Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, which has jailed 24 aid program workers for propagating Christianity, has released new rules of conduct for foreign workers in Afghanistan. But they are not really new rules—"Decree number 14" was actually passed before Sunday's arrest of the Shelter Germany workers, but only yesterday was it released to the public.
After Taliban officials shut down the German-run office and detained the 16 Afghans, four Germans, two Australians, and two Americans, fears mounted because a January edict called for the death penalty for anyone attempting to convert Afghan Muslims. The new edict relaxes the punishment—but only for foreigners—calling for a short prison sentence or deportation. Any Afghan who renounces Islam still may face execution.
More good news for the foreign prisoners is that Taliban officials are granting visas for German, American, and Australian diplomats to come to Kabul. It is unknown when they will arrive in Afghanistan and whether they will be able to see the prisoners. On Wednesday, U.N. officials and diplomats in Kabul met the ruling Taliban Council of Ministers.
The White House announces an announcement
President George W. Bush has come to a decision on whether federal funding should support stem cell research. The White House has announced that he will reveal the decision tonight. He has asked for approximately 10 minutes of airtime on the major television networks beginning at 9 p.m. EDT. Weblog will have coverage of the announcement and reaction tomorrow.
Broad arrests of Christians undermines Lebanon peace efforts A broad security sweep by Lebanese troops on Tuesday and Wednesday resulted in up to 250 arrests of Christian activists. ...1
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