Thursday, July 26, 2007

Korean Hostages held by Taliban were Trying to Convert Muslims

Top Exporter of Missionaries in the World (2007)

1. U.S.A.
2. South Korea

With between 12,000 and 17,000 missionaries in over 160 countries, South Korea has one of the biggest and most aggressive armies of Christian missionaries on earth. The number is second only to the estimate for the United States of 46,000. A conservative association of Protestant churches in South Korea has called for dispatching 100,000 missionaries by 2030.

Along with those full-time missionaries, South Korean churches dispatch numerous short-term evangelical, educational and medical missions. Saemmul Church has stressed that Bae's group was not engaged in evangelism, doing only relief work at hospitals and kindergartens. Nonetheless, the hostage crisis, and the deportation last year of 1,600 South Korean Christians gathering for a "peace festival" in Afghanistan, highlighted the overseas activities of South Korean Christians.

Above: Members of Korean Christian group who were in Afghanistan.

Above: Korean Christian group member with Afghani children.

"In South Korean churches, emphasis has always been on growth and expansion," said Lee Won Gue, a professor at Methodist Theological Seminary in Seoul. "There is a fierce competition among churches, so much so that the reputation of the pastor or his church often depends on how many missionaries are sent abroad and how many churches are built there."

Even small churches finance missionary expeditions, thanks to congregations generous with cash donations. Churches advertise their overseas missionary work to attract young members.

"Traditionally the number of missionaries from a country has depended on that country's economic power. In South Korea's case, the number far exceeds its economic standing," said Song Jae Ryong, a sociologist at Seoul's Kyunghee University. "Like Koreans in general, the Korean churches have a strong tendency of following a trend as a pack and going relentlessly after a goal."

In such an atmosphere, young people going on short-term missions arranged by these churches often do not properly train on safety and learn about indigenous religious and cultural backgrounds of their host countries, Song said.
Above: Members of Korean Christian group approach Afghani children and have them sing a hymn for Jesus.

Rev. Bae Hyung-kyu was the first hostage killed by the Taliban on July 26, 2007. Bae was an affable leader in charge of 300 youth members of his 9-year-old Saemmul Church. He looked the part when his group, most of its members in their 20s and 30s, posed for a group picture on July 13, when they left for Afghanistan. All smiled and raised clenched fists.

Above: A personal photo of one of the female Christian hostages (circled in red).

Bae left a job at a big South Korean company to study theology. He was ordained in 2001. He regularly traveled abroad on volunteer missions, most recently to Bangladesh. He reportedly told his friends that he "wanted to save people not with money, but with religion." His dream came to an abrupt end when Taliban gunmen stopped a bus carrying Bae's group from Kabul to the southern city of Kandahar.

Above: The Afghan government permitted a "cultural festival" by the IACD (Institute of Asian Culture and Development) but the Institute is argued to be a Korean Christian group.

Above: The Korean group shows the Afghani people their martial arts.

Above: The Korean group shows the Afghani people their traditional ethnic dance.

Above: Then the Korean group allegedly performed a Christian worship and sang a hymn for Jesus in Korean and English.

Above Pictures: It is claimed by a beggar and a man who interviewed him that the Christian Korean group obtained access past staff and guards to holy Islamic sites, like a mosque and a grave, by wearing black Islamic veils and then conducted their prayers through Christian worship.

Alternate Explanations

Some have argued that the pictures of the Koreans in Islamic veils is authetic and that they are simply are Muslim converts inside Afghanistan, as evidenced by these above pictures indicating the influence of Islam in South Korea.

The US Originally Imported Radical Christianity to Korea

Protestant missionaries from the US came to the Korean peninsula in the late 19th century.
Christianity initially failed to make a big impact in China and Japan, where missionaries were regarded as agents of Western imperialism.

Seoul's Yoido Full Gospel Church is the largest in the world. But the "religion from the West" spread quickly in the Hermit Kingdom, and American missionaries were seen by Korean nationalists as a source of support in their fight against Japanese colonial rulers.

Now South Korea has the largest percentage of evangelical Christians in Asia, at about 25% of the population. Having achieved such a following at home, Korean churches have started in the last couple of decades to look at ways to expand abroad.

Above: A Christian puts his hand on the head of monk raising alms in Korea.

"Pastors of big churches want to show off that they are doing something great for Christianity. Korea is a small country that has achieved a strong economy, and it wants to show its success to the world," said Chung-shin Park, a professor of Korean church history.

"Apart from the strong religious zeal, there is also a sense of nationalism behind this," he said.
"The church's ambition is to overtake the US and become the world's number one exporter of missionaries within the next two decades."

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Video - Public Execution by Hanging in Iran

- ABOVE VIDEO: Public hanging by the government of Iran in the month of July 2007. -

Countries with Most Executions (2006)

  1. China
  2. Iran
  3. Pakistan
  4. Iraq
  5. Sudan
  6. United States

Iran retains government sanctioned execution, which includes the use of public hanging and public stoning to death. The regime often executes dissidents and others who speak against the government by charging them with crimes they have not committed, such as drug smuggling or adultery. The killings are done in public in order to instill fear into the hearts of others who would dare speak out against the Iranian government.

Women's rights activists also continue to face reprisals for their activities demanding an end to laws which discriminate against women. Amnesty International has recorded at least 120 executions since the beginning of 2007, suggesting that by the end of this year the total number of executions could exceed the total of 177 executions recorded in 2006.

- Above Picture: Fariba Tajiani-Emamqoli and her 4 male accomplices hung by crane in 2001. -

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Conservative French President Sarkozy Appoints Three Immigrant Women to the top of his Cabinet

New French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to shake up and renew France when he took office. And he started with his cabinet, which includes 11 women -- three of them from minority backgrounds.

They're women, they're from minority backgrounds and they're feminists. Until recently, those weren't exactly trump cards for someone striving to build a political career in France, even less so when they were trying to build that career in the conservative UMP party.

Still, a woman from the Maghreb region of North Africa is now in charge of the Justice Ministry on Place Vendôme, a woman born in Senegal is responsible for human rights issues in the Foreign Ministry on the Quai d'Orsay and a woman of Algerian descent is to henceforth devote herself to the socially disadvantaged in the banlieues, the suburbs that have been the site of so much unrest in recent years. Dati, Yade and Amara: These names are the first indications that the promise of a "Sarkozy revolution" is being kept.

The irony is, of course, that during the presidential election campaign it was Sarkozy's Socialist rival Royal who grabbed everyone's attention as the embodiment of changed gender roles and as the obvious favorite of female voters. She was the one who called for sexual equality and the integration of ethnic minorities in a "colorful, diverse France." What Royal never mentioned was that for decades the left had failed to even put an end to ethnic discrimination within its own ranks.

Dati as minister of justice is an ideal choice. The 41-year-old, a child of a Moroccan bricklayer and an illiterate Algerian housewife, built a career as a judge before achieving success as Sarkozy's spokeswoman. The president appointed her "so that no child in our suburbs will doubt that there is only one justice in France, the same for all."

The president has another highly valuable colleague in Amara. The outspoken left-wing politician has been active in the struggle against racism and discrimination: She is known across the nation as the founder of the organization "Neither Whores nor Subordinated" (Ni Putes Ni Soumises), which helps Muslim girls. A Muslim herself, she will be responsible for the crumbling suburban fringes of France's major cities.

"Beautiful, black, young" -- that's how French daily Le Parisien describes the attributes of Yade, who -- barely 30 years old -- has been made the State Secretary for Human Rights by Sarkozy. She was born in Dakar, and is the daughter of a diplomatic advisor to Senegalese President Léopold Senghor and a history teacher, and she grew up on the outskirts of Paris. Disappointed by the Socialist Party, the political scientist offered her services to the conservative UMP Party. There, she made her career overnight after delivering a terrific speech in front of 80,000 UMP followers at the beginning of Sarkozy's electoral campaign. She then acquitted herself with elegance and eloquence in discussion forums and TV appearances.

According to Sarkozy's close friends, he views his female team of ministers as a particularly successful coup, and is above all proud of the first steps of his colleagues from minority backgrounds. "When I saw Rachida Dati in the Superior Council of the Judiciary on her red chair, a woman amongst all those men, I was moved," the president said.

He complimented Yade on being like a "wild horse," and then gave her an even greater compliment. "There are only two black women on the international stage," he said. "The American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Rama Yade."

Racism Against Dati

Rachida Dati, France's new justice minister, has had a rough few weeks. She has lost key advisors, she's been attacked in the press and her family has been put in the negative spotlight over drug charges against her brother. Anti-racism activists say Dati has been the victim of a smear campaign.