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World news in brief

04 August 2017


Grasper: Kumo, a giant mechanical spider is lowered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa, by the street-theatre company La Machine, as part of celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of the Canadian confederation

Grasper: Kumo, a giant mechanical spider is lowered in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa, by the street-theatre company La Machine, as part of cel...


Indonesians fear religious persecution, says report

RELIGIOUS minorities in Indonesia have become “increasingly fearful” of religious intolerance since the former Governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Purnama, who is a Christian, was charged with blasphemy during his re-election campaign, a report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) suggests. Social hostility, violence, and harassment are rife in the majority-Muslim country, it says. The report urges the Indonesian government to repeal blasphemy laws, and extend human-rights education, including of freedom of religion, in the security services. The CSW team-leader in East Asia, Benedict Rogers, also urged the international community to stop describing Indonesia as a “role model of tolerance”.


Religious people found more dogmatic about morals

RELIGIOUS people “cling” to certain beliefs in the face of hard evidence because those beliefs bear moral or emotional resonance, two studies from Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, suggest. In the studies, published in the Journal of Religion and Health last week, religious participants (209 Christian; nine Jewish; five Buddhist; four Hindu; one Muslim; and 24 other) had a higher level of dogmatism and empathetic concern compared with the 153 non-religious participants, who had higher analytic reasoning. The more dogmatic the individual, the less likely he or she were to listen to the beliefs of others, it concluded. The co-author, Dr Anthony Jack, who is associate professor of philosophy at the university, said: “Emotional resonance helps religious people to feel more certain: the more moral correctness they see in something, the more it affirms their thinking. In contrast, moral concerns make non-religious people feel less certain.”


Vietnamese pastor in poor health is freed

A VIETNAMESE pastor and advocate for religious freedom and the rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, has arrived in the United States with his family after his release from prison on 28 July, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported this week. Pastor Chinh, who had been serving an 11-year sentence for “undermining national unity” under Article 87 of the Penal Code, was released on condition that he leave Vietnam. His health reportedly deteriorated in prison owing to ongoing abuse, interrogation, and harassment by the authorities. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the “intensifying crackdown” against human-rights defenders in the country.

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