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London fights back

"London fights back" Continued...

Issue: "Back to School," Aug. 27, 2011

Perry's day of prayer

Thirty thousand people packed into a Houston stadium Aug. 6 for a day of prayer and worship organized and led by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who planned to announce his bid for the presidency soon after. The event organizers denied that the day of prayer, called "The Response," was political-Perry was introduced on the big screen without his governor's title. At the service, Perry said God's "agenda is not a political agenda. His agenda is a salvation agenda." He read from Bible passages in Joel 2, Ephesians 3, and Isaiah 40, and then closed with prayer: "As a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us. And for that we cry out for your forgiveness." He also prayed for protection and wisdom for President Obama. This year Perry has held other days of prayer for rain since Texas is under one of the worst droughts in its history.

Another side of Syria

News of new sanctions on the embattled Assad regime weren't well received among one group of Syrians thought receptive to change: Christians, who make up about 6 percent of the population. Even as street violence in Syria entered its sixth month, amid reports of 2,000 civilians killed by security forces, most church leaders fear more a future without President Bashar Assad. What will come next, they fear, will be sectarian violence similar to Iraq 2004-2006, or a Sunni-led regime obliged to Saudi Arabia or Wahhabi militants. The Obama administration on Aug. 10 announced new sanctions against Syria's state-owned bank, limiting the country's ability to export oil. White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Syria "would be better off without President Assad." But one Syrian church leader told WORLD there's less talk in Syria of a post-Assad era: "The West tries to pull Syria's legs into a war, which I think is too far."

Islamic turn

Six months after mainly secular protesters filled Cairo's Tahrir Square and toppled the Egyptian government, tens of thousands of Egyptian Islamists packed into the same Cairo square on July 30, calling for the government establishment of Islamic law. The gathering marked one of the largest Islamic demonstrations in Egypt's history, and a sea of signs and banners held blunt messages: "Islamic law is above the Constitution." Another: "Islam is the identity of Egypt, its past and its future."

The demonstration followed the military's decision to allow a panel of pro-democracy activists and moderate religious leaders to draft guidelines for forming a constitutional congress that will convene after November elections. Islamist groups protested and some, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, remain the most well-organized political organizations in Egypt. Secularist activists who led the February revolution have weakened under the pressures of internal battles and divisions.

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