North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accepted an invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend a ceremony in Moscow in May to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. This is set to be Kim's first official overseas trip as leader of his country, and follows indications from Putin that he wants closer ties between the two world leaders.
"North Korea is seeking to deepen both diplomatic and economic ties with Russia at a time when its political relationship with China remains chilly," South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
The celebrations are intended to mark the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. The visit will be Kim's first to a foreign country since he became North Korean leader in 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. more >>
Militants associated with the Islamic State terrorist group are claiming responsibility for the abduction of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, according to a statement received by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"Urgent. Soldiers of the Islamic State captured 21 Christian crusaders," the statement reads, which included three pictures showing only 20 captured Coptic Christians.
The statement did not specify when the captives were abducted but a spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry, Badr Abdel Atti, confirmed to AFP that at least 20 Egyptians were abducted in two separate incidents in Libya and they "are still being detained" by their captors. more >>
With Islamic extremist attacks seemingly happening throughout the world on a regular basis, the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, delivered a groundbreaking New Year's Day speech at the highly-prestigious, 1000-year-old Al-Azhar University and urged Muslim imams to change radical rhetoric and lead a "religious revolution" that embraces peace.
With extremists groups like the Islamic State, Boko Haram, and Al Qaeda killing thousands of innocent people in addition to the increase of radical attacks in other parts of the world, most in the international community no longer view Islam as "religion of peace," al-Sisi stated.
"Is it possible that 1.6 billion [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world's inhabitants – that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!" al-Sisi asserted. "I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma [international Muslim community] is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost – and it is being lost by our own hands." more >>
Pope Francis spoke to a large crowd last week to address the massacre in France and condemned "deviant forms of religion" for the shedding of blood.
"Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion," Francis said in an address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps. There is a "culture of rejection" that leads to "the breakdown of society and spawning of violence and death."
Last week was one of the worst attacks in the city of Paris, with a total of 17 people left dead after persons loyal to the Islamic State murdered 12 persons, and another two people killed a police officer and several hostages in a standoff that ended on Friday. The three suspected killers were shot dead by police after the standoff. In the wake of the assault, Parisians and European leaders came together to send a powerful message that they would not cower to terrorists. more >>
An enraged Muslim mob in the Punjab province of Pakistan has prevented a family from burying their loved one, who was previously imprisoned for blasphemy, in their village graveyard. Aabid Mehmood was kidnapped and murdered by masked gunmen after his release.
After 52-year-old Mehmood, who owned a hotel in the Kamra village, claimed in 2011 that he was a prophet of Allah, his own son-in-law filed a blasphemy case against him. After spending over two years in jail, Mehmood was released from prison because of his mentally and physically unstable condition.
As Dawn.com reports, just days after Mehmood's release from prison, he was kidnapped from his home in Ahatta by masked extremists. His body was found last Wednesday near a train station with numerous bullet wounds to the head and chest. more >>
Pope Francis has said that his continued criticism of the global financial system is not because he supports Communism, but because of Jesus' call for Christians to serve the poor. The Vatican meanwhile is set to publish a report titled "This Economy Kills," highlighting the damage that the world economy brings to impoverished populations.
"Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth," Francis said Sunday in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa. "Is it pauperism? No, it is the Gospel."
"Jesus tells us that it is the 'protocol' on the basis of which we will be judged, it is what we read in Chapter 25 of Matthew: I had hunger, I had thirst, I was in prison, I was sick, I was naked and you helped me: dressed me, visited me, you took care of me." more >>