For the first time ever, a non-Muslim in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh province, has been subjected to punishment for breaking the region’s strict sharia law. Up to now, the laws only applied to Muslims. This week, a 60-year-old Christian woman was publicly caned in front of a large crowd for breaking the religious law prohibiting the sale of alcohol. She was reportedly whipped 30 times while people in the crowd recorded the punishment with their phones.
When the sharia laws were implemented in the region, initially, religious leaders told reporters that non-Muslims did not need to be concerned about observing. A leader told a local paper,
The fact is that Muslims in Aceh do tolerate religious freedom and we can coexist without any problems. We don’t want to raise the impression that Islamic law in Aceh infringes on the rights of non-Muslims… It doesn’t [force] sharia law on non-Muslims because they are free to observe their own faiths and beliefs.
The radical Islamic group Boko Haram is increasingly using abducted children as suicide bombers in their terror attacks—and 75 percent are young girls. According to a new report from the organization UNICEF, suicide attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad have been on a dramatic rise in recent months, with at least 40 carried out by children from Jan. 2014 to Feb. 2016 in the region.
The terrorist group—which has pledge allegiance to ISIS in the past—is known for their campaigns of rape, mass murder, bombings and large-scale child abductions. In a statement, Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said,
Let us be clear: these children are victims, not perpetrators. Deceiving children and forcing them to carry out deadly acts has been one of the most horrific aspects of the violence in Nigeria and in neighboring countries.
A recent report from the State Department has revealed some surprising findings: Last year, 4,868 children from other countries were adopted by American families. By comparison, in 2004, that number was 22,884. In fact, it’s the lowest number of international adoptions in 35 years.
Nearly half of the international adoptions last year were from China, but many of the other countries—where hundreds of thousands of children still need permanent homes—have seen American adoption numbers fall dramatically in recent years. And, along with lots of children who are in need of homes around the world, there are countless families in America that want to adopt (as these infographs from Christianity Today show).
Chuck Johnson, chief executive of the National Council for Adoption, explained tothe Wall Street Journal, “I don’t see a decline in Americans or citizens from Western countries wishing to adopt.”
So, what’s behind the startling fall? Here’s where it gets a little complicated. Governments around the world have cracked down on fraudulent activity and policies that inadvertently opened the door to the trafficking of children. And, many countries are now attempting to reform their own foster care and adoption systems to make it easier for kids to be adopted into families in their own countries. Also, Russia, where hundreds of children have been adopted by American families over the past several years, no longer allows American adoptions after the U.S. targeted the country with human rights sanctions.
Though Johnson warnedU.S. News and World Reports that "the absolute reality is that unadopted children are the most likely to be trafficked," he also said he believes the State Department will take new measures in an attempt to allow for more adoptions in the coming years. Discuss
A fifth secular blogger—who regularly wrote on Facebook about atheism and against religion and radicalism—has been hacked to death in Bangladesh. The four others were murdered in similar fashion last year. In a statement, a police official said, “It is a case of targeted killing. But no group has claimed responsibility.”
Nazimuddin Samad, who was 28 years old, said on Facebook that, “Evolution is a scientific truth. Religion is an invention of the savage and uncivil people and a powerful tool for exploitation.” His name was among 83 on a list of targets created by Islamic radicals in the country. Samad was also critical of the country’s law regarding its state religion. Discuss
A military coalition of nearly 9,000 soldiers from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Benin has recently made some major strides in their fight against the radical Islamic terror group Boko Haram, and now, they’re asking militants to give up and repent. Boko Haram has killed 10s of thousands in the region, displaced millions and has committed horrific atrocities including mass kidnappings, indiscriminate murders, village raids, mass rape and dozens of suicide bombings.
As the military force begins to take back territory and free thousands of captives, they want to strike a deal with fighters. They’ve recently announced “Operation Safe Corridor,” which will allow repentant terrorists to enter into a camp designed to bring them back into normal life. In a statement, Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar explained:
The main focus of Operation SAFE CORRIDOR is geared towards rehabilitating and reintegrating the repentant and the surrendering Boko Haram members back into normal life in the society. The repentant terrorists in the Camp would be taken through various vocational training so that they could be useful to themselves and be empowered to contribute meaningfully to the economic growth of their fatherland.
The statement also warns them that the opportunity to surrender might not last long: “The reluctant Boko Haram members should therefore see wisdom in surrendering now, thereby saving themselves from imminent calamity that is about to fall on them, in the event of military mop-up if they continue in their unwholesome acts.” Discuss
Astronomers at NASA have just discovered with they are calling a ‘Behemoth Black Hole,’ and it sounds both awesome and completely terrifying. The supermassive black hole was found by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, and is one of the biggest ever discovered, “weighing 17 billion suns” (which, is evidently, a NASA standard of measurement now). So what does a supermassive black hole look like? This computer-simulated image should give you an idea.
As the lead discoverer explained, “The newly discovered supersized black hole resides in the center of a massive elliptical galaxy, NGC 1600, located in a cosmic backwater, a small grouping of 20 or so galaxies … To become this massive, the black hole would have had a very voracious phase during which it devoured lots of gas.” Black holes are still somewhat of a cosmic mystery, as the fabric of spacetime breaks down as it gets sucked in. Don’t worry though. Planet earth isn’t in any danger of being swallowed up by the behemoth: It’s 200 million light years from our solar system. Discuss