World Tour

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour. Here is WORLD senior editor Mindy Belz.

MINDY BELZ, SENIOR EDITOR: Asia Bibi still in custody—We begin today in Pakistan. Christian Asia Bibi remains in custody despite last week’s Supreme Court decision freeing her. That’s because the verdict sparked protests and Islamist demands for her execution.

AUDIO: [Protest sound]

In exchange for an end to protests, officials agreed to impose a travel ban on Bibi and review her acquittal. Meantime, the government continues to hold her at an undisclosed location and has beefed up security amid death threats.

On Saturday, Bibi’s lawyer fled the country due to threats on his life. He told reporters in The Netherlands…

MULOOK: This compromise is nothing but a piece of paper that can be thrown in the dustbin.

The deal hasn’t stopped the Islamist MMA political alliance from organizing a “million march” scheduled for tomorrow. Yet other Pakistani Muslims say they welcome her acquittal. One told the UK’s Daily Telegraph her jailing “sullied” the name of Islam, and said Muslims should financially compensate her.

Despite concern over a backlash related to Bibi’s case, Christians in Pakistan met as usual on Sunday. One pastor emailed me a photo of a packed small-group worship service, and said, quote—“For the first time in my life I am a little afraid, but our services continue.”

ISIS attack on Egyptian Christians—Now to Egypt, where Coptic Christians held funeral services over the weekend for seven people killed in an ISIS attack.

AUDIO: Church service for the victims

The attackers ambushed two buses traveling to a remote monastery on Friday. In addition to those killed, seven others suffered injuries, including children.

Egyptian officials said police forces pursued the attackers into the desert and killed 19 ISIS fighters.

AUDIO: [Sound of families protesting]

But members of the Coptic community protested ongoing attacks against Christians. They say the government isn’t doing enough to protect them.

Vote in New Caledonia—You may not be familiar with New Caledonia, but residents there took an important vote on Sunday. The Pacific island territory voted to remain part of France in an independence referendum.

More than 80 percent of residents turned out to vote. Fifty-six percent opposed independence. French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the news.

MACRON: I have to tell you how proud I am that we have finally passed this historic step together.

But the issue is far from settled. Under an agreement with separatists, New Caledonians will consider independence twice more in the next five years.

Former Gitmo detainees join peace talks—Next, we move to Afghanistan, where peace talks may yet gain momentum. In 2014, the U.S. exchanged five military detainees from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. All five former fighters are now poised to join peace talks with the Afghan government after they joined the Taliban’s official political party in Qatar last week.

At a news conference in Kabul, the Afghan capital, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg voiced optimism about the country’s future.

STOLTENBERG: The potential for peace is greater now than it has been in many years.

Not everyone favors a Taliban role in peace talks, but some analysts believe the former detainees’ participation adds new credibility to negotiations. 

Ozone layer healing—And finally, good news from the UN. Back in the 1970s, scientists sounded alarms about the damage certain chemicals were doing to the ozone. Those substances helped deplete about 10 percent of the upper ozone layer.

A new report shows the hole began closing in 2000. Here’s UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

DUJARRIC: The review which happens every four years shows that the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1 to 3 percent per decade since 2000 and projected rates for the Northern Hemisphere will heal completely by 2030, followed by the Southern Hemisphere around the year 2050.

The report attributes the trend to a global drop in use of aerosol sprays and coolants.

That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Mindy Belz.

(Photo/Fareed Khan, AP) Protesters in Karachi, Pakistan, on Thursday.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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