Globe Trot
Protesters destroy a U.S. flag at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo
Associated Press/Photo by Mohammed Abu Zaid
Protesters destroy a U.S. flag at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo

Globe Trot 09.12

North Korea

The United States ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, was killed along with three of his staff members in "a fiery and furious attack" on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday night. The violence stemmed from a film that allegedly insults the prophet Muhammad. Details of the Benghazi attack have yet to be released.

Earlier in the day angry protests had erupted at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo over the same allegedly American-made film. According to photos posted by Al-Ahram, the mob, apparently unmolested by security, tore down and destroyed the U.S. flag at the compound. In place of the U.S. flag, the protesters tried to raise a black flag with the words "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger," a Reuters reporter said. (The film itself is so mindless and inane … I won't even link to it. Find it yourself on YouTube.)

It being the 11th anniversary of 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo had posted a "special message" condemning "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." If that were to reflect U.S. policy, points out Hudson Institute fellow Nina Shea, it "redefines and limits freedom of speech to that speech which others, and, explicitly Muslims, do not find offensive." It also calls to mind a quote: "In the defense of our nation, a president must be a clear-eyed realist. There are limits to the smiles and scowls of diplomacy. Armies and missiles are not stopped by stiff notes of condemnation. They are held in check by strength and purpose and the promise of swift punishment." (George W. Bush, speaking in 1999)

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I have spent parts of the last two days in a high school honors English classroom - students who are international in perspective and penetrating in their questions. One Chinese student challenged the perception that the one-child policy in her country is as prevalent as we sometimes believe. She pointed to four fellow high school students she knows, each with two siblings. I admit: Reporters are more likely to focus on the cases where abuse and coercion to forced abortions do take place, and less likely to cover loosening of the policy in some areas, particularly China's larger cities. That said, the case I reported of a young pastor and his wife required to pay a $30,000 fine in order to have a second child continues. The money has been raised for them (thanks, in part, to some generous WORLD readers). But because of persistent questioning from the local community committee, the wife is in hiding until the baby's birth. The "underground railroad" for those wanting to have larger families continues.

Apple is the latest multinational corporation to give in to the one-child policy, allowing Chinese authorities to screen women at 24 Apple facilities in China to ensure they are not illegally pregnant. "We were allowed to collect a salary only after it was confirmed that we were not pregnant," said one employee, according to an internal investigation conducted by Apple and publicized by Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who this year escaped China for the United States.

In her new book, former Wall Street Journal editor Melanie Kirkpatrick reveals North Korea's "underground railroad." She documents the work of Chinese Christians in helping thousands of North Koreans via humanitarian aid and shelter in the just-released Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad.

Better late than never: I failed to note the Sept. 8 surprise release of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, nearly three years after the Iranian regime jailed him on charges of apostasy against Islam. Nadarkhani, 35 and a father of two, may face continued threats, but the case represents a victory for religious freedom advocates who pressed for global attention to the case.


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