A new nation

After years of civil war and genocide, in which the Arab Muslims of the north brutalized the African Christians of the south, a new nation has been born.  In accord with an armistice agreement, the people of southern Sudan voted for secession.  With 99.57% of the vote.

The new country, South Sudan, is set for sovereignty within six months.  It will be one of the poorest nations on earth.  And yet it sits atop vast amounts of oil.  By terms of the agreement, the oil wealth has to be shared with the north, but it needs to be developed first.

This is a country that’s worth pulling for.  And praying for.

It’s official: South Sudan set to secede with a 99.57 percent vote – CSMonitor.com.

Egypt explodes

The Egyptian protests against its authoritarian regime have escalated, to the point of revolution.  Even though President Mubarak has shut off internet access and most cell phone connections, the protesters have succeeded in shutting down the government.  The army was called out, but is apparently taking the side of the people, a key development in a military dictatorship.  The police had been battling the protesters with truncheons, tear gas, and guns.  The death toll is unknown.  But now the police have disappeared.

Instead of freedom, we now see social breakdown.  Looters are plundering everything, as they did in Iraq when Saddam’s regime was overthrown.  A culture that relies on strong external controls to ensure social order can go wild when those external controls are no longer there.  That seems to be happening here.  Are all Islamic countries going to do that, due to being all Law, as opposed to societies influenced by Christianity, which stresses inner transformation through the Gospel?  Meanwhile, in Egypt, the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood is organizing vigilantes to protect people’s property.  That’s an ominous sign.

See Egypt vigilantes defend homes as police disappear | Reuters

And now the Arab revolution seems to have now spread to Jordan!

An op-ed piece in the Washington Post says that the uprisings show that George Bush was right, that people in the Islamic world do crave freedom and democracy. Maybe so. Then again, it didn’t take us invading to bring down these tyrannies. But what kind of freedom are the people getting?

Arab revolutions

Just like what happened in the Communist states, popular uprisings have overthrown the autocratic government in Tunisia. Now the similarly autocratic government in Egypt is facing mass demonstrations. It’s also happening in Yemen. The government in Lebanon has also fallen.

We’re glad about that, right? We believe in freedom and democracy and oppose oppressive regimes.

And yet the United States has supported some of the Arab authoritarian regimes because they keep the radical jihadists under their thumb. Some are worried that democracy in the Arab world would mean putting the jihadists in power.

The Tunisian revolutionaries seem to be on the secular, even Westernized side. In Lebanon, though, Hezbollah, the radical Shi’ite terrorists, are taking power. Egypt’s Mubarak has been our guy, despite his dictatorial ways, and radical Islam is waiting in the wings should he be overthrown.

What are we to think about these developments? We went into Iraq to overthrow a ruthless dictator and bring freedom and democracy to an oppressed people. Right? So are we OK when that happens in countries that we didn’t invade and have no control over, and when free might champion terrorism? Help me out here.

HT: tODD

They thought she was Jewish

Earlier I had blogged about how my former colleague Kristine Luken, a Christian missionary in Israel, was murdered.  Her killers have been arrested:

Four Palestinian men have been indicted in the stabbing death of American woman Kristine Luken who the suspects say was killed because they thought she was Jewish.

Luken, 44, was a Christian missionary working in Israel.

Four more Palestinians, all from the West Bank, have been arrested for providing logistical support to the alleged killers, but have yet to be indicted.

Luken was stabbed to death while hiking in a forest outside Jerusalem with a friend, Kaye Susan Wilson, Dec. 17, 2010.

Israeli police tell ABC News they arrested two men who confessed to the murder within 48 hours of the attack, but kept the arrests secret because they realized that more suspects were involved, and that the group was responsible for a wave of violent crimes.

“The cell’s activity had an initial criminal orientation,” Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said. But after the killing of Hamas leader El Mabhouh in Dubai, for which Hamas holds Israel responsible, “the cell decides to kill in revenge for [that],” Rosenfeld said.

El Mabhouh was a senior Hamas military commander. He was assassinated Jan. 10, 2010, shortly after checking into a five-star hotel in Dubai under a fake name. No one has been arrested in the killing.

The indictment states that two suspects, Kifah Ghneimat and Iyad Fatafa, “decided to enter Israel illegally in order to kill Jews.”

In a forest inside Israel but adjacent to the West Bank they encountered Luken and Wilson. Wilson “tried to convince them they were not Jewish, in order to convince them not to hurt them,” according to the indictment, but one of the suspects grasped at a Star of David necklace around her neck, saying, “What’s this?”

The suspects then stabbed both women repeatedly, killing Luken, according to the indictment. Wilson, badly wounded, played dead, eventually reaching another group of hikers before she collapsed and was taken to a hospital with multiple stab wounds in her chest.

via Palestinians Charged With Murder of American Kristine Luken – ABC News.

Actually, Kristine at least WAS Jewish.   She was a Jewish convert to Christianity.

Why not Christianity?

A British journalist asks why many of her countrymen are overlooking Christianity and converting to Islam instead:

So why is it that the young folk revolted by contemporary excess don’t simply make for the local CofE, or Catholic church, and rediscover the religion of their grandmothers, rather than getting their spirituality via Islam? It is, I think, something to do with the real malaise of contemporary Britain which I wrote about in a little essay in The Spectator concerning the film Eat, Pray, Love. It is the notion that what exists abroad, or what is foreign to your own background, is somehow superior to what you’ve grown up with, what’s under your nose. In the case of EPL, the heroine finds her spiritual identity in Buddhism. It would have been a good deal more interesting if she could have discovered it in her local Episcopalian church.

It may be that the British young don’t embrace Christianity because they simply don’t encounter it, at least not through the kind of religious education-as-anthropology they get in state school, which is about as opposite as it is possible to be from the Sunday School teaching which their grandmothers would have got. Actually, the death of the Sunday School pretty well marked the end of any practical instruction in Christianity for most children. No wonder they’re susceptible to the certainties of Islam, when they encounter it.

via Why don’t all these disaffected Brits convert to Christianity instead? | The Spectator.

There may be something to that, but I suspect part of the problem is that the good old C of E [Church of England] has become so liberal that it doesn’t offer the hard stuff that people who have known only materialistic nihilism crave.  There is also the mysterious fact that people, in their natural fallen state, prefer religions of Law to the free salvation of the Gospel.  Any other ideas?

Big trouble in Iraq & Pakistan

Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Shi’ite insurgents in Iraq who killed who knows how many American troops, has come back–from Iran–and his party is part of the new coalition government:

Anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militia contributed to the bloodiest days of the Iraq war, made a surprise return to Iraq on Wednesday, ending nearly four years of self-imposed exile in Iran and raising new questions about U.S. influence here.

Sadr’s remarkable trajectory brought him home just as his political faction attains significant power, allied in Iraq’s new national unity government with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who just a few years ago moved to crush Sadr’s Mahdi Army.

It was Sadr’s recent decision to support Maliki for a second term, in a deal brokered by Iran, that ended eight months of political deadlock and allowed Maliki, also a Shiite, to cobble together his new government two weeks ago.

In another sign of Iran’s significant influence in Iraq, just as U.S. troops prepare to leave the country by the end of the year, Iran’s new foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, met in Baghdad on Wednesday with Maliki and more than a dozen other government officials.

The Sadrist faction controls at least eight of about three dozen ministries in Maliki’s new cabinet and has vowed to become a full participant in the political process. But the return of Sadr leaves open the question of whether he will seek to reassert his influence solely through political means, or will instead revert to violence.

via Anti-U.S. cleric back in Iraq after long exile.

Whether he uses violence or politics, we see the specter of a pro-Iranian strongman back in power.  Can anyone doubt that al-Sadr will eventually become the nation’s leader?

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, as you may have heard already, the governor of the province of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was assassinated by his body-guard.  Why?  He came out against Pakistan’s law requiring the death penalty for “blasphemy”; that is, speaking ill of Mohammed or Islam.  A Christian woman is facing execution for allegedly criticizing the prophet, and Taseer wanted her spared.  The case has become a catalyst for conservative Muslims in opposing the more secular establishment and its increasingly shaky government.  If the jihadists take power, not only will the Christian die, the Taliban in Afghanistan will have a powerful ally.  With nuclear weapons.

via Salman Taseer’s Assassination Points to Pakistani Extremists’ mounting power


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