Eid on lockdown
International | The Muslim holiday begins as COVID-19 cases continue to rise
by Mindy Belz
Posted 7/30/20, 07:17 pm
SAUDI ARABIA: Celebrations for Eid al-Adha, the Muslim “feast of sacrifice,” began on Thursday amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the Middle East. Mosques are widely closed and many countries are restricting in-home gatherings.
GLOBAL: Japan, Israel, Lebanon, and Hong Kong are among the countries reporting record numbers of new cases of the coronavirus, weeks after they had flattened the curve of infections and began to reopen. Belgium, Spain, and Britain also are returning to record numbers. Despite a seeming low fatality rate for COVID-19, the rate of infection is fueling death rates. In the United States, former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has died after a monthlong battle with COVID-19.
WORLD coverage of the pandemic—and how it’s dividing Americans—in the latest issue.
NEPAL: Christian Nepali Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya spent four months in jail for praying on YouTube that the coronavirus would be killed in the name of Jesus Christ. Now out on bail, he still faces unfounded charges as local authorities claim he spread false COVID-19 propaganda and attempted to convert viewers to Christianity. This, along with other conflicts targeting Muslims, demonstrates the increasingly arbitrary interpretation of the Constitution of Nepal against religious minorities. Muslims and Christians in particular are experiencing more and more faith-affiliated persecution in the predominantly Hindu nation, even has Nepal has campaigned for a second term on the UN Human Rights Council, pledging to address abuses.
MYANMAR: The army continues violent attacks against civilians in western Myanmar, also known as Burma, in an attempt to defeat ethnic groups defending their territory. The Myanmar army has made everyday tasks dangerous for civilians, questioning and torturing them indiscriminately. Two soldiers recently entered the home of a 40-year-old Karen woman, murdering the wife and mother. The Karen community is calling for an end of military impunity to halt the senseless violence.
FRANCE: Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, in a sign that French leaders may be paying more attention to a spate of attacks on Christian sites, traveled to Normandy to pay tribute to Catholic priest Jacques Hamel on the fourth anniversary of his death. Two ISIS supporters stabbed Hamel as he led Mass in 2016—an attack that “affected not only Christians, but all of France in both heart and mind,” said Darmanin, even as a protester was carried away.
The July 18 fire that nearly destroyed the Catholic cathedral in Nantes is but one of the most prominent: Attacks on churches occur at a rate of nearly three a day in France.
I’M READING The Marsh Arabs by Wilfred Thesiger.
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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.