IRAN: UN inspectors on Sunday visited the Arak heavy water production plant, a controversial part of Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. officials want to dismantle the plant, which, when completed, could be used to produce a nuclear bomb, but Iran has said it won’t close the facility.
SYRIA: Al-Jazeera posted a videotaped message from the nuns kidnapped last week in Syria. The women denied they had been kidnapped and said they were in “a happy place.” Orthodox leaders in North America are calling on the international community to facilitate the release of abducted religious leaders and “to stop the logic of conflict in Syria and replace it with the logic of peaceful dialogue.”
EGYPT: Egyptian authorities arrested one of the country’s best-known Christian converts from Islam last week. Authorities claim Bishoy Armia Boulous, 31, formally known by his Muslim name, Mohammed Hegazy, was working for The Way TV and giving “a false image” of violence against Christians. The Way TV is a Coptic Christian-owned, U.S.-based religious television channel that broadcasts into Egypt via satellite.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: French officials say the past three days’ violence in the capital city of Bangui has killed nearly 400 people. On Sunday, 1,000 French troops entered the country to act as a peacekeeping force to quell “sectarian violence.” But the largest threat is from international Islamic militias, and it appears French police forces were not ordered to rout them, unlike French troops were in Mali last year.
To underscore the cross-border element, Last week Ugandan troops, acting on intelligence supplied by U.S. Special Forces, ambushed a dozen fighters and killed a top commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army … in the Central African Republic.
And we’ve been reporting at WORLD on the effect of the violence on mission efforts in CAR.
INDIA: The BJP, India’s Hindu nationalist party, swept assembly elections in four states, including Delhi, winning 70 percent of the vote. We’ll be watching the effect on the country’s Christian population, as BJP-affiliated militants have been responsible for much recent violence against non-Hindus.
THE TROOPS: Several groups are sponsoring Christmas care packages for U.S. troops serving overseas, particularly in (cold) Afghanistan. Here’s one.