A number of major atheist organizations have been put in a tough spot over planned protests against Bangladesh, after the country suffered a national disaster on Wednesday that left hundreds of people dead.
American Atheists and secular groups from around the world had planned to protest on Thursday outside of Bengali embassies around the world over the arrest and imprisonment of several atheist bloggers. The South Asian country, which is heavily Muslim, has been cracking down on those criticizing the faith and the government, accusing them of blasphemy and insulting Islam.
The country declared a national day of mourning on Thursday, however, after a massive building collapse in Bangladesh that left over 230 dead and 1,000 injured, with workers still digging out survivors from the incident. As a consequence, a number of planned rallies in support of the atheist bloggers have now been pushed back, but others have continued. more >>
New information regarding the Archbishop of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim, and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Metropolitan Paul Yazigi has suggested that the faith leaders may still be captured and in danger.
"Currently there still exists tremendous confusion and anxiety worldwide about this case. The WCA continues to emphatically deny all rumors that they are freed until we have received unambiguous signs of life from the two spiritual fathers," The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) said in a press release, urging news organizations that had reported on the story to issue a correction.
Frank Mushmel, a close friend of Ibrahim, told The Christian Post on Thursday that he has been in contact with the family as well as the diocese office in Aleppo and there has been no news of a release. more >>
The Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim, and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Metropolitan Paul Yazigi have been released unharmed after they were kidnapped by gunmen outside the city.
"We know very well that the role these bishops are playing in Aleppo is to encourage the Syrian Christians, and strengthen them to remain in their land," said Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, according to Christian ministry SAT-7.
The bishops were stopped on Monday traveling back from negotiations to release captives taken by Syrian rebels when attackers shot their driver and took the bishops hostage. more >>
Former Lebanese Minister Wadie el-Khazen, Head of the Public Maronite Council, rebuked the kidnapping of his brother, Aleppo Archbishop for the Greek Orthodox, Paul Yazigi, and Aleppo Archbishop for the Syriac Orthodox Church, John Ibrahim.
An unknown armed group kidnapped the two archbishops from the Aleppo countryside on Monday afternoon and there are unconfirmed reports that the kidnappers killed the driver of Archbishop Ibrahim.
Khazen described the kidnapping as a stab in the national unity that Syria had protected throughout history as a model for peaceful coexistence between religions. more >>
Iraqi pastor Abdi Ali Hamzah, also known as Pastor Jamal, has finally been released from prison after 21 months and will get the medical attention that he needs following what one ministry leader is calling an unprecedented move.
"It is by God's grace that this has been done," said Dr. Terry Law, founder and president of World Compassion Terry Law Ministries, who had campaigned for the pastor's release. "I don't think there is precedent for a former Muslim, converted to Christianity and proselytizing other Muslims, now convicted of a crime in an Iraqi court, to be released by 'private amnesty.' The odds against it were huge!"
Hamzah was arrested in July 2011 and initially sentenced to five years in Iraqi prison, with authorities trying to portray him as a spy for Iran. World Compassion has argued, however, that the charges were false, and that his capture had more to do with his evangelism – the pastor has helped Dr. Law distribute $100,000-worth of food to people in Iraq, risking his life as he went undercover to refugee villages. more >>
U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is currently suffering from internal bleeding in Iranian prison, said that he is praying for America in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and left over 200 injured last week.
"Pastor Saeed told family members he had heard about the terrorist bombings in Boston on the prison radio, expressed his concern, and told them he is praying for the victims and their families during this very challenging time for our nation," the American Center for Law and Justice revealed on Monday.
The law group, which is representing Abedini's family back in America, noted that the pastor has been allowed a brief visit with his family in Evin Prison in Tehran, where he has been kept since his arrest in September 2012. He was sentenced in January to eight years in prison for "endangering national security," but the ACLJ says that all he was doing was building an orphanage for children in Iran. more >>