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The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "The Haiti quake," Feb. 13, 2010

Copts endangered

Bipartisanship on Capitol Hill is an endangered species, but 16 lawmakers-ranging from the liberal Barney Frank of Massachusetts to conservative Dan Burton of Illinois-signed onto a letter expressing "grave concern" over events in Egypt surrounding the Christmas Eve killing of six Coptic Christians. The incident "is indicative of a systematic pattern of violence," the lawmakers wrote to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, calling on him to "better protect the Coptic Christian community," itself endangered, and to provide compensation to survivors of the victims.

The killings took place in the southern Egyptian province of Qena on Jan. 8 (the eve of Orthodox Christmas) when gunmen opened fire on worshippers as they exited the service. Later, as thousands of mourners in the town of Naga Hamady turned out in support of the victims, government security forces sprayed them with tear gas. Three perpetrators, all Muslims, turned themselves in and were charged with premeditated murder.

Nigerian clashes

Areas of Nigeria continued under curfew after ethno-religious violence in and around Jos, a city on the north-south fault line between tribal and religious divisions, left an estimated 500 dead and over 17,000 people displaced. State Police Commissioner Greg Anyanting said that Muslim youths attacked worshippers without provocation as they left services on Jan. 17, and other witnesses called the onslaught "premeditated, wicked, deliberate, and terrifying." At least two churches were burned during the riots and seminary students from the Evangelical Church of West Africa, at 5 million one of the largest denominations in Nigeria, died as a result of gunshot wounds.

The violence between Christians and Muslims in the largest African nation of 155 million underscores Nigeria's delicate political state: With president Alhaji Yar Addua out of the country for two months receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, vice president Goodluck Jonathan deployed the military to stop attacks. On Jan. 23 soldiers pulled bodies killed in the clashes from wells and sewage pits in the mostly Muslim village of Kuru Jantar near Jos. "They were armed with cutlasses, guns, sticks, and bags of stone. It was not the Christians from our community but those from outside who came," one 32-year-old resident of Kuru Jantar, who was not named, told Human Rights Watch. "The children were running helter-skelter. The men were trying to protect the women. People who ran into the bush were killed. Some were burned in the mosque and some went to the houses and were burned," he said.

Lights out

A Michigan defense contractor has had its sights set on getting the Word out, inscribing Bible verses on more than 300,000 combat rifle sights made for the U.S. military. For the last three decades, Trijicon of Wixom, Mich., has embedded New Testament references in the end of stock numbers. The raised lettering includes "JN8:12" ("I am the light of the world") and "2COR4:6" ("the light to shine out of the darkness"). Why the references to light? The company uses a form of radioactive hydrogen in its sights to create light to improve a shooter's aim. The references are not obvious, but that didn't stop claims that the practice violates a government rule against proselytizing. After Gen. David Petraeus, head of the Central Command, this month called the practice "disturbing," the company agreed to stop-and to provide the military with free modification kits to scrub the Scripture references on current weapons.

Custody controversy

Rifqa Bary, the Ohio runaway teen who said her Muslim father threatened to kill her after learning she had converted to Christianity, will not be forced to return to her parents' home after they dropped their opposition to her dependency request. In exchange, Bary agreed to plead guilty to an "unruly minor" charge, which will not count as a criminal charge against her. Bary is expected to remain in foster care until her 18th birthday on Aug. 10, at which time she will have another dependency hearing.

A new audio tape has surfaced detailing a heated conversation last September between pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz, the Florida couple who housed the Christian convert after she ran away from her parents, and officials at Global Revolution Church. During the recording (which the Lorenzes contend was done without their consent) church officials fired the couple, saying the Lorenzes' involvement with Bary had forced the church to face "difficult decisions." Since then, Blake Lorenz has filed an affidavit alleging that church official Brian Smith intercepted personal mail and "apparently sent my mail to the attorneys for the father of Rifqa Bary in Ohio." Smith provided his own affidavit to attorney Omar Tarazi, who represents Bary's parents and was appointed by the controversial Muslim group CAIR, claiming the Lorenzes used deception and failed to heed legal advice in helping Bary-allegations the Lorenzes deny.

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