June 20 was World Refugee Day, dedicated to nearly 60 million people worldwide who were forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution. One group of refugees rarely acknowledged is the Jews who were indigenous to Muslim lands but compelled to flee around the time when the State of Israel was established.
A Google search for "1948 refugees" produces about 6 million results. All but a few (at least through page six) are about the Palestinian Arab refugees, as if they were the only refugees of 1948. But it is estimated that from the beginning of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War through the early 1970s, up to 1,000,000 Jews fled or were expelled from their ancestral homes in Muslim countries. 260,000 of those refugees reached Israel between 1948 and 1951 and comprised 56% of all immigration to the fledgling state. By 1972, their numbers had reached 600,000.
In 1948, Middle East and North African countries had considerable Jewish populations: Morocco (250,000), Algeria (140,000), Iraq (140,000), Iran (120,000), Egypt (75,000), Tunisia (50,000), Yemen (50,000), Libya (35,000), and Syria (20,000). Today, the indigenous Jews of those countries are virtually extinct (although Morocco and Iran each still has under 10,000 Jews). In most cases, the Jewish population had lived there for millennia. more >>
A blast in the Christian Bab Touma district in the Old City of Damascus killed at least four and wounded several Thursday, Syrian television reported. This marks the first strike inside the walls of the Old City and an attack potentially targeted at Syrian Christians.
Syrian state television traced the attack to a suicide bombing, while "opposition sources said it was a mortar attack," Reuters reported. State television went so far as to call it "a terrorist suicide bombing."
"It was unclear who was behind the attack, but there were many potential targets in the vicinity," continued the Reuters report. more >>
Blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng arrived in Taiwan on Sunday to begin an 18-day visit, the purpose of which is to bring attention to the human rights abuses inflicted on his fellow Chinese by Beijing, as well as to study Taiwan's democracy.
Chen, who has long been a critic of China's botched human rights record, sought to encourage China to follow the example of Taiwan's democracy at a press conference on Monday in Taipei.
"The democracy and rule of law in Taiwan show that democracy is not an institution that is unique to the West," Chen said at the press conference, as reported by The New York Times. "The success of democracy in Taiwan also exposed the Chinese government's lie that democracy does not work for the Chinese." more >>
WASHINGTON – A Hispanic pastor, who oversees an organization devoted to helping the Hispanic American community, believes that the energy moving toward immigration reform has increased greatly.
The Rev. Luis Cortés, Jr., president of the Philadelphia, Pa.-based organization Esperanza, told The Christian Post at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, that compared to several years ago, the attendees were "more enthused" over the progress on immigration reform.
"When we had the event two years ago, there was less movement on the immigration issue. So we're more enthused by the fact that it is being discussed in the Senate," said Cortés. more >>
Russia and China have expressed their objection to being ranked among the worst offenders in the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, released by the U.S. Department of State on Wednesday. But human rights organizations have said that the assessment is fair.
"The anger of the Chinese government against the TIP Report is misplaced. They should channel their anger toward taking effective action against traffickers, rather than against the exposure to the world of their abysmal record on human trafficking," Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, shared with The Christian Post in an email on Thursday.
The TIP report provides detailed profiles on countries and the state of human trafficking within their borders. It also categorizes nations by the level in which they comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's minimum standards, separating them in three different tiers, with Tier 3 reserved for the worst offenders – governments that do not comply with those minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. more >>
Officials in North Korea, a country notorious for its botched human rights record, are denying claims that they received the autobiography Mein Kampf, written by Germany's former dictator Adolf Hitler, as a gift from Kim Jong Un, leader of the Asian country.
North Korea's Ministry of People's Security issued a response this week to the claims via the country's mouthpiece, Korea Central News Agency, saying the original news report regarding the book was an attempt at a "smear campaign" produced by "a handful of human scum."
"We are […] determined to take substantial measures to physically remove despicable human scum who are committing treasons," a statement from the ministry and reported by the KCNA read, according to Canada's National Post. more >>