President Barack Obama's administration revealed on Thursday that it paid $400 million to the government of Iran in January contingent on the release of American pastor Saeed Abedini and three other U.S. citizens, but insisted that the payment could not be called a "ransom."
Fox News reported that the money was apparently tied to a failed military equipment deal between the two nations stemming from 1979, but as State Department spokesman John Kirby explained, the deal was conducted separate from the negotiations to free the four prisoners, and so it can not be categorized as a ransom.
Still, Kirby admitted that the White House refused to deliver the cash to Iranian officials until the four American prisoners were released. more >>
Four thousand Catholics from the town of Ky Anh in Vietnam were beaten by police after they led an anti-pollution protest against the government, following the contamination of 70 tons of fish from waste dumped into the sea.
Asia News reports that the Christians were protesting against a fish-related environmental disaster that has gripped the country and threatens to leave hundreds of fishing families hungry.
After nearly 70 tons of fish died allegedly because of pollution caused by Formosa Plastic Group, a steel company that dumped waste into the sea, Christian fishing families affected by the pollution marched at municipal offices in Ky Anh town, but were blocked and beaten by police barricades, leaving several people injured by truncheon blows. more >>
The U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide has recorded more than 1,600 religious freedom violations in Cuba in the first six months of this year, highlighting the communist government's crackdown of churches, especially the beginning of a process which involves confiscation of 1,400 Assemblies of God churches.
The violations include demolition and confiscation of church buildings, destruction of church property, arbitrary detention and other forms of harassment, particularly the confiscation and seizure of personal belongings of religious leaders, according to the report, which adds, "Over 1,000 Protestant churches are still under threat of confiscation and have not had their 'illegal' status overturned."
Since January 2016, the government has demolished four large churches linked to the Apostolic Movement, in three different parts of the country: in Camaguey and Santiago, and two in Las Tunas, the report says. more >>
The American Center for Law and Justice has said that it is preparing a series of critical legal actions to address the "problem from Hell" in the face of the ongoing Christian genocide at the hands of the Islamic State terror group, including letters to every U.S. presidential candidate laying out their obligations to protect victims.
The ACLJ, whose petition to protect Christians and other minorities has been signed by over 174,000 people, said that the truth lies in the statistics — there were 1.4 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, but now that number has dropped by 82 percent, down to a population of 250,000 or less.
The numbers are just as harrowing in Syria, where two-thirds of the 2 million or so Christian population has been left displaced or slaughtered because of Islamic extremism and the ongoing civil war. more >>
Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee their homes two years ago and are now living in refugee camps say they are determined to stay and help rebuild the country despite the risk of being killed by Islamic State militants, according to a new report.
The international nonprofit ministry Open Doors, which has supported persecuted Christians for more than 50 years, announced last week that it spent eight months consulting with church leaders in Iraq and Syria to release a report called "Hope for the Middle East" in collaboration with Middle East Concern and the University of East London.
The report, which will be launched in the British Parliament on Oct. 12, documents "the contributions that Christians have made to the region and looked at healthcare, business, culture and welfare across the centuries," and will include recommendations for how the British government can effectively speak and act on behalf of the church in the Middle East. more >>
The Islamic State terrorist group has displayed yet another one of its gruesome methods of public execution, killing six men in Iraq accused of collaborating with the U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish forces by boiling them to death in vats of tar.
As IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) has utilized various brutal and heinous styles of public execution in order to frighten people within its strongholds so that they won't dare challenge the authority of the group's sovereignty, IS leaders recently seem to have taken a liking to boiling their helpless victims to their demise.
After the militant group executed seven of its own jihadi soldiers who fled the battlefield in Iraq last month by tying them up and boiling them alive in a giant cauldron of water, an unamed source told Iraqi News that IS recently sentenced six men to death and boiled them to death in tar vats. more >>