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Overseas news in brief

03 March 2011

Afghan convert freed from prison

AN AFGHAN aid worker who was imprisoned for converting from Islam to Christianity was released last week. Said Musa, a 45-year-old physio­therapist who worked for an orthopaedic centre run by the Red Cross, had been in prison for more than eight months on charges of apostasy, after the Afghan government ordered a crackdown on Christian converts last May.

Blasphemy arrest in Pakistan

A CHRISTIAN woman, Agnes Bibi, has been accused of blasphemy and arrested in Faisalabad, Pakistan, after a dispute over land, the Centre for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement (CLAAS) reported last week. CLAAS also said it was “deeply saddened to hear that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has approved recommendations to kill proposals for a review of the blasphemy laws and pardon for Aasia Bibi” (News, 26 November).

‘First accurate estimate’ of Christians in China

THERE are 73 million Protestant Christians and 20 million Roman Cath­olics in China, the director of research for OMF International’s Chinese Ministries, Tony Lambert, wrote in The Baptist Times last week. The news­paper says that the figures “are based on thorough research by Chinese academics”, and “the first time” that China’s Christian population has been “accurately estimated”. They are lower than other estimates of the number of Christians in China, which sometimes reach as high as 200 million. Mr Lambert said: “Bearing in mind the total number of Protestants in China in 1949 when the Communist Party took power was only about one million, this is extraordinary statistical evidence of the reality of the work of the Holy Spirit in China, despite decades of persecution.”

Women’s World Day of Prayer focuses on Chile

PARTICIPANTS in the annual World Day of Prayer for Women, which takes place today, are being asked to carry a “panera”, the Chilean term for bread­basket, to draw attention to the plight of women in the South American coun­try, which has been subject to earthquakes, economic hardship, and political oppression in recent years. The day of prayer focuses on the feeding of the five thousand in Mark 6.30-44.

Afghan converts ‘risk execution’ if deported from India

SIX Afghan Christian converts whose applications for refugee status have been rejected by the authorities in India face being deported to their home country, “where they risk arrest and possible execution for apostasy under the country’s sharia-based law”, the Barnabas Fund said in a statement last week.

Episcopalian relief group lays off staff

THE Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation (EGR), a US agency that pro­motes development work, has announced that it is “laying off” its executive director, the Revd Devon Anderson, and director of communi­cations and administration, Rena Turnham, this week. The president of the EGR’s board of directors, John Hammock, said that, in 2010, “we simply were not able to do the fund-raising needed to sustain our staff and growing programs.”

Iranians object to ‘Zionist’ Olympic logo

THE Iranian National Olympic Committee wrote to the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, this week, saying that the logo for the London 2012 Olympics was “racist”. They argued that it re­sembled the word “Zion”. Mr Rogge told BBC Sport: “We will quietly reply, telling [Iran] the logo has nothing to do with racism or any political con­notation.”

‘Work to do’ between Anglicans and Methodists

The Anglican and Methodist Churches will need to undertake “significant work” on areas such as “the interchangeability of ordained ministries and the ministry of oversight”, if the “goal of fuller communion is to be realised”, a statement from the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission (AMICUM) said, after its third meeting in Cape Town last month.

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