The evangelical humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse airlifted over 60,000 gift-filled shoeboxes on Wednesday to the Kurdish-controlled region of Northern Iraq, intending to provide hope to children living as refugees after they were forced to flee their homes to escape from the wrath of the Islamic State.
Through Operation Christmas Child, a program run by evangelist Franklin Graham and his Samaritan's Purse organization, people from all over the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have combined efforts to fill up 60,000 shoeboxes with small gifts and uplifting messages, which will be flown from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to the city of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.
With Samaritan's Purse already supporting a major refugee camp in the town by airlifting supplies in October, the Operation Christmas Child airlift is the second that Samaritan's Purse has conducted to support the refugees living in Iraq. more >>
Researchers are saying that a recent mass execution video released by the Islamic State, showing the simultaneous execution of 22 Syrian soldiers, took up to as many as six hours to film, required expensive production software, and likely needed a small production crew to produce.
In mid November, ISIS released a propaganda video entitled "Though the Unbelievers Despise It", which runs about 16 minutes and was filmed in the town of Dabiq in West Syria. Along with the mass beheadings of the Syrian soldiers, this video also purported the death of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig by showing his severed head.
Researchers from the Terrorism research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) and the England-based counter terrorism group the Quilliam Foundation, which analyzed the video for weeks, found that shadows and lighting in the video changed throughout and was not consistent with the videos runtime. The researchers claim that the video took approximately four to six hours to film although, to the untrained eye, the video looks to be shot without any kind of stoppage. more >>
The Islamic State released a new pamphlet teaching jihadis why it is permissible, under Islamic law, to enslave, abuse, buy, sell and have forced sexual intercourse with religious minority female and child captives.
The Research and Fatawa (Islamic law) Department of the Islamic State released a set of guidelines last week in the form of a frequently asked questions-style pamphlet, which posed serious ethical questions about the militants' sex slave practices. The questions are followed up with brief answers, using verses from the Koran and teachings of "Islamic scholars" to justify why Islamic law permits those actions. It also provides certain guidelines for the militants to follow.
According to the document, which was released on Dec. 3 and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, women of opposing religious views are viewed as a part of the al-harb (people of war). Once the women of the al-harb are captured, the pamphlet claims they are sexually permissible for fighters because of their state of "unbelief." more >>
Three Christian clergymen, each facing six years in prison in Iran for their faith, attended a second appeal hearing on Tuesday. Reports noted that yet another Christian, a house church leader in Shiraz, was recently arrested.
"The charges faced by Pastors Behnam Irani, Matthias Haghnejad and Deacon Silas Rabbani are clearly unjust, as Mr Farahani has argued in court. We continue to call on the authorities to release these clergymen along with Ebrahim Hosseinzadeh, unconditionally and without delay," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas in a news release.
"Their only 'crime' is to exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief, as guaranteed in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is signatory. We urge the Iranian government to uphold this right for religious minorities in Iran, in line with its obligations under international law and the provisions upholding the rights of religious minorities in its own constitution." more >>
WASHINGTON —The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty announced on Tuesday the launch of a new coalition uniting human rights organizations, religious groups, and pro-liberty advocacy groups to pressure state governments to put an end to capital punishment.
The coalition, which has up to 15 national partnering organizations, is named the "90 Million Strong" campaign, which signifies the 33 percent of Americans, according to Gallup polls, who say they oppose the death penalty.
With only 28 states and the District of Columbia not currently using the death penalty, and seven states carrying out the death penalty in 2014, the coalition aims to fully mobilize the "90 million" Americans to lobby state-by-state to get the other states that still actively use the death penalty to halt what they claim are "unfair" and immoral practices. more >>
A formerly beloved Pakistani pop singer-turned-Islamic televangelist, Junaid Jamshed, is now in hiding in London and has no plans to return to his home country after being accused of blasphemy for allegedly insulting one of the wives of the Muslim prophet Muhammad in a video sermon that has gone viral on the Internet.
Jamshed, who was the frontman for a prominent Pakistani pop band called Vital Signs before quitting music in 2001 to dedicate his life to Islam by joining the conservative Islamic movement Tableeghi Jamaat, is now the focus of a serious local police investigation over his alleged blasphemous remarks.
The investigation, which formally began last Tuesday, was spawned after an opposing Muslim party, the Pakistani Sunni Tehreek, issued a formal complaint to authorities about the content of one of Jamshed's video preaching sessions, which was later posted online. more >>