A large-scale battle between Nigerian forces and Islamic militants lasting over 5 hours in the state of Yobe has left 128 people dead, local sources have reported, raising questions about how much control the government has over the troubled region.
Details are still scarce about the violence that occurred late last week, but figures quoted by Nigerian military and hospitals state that 95 of the dead are militants, 23 are soldiers and eight others are police officers.
American pop singer Ke$ha has been banned from performing her upcoming concert in Malaysia after the government said her lyrics and image go against the country's conservative values. The pop singer claimed via Twitter that she was even threatened with imprisonment if she chose to go through with the performance.
The country's Ministry of Communications and Multimedia said in a brief statement late last week that its decision to cancel Ke$ha's upcoming performance "touches on religious sensitivities and cultural values of Malaysians." Sixty percent of Malaysia's 28 million-person population is Muslim, while only nine percent is Christian. Ke$ha's lyrics often make reference to partying, binge drinking, and a sexually promiscuous lifestyle, all topics that are taboo under strict Islamic culture.
The 26-year-old pop artist, whose real name is Kesha Rose Sebert, took to Twitter to defend herself in light of the news. "To be clear. I did NOT cancel. I was not allowed to play. [sic] and then I was going to play anyways and was threatened with imprisonment," she wrote. more >>
Four Iranian Christians are set to receive 80 lashes each as punishment for drinking communion wine at a house church, while Iran faced further criticism in a U.N. report on its human rights record.
"The sentences handed down to these members of the Church of Iran effectively criminalise the Christian sacrament of sharing in the Lord's Supper and constitute an unacceptable infringement on the right to practice faith freely and peaceably," said Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), who reported the news earlier this week.
"We urge the Iranian authorities to ensure that the nation's legal practices and procedures do not contradict its international obligation under the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to guarantee the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief by all of its religious communities." more >>
Thousands of Coptic Christians arrived at the Church of the Virgin Mary in Cairo's Waraa neighborhood Monday to pay their respects to four victims who were shot and killed in the same building the night before during a wedding ceremony for three Coptic couples. The attack is the latest among increasing violence towards the Coptic minority from Islamic extremists in the country.
Various chants from funeral attendees could reportedly be heard as hundreds of Copts filed through the church's doors. "With our blood and souls, we will redeem the cross" some chanted as the four funeral caskets were about to be carried into the church, according to the Associated Press.
Some of those attending the tragic ceremony expressed anger towards Sunday night's shooters, yelling: "Justice or to die like them," and "Raise your head, you're Coptic." more >>
A Turkish businessman has opened the country's first online sex shop catering to Muslims by selling products in a less-explicit manner that secular online sex stores. Along with selling merchandise, the website also reportedly offers advice for Muslims, such as information on how to have "halal sex," or sex that is lawful under Islam's Sharia law.
Entrepreneur Haluk Murat Demirel, 38, started the "Halal Sex Shop" after his friends told him they were seeking sex advice but found secular online sex stores to be too explicit. "Online sex shops usually have pornographic pictures, which makes Muslims uncomfortable. We don't sell vibrators for example, because they are not approved by Islam," Demirel told Reuters.
The website presents its products as being "entirely safe" and falling in line with Islamic law. Upon entering the site, users can choose to click one link if they are a female, and another if they are male, and they are then redirected to gender-specific pages. Headlines on the website include, "Oral sex according to Islam," "Sex manners in Islam," and "Sexual life in Islam." more >>
Two Christian pastors were murdered in separate attacks in Kenya on Sunday, officials shared, with one found with a Bible on his lap sitting in a chair, preparing for Sunday morning service.
"We found him with blood oozing from the head," choir member Morris Ali said of Pastor Charles Matole, leader of Mombasa's Vikwatani Redeemed Gospel Church, according to Sapa-AFP.
Ali added that Matole had received death threats by text message before the incident. more >>