China makes ‘major change’ in religious freedom oversight
International | Government transfers control of the Religious Affairs Bureau to the Communist Party
by Mindy Belz
Posted 3/23/18, 12:09 pm
CHINA: As part of far-reaching “reforms” under President Xi Jinping, China has transferred direct control of the Religious Affairs Bureau from the Council of State to the Communist Party Central Committee. Hong Kong commentator Ying Fuk-tsang called it a “major change”:
“It reflects the unlimited expansion of the Party’s power, interfering directly the basic rights of citizens. This kind of retrogression is definitely negative for the development of religious freedom in China.”
According to The Wall Street Journal’s chief economics commentator, China started this just-reignited trade war with the United States, not President Donald Trump.
SYRIA: Water has been cut off and food is scarce in Afrin, the border city that was under Kurdish control until Turkey took the town in a military offensive earlier this week. Christians are in hiding in the Afrin region, as Turkish forces reportedly are “clearing” the area of religious minorities. Afrin abuts one of the oldest regions of Christian churches in the world.
TURKEY: U.S. prosecutors have dropped assault charges against security guards for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, allegedly involved in a brawl with protesters last May outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.
I discuss Turkey’s transformation from secular democracy to police state on Thursday’s The World and Everything In It.
IRAQ: After others have failed over the years to save it, a private U.S. organization is helping to shore up Nahum’s tomb in Alqosh. The site anchors a historic Jewish and Christian community just north of Mosul, and barely escaped takeover by ISIS in 2014 (featured in my book on the subject).
UNITED STATES: With the long-expected departure of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Trump named John Bolton his third national security adviser in the 14 months since he took office. Bolton’s tough stands have been riling the establishment for a long time (as this 2005 WORLD Magazine profile attests)—as U.S. foreign policy is about to get, if possible, more interesting.
Outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decried “mean-spirited” Washington in a four-minute farewell speech.
ISLAM: Atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins, responding to what he calls “stirring toward atheism” in Islamic countries, is offering free downloads of his books in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Indonesian.
I’M READING Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk.
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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.