A 25-year-old British mother is believed to have traveled to Syria, along with her 1-year-old baby son, to join Islamic State extremists in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, according to her family.
The father of Tareena Shakil, a young British mother who resided in Birmingham and holds a psychology degree, told the British news source The Sun that he's concerned for his baby grandson's safety after he learned that his daughter and her 14-month-old son have entered the Islamic State caliphate in Syria and don't plan on returning home.
After four months of posting extremist messages on a Facebook account Shakil had created under an Islamic pseudonym, Shakil's family said that she lied when she told them that she and her son, Zaheem, were going on a vacation to Spain. They learned that Spain was not her intended destination when Shakil sent messages back home to the family saying that she and Zaheem had instead crossed Turkey's porous border into Syria and that they are now in the ISIS Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. more >>
As Islamic State extremists continue their reign of terror through Iraq and Syria, the chaos, violence and persecution forced upon the thousands of people in the region has caused 90 percent of Orthodox Christians in Iraq to flee the sanctity of their homes, according to the Greek Orthodox Bishop for Baghdad, Ghattas Hazim.
Hazim, who is also the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Kuwait and other surrounding areas, said in a recent interview with Al Monitor that he fears for the future of the Orthodox Christian presence in Iraq, Syria, and the whole Mesopotamia region. Citing unspecified statistics, Hazim said that 90 percent of Iraqi Orthodox Christians have been displaced from their homes. He added that only 30 of 600 Orthodox families remain in Baghdad as ISIS' quest to conquer the city continues.
In Mosul, the Islamic State's stronghold in Iraq in the northern Nineveh province, Hazim said only 10 Orthodox families remain, although it's believed that the only Christians left in Mosul are those who could not afford to, or physically, flee. more >>
An Iranian woman hanged for murdering her alleged rapist left behind a heartbreaking message for her mother in which she asserts that "death is not the end of life" and that she trusts God with her future, even if it meant death by the Iranian court.
"Let's see what God wants," Reyhaneh Jabbari said in a voicemail to her mother several months ago. The Iranian woman was charged with the murder of her accused rapist and in jail at the time she left the voicemail—her fate had not yet been decided, but she knew that she could easily be found guilty and hanged.
"The world did not love us," she said. "It did not want my fate. And now I am giving in to it and embrace the death. Because in the court of God I will charge the inspectors, I will charge inspector Shamlou, I will charge judge, and the judges of country's Supreme Court that beat me up when I was awake and did not refrain from harassing me … I will charge Qassem Shabani and all those that out of ignorance or with their lies wronged me and trampled on my rights and didn't pay heed to the fact that sometimes what appears as reality is different from it." more >>
Amnesty International has released a report claiming that human rights abuses were committed during the Ferguson, Missouri, riots earlier this year, which stemmed from the police shooting of Michael Brown.
"Brown's death set off protests which, as of this publication, are ongoing, as well as a long-overdue conversation on race, policing and justice," the report states.
"The events in Ferguson have also raised a range of human rights concerns, including the right to life, the use of lethal force by law enforcement, the right to freedom from discrimination, and the rights to freedom of expression and assembly." more >>
Pope Francis has called on Christians everywhere to campaign to end the death penalty and life imprisonment, a goal which has been achieved in the Vatican state. Meanwhile, a recently released Gallup poll found that six in 10 Americans support capital punishment.
"It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples' lives from an unjust aggressor," Francis said Wednesday in a meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, Catholic News Service reported.
"All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether it be legal or illegal and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty. And this, I connect with life imprisonment," he said. "Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty." more >>
A North Carolina county judge resigned on Monday because he did not want to violate his Christian faith and perform same-sex marriages, which are now permitted under the state's law.
With the news that North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban was struck down by a federal judge on Oct. 10, Judge Gilbert Breedlove, a 57-year-old magistrate in Swain County and also an ordained minister, could not, in good faith, be forced to conduct same-sex courthouse weddings when his Christian belief tells him that a marriage is only between a man and a woman.