The case of Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old who was accused of blasphemy in Pakistan for allegedly burning pages of the Quran, was scheduled for today in an Islamabad court, but has been postponed until Oct. 17. Witnesses who said an imam planted the evidence against the young girl have retracted their statements in a case now pending against the cleric.
The Chinese Communist Party on Friday expelled Bo Xilai, one of its key and most popular leaders, in an ongoing scandal that experts say threatens the party structure as it heads into a once-a-decade change of power in November. “It is the biggest news in China in decades," said one party observer, and the greatest threat to party cohesion since the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989.
In Afghanistan a suicide bomber dressed in a police uniform killed three NATO soldiers and at least a dozen Afghans in what may be the latest “insider attack.” Also three days after joint operations between U.S. and Afghan forces resumed, a fight in Wardak Province has apparently left dead two Americans and three Afghans.
The case of Uzbek pastor Makset Djabbarbergenov continues. Makset has been accused of terrorism, what witnesses say are trumped up charges, and he fled to Kazakhstan in 2007. In a case that’s becoming a litmus test for religious freedom in the former communist states, Kazakhstan now is trying to extradite the pastor to stand trial in Uzbekistan. Here’s the report from an American working in Kazakhstan today:
"Makset has been incarcerated for 3 1/2 weeks now. He has yet to be able to see a representative of UNHCR. As of yet, we do not know if he will or will not be extradited. We do know that the U.S. State Department is aware of his situation and are looking into it. We are also aware that the Helsinki Commission—a bicameral body of the U.S. Congress that monitors issues in Eastern Europe and Central Asia comprised of senators and representatives—will be sending a letter soon to the Kazakhstani ambassador in Washington that Makset not be extradited to Uzbekistan.
We’re looking into: An apparent attack on the largest evangelical church in Egypt, Cairo’s Kasr El-Dobora, where worshipers locked themselves inside the church and used gas masks to avoid attacks by stones and gas bombs. The church is just off Tahrir Square, where demonstrations took place, and have continued, against the former regime of Hosni Mubarak.
And continuing to follow: the fallout over Obama administration handling of security in Libya for U.S. personnel and the aftermath of the killing of four Americans there.