Catching Our Eye

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  • IS builds army of children

    Published: Oct. 8, 2015

    The Islamic State is moulding Syrian and Iraqi children into a new generation of militants, reports the BBC.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that more than 50 children under the age of 16 had died fighting for IS so far in 2015, while 19 were used as suicide bombers.

    Residents of Raqqa said children were indoctrinated in training camps and taught how to behead another human by practising on dolls.

    Some children have reportedly been paid salaries of up to $400 a month, which has persuaded some poverty-stricken parents to send their children to fight.

    Romeo Dallaire, founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative, said refugees were especially vulnerable.

    “Trying to talk to young people who have absolutely no hope, no school, just aimlessly waiting in very difficult living conditions ... when people get through to them and say, ‘You might as well cross the border and come and fight’. Even 13-year-olds are attracted by that,” he told the BBC.

    Meanwhile, children from ethnic and religious minorities, such as Christians and Yazidis, have reportedly been kidnapped and forced to join IS. (As World Watch Monitor has reported, this strategy has also been used by Boko Haram in Nigeria since 1999).

    In the summer of 2014, a three-year-old Christian girl was abducted when IS militants overran the town of Qaraqosh. Christine Khader Abada has neither been seen, nor heard from, since.

    IS is “engaging in child abuse on an industrial scale,” said the US Army’s Lt-Gen H R McMaster. “They brutalise and systematically dehumanise the young populations. This is going to be a multigenerational problem.”

  • Pakistan: Qadri's death sentence upheld

    Published: Oct. 7, 2015

    Pakistan’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri, a police bodyguard who killed the politician he was supposed to protect because he had criticised Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.

    Salman Taseer, the Governor of the state of Punjab, was shot dead in January 2011. Qadri was convicted of his murder, but appealed on the grounds that Taseer had blasphemed.

    However, the judge presiding over the appeal said that such considerations should be left to the courts and that vigilantism could not be tolerated.

    Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that criticising a law does not amount to blasphemy and the press clippings presented in court did not provide sufficient evidence to maintain that the Governor had committed blasphemy.

    “Will it not instill fear in the society if everybody starts taking the law in their own hands, and dealing with sensitive matters such as blasphemy on their own rather than going to the courts?” he said.

    Sources: BBC, Dawn

  • West doesn't understand terrorist ideology

    Published: Oct. 7, 2015

    Speaking at New York's 9/11 museum yesterday, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has appealed to the West to understand how terrorists are driven by jihadist ideology.

    Delivering a speech published by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Blair said: "we have spent the years since 9/11 trying to make sense of it and to combat those who share the world view which led to it ...For some in the West, this notion of religion propelling people to these acts of what seems to us lunatic destruction, are so alien to our modern life experience that we want to assert that it must be about something else".

    Many in majority Muslim countries, Blair argued, followed extremists in thinking that a caliphate might be coming.

    "The reality is that in parts of the Muslim community a discourse has grown up which is profoundly hostile to peaceful co-existence," he said, adding that "the religious ideas behind Islamic extremism enjoy the support of many Muslim countries and are not just consigned to terrorists".

    Blair said it is not surprising that some Muslims resort to violence when many "really do believe that the desire of the USA or the West is to disrespect or oppress Islam".

    On a hopeful note he said that majorities in most Muslim countries do in fact support democracy and equal rights for women, and want a liberal and modern interpretation of Sharia law. These groups must be allied with to build a 'global commitment on education' which teaches what it means to live in a culture in which all cultures are treated equally".

    Source: Independent

  • Indian pastors arrested for evangelising

    Published: Oct. 7, 2015

    Three Indian pastors were attacked by a mob and then arrested for attempting to convert Hindus, reports UCA News.

    Stephan Rajkumar, Hari Lal and Anil Kumar were arrested in Madhya Pradesh state on 3 Oct. after showing a film about Jesus in the town of Majhgawan.

    They were charged with forcible conversion, hurting religious sentiments and criminal intimidation, after a Hindu alleged that he was offered 5,000 rupees ($77) to convert.

    A colleague of the men, Ritesh James, denied the claim, saying “their arrest was illegal and motivated to target Christians”.

    “We are being persecuted for nothing,” he added.

    UCAN reports that there have been at least 100 attacks on Christians in Madhya Pradesh since the BJP came to power in the state in 2003, and more than 20 of those occurred in the past six months. Christians comprise just 0.3 per cent of the state’s population.

  • Why do we not save Christians?

    Published: Oct. 7, 2015

    Why is the West, with its "overwhelming" majority of Christians, showing reluctance to offer a home to Christians fleeing the Middle East, asks Elliott Abrams, writing in The Weekly Standard.

    The former foreign policy advisor to President George W. Bush compares the reluctance with Israel's willingness to accept Jews persecuted in other countries, citing the rescue of the entire Yemeni and Ethiopian Jewish communities. "The rescue of threatened Jewish communities," he says, "has been a central public purpose of Jews living in safety." 

    US foreign policy doesn't help the West see Christians as needing special treatment, Abrams points out. It only accepts refugees referred by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, but Christians often fear registering with the UNHCR and living in its camps because of their overwhelming Muslim majorities.

    "UNHCR referrals guarantee an under-representation of religious minorities in our refugee inflow," he says.

    "Moreover, the [US] State Department appears to favour a definition of refugees as people persecuted by their [own] government. That is a test Sunnis in Iraq and Syria may be able to meet, but Christians will not: they are persecuted by various Muslim groups such as the Islamic State rather than by the regimes in power. On such distinctions do lives depend."

    Abrams argues that both Bush and Obama have failed to address Christian persecution "for fear of appearing to play the crusader and 'clash of civilisations' narratives". When the US did act to save a persecuted religion in 2014, it was the Yazidis.

    Special treatment should be afforded to Christians because, unlike Muslims caught up in Middle-East conflicts, they cannot flee to neighbouring countries "where their co-religionists are in the majority and where prejudice and discrimination against them will be absent", Abrams concludes.

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