible and condemnable as far as we are concerned." more >>
Renowned evangelist Billy Graham is asking Iran's president Hassan Rouhani for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini from prison, pointing out that such an action might be perceived by U.S. leaders as a significant step in reducing tensions.
"On September 26, the one-year anniversary of Pastor Abedini's imprisonment, thousands will attend prayer vigils in more than 70 U.S. cities, calling on your country to release this husband, father and servant of God," Graham writes in a letter addressed to Rouhani and published on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. "I join them by respectfully asking you to release Pastor Saeed Abedini from prison. Such an action would, I believe, have a positive impact in our nation, and might well be perceived by our leadership as a significant step in reducing tensions."
Abedini has been in Evin Prison in Tehran since his arrest last year, and was later sentenced to eight years in jail, supposedly for endangering national security. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) recently launched the largest campaign in its history aimed at sending thousands of letters each week to Rouhani, petitioning for the U.S. pastor. The ACLJ, which represents his wife, Naghmeh, and their two young children in the U.S., says that Iran has targeted the pastor for his Christian faith. more >>
Recent reports from Syria have described the horrific persecution of Christians by some al-Qaeda-linked rebel forces, but one group of Christians in Aleppo is shedding new light on the Middle Eastern country's civil war, telling reporters that in fact it is part of the rebel coalition that has kept them safe.
A group of six elderly Christians living in the Mar Elias House, a church hostel for the needy in Aleppo, have argued that President Bashar Assad's regime has sought to paint all rebel forces as violent, al-Qaeda linked terrorists seeking to make Syria an entirely Islamic state. Although the Christians do confirm that some factions of the rebel coalition are religious extremists, others are more moderate activists seeking simply to have the Assad regime overthrown and install a new government in the country.
One such group with a presence in Aleppo is the rebel Free Syrian Army, a coalition of fighters backed by the U.S. The Free Syrian Army's tactics differ from another well-known rebel group, the al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front, that uses violent attacks against civilians, including Christians, in an attempt to make Syria a completely Islamic state. more >>