Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

Expert: West should be ‘wary’ of pope’s UAE visit

International | Plus, a report from Syria and on the spread of measles globally
by Mindy Belz
Posted 2/08/19, 04:36 pm

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: The West should be wary of the tolerance agenda surrounding the historic visit of Pope Francis to the Abu Dhabi this week, writes Hudson fellow and religious freedom expert Nina Shea. “I see this as a process of responding to religious extremism in the region that follows up on the Marrakesh Declaration led by moderate Sunnis,” said Thomas K. Johnson, an envoy to the Vatican representing the World Evangelical Alliance. Its secretary-general, Bishop Efraim Tendero, gave a speech at a conference coinciding with the pontiff’s visit, addressing extremism. Such efforts and the Marrakesh Declaration, said Johnson, have “reaffirmed the right of historic Christian minorities to live in Muslim countries,” but they continue to subjugate non-Muslims, and to “allow for the execution of Muslims who commit apostasy,” as in converting from Islam to Christianity.

VENEZUELA: Authorities continue to barricade a key border crossing with Colombia to prevent aid from entering the country—after National Assembly Leader Juan Guaidó, who invoked a constitutional clause to become interim president, promised to bring in much-needed food and medicine.

RUSSIA: A court sentenced a Danish Jehovah’s Witness to six years in prison for practicing his faith.

SYRIA: Last week, I visited the Khabur River Valley villages mostly destroyed by ISIS in 2015, as militants kidnapped for ransom about 200 residents. Protection for Assyrian Christians living in these historic areas is one reason the U.S. Senate passed a bill this week 77-23, urging President Donald Trump not to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.

GLOBAL: World Health Organization officials warned Thursday of a global surge in measles, as immunization rates in key areas—including the United States—have fallen.

NASA scientists said 2018 was the fourth-highest year on record for the Earth’s surface temperature in the last 140 years, making the last five years the warmest in recorded history. More data here.

MAN KNOWS NOT HIS TIME: In 2000, I made a trip to Sudan’s Blue Nile State at the encouragement of Dennis Bennett, then head of the aid group Servant’s Heart. I saw firsthand the starvation and devastation brought on by an Islamist-led war against Christians. I didn’t know it was the beginning of nearly two decades of covering such conflicts, and I am grateful for all I learned over the years from Dennis—a champion of Sudan’s embattled Christians, a tireless aid director and human rights advocate, and a rare mix of a man who loved Jesus, loved people, and loved math, rising to become a vice president at Morgan Stanley. It’s perhaps fitting I learned of Dennis’ unexpected death Sunday while traveling in a war zone. He taught me so much about how to be at home among people surviving conflict. Services for Dennis are Saturday at Middle Smithfield Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Stroudsburg, Pa.

I’M READING The Dream Palace of the Arabs by Fouad Ajami.

Mindy Belz

Mindy is senior editor of WORLD Magazine and the author of They Say We Are Infidels. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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