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New video highlights N Korean religious violations

Claims reported today in NK News by South Korea that North Korea has executed a top official from its own cabinet highlight the risks of falling foul of the communist dictatorship - also faced by groups such as Christians.

Their fate is usefully explained in a new 6’26” animation from the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in N. Korea (ICNK), a network of NGOs working towards freedom for N. Korea.

Building on the UN Commission of Inquiry’s 2014 ‘landmark’ report, the animation explains that 24% of North Koreans identified as religious in 1950 but in 2002 that figure had dropped to 0.16 per cent.

Although a few state-backed churches do exist, they are seen as a source of propaganda and securing foreign currency. Most Christians belong to the underground church. N. Korea heads charity Open Doors’ annual World Watch List of the most difficult countries in which to live as a Christian. It estimates 400,000 Christians today in N. Korea – about 1.5% of the estimated population of almost 25 million.

Blasphemy rumour leads to arson, 8 dead

A mob, outraged by reports that Islam's holy prophet had been insulted, burned down a house in northwest Nigeria 22 Aug., killing eight people inside.

Police confirmed the incident, the news organization This Day reported. It began when a student of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic school in Nigeria's Zamfara state was alleged to have insulted the prophet while talking with a Muslim fellow student. A group of angered students beat the man, whose name has not been released. Nigerian news organization Premium Times cited a resident of Talata Marafa town, where the school is located, as saying the victim was a convert to Christianity.

Other students took the victim to hospital, but he was retrieved and returned to town by the friend of his sister, Premium Times reported. The mob, spotting the car that had been used to transport the victim, burned it and a nearby house, where eight people were inside. Newsweek reported that it's not clear whether the student accused of blasphemy was in the house.

Police declared a curfew. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attack.

Insults to Islam are not illegal in officially secular Nigeria, which is mainly Muslim in the North, and Christian in the South. But allegations of blasphemy have prompted deadly violence in Nigeria this year. On 30 May, 24-year-old Methodus Chimaije Emmanuel was killed by a mob in Niger state, after he allegedly posted a blasphemous statement on social media. Three days later, Bridget Patience Agbahime, 74, was killed by a mob for an alleged insult to Islam -- charges that witnesses said were baseless.

Maiduguri trauma centre for Boko Haram victims

An Anglican church in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in northern Nigeria, is building a clinic and trauma centre for the victims of Boko Haram attacks.

The Bishop of the Maiduguri Diocese, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Mani, said the trauma centre will be open to people of all faiths.

“What [the government] told us is not to restrict the hospital to the church only, but to make it open to other faith [sic], aside [from] the IDPs [internally displaced people], so that all communities will benefit from the gesture,” he said, as reported by Premium Times.

“This is a diocesan hospital for all of us. We are going to use our doctors, nurses, and all health workers – both retired and serving – to render services for the community, and we hope [these] services would be free of charge.”

As World Watch Monitor reported in September 2015, Maiduguri has borne the brunt of Boko Haram’s attacks, but an improvement to the city’s security last summer allowed visitors in for the first time in about two years.

Nigeria’s military then said it had recaptured villages and rescued 90 people in a process that involved the “continuous elimination” of the group from Nigerian territory.

However, after two months without an attack, a 20 Sept. bomb blast left at least 54 dead and 90 injured, and an audio message purportedly from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau called the Nigerian army “liars” for saying troops had regained territory.

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