Globe Trot: Egypt anniversary, Vietnam house churches, Mumbai plotter sentenced, Israeli politics

by Mindy Belz
Posted 1/25/13, 11:45 am

Today marks the second anniversary of the start of the Egyptian uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then, as today, protesters took to the streets and used the #jan25 Twitter hashtag to organize millions. Rallies today include protesters already fed up with the new government led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi. At a meeting in Malta yesterday, Horizons International’s Georges Houssney told me in the Arab Spring aftermath, “Muslims are coming face-to-face with the ugly face of Islam. The dictators are gone and Muslim extremists are becoming the new bad guys.”

At yesterday’s Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State-designate John Kerry said religious freedom is “at the core of who we are” and called it “an essential ingredient for a country to grow and develop.” But the line of questioning from Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., that led to Kerry’s statement is a little confusing—as he seemed to equate “freedom of worship” with “freedom of religion,” and we know the former can actually be used to restrict the latter. So it’s worth a look at the final transcript.

Vietnam’s Evangelical Fellowship∫ an umbrella organization representing dozens of house church networks, is protesting a new state decree on religion. The group says the new law would require a minimum of 23 years for unregistered congregations to obtain legal recognition. “The decree is intended to provide the tools to end the house-church movement entirely,” said Protestant lawyer Nguyen Van Dai (who is currently under house arrest for his human rights work).

A federal district judge yesterday sentenced David C. Headley—the American who confessed to helping plan the 2008 Mumbai, India, terrorist attackthat killed more than 160 people—to 35 years in prison. Headley admitted to attending terrorist training camps in Pakistan before scouting targets in Mumbai. Officials in India say they will continue to press for his extradition and trial there.

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection this week, he is set to become the longest serving head of state after David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister and a founder of modern-day Israel. “Netanyahu’s policies have come to symbolize the idea that Israel can neither achieve peace with the Palestinians on any permanent basis nor abandon the West Bank for historical and strategic reasons,” writes Stratfor’s George Friedman.

Weekend read: Chicago is home to tens of thousands of Assyrians who speak the so-called “dying” language of Jesus, Aramaic.

Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.

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