—Despite international pressure calling for his release, Chinese house church leader Xu Yongze, 56, was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp on September 25 in Zhengzhou, Henan province, the harshest religious sentence for a Christian since 1982. Xu had been arrested in March for "disrupting public order," and he was not allowed legal representation. Xu led the "Born Again" house church movement, which has an estimated 3 million members in China's central provinces.
—Members of an international evangelical Christian group, More than Gold (MTG), say police at the International Amateur Athletic Federation's Track and Field event in Athens harassed them in August. MTG representatives were forced to leave the stadium and forbidden from distributing literature. Greece is about 95 percent Orthodox and has been criticized in the past for inadequate protection of religious freedom (CT, Oct. 6, 1997, p. 89).
—Borislav Arapovic, director of the Stockholm-based Institute for Bible Translation (IBT) since its founding in 1973 (CT, June 16, 1997, p. 68), is leaving to spend more time helping in his war-torn home countries of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Arapovic will remain an IBT board member.
—Ali Ozdemir, 4, died and 25 others suffered injuries September 14 when a grenade exploded at a Christian bookstand operated by the Turkish Good News Publishing Company in Gaziantep, Turkey. Police have arrested nine members of the outlawed Islamic fundamentalist group vasad believed to be responsible for the explosion.1