Trial for Jibla Baptist Hospital murders opens with confession
In court Sunday, Yemeni Muslim Abed Abdulrazzak Kamel not only admitted killing three American missionaries December 30. He bragged about it. "I acted out of a religious duty … and in revenge from those who converted Muslims from their religion and made them unbelievers," he said. "I am comfortable [with what I did]."
"Residents have said the American victims never discussed religion," the Associated Press reported, though friends and family say they might have done so privately.
Kamel said he was also angry with "another corruption" at the hospital: women were getting sterilized. "This is a violation of Islam," he said.
But a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board, which the three Americans worked under, told Baptist Press that all sterilizations at the hospital required the written permission of both spouses. It doesn't seem that Kamel, who apparently received treatment from the hospital with his wife, was at all motivated by his experiences there as they sought help with miscarriages. His treatment there simply familiarized him with his victims.
He said he had plotted the attack with Ali al-Jarallah, who is accused of killing a local politician two days before the hospital attack. "We agreed. (Al-Jarallah) would kill seculars, and I would target Christians," he said.
Al-Jarallah's trial also began Sunday. "I had no knowledge that I would stand trial until I arrived here," he told the judge when asked for his response to the murder charges against him. " I prefer to go to the execution square."
Back in the U.S., the brother of victim Kathleen Gariety told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he wanted justice, not vengeance. "We're not going to lie awake at night waiting for vengeance and waiting for his death," said Jerome Gariety Jr. "I certainly don't want to see his death, but I do want him incarcerated for the rest of his life so he can't injure anyone else in the same way. … I certainly hope that the Yemeni government does do the right thing and not let him go. That would be the worst."
That's unlikely to happen. Yemen might be home to a lot of al Qaeda members and sympathizers ("The Saudi-born bin Laden has family ties to Yemen and is believed to have strong support here," says the AP), but the Yemeni government is eager to fight its image as Muslim Terrorist Headquarters. Today the country executed Abdullah Ali al-Nashiri, who had been convicted of killing three nuns from India and the Phillippines in 1998. An unnamed source "close to the investigation" of the Jibla Baptist Hospital murders told the AFP news service that Kamel and al-Nashiri had ties.
Easter services and messages:
- This Easter, expressions of faith getting more ink | This Easter, in what seems to reflect a resurrection of faith in public discourse, reporters are actually asking questions such as, "Do you believe this is an answer to prayer?" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
- Message of Easter trumps war, other woes | Church leaders say some of today's sermons, but not all, might touch on the winding-down war in Iraq. That event will be eclipsed by the day's bigger and better news for Christians—the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Erie [Pa.] Times-News)
- Hallelujah! It's a classic | City voices to raise in joyful chorus on Easter morn (New York Daily News)
- Hallelujah chorus | Church choirs lift their voices in praise, looking to lead others to the Lord (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
- Easter services take center stage | Message: Many churches use a multimedia approach and the arts as part of, or instead of, their Easter services (The Baltimore Sun)
- Easter message varies among Christians | Many take a literal view of biblical accounts. Others less so. But the emphasis of the Easter story varies among denominations and in the pews (The Oregonian)
- Gov. Bush brightens Easter for inmates at Broward prison | The governor and his wife, Columba, weren't out to win votes, but rather souls. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- Meaning of Easter resonates amid war | Area religious leaders point to comparisons between Easter and the situation in Iraq (Gainesville Sun)
- Easter around the world | Passover, Easter, war give us much to ponder (Religion News Service)
War with Iraq:
- Bush marks Holy season by reflecting on Iraq war | President Bush, whose public expressions of faith have raised eyebrows in Europe, on Saturday mourned the loss of American lives in Iraq, saying God's purposes were "not always clear." (Reuters)
- A congregation divided | On the war, not just a matter of practicing what I preach (Henry G. Brinton, The Washington Post)
- German church leaders criticize Washington over war on Iraq | Easter messages focus on Bush (DPA)
- Antiwar Protestants | The once awesome power of the late, great Protestant churches will fade away perhaps within a decade. Not because of a struggle, but because the troops will abandon the commanders whose own ambition blinded them from seeing the necessity of a regime change—their own. (Dave Berg, The Washington Times)
- Christians fear future more than Saddam | Christian girls wearing bright lipstick and no headscarves voiced fears that such freedoms would come to a rapid end if hardline clerics among Iraq's Shia majority impose Sharia, Islamic law, and turn the once-secular state into an Islamic republic (The Times, London)
- Do Arab Christians have a future? | In the last 30 years, Arab Christians have attempted to weather several storms: the Lebanese war, the intifada and Israeli violence, the Iranian revolution and the resurgence of Islamic revivalism and now the war on Iraq (George Emile Irani, The Daily Star, Lebanon)
- God doesn't take sides | What about the prayers that aren't answered (E.R. Shipp, New York Daily News)
Relief , aid, and evangelism in Iraq:
- A controversial crusade | Evangelizing may backfire, some say (Newsday)
- Evangelical crusaders prepare to fight Islam with aid and a Bible | Such insensitivity is viewed by some as playing into the hands of those to whom the "war on terrorism" is a religious crusade (The Independent, London)
- Christian group gives RM100,000 | National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Malaysia gives equivalent of US$26,000to the Iraqi Welfare Fund to help rebuild the country (The Star, Malaysia)
- Aid packages: Christian charity or U.S. crusade? | Some Muslims fear shipments to Iraq have evangelical purpose (The Dallas Morning News)
- Giving spirit: Churches flow aid to Iraq | From brownies to bandages, aid from churches flows to troops and civilians in Iraq (Miami Herald)
- A tale of two Fridays | Workers from Mr. Graham's Christian relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, are in Jordan, waiting to inveigle Iraqi infidels with a blend of kitchen pantry and Elmer Gantry (Maureen Dowd, The New York Times)
- Praise the Lord and pass the, um, Bibles | The work of God and the GOP, the divine mating of religion and politics, must move in deliberate haste to serve both Jesus and George W. Bush in timely devotion (Bill Gallagher, Niagara Falls Reporter)
- Christians are making technological inroads in evangelizing | In Iraq, and throughout the Islamic world—using satellite TV, radio, cassette tapes and videos—Christian groups claim they are having more success than ever evangelizing Muslims, despite the obvious tensions created by war and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (Associated Press)
Bible and theology:
- The meaning of Easter | In this week's email exchange, two prominent theologians offer different interpretations of the Resurrection (Brian Mountford and James Jones, The Guardian, London)
- Judas the betrayer | Or was he only trying to hasten God's will? Bible scholars take a closer look at one of the bad guys in the Easter story (Religion News Service)
- St. Paul converted by epileptic fit, suggests BBC | Or maybe it was a freak lightning bolt. Anything but Jesus, really. (The Daily Telegraph, London)
Politics and law:
- As flow of refugees slows, many denied chance to start new lives | If the pace continues as it has the first half of this fiscal year, fewer than half the people the United States said it would accept as refugees will arrive (The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)
- Chaplains ask Congress to repeal federal law covering promotion complaints | Members of a religious class-action suit against the Navy are calling on Congress to repeal a federal law that many believe blocks complaints of mass discrimination (Stars and Stripes)
- Feds state their case against gay marriages | The institution of marriage is a universal concept based on the union of man and woman and cannot be extended to gay and lesbian couples, a government lawyer argued yesterday as seven same-sex couples sought the right to legally wed (Canadian Press)
- Protestants reject Islamic courts | Stage set for a major battle at the national constitutional conference which opens next Monday (The Nation, Nairobi, Kenya)
- We will not be part of the useless constitution review, say Zambia's evangelical leaders | Heads of Christian Council of Zambia and Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia criticize president's plan (The Post of Zambia)
- Planting churches: Giving birth to new congregations | Talk to people involved in church planting—the spinning off of new churches—and inevitably words like "birth" and "baby" creep into the conversation (The Billings Gazette Magazine)
- Also: Parent churches help provide people and more (The Billings Gazette Magazine)
- Also: Pioneering pastors feel call to start churches (The Billings Gazette Magazine)
- Also: Planting churches requires planning, special character (The Billings Gazette Magazine)
- Lots of room at the inn | Megachurches serve megacongregations across county (The Bellingham Herald)
- After fire, Stanwood church resurrects itself | Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, lost its church in a fire April 8 (Seattle Times)
- Episcopal official Platt resigns | Possible financial improprieties cited (Lexington Herald-Leader)
- Church insurgent keeps up hope for ordaining female priests | Ida Raming knows many view her efforts as tilting at windmills (Chicago Sun-Times)
- Churches within churches | When diverse congregations share a roof, they often find common ground (The Dallas Morning News)
Missions and ministry:
- 5 South Toledo churches hang 'Jesus' videos on 10,000 doors | About 300 church members hung gift bags containing the video on the doors of every house in Toledo's 43614 ZIP Code (Toledo Blade)
- The end of the line? | Drug addiction counselor to the desperate sees funding drying up (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Christian groups battle HIV/AIDS pandemic | A consortium of five large congregations, initiated by the Rev. Leith Anderson of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, has been active in working on the issue (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
- Waiting for marriage: Silver Ring Thing promotes abstinence | Program is not focused on religious beliefs as much as it is on mature decision making (Valley News Dispatch, Penn.)
- Graham avoids mention of Islam in D.C. sermon | Evangelist's invitation had been criticized by U.S. Muslim leaders (The Charlotte Observer)
- More than a roof for girls leaving foster care | Experts in foster care say the house may be the only one in the nation that has as part of its mission the commitment to provide housing as long as it takes for a young person to live independently (The New York Times)
- Pastors to assist homicide victims' families | Clergy want to give gifts at rally, re-energize outreach efforts (Oakland Tribune)
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