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Los Angeles Mayor Expected to Become Next US Ambassador to India

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01/14/2022 United States (International Christian Concern) – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the nomination of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to be the next U.S. Ambassador to India to the full senate. The committee process was largely uneventful and his confirmation is expected to go through without incident.  

In 1992, the year I graduated from college after studying Hindi and Indian cultural and religious history, U.S.-India ties languished in the shadow of Cold War-era mistrust,” said Mayor Garcetti during his testimony in December. “The very idea of a U.S.-India strategic partnership would have been deemed laughable.”  

If confirmed, Mayor Garcetti said he would, “secure its borders, defend its sovereignty, and deter aggression.” 

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He continued, “I acknowledge the weight and honor of responsibility as Chief of Mission for the welfare of hundreds of U.S. and thousands of locally employed staff in Embassy New Delhi and our four Consulates in India, in addition to the approximately 950,000 U.S. citizens residing in India. If confirmed, there will be no higher priority for me than the security of our Mission team and of U.S. citizens in India.” 

Amidst the administration’s ongoing nominations, India has continued to be in the crosshairs of many human rights NGOs who have reported egregious violations against Christians, Muslims, and other religious minorities in India. Persecution of Christians has skyrocketed since the Modi Administration took power in 2014.  

I should hope that if confirmed, the Mayor of Los Angeles will challenge his Indian counterparts on the sorry state of India’s domestic religious freedom,” said Matias Perttula, Director of Advocacy for International Christian Concern. “The United States can no longer turn a blind eye to what’s happening in India and must confront the rising tide of Hindu nationalism and promote the safety of India for all Indians.”  

For Interviews, contact Addison Parker: [email protected] 

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Islamic State Coordinated Onslaught in Syria Continues

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01/28/2022 Syria (International Christian Concern) – After a premature announcement that fighting had ended, clashes between the Islamic State and the Syrian Democratic Forces resumed on January 27. The attack on al-Sinaa prison began on the evening of January 20, led by Islamic State militants both inside and outside the prison, and has left an unclear number dead, injured, and unaccounted for. The ongoing conflict is the largest attack in Syria by the Islamic State since their territorial defeat in March 2019 at the Battle of Baghouz.

On the evening of January 20, Islamic State militants set off car bombs while prisoners inside started a riot and attacked prison personnel in a coordinated attack between the captives and outside sleeper cells. The attack was reportedly the efforts of a previously-thwarted plan in November 2021. In the past few months, Islamic State cells have been notably quiet, leading analysts to presume correctly about an impending larger-scale attack, as the group saved ammunition and weapons.

The prison held between 3,000 and 5,000 prisoners, including a number of IS militants who surrendered at the last battle. Inmates at Sinaa prison included several hundred minors, some as young as 12 and some of whom have never been officially charged with or committed any crimes, outside of having guardians affiliated with the Islamic State. After six days of fighting, the SDF announced that the battle was over after the prisoners surrendered. However, a group of 60 to 90 IS militants inside the prison were found on Thursday who were holding out. The SDF announced that 3,500 prisoners had been rearrested and estimated that around 200 people were killed, leaving an unclear number escaped or unaccounted for.

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Sinaa prison is located nearby Ghweiran District, an area with some IS sympathizers and other Syrian civilians. Some fled to escape the clashes while others hunkered down with whatever supplies they had on hand, as their city was ravaged yet again by war. Seemingly coordinated attacks across Northeast Syria also destabilized the recovering Syrian people, including attacks by other Islamic State militants and Turkish-backed factions.

The large-scale resurgence of the Islamic State, not even three years since their declared defeat in Syria, leaves Christians and minorities concerned about their safety and protection from the terrorist group.

For interviews, please contact [email protected].

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More Islamic Studies Concern Malaysian Parents

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01/28/2022 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – A Malaysian father’s recent tweet went viral after he questioned the hours of Islamic studies in his daughter’s weekly schedule.

The father was shocked when he found out that his daughter’s primary school had allocated more hours for Islamic studies and other related classes than for mathematics and science classes combined.

According to his tweet, there are 5.5 hours of Pendidikan Agama Islam (PAI) and other related classes in a week, whereas English has the same amount, and math and science combined — at 2.5 hours and 1.5 hours respectively — are still less.

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He noted that his daughter’s school is not a religious school but a public school. While he is not opposed to religious studies, he does not want them to be taught at the expense of mathematics and science.

Many non-Muslim netizens agree with his view that school should not be a place to teach religion and instead should teach the subject outside official school hours.

In response, Minister of Religious Affairs Idris Ahmad said at a recent event that he found the complaint “strange” as the matter had never appeared. “However, it is normal in our large community (for some people to complain). Perhaps, it is because they don’t understand or do not want to understand,” he said.

Although Malaysia is a secular country and hosts several ethnicities, its official religion is Islam, and ethnic Malay are presumed to be Muslims. Analysts are noticing the creeping Islamization of the Southeast Asian country in recent years and how that could threaten religious liberty in Malaysia.

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For interviews, please contact: [email protected].

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