A former imam in the Horn of Africa risked his life to become Christian.

A convert's story

Published: July 31, 2015 by Lauren Gunias

U.S. President Barack Obama visited Kenya and Ethiopia 24-28 July, partly to discuss regional security. In Kenya especially, Christians have been targeted by the violent al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab.In the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on 28 July, making an American president’s first speech to ...

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Kenyans call for Garissa College reopening

Kenyan activists have called for the reopening of Garissa University College, four months after an al-Shabaab attack left 148 students dead.

The 2 April attack, during which Christians were singled out and killed, has affected the local economy and students are complaining about missing out on education, reports the BBC.

Shortly after the attack, World Watch Monitor spoke to the Christian Union leader at the college, 21-year-old Frederick Gitonga, who pleaded for prayer.

A four-day arts and culture festival is being held in Garissa this weekend in an attempt to prove that the city is now safe. Some festival goers are sleeping in dormitories where students were killed, while 148 trees are to be planted in remembrance of the murdered students.

"We believe that you cannot fight terrorism with the gun; that will never succeed," Lolani Kalu, the festival’s organiser, told the BBC.

N Korea says Canadian pastor 'admits' espionage

A Canadian pastor arrested in North Korea in March has made a statement in which he says he tried to undermine the government.

Hyeon-soo Lim, a native of South Korea and Canadian citizen who serves in a large Toronto Presbyterian church, told a news conference in Pyongyang his humanitarian work in North Korea has been a ruse and that his true intention was to "overturn its social system by taking advantage of the hostile policy against it sought by the South Korean authorities and set up a base for building a religious state," according to a 31 July item issued by North Korea's official news agency, KCNA.

Lim's church said the pastor has visited North Korea more than 100 times since 1997, where he has been involved in starting an orphanage and nursing home. A 30 July statement from Canada's Foreign Affairs department said officials are "deeply concerned" and are seeking consular access to Lim.

Source: Reuters

'Saints of Bangui’ honoured

The 2015 Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize has been awarded to the three top religious leaders of the Central African Republic. 

Sergio Vieira de Mello was the UN’s Special Representative in Iraq, killed when the UN headquarters in Baghdad was bombed in August 2003. Every two years the award goes to an individual, group or organization that has done something unique to reconcile people and parties in conflict.

The President of CAR’s Evangelical Alliance, Rev. Nicolas Guérékoyamé-Gbangou, the Catholic Archbishop of Bangui, Mgr. Dieudonné Nzapalainga, and the President of the Islamic Council in CAR, Imam Oumar Kobine Layama, have spoken out against religious extremism and promoted peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims.

TIME Magazine named them among the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2014, and the French Magazine Le Monde called them “the three saints of Bangui.”

In the midst of two years of violence in CAR, often portrayed as a religious conflict, the three clerics formed a joint platform to promote peaceful coexistence. Their message: “Violence in CAR is not primarily caused by religious conflict; instead, the root of the conflict lies in the struggle for political power.”

Nzapalainga sheltered the imam and his family for several months in his own home. 

The award ceremony will take place on 19 August 2015 during the events marking World Humanitarian Day in Geneva, Switzerland.

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