World news in brief

15 December 2017


Bright lights: Christmas-tree variations and sculptures in the annual “road of Christmas trees” in Riga, Latvia, as seen last Sunday

Bright lights: Christmas-tree variations and sculptures in the annual “road of Christmas trees” in Riga, Latvia, as seen last Sunday

Nobel Peace Prize for ban-the-bomb campaign

THE International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it was announced on Sunday. The campaign was founded a decade ago and now comprises nearly 500 partners in 100 countries, including the World Council of Churches. The decision was welcomed in a letter signed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, Harun Khan, and other religious leaders, who call on the Government to join the anti-nuclear campaign. “Our world must not remain divided into nations with nuclear weapons and those without,” they write. “As we are seeing, the tension caused by this division can only increase with likely dreadful consequences for all.” The Baptist Union, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland, the United Reformed Church, and the Quakers have called on the public to join the campaign, with an online photo-petition and an animated video.


UN honours Tanzanian peacekeepers in DRC

THE United Nations paid tribute to the 14 Tanzanian peacekeepers who were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last week in what it described as the worst attack on UN “blue helmets” in recent history. The deputy special representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC, David Gressly, told military, police, and civilian staff of the mission to continue their efforts to protect civilians, at the ceremony in the north-east city of Beni, on Monday. “We are determined to continue our work,” he said. The bodies were repatriated to Tanzania later that day. The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has expressed his “outrage and utter heartbreak” at the attack, which was also condemned by the UN Security Council.


Brazilian Primate condemns ‘intimidation’ of universities

THE Primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, the Most Revd Francisco de Assis da Silva, has led the province’s bishops in calling for an end to “a dangerous process of intimidation” of universities, the Anglican News Service reports. The Rector of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Professor Luiz Carlos Cancellier de Olivo, took his own life after being arrested and barred from the campus with six of his colleagues in September. Police alleged that he was obstructing an investigation into the misappropriation of a £18.1-million grant. The staff were held for a day and not allowed to question the deposition or give evidence to the authorities. The Bishops expressed concern about “the systematic adoption of practices” that were harmful to the rule of law, leading to coercion, and breaching universities’ autonomy. They feared that a precedent was being set “for other institutions to be the target of persecution by state investigative apparatus”.



Coptic cathedral reconsecrated after suicide attack

THE Cathedral of St George (Mar Girga) and the Martyrs, Tanta, north of Cairo, has reopened eight months after 49 people were killed in two suicide bombings targeting Coptic churches on Palm Sunday (News, 21 April). “The Martyrs” is a new addition to the cathedral’s dedication, and blood-splattered pillars have been left untouched as a memorial to the 28 people killed and 74 others injured when a bomb was detonated at the altar during the liturgy. A suicide bombing also occurred outside St Mark’s, Alexandria, the oldest church in Egypt, hours after that attack. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks. The reconsecration was celebrated on Saturday 2 December, amid increased security measures.

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