World Tour

MARY REICHARD, HOST:  Coming up next on The World and Everything in It, it’s time for World Tour. Both of our reporters Mindy Belz and Onize Ohikere are away this week.

So, we begin this week in Iran…

Iran cracks down on Christians» We begin this week in Iran. Officials there detained more than 100 Christians last week. That brings the total number of Christians arrested in the last month to almost 1-hundred-50. Most are converts from Islam and are accused of “proselytising.”

Many were allowed to return home after a few days with orders to cut ties to other believers and Christian groups. Church leaders remain in detention.

Arrests in Bibi protest case » Next we have more news out of Pakistan. Christian Asia Bibi remains in hiding while she waits for another country to grant her asylum.

Bibi spent eight years on death row for blasphemy before the country’s highest court overturned her conviction in October.

AUDIO: [Sound of protests]

The government recently arrested members of the radical Islamist party that organized protests after Bibi’s release. Analysts say the arrests could be part of preparations to allow Bibi to leave the country.

British Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly rejected the family’s asylum claim over fears of violence in the UK. But May told parliament the government is acting.

MAY: We are working with other countries to make sure, as I say, that our prime aim, which is, the safety and security of Asia Bibi, and her family are what is provided for…

So far, no country has officially offered Bibi the visa required for her to leave Pakistan.

U.S. pushes Taliban peace talks » Meanwhile, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met last week with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad to talk about peace efforts in neighboring Afghanistan. In an official letter, President Trump asked Khan for his help ending the conflict.

KHAN: [Sound of Khan speaking]

In a televised address, Khan said peace in Afghanistan is also in his country’s interest. He added, quote—“We will try our best to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table with America.”

AUDIO: [Sound of Taliban attack]

The Taliban has continued to stage near-daily attacks targeting security officials. More than 1,000 Afghan security forces died or suffered injuries while fighting the Taliban in September and October.

IRFA designations » Both the Taliban and Pakistan made the State Department’s 2018 list of international religious freedom violators. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released the updated designations on Tuesday. Pakistan made it to the Countries of Particular Concern list for the first time. That could trigger sanctions—although previous administrations have waived financial penalties associated with the blacklist.

Pompeo also designated the Taliban and eight other Islamic terror groups as “entities of particular concern.” That list includes Boko Haram and ISIS, as well as several of the group’s affiliates.

US coup at COP24 Summit » Next to Poland where a high-level climate change conference is taking place this week.

Preston Wells Griffith is a special adviser to President Trump who helped moderate the COP24 Summit.

GRIFFITH: We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability.

Reports suggested the United States would be an outlier after President Trump previously pulled out of the Paris Agreement. But Australia and other nations joined the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait voting against the wording of a key report calling for the elimination of fossil fuel use. eliminating fossil fuels.

Nobel Peace Prize speech » We end today in Norway, where Congolese obstetrician Denis Mukwege accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for advocating on behalf of abused women and children. He shares the honor with Nadia Murad, the Yazidi woman who survived rape and torture at the hands of ISIS.

AUDIO: [Sound of Nobel Peace Prize lecture]

In his acceptance speech, Mukwege insisted the prize only holds value if it leads to concrete change for victims of sexual violence. He said, quote—“Taking action means saying ‘no’ to indifference. If there is a war to be waged, it is the war against the indifference which is eating away at our societies.”

And that’s this week’s World Tour.

The full speech is here.

(AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) In this March 13, 2009, file photo, Zalmay Khalilzad, special adviser on reconciliation speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

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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