World Tour: Yellow Vest protest, and Christian subversion

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything In It: World Tour with Mindy Belz.

MINDY BELZ, REPORTER: Erdogan uses attack video at political rallies—We start today in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to play video from the New Zealand mosque attacks at political rallies.

AUDIO: [Turkish Protesters chanting]

Protesters in Istanbul on Saturday held a symbolic funeral for the 50 people killed in the mass shooting. The gunman, a self-avowed white supremacist, referenced Turkey in the manifesto he posted online before the attack.

Critics have denounced Erdogan’s continued use of the video to whip up nationalist and religious sentiment ahead of next week’s local elections. Erdogan claims he’s just trying to show the rising tide of Islamophobia around the world. He suggested anyone who comes to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiment would be sent back in a coffin.

Yellow Vest protest trashes Paris—Next we go to France. Crews there are still cleaning up the iconic Champs Élysées after last weekend’s violent demonstrations.

AUDIO: [French firefighters working at restaurant]

Hooded protesters vandalized, burned, or looted nearly 100 upscale shops and restaurants in Paris. It was some of the worst rioting seen so far in the so-called Yellow Vest movement.

The protests started in November over proposed gas tax hikes. They have since morphed into a rebuke of President Emmanuel Macron’s policies.

AUDIO: [French small business leader speaking]

The leader of a small business association in Paris said local merchants are fed up with the government’s inability to stop the protests that are taking a toll on area residents and discouraging tourism.

On Monday, government officials warned they would ban future protests if they appeared likely to turn violent. Property damage related to the protests now tops $190 million U.S. dollars.

Iran sentences Navy vet to 10 years—Next to Iran, where a court has sentenced a U.S. Navy veteran to 10 years in prison. It’s the first such conviction for a U.S. citizen during the Trump administration.

Michael White faced two charges, including insulting Iran’s top leader and posting a private picture publicly, according to his lawyer. White’s mother said the California native traveled to Iran to visit his girlfriend. The U.S. State Department confirmed his arrest in January.

The motive behind White’s detention and conviction remains unclear. But the case further complicates the already tense relationship between the U.S. and Iran.

China accuses West of Christian subversion—Next we go to China, where recent comments by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ruffled official feathers.

AUDIO: [Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman speaking]

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Monday said his country resolutely opposes unwarranted accusations about its human rights record.

The U.S. State Department highlighted China last week in its annual report on human rights abuses around the world. It noted persecution against Uighur Muslims as particularly egregious. But Chinese Christians also face significant challenges that aren’t likely to ease any time soon.

Last week, a Chinese government official accused the West of using Christianity to threaten the country’s political power.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government has for several years targeted religious groups viewed as a threat to the Communist Party. It wants all churches to come under the umbrella of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

Part of the government’s plan to influence Christianity includes rewriting the New Testament based on Buddhist and Confucian teachings.

US-Taiwan summit—And finally, we end today in Taiwan. Officials there have launched a new pro-democracy initiative.

WU: [Speaking Mandarin]

Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu called his country a democratic success story and a global force for good.

China disagrees. It sees Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory and continues to pressure other nations to deny the island nation’s independence.

Brent Christensen is the de facto U.S. ambassador on the island. And on Tuesday he reiterated U.S. support for the nation.

CHRISTENSEN: The United States opposes any initiative that seeks to unilaterally alter the status quo, and we have a long standing policy of opposing referendum for an independence referendum which would be an effort to alter the status quo.

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

(AP Photo/Christophe Ena) Protesters clash with riot police during a yellow vests demonstration Saturday, March 16, 2019 in Paris. 

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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