Chen Guangcheng's escape last week's from house arrest in China is turning into a diplomatic nightmare for U.S. officials. What should be a celebration is a crisis on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's scheduled visit to China this week. Once code language for "safest place" among Chinese dissidents, the U.S. Embassy and the Obama administration is reportedly "negotiating" for his safety with the Chinese-though everyone believes he's in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and could be granted asylum in the United States. "Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the facts of the Chinese government's denial of political liberties, its one-child policy and other violation of human rights," Mitt Romney said in a statement on Sunday.
In North Korea, persecution watchdog Open Doors is offering a unique way to aid dissidents and those escaping religious persecution: Help fund a safe house. The Chinese dissident Chen reportedly fled to safe houses before arriving in Beijing, and Open Doors has received a matching grant of up to $30,000 to fund such houses for those escaping repression in North Korea (presumably across the border into China.)
Sundays in Nigeria are no walk in the park, especially if you show up at a church between 8 and 10 a.m. On Sunday gunmen with the militant Boko Haram group attacked open-air worshippers meeting at Bayero University in Kano, killing at least 22 and wounding 21 in two attacks. To repeat the mantra of Obama administration, with at least six Sunday attacks on churches in 2012, "Religion is not driving extremist violence …" (U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson).
In the "Not In the News" category: It's an unnoted fact that nearly 4 million Afghans have returned to their homeland since 2002. Listen to returnee Ghulam Sakhi: "Well, 20 years ago when we left our country, there was war and conflict. But since then the situation has changed significantly. I hope, and God willing, the situation will further improve. We have the international community working there with us. They are helping and supporting us. With their continued support Afghanistan will stand on its own feet. The country is progressing."
Following on Foreign Policy's "War on Women" essay (see 4.27 Globe Trot), religious freedom expert Nina Shea writes compellingly about the " the "Real War on Women"-honor killings in the United States. What's disturbing is that U.S. law enforcement says it's not prepared to deal with them.
What I'm reading (and recommend): The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson (Vintage, 2011) and Emancipating the World: A Christian Response to Radical Islam and Fundamentalist Atheism by Darrow Miller (YWAM Publishing), which is due out this week.