World Tour: Indian elections worry minorities, and continued fighting in Libya

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

MINDY BELZ, SENIOR EDITOR: Indian elections worry minorities—We start today in India.

AUDIO: [Indian election celebrations]

Minority groups there fear increasing attacks from Hindu hardliners after election results came in last week. Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated a landslide victory that keeps him in power for another five years.

AUDIO: [Modi victory speech]

In his victory speech, Modi thanked his supporters.

India is officially a secular country. But Modi leads a Hindu nationalist party. Many of his supporters want to see Hinduism become the country’s official religion.

The group Open Doors ranks India as the 10th most dangerous country for Christians. So far this year, the group has recorded more than 2-hundred violent incidents against Christians. That includes two murders.

Open Doors USA called the election results an absolute tragedy.

UN tribunal on Ukrainian soldiers—Next we go to Germany. A UN tribunal in Berlin has urged Russia to release two dozen Ukrainian sailors and their ships.

Russia seized the ships and the sailors last November off the Crimean peninsula. Moscow does not recognize the UN tribunal and ignored the hearing.

But Ukraine celebrated the decision.

ZERKAL: For us this is a pure victory. That’s what we ask the tribunal and the tribunal clearly stated that all our vessels and our crew should be released immediately.  That’s what we asked and what we received.

Moscow claims the ships violated its maritime borders.

Russia upholds sentence for Jehovah’s Witness—Meanwhile in Russia officials continue their crackdown on minority religions. Last week an appeals court upheld the six-year sentence given to a Jehovah’s Witness from Denmark.

A court convicted Dennis Christensen of extremism for attending a Jehovah’s Witnesses prayer meeting. Supporters filled the courtroom as Christensen spoke to them through a glass partition.

CHRISTENSEN: Dear brothers and sisters, I really appreciate your support, I’m very happy for all your letters, for all your calls, for all your prayers, I really appreciate it a lot.

Christensen’s case has drawn worldwide condemnation. It is the first such conviction since Russia outlawed the religious movement in 2017. The state has brought criminal charges against some 200 Jehovah’s Witnesses. Authorities accuse them of “extremist activity” for practicing their faith.

Continued fighting in Libya—Next we go to Libya.

AUDIO: [LNA missiles and gunfire]

Forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Hifter are pushing closer to the center of Tripoli, the country’s capital. Hifter began his offensive in April in a bid to seize power from the UN-backed government. His forces already control the country’s east and much of the south.

Several militias have battled for control of Libya since the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

During a UN meeting last week, Libya’s special representative warned that the conflict would spread.

SALAME: The violence on the outskirts of Tripoli is just the start of a long and bloody war on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, imperilling the security of Libya’s immediate neighbours and the wider Mediterranean region.

He warned the fighting had already created opportunities for Islamic terror groups to gain a foothold. And he urged the UN to intervene.

Albino panda spotted in China—And finally, we end today in China. Video cameras at a nature reserve in the southwest Sichuan Province captured images of a rare, albino panda.

Researchers say the panda is no more than 2 years old, and that it is in good health.

AUDIO: [White Panda official speaking]

Officials plan to install more infrared cameras in the area to observe the panda’s growth and activity. They want to see if it’s related to the panda population in the surrounding areas.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Mindy Belz.

(AP Photo/Ajit Solanki) Supporters wear masks of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a public meeting addressed by Modi in Ahmadabad, India, Sunday, May 26, 2019. 

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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