Bending to international pressure, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has backed off its recent edict requiring Hindus and other non-Muslims to wear yellow badges and orange or yellow clothing, the Afghanistan Peace Organization reports. Instead, Hindus will be required to carry identification cards to show to authorities. A Taliban official said the dress code was meant to protect Hindus from harassment by Muslim religious police. Warren Larson, academic program director of Muslim studies at Columbia International University, says the Taliban's mistreatment of non-Muslims is actually turning people away from Islam. "I think they're digging their own grave—making Islam unpopular," he said. "The more Muslims see of this harshness, the more they are coming to Christ."
Leaders from both Jewish and Orthodox Church communities in Russia met recently to question the mission activities of the evangelical groups Jews for Jesus and Shma Israel. Conference participants said the missionaries—who call Jews to believe in Jesus Christ—interpret many aspects of Judaism and Orthodoxy incorrectly. The Moscow meeting (which used the theme "The Missionary Threat—How to Combat It?") included training for specialists who will oppose missionaries in the Jewish communities. Leaders also announced that a "Magen" league would be established to monitor the activity of the groups. David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, said that while organized opposition is not unusual, Russian Jewish leaders are using a "bizarre" strategy of allying with the Orthodox Church and the Russian government—two institutions that have been responsible for persecuting Russian Jews in the past. Brickner sees their efforts as "a direct response to the work of the Holy Spirit," noting that hundreds of Jews and Gentiles in Minsk, Moscow, and St. Petersburg accepted Christ in recent evangelistic campaigns.
Police and protesters clashed in Egypt on June 17 when 6,000 Coptic Christians gathered at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo to protest a defamatory article in the state-run Islamic newspaper Al-Nabaa. Christian leaders worry that the story may spark more discrimination and persecution against Christians. The story accused the Al-Mohurraq monastery of sponsoring prostitution and extortion and featured sexually explicit photos of an alleged monk and an unidentified woman. Church authorities say the monk had been excommunicated from the Coptic Church in 1996 and that the photos came from a video he had made to extort money from the married woman involved.
As a result of new radio programs in Mongolia, Indonesia, Russia, and South Korea, the Far East Broadcasting Company recently reached an all-time high of over 500 broadcast hours per day. An increased demand for gospel radio broadcasts in countries like Mongolia, where no Christian churches had existed between the 13th century and 10 years ago, has allowed the FEBC to peak in the number of hours it is heard each day worldwide.
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