Global Briefs: Mob violence targets Christians in India
Vigilantes in Manipur have burned 300 churches, killed 200 people, and forced another 54,000 to flee
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Christians are increasingly suffering violence from mobs that stop them from using village water supplies and harvesting their own crops. Reports of violence against 525 Christians so far this year exclude Manipur, where vigilantes have burned 300 churches, killed 200 people, and forced another 54,000 to flee. Following such violence, police often file charges against the victims. More than 25 Christians, including pastors, were arrested in mid-September in Uttar Pradesh. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has asked the State Department to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern. —Amy Lewis
A yearlong investigation commissioned by officials with the Roman Catholic Church of Switzerland found evidence of nearly 1,000 cases of abuse since 1950. The inquiry also found evidence of a widespread cover-up and protection of perpetrators. Investigators believe more cases are likely to come to light in the future. “The cases we identified are undoubtedly the tip of the iceberg,” said the University of Zurich researchers who led the study. Many cases involved children, and 56 percent of victims were male. Almost all of the 510 accused were men. The report found church authorities routinely transferred priests accused of abuse to other dioceses to protect the reputation of the institution. Swiss church authorities acknowledged Sept. 12 that their responses thus far had fallen short of “what the victims are entitled to.” They pledged to fund a follow-up investigation next year. —Jenny Lind Schmitt
Starting next year, government documents will use the term Yesus Kristus instead of the Islamic Isa Al-Masih when announcing Christian holidays. Indonesia recognizes six religions, including Protestantism and Catholicism, but until now has used the Islamic name for Moses’ nephew to refer to Jesus. Fransiskus Borgias, a lay theologian in West Java, says it’s a brave breakthrough for the government to recognize that Jesus and Isa are not the same, a chronological impossibility: “They are different, not only theologically but also sociologically. Isa was a prophet and did not die on a cross.” Indonesian Christians long advocated for the change before the Minister for Religious Affairs proposed it this year. —Amy Lewis
On Sept. 10, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the fourth and final filling of a reservoir that will power the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam—despite opposition from Egypt. At full capacity, the $4.2 billion hydroelectric dam could generate over 6,000 megawatts, doubling Ethiopia’s electricity production. But the dam relies on the Nile River for 97 percent of its water. The project launch in 2011 kicked off a dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan, which all rely on the Nile for water. The three countries recently resumed water rights negotiations after a long break. Egypt condemned the filling of the reservoir in a Facebook post, calling it “illegal.” —Elizabeth Russell
At least three people sustained injuries as anti-government protests in the southwestern city of Sweida turned violent on Sept. 13. Local media reported shooting began after protesters tried to shut down the local headquarters of Syria’s ruling party. Activists accused the office guards of opening fire. Demonstrations began in August in Sweida province, home to Syria’s Druze minority, after the government ended fuel subsidies. Syrians are still grappling with the impact of the country’s civil war and spiraling economy. Protesters are now calling for President Bashar al-Assad’s government to step down. —Onize Ohikere
The president has closed the country’s border with Haiti indefinitely amid a dispute over water rights. President Luis Abinader announced the closure on Sept. 14, one day into talks over the excavation of a canal that would redirect water from the Massacre River into Haiti. The two countries share the river, and Abinader said the excavation violates a 1929 treaty. Haiti claims it has sovereignty over its natural resources. The border closure includes traffic on land, sea, and air. According to the Associated Press, Abinader said the closure will last “until necessary.” The Dominican Republic has also recently stopped issuing visas to Haitians, deported thousands of those already in the country, and begun constructing a wall along the border. —Anna Mandin
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