News briefs from 2000

How religious, political and ideological beliefs spark violence, crime, intolerance and falsehoods

(News briefs abridged from various news server articles. Note, these articles present only a glimpse of the problems caused by belief-systems throughout the world. For more information, and full accounting, please refer to the Associated Press and UPI news sources on the internet.

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Bold characters, mine. Ed.
Red = destruction, violence or killing

News: Kahane's Son, Fatah Leader Killed in West Bank

JERUSALEM-- Chanting ``Death to Arabs,'' mourners rampaged through the streets of Jewish west Jerusalem in search of Palestinians to attack on Sunday during a funeral procession for the slain son of anti-Arab rabbi Meir Kahane.

The separate killings in the West Bank of Binyamin Kahane, 33, and Thabet Thabet, 49, a senior official of the Palestinian Fatah faction, raised fears of a wave of revenge violence that could seal the fate of a last-gasp U.S. peace bid.

``The time has come for action and revenge,'' said Baruch Marzel, an Israeli ultranationalist activist, as the Kahane funeral procession got under way.

Marwan Barghouthi, one of Fatah's most prominent leaders, held Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak responsible for the killing of Thabet, telling Reuters: ``Barak has opened the gates of Hell on himself.''

Source: Rueters, 31 Dec. 2000

News: China Confirms Six Die in Clashes

BEIJING-- China confirmed Saturday that six people were killed and 32 injured in a violent confrontation this month between Muslims and police in eastern China.

The clashes were among the most serious involving China's Muslim Hui ethnic minority in recent years.

The report also did not say what sparked the clashes, but a human rights group had said paramilitary police fired on Muslims who were protesting after a pig's head was hung outside amosque. Xinhua described the clashes as an accident that violated official policies toward ethnic minorities and "hurt Hui people's feelings."

Source: Associated Press, 30 Dec. 2000

News: Palestinians Dispirited About Peace

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip-- A Palestinian civil defense officer who was shot this week while riding past Israeli troops in a fire truck died of his wounds early Saturday. At his funeralhours later, angry mourners burned an Israeli flag and fired weapons into the air, chanting, "God is great!"

In all, 344 people have died in nearly three months of violence, most of them Palestinians. The latest death came as the Palestinian leadership expressed pessimism over prospects for reaching an accord at peace talks in Washington.

"Islamic Jihad promises that in revenge for the injured and martyred ... there will be a military operation that will put the fear of God into the enemy," an Islamic Jihad activist called to the crowd, which shouted back, "Allahu Akbar! (God is great!)"

Source: Associated Press, 23 Dec. 2000

News: Reports: Muslims Force Conversions

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- Armed Muslim gangs have been forcing Christian villagers in the remote Moluccan islands to convert to Islam ahead of Christmas and Muslim feast days next week, Indonesia's president said Friday.

Christian groups have said the conversions represent a disturbing escalation in a conflict between members of the two religions in the region, also known as the Maluku islands, 1,600 miles east of Jakarta. At least 5,000 people have been killed in sectarian violence there in the past two years despite a heavy military presence and repeated peace efforts by Wahid, himself a Muslim scholar who has long preached religious tolerance.

Source: Associated Press, 22 Dec. 2000

News: 6 Palestinians Killed Despite Talks

JERUSALEM-- Six Palestinians were killed in an upsurge of violence that erupted before dawn and carried on after Muslim midday prayers Friday.

In Jerusalem, Israel allowed a small number of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to attend Muslim prayers at the Al Aqsa mosque in the Old City, the first time that's happened since the violence began there at the end of September.

Still, all Palestinians under 35 were barred. Young men who were not allowed in scuffled with Israeli police and some threw stones.

The police responded with rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. At one entrance to the walled Old City, police on horses rushed at the crowd, pushing them back. Undercove r police disguised as Arabs arrested seven Palestinians in the Old City, pinning them down on the cobblestones and pointing a pistol at one of the suspects.

Since the violence began, 325 people have been killed, the vast majority of them Palestinians.

More than 25,000 people rallied Friday at a stadium in the Gaza Strip to mark the 14th anniversary of the founding of militant Islamic group Hamas.

A sheep was slaughtered and blood from the animal's neck was smeared on a picture of Barak. A reluctant donkey, draped with an Israeli flag that was covered with bloody hand prints, was led before the crowd.

Source: Associated Press, 15 Dec. 2000

News: Islamic Leader Released in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Thousands of Malaysians shouted anti-Israeli slogans Friday as the leader of an Islamic fundamentalist opposition party was freed from a month's imprisonment.

He was cheered by activists, who held up banners denouncing Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's secular government and posters saying, "Kill Jews. Islam is Supreme," and "Support Intifadah." Intifadah refers to the Palestinian uprising, which erupted Sept. 28: more than 300 people have been killed in the Israeli-Palestinian fighting ­ the vast majority Palestinians.

Source: Associated Press, 08 Dec. 2000

News: Palestinians March in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM-- Palestinians demonstrated in front of a disputed holy site in Jerusalem's Old City after the first Friday prayers of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but Israeli police did not intervene and fears of another flare-up of violence faded.

After thousands attended services at Al Aqsa, Palestinians marched in the plaza in front of the mosque, shouting slogans. Some threw rocks toward police gathered just outside a gate leading to the compound, but police did not respond.

About 300 Palestinians, shouting "we want to pray at Al Aqsa," pushed through an Israeli army checkpoint south of Jerusalem. Soldiers closed off a nearby intersection with jeeps and pushed the Palestinians back.

After two months and more than 280 dead, Palestinian rioting has subsided somewhat, but a flare-up around the holy site could have reignited the conflict and scuttled the re-election hopes of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is banking on achieving a peace accord with the Palestinians.

Source: Associated Press, 01 Dec. 2000

News: Five Killed in India's Kashmir

JAMMU, India-- Suspected Islamic guerrillas killed five men from a truck convoy in India's Jammu-Kashmir state, just hours after separatist leaders accepted a cease-fire proposal, police said.

The ambush happened on a heavily guarded highway near Sher Bibi, 100 miles north of the winter capital of Jammu, Raju said. The militants segregated Hindus and Sikhs in the convoy, he said.

The APHC described the announcement by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a "positive change." But other rebel groups have said that they would launch fresh attacks during Ramadan.

Hindu-dominated India accuses Muslim-majority Pakistan, its western neighbor and rival of five decades, of arming and funding the 11-year-old insurgency in Kashmir that has claimed at least 30,000 lives. Pakistan says that the militants are "freedom fighters," and that it provides them moral, not material support.

Source: Associated Press, 22 Nov. 2000

News: Fatah Targets Attacked in W. Bank

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip-- Israel attacked four targets associated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement before dawn Thursday, a day after a bloody Palestinian "independence day" took eight Palestinian lives.

Eight Palestinians were shot and killed Wednesday by Israeli forces ­ two at the Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza, two in the West Bank town of Tulkarem, one each in Hebron, Qalqilya, Jericho and Jenin, doctors said, after clashes that featured Palestinian rock-throwing, firebombs and gunshots. Israeli forces responded with rubber-coated bullets and live fire.

In both instances, thousands of mourners carrying Palestinian flags poured into the streets, and those with pistols and automatic rifles repeatedly fired shots into the air in a show of defiance.

"Why was Mohammed killed? He knew that all the people want a state," said the teen-ager's uncle, Arafat Ijla. "It's time for our state."

Source: Associated Press, 16 Nov. 2000

News: Man Gets 42? Years for Church Arson

INDIANAPOLIS-- A self-described "missionary of Lucifer" was sentenced to more than 42? years in prison Tuesday for burning 26 churches during an eight-state rampage in the 1990s.

The plea agreement said Ballinger "frequently expressed his hostility toward organized Christianity, signed individuals he met to contracts with the devil and termed himself a missionary of Lucifer."

Source: Associated Press, 14 Nov. 2000

News: Sunnis, Shiites Fight Kills 13

LUCKNOW, India -- A mob of Sunnis attacked Shiites in Mubarakpur known for age-old conflicts between the two factions of Islam, killing 13 and injuring more than 40, police said Monday.

Mubarakpur is known for its silk sari business and age-old clashes between the rival Shia and Sunni factions of Islam. The schism between Sunni and Shiite stems from the very early days of Islam and arguments over the successors to the Prophet Mohammed.

Mubarakpur also witnessed Hindu-Muslim riots during the Dussera Hindu festival in October, when four people were killed.

Source: Associated Press, 06 Nov. 2000

News: 4 Palestinians Die on 'Day of Rage'

JERUSALEM-- Islamic militants warned of more suicide attacks on Israeli soldiers following a day of violence in the West Bank and Gaza that left four Palestinians dead and more than 150 injured.

In Syria, Ramadan Shalah, the leader of the Islamic Jihad group, which has already claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Gaza Strip, said it would carry out more attacks.

Palestinians have declared Fridays, the Muslim weekly holy day, "Days of Rage" since fighting erupted a month ago.

At mass rallies, Muslim radicals echoed Shalah's threats to unleash more suicide bombers on Israel, chanting, "We want a big bomb."

Thirty days of fighting has left 133 dead, all but a few of them Palestinians.

Source: Associated Press, 28 Oct. 2000

News: Scholars Examine Pius XII's Actions

VATICAN CITY -- Roman Catholic and Jewish scholars examining Pope Pius XII's actions during the Holocaust era have described a pope bent on fruitless diplomacy as reports of atrocities poured into the Vatican.

In issuing their report Wednesday, the scholars said the 11 wartime volumes provided by the Vatican do not "put to rest significant questions" about the Vatican's role during the Holocaust. The scholars were appointed by the Vatican and a Jewish group to examine Pius XII's wartime actions.

One of the Jewish scholars, Robert Wistrich, said he was "somewhat surprised at the abundance of information" on atrocities that the Vatican received during the war.

He said those at the Vatican and elsewhere suffered "some sort of amnesia" about the big picture emerging from the reports. Another Jewish representative, Michael Marrus, said they researched "devastating material" and the team emerged "with the sense that no one rose to the occasion."

In their report, the three Jewish and three Catholic scholars noted the Vatican's public silence over the Kristallnacht anti-Jewish attacks in 1938 in Germany, asking: "Do the archives reveal internal discussions among the Vatican officials, including Pacelli (the pope), about the appropriate reaction to this pogrom?"

In last year's "Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII," British author John Cornwell charged that the pope ignored the plight of the Jews because he was anti-Semitic. The Vatican insists Pius XII worked prudently for peace, helped war victims and was thanked by Jews for his efforts. The report noted, however, that the volumes made available "contain few examples of the assistance already given that gave rise to such expressions of praise and gratitude."

The three Catholic scholars are Fleischner, professor emerita at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J.; the Rev. Gerald P. Fogarty of the University of Virginia's religious st udies department, and the Rev. John Morley of Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. The Jewish representatives are Marrus of the University of Toronto; Bernard Suchecky of the Free University of Brussels, Belgium; and Wistrich of Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Source: Associated Press, 26 Oct. 2000

News: 12 Dead in Sri Lankan Raid

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka--Thousands of villagers stormed a rehabilitation center for former child soldiers Wednesday, killing at least 12 of the inmates who had taken one of the camp officers hostage, police said.

Twelve inmates, all former Tamil Tiger rebels, were killed while at least 16 were injured, said Rienzie Perera, police spokesman in Colombo. The ages of the dead were not known.

Several international human rights groups accuse the rebels of using children as combatants. The group has not responded to the charges.

Rebels from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are fighting for a homeland for the Tamil minority in the north and east of this small island nation off India's southern tip. More than 63,500 people have died in the insurrection since 1983. The rebels say Tamils, most of whom are Hindu, can only prosper away from domination by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority. The government denies any discrimination against the Tamils.

Source: Associated Press, 25 Oct. 2000

News: More Detained on N.Ireland Bombing

BELFAST, Northern Ireland-- Irish police detained two men Saturday in connection with the worst terrorist strike in Northern Ireland's history, a 1998 car bombing that killed 29 people in the town of Omagh.

The Real IRA, a dissident Catholic group opposed to the Irish Republican Army's cease-fire, claimed responsibility for the Omagh attack.

Source: Associated Press, 21 Oct. 2000

News: Priest Gives Taped Apology

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A retired Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing several boys told one victim that the boys threw themselves at him hoping for a thrill, according to a tape made by the man's lawyer.

Father Maurice Grammond, now 80 and living in a facility for Alzheimer's disease patients, allegedly molested numerous boys beginning in the 1950s while serving at parishes in Seaside and Oakridge and heading a home for troubled youths.

On Oct. 9, the church announced a rare apology and unspecified cash settlements with 22 victims, now all adults, who had filed a lawsuit against Grammond and the archdiocese in December.

One of the victims, Joseph Elliott, 41, and attorney David Slader called the priest and taped the conversation.

"I've been thinking about you. You kids that throw yourself at other people," Grammond said. "You know what you want, and you throw yourself at people to get what you want. And there were others of them that did that. They throw you at you. They want this. They want some kind of excitement so they throw themselves at somebody ... That's what they do."

"So why did you pick me?" Elliott asked.

"Well, you picked me. I didn't pick you. You picked me. You were looking for excitement," the priest answered. "No, I wasn't," Elliott said. Elliott asked for an apology.

"All right," Grammond said, "I'm sorry for what happened in the past. Aren't you?" Before hanging up the phone, the priest said, "Say some prayers for me."

Source: Associated Press, 19 Oct. 2000

News: Religious Fights Break Out in Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria-- Fighting raged Monday between Nigeria's two largest tribes, leaving about 40 people dead and bodies strewn in the streets of this commercial capital. The clashes broke out late Sunday between Hausas from the predominantly Muslim north, and Yorubas, who are mostly Christians from southern Nigeria.

Thousands have been killed in ethnic and religious violence since President Olusegun Obasanjo took office last year, ending 15 years of military rule.

Source: Associated Press, 16 Oct. 2000

News: Muslims Condemn Israeli Attacks

CAIRO, Egypt -- Muslims throughout the Islamic world joined Palestinians' "day of rage" Friday to condemn Israeli attacks in some of the worst violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in decades.

In Lebanon, Palestinian refugees burned effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Indonesia's Muslims stoned the U.S. Embassy and angry Egyptian worshippers called for a holy war.

Demonstrators across the Arab world and in Muslim communities worldwide condemned Israel's use of force to quell violence in Jerusalem and Palestinian areas as excessive. Palestinians declared Friday, the Muslim day of weekly prayers, a "day of rage."

After listening to a sermon on restraint and patience, worshippers at Cairo's Al-Azhar mosque grabbed the prayer leader's microphone and called for holy war against Israel.

At mosques in Jordan, preachers lashed out at Arab leaders and accused them of being "puppets of the Americans and the Jews."

Source: Associated Press, 13 Oct. 2000

News: Teens Plead Guilty in Baby's Death

WILMINGTON, Del.-- Two Virginia teen-agers who abandoned their baby in a portable toilet have pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Jose E. Ocampo, 18, and Abigail V. Caliboso, 19, cried Tuesday as they entered their pleas in Superior Court and agreed to accept five-year prison terms.

The couple were afraid to tell their families about the baby because of their Catholic upbringing, defense attorneys said.

Source: Associated Press, 11 Oct. 2000

News: Religion at Core of Mideast Strife

JERUSALEM-- It all started with a contest over a holy shrine, and both sides have been fanning the flames with attacks on each other's religious symbols, from Palestinians tearing up Jewish prayer books to Israelis setting fire to a mosque.

The religious strife has cut deep wounds and will make it increasingly difficult for the two sides to find a way to live together, even though many have distanced themselves from the vandalism.

The confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians ­ with more than 85 killed, most of them Palestinians ­ has been described as a religious war, in contrast to the argument over land and borders that has been bitter, but never this highly charged.

It began Sept. 28, when Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited a disputed holy site in Jerusalem to demonstrate Israeli control over what Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslim s refer to as the Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary.

The compound ­ site of bloody clashes in 1990 and 1996 ­ is the most sensitive spot in Israeli-Palestinian relations. The Palestinians insist on full control of the shrine, the third holiest site in Islam and home to two major mosques marking the spot where tradition says Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. Israel has said it would consider less than full control, but would not accept Palestinian rule over the compound, former home of the biblical Jewish Temple, the most sacred shrine of Judaism.

Mideast peace talks broke off over the dispute in July and never recovered.

Source: Associated Press, 10 Oct. 2000

News: Gun Violence Rages in Mideast

JERUSALEM-- Palestinian gunmen battled Israeli soldiers Tuesday at isolated army posts in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that have degenerated into virtual free-fire zones, as both sides defied a cease-fire call on the eve of a U.S. attempt to salvage peacemaking.

Tuesday's death toll of five was the lowest since the fighting began last week. In addition, 206 people were injured, according to the Palestinians. Overall, 58 people have died and at least 1,300 have been wounded, the vast majority Palestinian. Two more Palestinians were fatally shot before dawn Wednesday in the West Bank, according to a hospital.

Source: Associated Press, 04 Oct. 2000

News: Report: Uganda Rebels Kill Priest

ROME -- Rebels shot and killed an outspoken 71-year-old Italian priest as he drove to Sunday Mass in northern Uganda, an Italian-based missionary news agency reported.

Fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army ambushed the Rev. Raffaele Di Bari's car, killing him instantly, MISNA said.

Di Bari had been outspoken in denouncing northern Uganda's 13-year-old Lord's Resistance Army.

Led by a man claiming to be a spirit medium with supernatural powers, the rebels are noted for enslaving children for fighting, chores and sex.

Source: Associated Press, 01 Oct. 2000

News: 12 Palestinians Killed in Clashes

JERUSALEM-- Israeli troops battling several gunmen and thousands of rock-throwing Palestinians opened fire Saturday, killing 12 Palestinians in the bloodiest clashes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1996. More than 500 Palestinians were injured, the Palestinian health minister said.

The trigger for the violence was a visit by Israel's hard-line opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, last week to a bitterly contested Jerusalem shrine sacred to Muslims and Jews.

"The battle over Jerusalem has begun," said Bassem Naim, a Palestinian activist, as thousands of protesters chanting the Muslim battle cry "Allahu Akbar," or God is Great, marched toward an Israeli army position.

Source: Associated Press, 30 Sept. 2000

News: 5 Die in Israeli, Palestine Clashes

JERUSALEM-- Four Palestinians were killed Friday in a second day of bloody clashes with Israeli police at a bitterly contested holy site in Jerusalem, and an Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian in the West Bank.

More than 200 Palestinians and Israelis, and five tourists, were hurt in the worst clashes in the region for months, dealing another blow to already faltering
hopes that Israel and the Palestinians will soon reach a deal to end 52 years of conflict.

Peacemaking Deadlocked

The omens for a peace agreement do not look good. The two sides failed to reach a deal at a summit in July and their negotiators ended separate talks with
U.S. officials near Washington Thursday without any signs of progress.

Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking has been deadlocked over the fate of Jerusalem and the holy site where the clashes flared.

The site, which is sacred to Muslims and Jews, is called the Temple Mount by Jews and revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, or Haram al-Sharif.

Source: Reuters, 20 Sept. 2000

News: Clashes Erupt at Jerusalem Shrine

JERUSALEM-- Helmeted Israeli riot police fired rubber bullets Thursday at hundreds of Palestinian stone-throwers at a Jerusalem holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews and hotly contested in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The shrine is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of the former Jewish Temple, the most sacred shrine of Judaism. Muslims call it Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, home to two major mosques ­ Al Aqsa and Dome of the Rock ­ that mark the spot where tradition says the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The compound is the third holiest site of Islam, after Mecca and Medina. y both Muslims and Jews and hotly contested in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The mosque compound has been the site of bloody clashes in the past.

Source: Associated Press, 28 Sept. 2000

News: Muslim Bandits Threaten to Kill Non-Muslim Foreigners

MANILA-- Muslim bandits holding a young American hostage on a Philippine island warned Tuesday that any rescue without negotiation would result in foreigners being killed.

Millions of dollars have changed hands in securing the release of several foreign hostages from the bandits who have promptly gone and captured more. Thirteen Filipinos and three Malaysians are also being held.

The Abu Sayyaf, a loose collection of bandit gangs, claims to be fighting for Muslim independence in the predominately Roman Catholic country.

Source: Reuters, 26 Sept. 2000

News: Sri Lanka Bomber Kills Self, 6 More

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-- A suicide bomber triggered an explosion Friday outside an eye hospital in central Colombo, killing himself and six others a few minutes after the health minister and World Health Organization officials had driven by.

No one claimed for responsibility for the blast, but police blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebel group, which has a suicide squad and often carries out such bombings. The rebels, who seldom comment on such attacks, have been battling for a separate area for the minority Tamils in the north and east since 1983. More than 62,400 people have been killed in the war.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 15 Sept. 2000

News: Islamics kill 12 in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India-- Islamic militants entered an army camp in India's Kashmir state and started an overnight gunbattle that left at least four soldiers and three militants dead, the ar my reported Tuesday.

But an Indian police officer said at least 12 soldiers were killed and 25 wounded in the attack. The differing numbers could not be reconciled immediately.

The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a Pakistan-based Islamic militant group, telephoned The Associated Press office in Srinagar and claimed responsibility for the attack.

More than a dozen militant groups are fighting to sever Kashmir from India. More than 26,000 people have been killed in the fighting that began in 1989.

Source: Associated Press, 12 Sept. 2000

News: 14 Sri Lankan's Die in Attack

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka--Tamil Tiger rebels set off mines under an air force transport vehicle on Friday, killing 14 soldiers and wounding seven others, the defense ministry said.

The rebels, who say the island's Sinhalese majority discriminates against the 3.2 million Tamils, did not immediately make any statement. There was no mention of the latest violence on their Web site. More than 62,000 people have been killed in the civil war.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 01 Sept. 2000

News: 56 Bodies Exhumed in Bosnia

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Experts have exhumed 56 bodies so far from a mass grave located in Bosnian Serb-controlled territory, and the grave may hold more victims, the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons announced Tuesday.

The bodies were found in a 60-foot-deep pit near the Serb-held village of Kalimanici, 20 miles east of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. The bodies are believed to be of Bosnian Muslimsfrom the eastern town of Visegrad, brought here by bus and executed by Serbs at the beginning of the 1992-1995 war.

Some 200,000 people were killed and more than 20,000 people are still missing as a result of Bosnia's war.

Source: Associated Press, 29 Aug. 2000

News: Brazil voodoo priests arrested for child sacrifice

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police said Friday they arrested two self-proclaimed voodoo priests for the murder of a 6-year-old boy who bled to death in a black-magic ceremony.

The boy was found dead at the bottom of a well with his clothes removed, his hands and feet bound and two puncture wounds in his stomach, authorities said.

"One neighbor called, saying the boy kept crying and screaming, that he was suffering," said lead investigator Juliana de Oliveira Soares.

"Inside the house, we found a series of religious icons, all of them of spirits that do harm. Then we found the body."

Source: Reuters, 25 Aug. 2000

News: Protestants Predict More Belfast Violence

BELFAST, Northern Ireland-- Militants in two warring Protestant paramilitary groups on Thursday warned that they see no end in sight to their feud, which already has claimed three lives and brought fear back to the streets of Belfast.

"There are those on both sides hell-bent on continuing it until they feel they have drawn enough blood," said Billy Hutchinson, a politician linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force, reacting to news of the latest killing.

The UVF, founded in 1966, and the UDA, founded in 1971, have killed more than 800 Catholic civilians in a campaign designed to punish the Irish Republican Army, which has roots in Belfast's most hardline Catholic districts.

Source: Associated Press, 24 Aug. 2000

News: Abortion Now An Issue For Mexicans

MEXICO CITY-- Only weeks after conservatives were swept into power, the militant core of their party has reopened a potentially divisive debate about abortion, just as party leadersare struggling to project a new image of tolerance and consensus.

The abortion question will serve as a measure of whether the party ­ which has long relied on militant Roman Catholic supporters ­ can become a party for the whole nation.

Suddenly Mexicans are having to re-examine the decades-old system whereby middle-class women can turn to private clinics, while the poor have to risk their health with back-alley abortionists.

Source: Associated Press, 23 Aug. 2000

News: Priest Sought in Alleged Exorcism

MEXICO CITY-- A Mexican judge has issued an arrest warrant for a Roman Catholic priest who allegedly led a bizarre exorcism rite that left several participants injured by being burne d or beaten, news media reported Monday.

The Rev. Francisco Fuentes was charged with causing injuries to one participant in the rite, who was allegedly burned with candle wax to break a supposed demonic possession of her body.

Two survivors were hospitalized.

In the room with the bodies, police found a small altar with religious images, a black chicken, various powders that had not yet been identified, magic books, three knives, medicines and an icon of Christ.

Source: Associated Press, 14 Aug. 2000

News: Twenty Dead in Cult Clash

MALAYBALAY, Philippines-- Police and armed cult members clashed in the southern Philippines, leaving at least 20 people dead and two injured, police said Saturday.

A group of policemen traveled to a colony of the Catholic God Spirit in the village of Kimanait in Bukidnon province late Friday to arrest a member who was wanted on attempted murder charges, police said.

A fight erupted after the cult members, armed with long knives and homemade guns, refused to allow the police to take the suspect, Roberto Madrina Jr., said provincial police chief Edgardo Villamayor.

The government has tolerated the organization of armed cult groups for years because they served as vigilantes helping in the fight against Muslim and communist insurgents.

Source: Associated Press, 12 Aug. 2000

News: Holocaust Comments Cause Furor

JERUSALEM-- Controversy raged in Israel on Sunday after a rabbi who heads the biggest ultra-Orthodox political party said the six million Jews who perished in the Nazi Holocaust died because they were reincarnations of sinners.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, leader of the Shas party, called the Nazis "evil" and the victims "poor people," but he said those killed "were reincarnations of the souls of sinners, people who transgressed and did all sorts of things which should not be done. They had been reincarnated in order to atone."

Legislator Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, who heads the secularist Shinui party, said Rabbi Yosef is "an old fool" who has done a service to those who are trying to rehabilitate Adolf Hitler's reputation. "In the world it will be said that a distinguished rabbi in Israel is in effect confirming what Hitler said, that the Jews are sinners," said Lapid, who is himself a Holocaust survivor.

Source: Associated Press, 06 Aug. 2000

News: Attacks in Kashmir Leave 91 Dead

PAHALGAM, India-- A wave of violence that began with an attack by suspected Islamic guerrillas left 91 people dead in less than 24 hours in Kashmir, the Himalayan province disputed by India and Pakistan, police and witnesses said Wednesday.

In the first and worst attack, gunmen opened fire Tuesday evening on unarmed Hindu pilgrims and Muslim porters on their way to a revered religious shrine near Pahalgam, 55 miles south of Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar.

The nations have fought two wars over Kashmir, and a number of Muslim guerrilla groups on the Indian side have been fighting for 11 years to separate the region from Indian control. The violence has killed more than 25,000 people.

Source: Associated Press, 02 Aug. 2000

News: Catholic & Protestant Churchs Used Nazi Forced Labor

BERLIN-- Germany's Roman Catholic Church said Thursday there was
evidence it might have used forced laborers during the Third Reich
and it would now decide whether to pay into a compensation fund for Nazi victims.

"Research in various (Catholic) Church organizations have provided initial
evidence that forced laborers may have been used," Rudolf Hammerschmidt, a
spokesman for the German Bishops' Conference, told Reuters.

The Protestant Church, Germany's other main denomination, last week formally acknowledged that it used forced labor under Hitler's regime.

Christa Nickels, religious affairs spokeswoman for junior coalition government
partners the Greens, said the Church should immediately pay into the fund.

"The correct thing to do is for the Church to pay into the fund. It's not about
when, where and how many forced laborers were used, but whether the two main
churches were involved in the system," Nickels said in an interview in Friday's
Frankfurter Rundschau, released ahead of publication. ($1-2.116 Mark)

Source: Reuters, 20 July 2000

News: 20 Dead in Christian, Muslim Battles

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- Indonesian troops joined Muslim militants in street battles with Christian gangs in the Maluku islands, leaving at least 20 people dead and hundreds of buildings destroyed, according to witness accounts and news footage shown Sunday.

The religious fighting has already spread to Sulawesi island, and there are fears that it could expand to other areas of the Indonesian archipelago.

Although the Malukus used to be touted as a model of interfaith relations in Indonesia, tensions date back to 1950, when the Christians ­ many with ties to the Dutch colonial administration ­ battled Indonesian troops in a bid to secede from the predominantly Muslim nation.

Source: Associated Press, 16 July 2000

News: Hindu-Muslim Clashes Leave 11 Dead

NEW DELHI, India-- The killing of a Hindu man sparked riots between Hindus and Muslims in a western Indian town, leaving 10 others dead, news reports said Tuesday. The Hindu man, identified as Kailash Mali, was stabbed to death Monday by unidentified assailants in the town of Malpura, about 190 miles south of New Delhi, the Star TV network said.

Mali was a key defendant in a case surrounding killings in Malpura after the demolition of the Muslim mosque by Hindu fundamentalists in 1992, Star said.

Five of 10 others killed were pulled out of a jeep and stabbed to death, Star TV said. Police found nine bodies on Monday and another two on Tuesday.

Source: Associated Press, 11 July 2000

News: Ten Killed in Religious Fighting

AMBON, Indonesia-- Ten people were killed in the latest outbreak of religious fighting in the Maluku islands, as police and soldiers stepped up their search for illegal weapons, officials and Indonesian media reports said Tuesday.

Two days of clashes started Monday between Christians and Muslims in areas outside of the region's main city, Ambon, according to military officials and news reports.

More than 3,000 people have been killed since the fighting erupted 18 months ago.

Source: Associated Press, 04 July 2000

News: New Fighting Rages in Afganistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Taliban fighter jets screamed low over Afghanistan's capital Saturday on their way toward the front line, where opposition fighters said combat was raging just 30 miles to the north.

The opposition, led by ousted defense minister Ahmed Shah Massood, have accused the Taliban of amassing Pakistani Islamic religious students and Arab militants on the front line at Baghram. But the Taliban says the only fighters they are deploying are Afghans.

Taliban soldier Daoud Mohammed, 28, mans the Taliban's first line of defense outside the capital and says his weapons have been in place for weeks.

Mohammed's only shelter from incoming fire was an old railway car buried beneath the sun-scorched earth. A dirty carpet, some old pots and ratty cushions were his only comforts. "We have faith in God. We will win," said Mohammed.

Source: Associated Press, 01 July 2000

News: Religious Clashes Trap Thousands

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- Fighting between Christians and Muslims has trapped tens of thousands of terrified villagers across the Maluku islands in makeshift camps where vital supplies were running low, aid workers said Wednesday.

A state of emergency declared by the national government two days ago has failed to halt the sectarian violence and revenge. Rival gangs also defied a nighttime curfew declared Tuesday.

On June 19, more than 100 people-- mostly Christians--were killed when Muslims attacked a village in the north of the region, known as the Moluccas or Spice Islands during Dutch colonial days.

The fighting, which began 18 months ago in Ambon and spread to other parts of eastern Indonesia, has claimed about 3,000 lives.

Source: Associated Press, 28 June 2000

News: Scores Killed in Indonesia Religious Violence

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- A Protestant preacher said Tuesday he buried scores of fellow Christians killed on a remote island in eastern Indonesia, victims of religious violence that has been spiraling for nearly two years. There were reports that 161 people died.

Smith Dungir said he survived Monday's rampage in the mostly Christian village of Duma by hiding in his church from mobs of some 4,000 Muslim fighters. The church was set on fire, he said, as were houses all over Halmahera island.

More than 2,500 members of both faiths have been killed in the past 18 months. Last December hundreds of Muslims were slain by marauding Christian gangs.

Source: Associated Press, 20 June 2000

News: New Religious Fighting in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- At least eight people, including two police officers, were killed Monday in fresh Muslim-Christian fighting in Maluku, a strife-torn province in eastern Indonesia, officials and witnesses said.

In the provincial capital of Ambon, an official at the main Al Fatah Mosque, Malik Selang, said four Muslims were killed in a clash with a Christian gang at Hative Kecil, a village on the outskirts of Ambon, Maluku's capital.

A doctor at Ambon's navy hospital, Lt. Janto, said two policemen had also died of gunshot wounds. Witnesses said two Christians were also killed. An official at a state-run hospital said seven people were being treated there for injuries. One was in critical condition.

Maluku is one of the few regions in Muslim-dominated Indonesia where Christians are the majority. The area had been renowned for its religious tolerance before sectarian violence broke out in January 1999. More than 2,500 people have been killed in Maluku, also known as the Moluccas islands, 1,600 miles northeast of Jakarta.

Source: Associated Press, 12 June 2000

News: 500 "Witches" Killed in Tanzania

UNITED NATIONS-- In Tanzania, at least 500 widows were stoned to death or otherwise killed as suspected witches over the past year, women's activists say, while in parts of Nigeria widows are not allowed to wash for an entire year after their husband's death to prove they did not kill him.

Widows are targets because they are suspected of having killed their husbands, or because they have already experienced sex but are no longer linked to a man, Owen said.

Women in Africa and south Asia face a kind of "social death" when their husbands die: They are disinherited, rejected, even raped or killed, according to activists at the U.N. women's conference.

Source: Associated Press, 09 June 2000

News: Sri Lankan Mobs Attack Tamils

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-- Police today detained 15 suspects in a suicide bombing that killed 21 people, including a popular Cabinet minister, and Sri Lanka's president urged against retaliatory attacks on the Tamil minority.

Mobs on Wednesday threw stones at Tamil-owned shops in Ratmalana, an industrial suburb of the capital, Colombo, where the explosion occurred.

The government blamed the explosion, which also injured 60 people, on Tamil Tiger rebels who have been fighting since1983 to establish a separate homeland for the country's 3.2 million Tamils.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 08 June 2000

News: Japan Cult Leader: Life in Prison

TOKYO-- A former doomsday cult leader was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for the 1995 nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subways that killed 12 people and sickened thousands.

Yoshihiro Inoue, 30, was one of five Aum Shinri Kyo agents accused of being directly involved in the gas attack. Cultists spread nerve gas in subway trains as the trains converged on Tokyo's central government district during morning rush hour.

Source: Associated Press, 06 June 2000

News: 44 Die in Indonesia Violence

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- At least 44 people were killed in an armed raid on a mostly Christian village in the eastern Indonesian province of North Maluku, an army chief said Tuesday.

North Maluku military chief Lt. Col. Sukarwo said suspected Muslim militants attacked the village on Halmahera island before dawn on Monday. In addition to the 44 killed in the attack, at least 102 people were injured, he said. Sukarwo said the military believes the attackers were members of a Muslim fighting force known as Lasker Jihad, or Holy War Troops.

North Maluku, 1,600 miles northeast of Jakarta, and Maluku provinces were collectively known as the Spice Islands during the Dutch colonial era. They have been plagued by sectarian violence which first broke out 16 months ago. More than 2,500 people have died in clashes since.

Source: Associated Press, 30 May 2000

News: Racist Groups Thrive In Mo. Woods

GAINESVILLE, Mo. -- Last week, police arrested the Rev. Gordon Winrod ­ the leader of an anti-Semitic church ­ for allegedly kidnapping six of his grandchildren and concealing them for years at his farmhouse in the hills.

The only explanation authorities offer for why the kids were kidnapped is that Winrod thought their two fathers were Jewish. Sheriff Steve Bartlett said the youngsters had been taught by their grandfather to distrust authorities. At one point, the sheriff said, the children shouted at deputies, "Get your Jew hands off me."

Winrod, 73, and his followers gained a reputation in Ozark County for mass mailings of literature calling law enforcement officers and prosecutors "Jewdicials" - a play on the word judicial - and claiming they cover up murders of whites.

"These guys come strolling along singing songs and holding Bibles, which allows them a certain degree of legitimacy in the area. But behind it all is still the same message of hate and intolerance," said Devin Burghart of the Chicago-based Identity watchdog group, Center for New Community.

Christian Identity espouses white Anglo-Saxon virtues and calls Jews, minorities and gays enemies of God. Some hard-core members believe in death sentences for those who violate "God's law."

Source: Associated Press, 25 May 2000

News: Religious Violence in Indonesia Kills 15

AMBON, Indonesia-- A Catholic church was burned and six people were killed Thursday when sectarian fighting flared for the third straight day in the eastern Indonesian town of Ambon, news reports and witnesses said.

The official Antara news agency said a church in the suburb of Ahuru, three miles east of Ambon, was torched during the riots. Ahuru is a border neighborhood dividing Muslim and Christian communities.

Hostilities between religious groups first erupted Tuesday, ending a six-week lull in sectarian violence. At least 25 people have died in three days of fighting. Video footage showed both sides launching homemade bombs at each other and fighting with swords and spears. Police and marine infantrymen were deployed to separate the battling gangs.

Source: Associated Press, 18 May 2000

News: Japanese claim to divine right angers Beijing

YOSHIRO MORI, Japan's new Prime Minister, provoked political uproar yesterday when he described his country as God's nation with the Emperor at its heart - a view that harks back to the cult of emperor worship used to justify the conquest of Asian countries in the Second World War.

Mr Mori's comments brought a furious response from China, which said that Japan should "learn a lesson from history . . . to prevent history from repeating itself".

In the first half of the 20th century, Japan's militaristic rulers promoted Shinto as a national cult based on the worship of the Emperor as a living god. The myth of divinity fired Japanese armies with a special fervour when they set out in the 1930s to conquer Asian countries, resulting in an estimated 20 million deaths.

Source: Associated Press, 17 May 2000

News: Alleged Killer on God's 'Mission'

HOUSTON-- A prosecutor in the trial of the Texas Railroad Killer questioned the credibility of a psychiatrist who contends the serial killer cannot be held responsible for the slayings because he is schizophrenic.

Maturino Resendiz, 40, has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity in the 1998 rape, bludgeoning and stabbing of a Houston-area physician, Dr. Claudia Benton. He has admitted to eightother killings ­ five in Texas, two in Illinois and one in Kentucky ­ over a two-year period starting in 1997.

Cohen, who interviewed the defendant and reviewed dozens of his letters from jail, spent his second day on the stand as testimony in the capital murder trial was winding up its first week.

Maturino Resendiz has no remorse and no awareness that he committed any horrendous crimes because he believes he is on a divine mission to eliminate evil, Cohen testified.

"That doesn't appear a recognition that he wants to stop and can't," he said. "He's saying, 'I can't stop even if I wanted to, because God's force is on my side and God wants me to destroy evil and that's why I can't stop.'"

Source: Associated Press, 13 May 2000

News: Al-Amin Held Under Tight Security

ATLANTA -- To police, he is the worst kind of criminal, a cop killer with a history of violence; this was, after all, the fiery 1960s militant known as H. Rap Brown. To thousands of black Muslims, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin is a spiritual leader unjustly persecuted. To uncounted others, he is a mystery.

Known as Imam Jamil to his adherents, Al-Amin leads one of the nation's largest black Muslim groups, the National Islamic Community. The movement, which has formed 36 mosques around the nation, is credited with revitalizing poverty-stricken pockets such as Atlanta's West End, where Al-Amin owns a grocery store.

That is where police say Al-Amin ambushed two sheriff's deputies trying to serve an arrest warrant on March 16. Deputy Ricky Kinchen was killed and his partner, Aldranon English, waswounded. English has identified Al-Amin as the gunman, police say.

Al-Amin is being held under tight security at the suburban Cobb County jail because of fears that followers could help him escape, if charged with murder.

His friends and followers say Al-Amin could not have committed such a crime.

Source: Associated Press, 11 May 2000

News: New Fighting in Northern Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-- Tamil Tiger rebels attacked troops defending the northern peninsula of Jaffna today, ending a nine-day lull after the government rejected a conditional cease-fire offer.

The rebels are demanding an independent country for the Tamil minority because they say the majority Sinhalese discriminate against them. The government has denied the charge.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 09 May 2000

News: Taliban Stone Woman for Adultery

KABUL, Afghanistan-- Afghanistan's hard-line Taliban religious rulers stoned a woman to death in northern Afghanistan on Monday after she was found guilty of committing adultery.

The woman, identified only as Suriya by Taliban-run Radio Shariat, was said to have confessed to adultery, a capital offense in this war-ravaged nation. The radio did not say what happened to the man involved. He was identified as Abdul Jabbar.

The stoning was carried out at a sports stadium in Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan before a crowd of several thousand spectators, according to the radio report.

In the 90 percent of Afghanistan that it rules, the Taliban religious army has imposed a harsh brand of Islamic law. Punishments are harsh and public.

Source: Associated Press, 01 May 2000

News: Book Blasts WWII Rabbis

JERUSALEM -- During the Holocaust, ultra-Orthodox American rabbis focused on saving several hundred Polish Talmudic scholars, ignoring the suffering of millions of other Jews who were eventually murdered by the Nazis, a new book charges.

The group's narrow goal brought it into conflict with mainstream American Jewish groups working to rescue as many Jews as possible and to influence reluctant American politicians to take action, wrote Holocaust historian and Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff.

The book, "The Response of Orthodox Jewry in the United States to the Holocaust," is being released Tuesday to coincide with Israel's annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust.

Source: Associated Press, 30 April 2000

News: 4 Dead in Maluku Religious Violence

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- Four people have died in a riot involving Muslim and Christian gangs in Indonesia's troubled Maluku province, police said Monday.

The casualties are the first recorded this month in the province, where sectarian violence has claimed 2,000 lives over the past 15 months.

Sixteen others, including a police officer, suffered bullet and stab wounds, Budiman said. Two houses and a bus were set on fire. The rioting subsided after nightfall and security forces were searching for the instigators.

Source: Associated Press, 24 April 2000

News: 13 Tamil Rebels Killed

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-- Government troops killed 13 Tamil rebels during clashes in the northern Jaffna peninsula, the Defense Ministry said Sunday.

The ministry said the rebels were killed Saturday during fighting near two towns on the peninsula 185 miles north of the capital, Colombo. Rebels have been seeking to drive government soldiers out of Jaffna, the rebels' former stronghold.

The rebels claim that Tamils, who make up 3.3 million of Sri Lanka's 18.5 million people, are discriminated against by the Sinhalese majority and are fighting for an independent homeland for minority Tamils. More than 61,000 people have been killed since the war began in 1983.

[Note, the Tamils represent a Hindu sect and the Sinhalese, a Buddhist sect. Ed.]

Source: Associated Press, 16 April 2000

News: Doomsday Sect's Handbook Had Message

KANUNGA, Uganda-- In a 163-page handbook distributed across Uganda, a doomsday sect offered a seductive message of heavenly salvation to African villagers struggling with poverty and the scourge of AIDS.

For the unconvinced there was a different fate -- a fiery torment where they would burn for eternity.

The paperbound tract, "A Timely Message from Heaven: The End of the Present Times," was distributed by the thousands; The Associated Press obtained a copy from a man in the southweste rn village of Rugazi who said cult members tried unsuccessfully to recruit him. It offers little but stark choices and homespun advice for righteous living. For hundreds who adhered to its tenets, the reward was ultimately a vicious death.

The 16-part tract-- with a picture of a bleeding, crucified Christ on its cover ­ rarely refers to the surrendering of goods, noting only that the movement "resolves that each person should contribute." Instead, it focuses on Uganda's afflictions, casting them as satanic, with obedience to the Ten Commandments the only cure.

Authorities say leaders of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God masterminded the killings of at least 924 followers between late February and mid-March. Police say 530 burned alive inside a chapel at the sect's base in Kanungu; 394 bodies were found buried or hidden at sect compounds.

Source: Associated Press, 04 April 2000

News: Thousands Flee Christians and Muslim Fighting

ABUJA, Nigeria-- Thousands of Nigerians grabbed what possessions they could and fled the northern town of Damboa after fighting broke out between Christians and Muslims, leaving 20 people dead, news reports said today.

Source: Associated Press, 30 March 2000

News: More Than 40 Killed in Muslim-Christian fighting

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- More than 40 people were killed in violence in three strife-torn Indonesian provinces last week, police and news reports said today. The deadliest violence was in North Maluku, about 1,650 miles northeast of Jakarta, where continuing Muslim-Christian fighting claimed at least 41 lives since March 20, said the afternoon daily Terbit.

Source: Associated Press, 27 March 2000

News: Rwandan Pastor Faces Massacre Charges

HOUSTON-- A 75-year-old Rwandan clergyman accused of taking part in the massacre of refugees in his homeland has been deported to Africa to face an international tribunal.

Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, a Seventh Day Adventist pastor, is the first person arrested on U.S. soil to be turned over to a U.N. tribunal, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle in Houston. He is accused of luring refugees into his Rwandan church, where they were massacred. If convicted, he could get life in prison.

Witnesses said Ntakirutimana urged a large group of group of Tutsis, including children, to seek refuge in a church and hospital complex, then took part in a daylong gun and machete attack that left hundreds dead. He also is accused of evacuating Hutus from a church-hospital complex in the village of Bisesero and instructing the execution of the remaining Tutsis, DeGabrielle said. One witness reported seeing him shooting.

Source: Associated Press, 25 March 2000

News: Church Fire Kills 235 in Religious Suicide

KAMPALA, Uganda-- Two days after an apparent mass suicide in a remote part of southwest Uganda, a police spokesman said Sunday that up to 470 cult members may have died in the fire.

"The scene is horror," spokesman Asuman Mugenyi told The Associated Press after visiting the site of the fire. "It is only about two or three bodies which you can say that these are men or women. The rest of the bodies are beyond human shape."

Local leaders said members of the sect, the Movement for the Restoration of Ten Commandments of God, slaughtered their cattle and feasted for a week before the fire, drinking a large supply of soft drinks and singing religious songs, according to the independent newspaper The Monitor.

Preliminary reports indicated that the cult leader Joseph Kibweteere lured his followers inside the church and then set it afire. Kibweteere had predicted the world would end Dec. 31, 1999, but after nothing happened changed it to Dec 31, 2000, the Monitor said in its Sunday edition.

"They were aware they would die on March 17 because the Virgin Mary had promised to appear at the camp during the morning hours to carry them to heaven," Anastasia Komuhanti told the paper.

Source: Associated Press, 19 March 2000

News: Muslims Begin 'Stoning the Devil'

MINA, Saudi Arabia-- More than 2 million Muslims flocked to a desert plain outside Mecca today to participate in the symbolic stoning of the devil, one of the closing rituals of an annual pilgrimage to Islam's holiest shrines.

White-robed pilgrims also slaughtered camels, sheep and cows in sacrifice to God at a new slaughterhouse in Mecca built specially for that purpose.

During the feast, observed by an estimated 1 billion Muslims worldwide, believers slaughter sheep, goats, cows or camels to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim's readiness to offer his son's life to Allah, or God. For his obedience, Ibrahim was given a sheep to sacrifice instead.

Saudi security forces and medical teams were alert during the stoning rituals to avoid a repeat of a tragedy in 1998, when more than 100 pilgrims were trampled to death in a stampede.

Source: Associated Press, 16 March 2000

News: Human Rights Grim in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-- Women, children, and members of minority ethnic and religious groups in Pakistan live in grim circumstances, according to a human rights report released today.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said more than 1,000 women were killed last year in the name of honor, with the killings justified by reasons as flimsy as a woman sitting next to a man who was not a relative.

Nearly 1,000 people died each year of the 1990s in religiously or ethnically motivated violence, the report said, and the decade saw a "surge of religious militancy."

"Fundamentalist activism targeted liberalism of all kinds," the report said. "It rose in hateful denunciation of campaigners for peace, for policies opposed to militarism and nuclearization and for a more open and democratic society."

Source: Associated Press, 15 March 2000

News: Serb Goes on Trial for Genocide

THE HAGUE, Netherlands-- Prosecutors at the Yugoslav tribunal opened their case against Bosnian Serb Gen. Radislav Krstic today, describing his alleged command over the 1995 slaughter of Srebrenica's Muslims as the worst war crime since World War II.

Krstic-- the highest-ranking Bosnian Serb military officer to go before the tribunal -- is charged with leading the ethnic cleansing of Muslims at the U.N.-designated "safe haven" of Srebrenica, where thousands of Muslims had sought refuge from a Bosnian Serb army offensive.

Groups representing missing persons say as many as 8,000 people were murdered or remain unaccounted for. The remains of almost 2,500 people have been found.

[Note: Bosnia's three factions include the Eastern Orthodox Christian Serbs, Roman Catholic Croats, and the Sunni Muslims]

Source: Associated Press, 13 March 2000

News: Alleged Gunman Berated Whites

PITTSBURGH-- A black man accused of shooting five whites, killing three, left a suicide note along with writings in which he ranted about "racist, biased doctors and nurses" who had treated him "like dirt."

"As long as the system remains racist white and racist Jew, black people will never overcome," Ronald Taylor, 39, wrote in one of the notes published Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In another excerpt he wrote:

"Jesus Christ made a very costly mistake putting white people on the face of the earth. I'll see all of my enemies in hell. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha."

Source: Associated Press, 07 March 2000

News: Investigators Find Racist Writings

WILKINSBURG, Pa.-- Racist writings describing hatred toward whites, Jews and Asians, were found in the apartment of a black man accused in a shooting rampage that left three people dead in suburban Pittsburgh.

Court documents released Friday said police found one paper called "The Satan List" that contained the names of businesses referred to as "targets."

The writings called for "Death to Jerusalem," referred to "white trash," and listed "various racist names and opinions" about groups including whites, Jews, Asians, Italians, police, the federal government and the news media, according to court papers.

Source: Associated Press, 04 March 2000

News: Christian, Muslim Violence Leaves 32 Dead

ABUJA, Nigeria-- Fighting between Christians and Muslims has spread to Nigeria's southeast, and the president summoned top officials today to try to find a solution to the crisis.

The trouble began when the corpses of local people were shipped home from Kaduna, where battles between Christians and Muslims killed at least 300 people last week. Local residents in Aba, furious over the deaths, attacked Muslim Hausas who live in the town and burned the local mosque.

The fighting in Kaduna, which began during a Christian protest against sharia, left large swathes of the city in ruin, with hundreds of buildings burned and thousands of people fleeing in fear.

Source: Associated Press, 29 Feb. 2000

News: A Nigerian City Explodes Into War

KADUNA, Nigeria-- It began in the morning, when angry words over religious traditions turned to fistfights. By late afternoon machetes were drawn, people were burned alive, and gunfire echoed through the streets, as the violence snaked through this northern city with a fury that burned out entire blocks, killed hundreds of people and left thousands more homeless.

On the surface, it is a war about God.

"NO SHARIA," declares red graffiti splashed across the wall of a wrecked gas station. "SHARIA YA MUTU" --"Sharia or Death" reads another message scrawled in black paint in Hausa, the main indigenous language of northern Nigeria.

Sharia, or Islamic law, has become a flashpoint in Nigeria, a nation riven by regular bouts of bloody religious and ethnic violence. While Muslim leaders say Christians would not be bound by sharia, the proposal to introduce what is effectively a state religion has terrified and infuriated them.

"We don't like something about this sharia," said Emmanuel Nduka, a 25-year-old small trader who joined in the fighting. "They want us to live our lives like we have their religion." On Monday morning, Christians marched to protest the sharia proposal. What that ignited was horrific even by Nigerian standards.

Many people know exactly who is to blame-- with the most bitter adherents of each religion pointing fingers at the other.

More than 200 people were killed in the fighting, their bodies jamming local morgues, though some in town say the number could be much higher. Which side was hurt the worst by the violence is not clear.

Source: Associated Press, 25 Feb. 2000

News: Christians & Muslims Clash in Nigeria

KADUNA, Nigeria-- Fighting erupted Monday morning during a demonstration by local Christians against a proposal to bring Islamic law, or sharia, to Kaduna state. By Wednesday, an uneasy calm had been restored to Kaduna, one of the largest cities in northern Nigeria.

Christian and Muslim leaders promised Thursday to work together to restore peace in the troubled city of Kaduna, as residents trickled back into the debris-strewn streets after two days of religious clashes left at least 200 people dead.

Guns, cutlasses and other weapons were used, said workers at the morgue at the city's main hospital. An overwhelming stench filled the building at the Ahmadu Bello Teaching Hospital where about 200 mostly charred bodies were piled up on slabs, on the floor, even the ground outside. More corpses were being brought in Thursday.

Source: Associated Press, 24 Feb. 2000

News: 6 Killed in Religious Violence

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- Religious violence in Indonesia's eastern province of North Maluku killed six people, the official Antara news agency reported today.

At least two villagers were also seriously injured in the fighting Thursday and Friday between Muslims and Christians in four villages on Obi, an island south of the province's main island of Halmahera, Antara said.

Muslims and Christians have long been at odds because of an influx of Muslim migrants into the region, where more than 2,000 people have been killed in the past year.

Source: Associated Press, 19 Feb 2000

News: IRA Breaks Off Disarmament Talks

BELFAST, Northern Ireland ­ Stung by the British government's decision to suspend Northern Ireland's power-sharing agreement, the IRA broke off disarmament talks Tuesday, dealing a damaging blow to hopes of resurrecting Northern Ireland's Protestant-Catholic administration.

Source: Associated Press, 15 Feb. 2000

News: Seventeen Killed in Algeria

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Islamic insurgents killed 17 people in three separate attacks last week amid an army offensive against rebels who have refused to lay down arms, newspaper reports said Saturday.

A dozen rebels showered a line of vehicles with bullets at a false roadblock on Thursday near Berrouaghia, 44 miles south of Algiers, Le Matin said, quoting survivors.

Under a government peace plan, Islamic insurgents were eligible for amnesty if they gave up their arms by Jan. 13 and were not guilty of rape, murder or bombings. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika repeatedly warned there would be a fierce crackdown on those who refused the offer. Although some groups have turned themselves in and even disbanded, the Armed Islamic Group, the most radical during the insurgency which began in 1992, has not officially accepted the peace plan.

Source: Associated Press, 12 Feb. 2000

News: Neighbors at Odds in N. Ireland

LISBURN, Northern Ireland-- They're next-door neighbors, but the British Protestants of bustling Lisburn and the Irish Catholics of grim Poleglass remain worlds apart as their country's power-sharing government fades to black.

Northern Ireland's 2-month-old administration of Protestants and Catholics, the intended centerpiece of the 1998 Good Friday accord, is likely to be stripped of its powers Friday. Britain hopes this will forestall its total collapse in the face of Protestant demands for a start to Irish Republican Army disarmament.

Source: Associated Press, 10 Feb. 2000

News: Bombing Compounds N. Ireland Tensions

BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- A bombing at a rural hotel by an IRA splinter group has aggravated tensions as Northern Ireland faces the prospect of losing its Protestant-Catholic gover nment.

The Continuity IRA, which is opposed to the province's 1998 peace accord, planted a bomb at the family-run Mahon's Hotel in Irvinestown, 90 miles west of Belfast. The area was evacuated following telephoned warnings, and nobody was injured when the bomb detonated beneath an oil tank at the back of the hotel.

Source: Associated Press, 07 Feb. 2000

News: Priests Dying of AIDS

KANSAS CITY, Mo.-- Roman Catholic priests in the United States are dying from AIDS-related illnesses at a rate four times higher than the general population and the cause is often concealed on their death certificates, The Kansas City Star reported Sunday.

In the first of a three-part series, the newspaper said death certificates and interviews with experts indicated several hundred priests have died of AIDS-related illnesses since the mid-1980s and hundreds more are living with HIV, the virus that causes the disease.

"I think this speaks to a failure on the part of the church," said Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of the Archdiocese of Detroit. "Gay priests and heterosexual priests didn't know how to handle their sexuality, their sexual drive. And so they would handle it in ways that were not healthy."

The Star received 801 responses to questionnaires that were sent last fall to 3,000 of the 46,000 priests in the United States. The margin of error of the survey was 3.5 percentage points. Six of 10 priests responding said they knew of at least one priest who had died of an AIDS-related illness, and one-third knew a priest living with AIDS. Three-fourths said the church needed to provide more education to seminarians on sexual issues.

Asked about their sexual orientation, 75 percent said they were heterosexual, 15 percent said they were homosexual, and 5 percent said they were bisexual.

Source: Associated Press, 30 Jan. 2000

News: Christian/Muslim Death Toll Reaches 65

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A fresh outbreak of fighting between Christians and Muslims in eastern Indonesia has killed 65 people in the past three days, the region's military commander said today.

Also today, the head of the Mormon church made an unprecedented trip to Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation. Officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rejected suggestions that the visit signaled any intention by the church to expand in Indonesia. One official said church President Gordon B. Hinckley had come on Wahid's personal invitation.

Source: Associated Press, 27 Jan. 2000

News: 40 Dead in Christian/Muslim Fighting

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Violence across Indonesia claimed at least 40 lives over the past few days, authorities and news reports said Sunday, as bloodshed continues to plague this sprawling Southeast Asian nation.

Clashes between Muslims and Christians broke out in eastern Indonesia, leaving dozens dead and destroying hundreds of homes. Associated Press Television News footage from the island of Haruku, 1,600 miles east of Jakarta, showed at least 24 bodies lying on the ground.

Several ships could be seen arriving bringing in Christian fighters. No soldiers or police were present, and hundreds of houses and several churches in Haruku and Sameth, the island's two main towns, were on fire. It was impossible to get a precise number of how many people died in the violence.

Source: Associated Press, 23 Jan. 2000

News: Indonesian Religious Violence Grows

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- A Muslim mob set fire today to at least eight churches on the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok and battled police trying to stop the spread of religious violence that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Fighting between Christians and Muslims first broke out a year ago on Ambon Island and quickly spread to other islands in Maluku and North Maluku provinces, known during Dutch colonial rule as the Moluccas, or Spice Islands.

Source: Associated Press, 17 Jan. 2000

News: War Tribunal Sentences Five Croats

THE HAGUE, Netherlands-- Five Bosnian Croat militiamen were found guilt today and sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for "ethnic cleansing" attacks against Muslims: gunning down families, burning people alive and torching scores of houses ­ all on a spring day in1993.

The U.N. judges convicted the Croatians for taking part in a killing spree in the central Bosnian village of Ahmici, which left more than 100 Muslim men, women and children dead. Every Muslim home was burned to the ground in the village, where some of the defendants had grown up alongside Muslim neighbors.

[Note: Bosnia's three factions include the Eastern Orthodox Christian Serbs, Roman Catholic Croats, and the Sunni Muslims]

Source: Associated Press, 14 Jan. 2000

News: 7 Die in Indonesia Christian/Muslim Clashes

AMBON, Indonesia --Muslim-Christian clashes in eastern Indonesia left at least seven dead and scores injured, witnesses and officials said today.

Source: Associated Press, 13 Jan. 2000

News: Muslims Threaten Indonesia Holy War

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- More than 80,000 Muslims rallied in Indonesia's capital Friday, threatening to declare a holy war against Christians if the government doesn't stop religious fighting that has killed 1,000 in the country's eastern islands.

"We give (President Abdurrahman Wahid) one month to stop the killings of Muslims," said Husin Ali Al Habsy, one of the protest leaders. "Otherwise, we are ready to send at least 10,000 people there to defend the Muslims."

Officials report about 990 people have died in fighting between Christians and Muslims during the past two weeks in Maluku and North Maluku provinces, some 1,600 miles northeast of Jakarta.

"We are ready to die in defense of Maluku Muslims" and "Stop the killings of Muslims," read some of the banners at the rally. The crowd, gathered across the street from the presidential palace, chanted "Jihad", or "Holy War," and "Allah Akbar," or "God is Great."

Source: Associated Press, 07 Jan. 2000

News: 150 Die During Ramadan in Algeria

ALGIERS, Algeria -- Islamic insurgents killed five members of a family and shot to death two soldiers in separate attacks, newspapers reported Tuesday.

The killings brought to nearly 150 the number of people killed since the start of Ramadan on Dec. 9, media reported. Ramadan has proved a time of heightened violence since the start of the Islamic insurgency nearly 8 years ago from which at least 100,000 people have been killed in ensuing violence.

Source: Associated Press, 04 Jan. 2000

News: 20 Die in Christian/Muslim Riots in Egypt

CAIRO, Egypt-- An area of southern Egypt was under curfew Monday after a dispute between a Christian shopkeeper and a Muslim customer exploded into three days of religious violence that left 20 people dead.

Fires had been extinguished and security forces reportedly had quelled gunfighting and rioting, but tensions remained high Monday in a corner of the country that has been torn before by religious clashes.

Coptic Christians are the largest religious minority in mainly Muslim Egypt, making up about 10 percent of the 64 million population. Copts and Muslims generally live together peacefully, but Copts at times complain of discrimination and occasional violence is reported.

Source: Associated Press, 03 Jan. 2000