Rabu, 18 Mei 2011

The Star Online: World Updates

The Star Online: World Updates

Pope laments China state pressure on Catholics

Posted: 18 May 2011 06:50 AM PDT

ROME (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said China's communist authorities were putting pressure on faithful who want to remain loyal to the Vatican and he hoped the Chinese church could survive attempts to divide it from Rome.

He called on Wednesday for all Catholics to pray for the faithful in China, who are not allowed to recognise the pope's authority but forced to be members of a state-backed Church.

Pope Benedict XVI blesses as he leads his Weekly General Audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican May 18, 2011. (REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

"We know that among our brother bishops, there are some that suffer and are under pressure," the pope said at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square. "By praying we can ensure that the Church in China remains one, holy and Catholic."

The pope has previously denounced restrictions on religious freedom in China and encouraged Catholics there to persevere.

China says it protects religious freedom, but does not recognise the authority of the pope and refuses to establish formal relations with the Vatican until the Holy See -- the Church's governing body -- severs ties with Taiwan, which China considers a renegade territory.

China's 8 to 12 million Catholics are divided between the state-sanctioned church that names bishops without the Vatican's approval and an underground church wary of government ties.

China forced several bishops and priests loyal to the pope to attend a meeting of the state-backed church last year, rankling the Vatican.

Last November, the Vatican condemned the ordination without papal permission of a Chinese bishop, calling it a "painful wound" hampering dialogue between the Holy See and Beijing.

It has urged bishops in China to not themselves be manipulated by the government.

(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; editing by Mark Heinrich)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Al Qaeda online magazine translated into Russian

Posted: 18 May 2011 06:50 AM PDT

MOSCOW (Reuters) - An al Qaeda online magazine has been translated into Russian in what analysts said on Wednesday was an attempt to strengthen ties with insurgents aiming to carve an Islamic state out of Russia's North Caucasus.

The English-language web journal, Inspire, launched by al Qaeda's Yemeni wing last year to reach out to Muslims living in the West, stoked U.S. and European concerns with articles such as one entitled "make a bomb in your mother's kitchen".

The appearance of the Russian translation of the magazine shows the potential that the global jihadist organisation sees in the insurgency in Russia's southern flank, where gun and bomb attacks are a near daily occurrence.

With a cover photo looking down the barrel of a gun, the flashy on-line journal illustrated with colour photographs boasts an article on seizing the property of unbelievers. The magazine is published in slide-show format on the jihadist internet site Ansar al Mujahideen's Russian-language forum.

Nearly two decades after federal forces drove a secessionist rebel government from power in Chechnya, Moscow is fighting an uphill battle against an insurgency fuelled by a mix of religion, corruption and poverty.

Analysts say popular revolts in North Africa and the Middle East have undercut some support for al Qaeda's calls for violent jihad in the Arab world. In turn, the group is turning its focus to peripheral conflicts, like the North Caucasus, where it can capitalise on local grievances to win new recruits.

"I believe that now with al Qaeda feeling that they are losing grounds in the Arab world with the popular movements, the focus on 'peripheries', including the North Caucasus will increase," said Murad Batal al-Shishani, an independent London-based analyst on Islamist insurgencies.

Russian officials say the North Caucasus insurgency depends on ideological and financial patronage from the Middle East and militant Islamist groups like al Qaeda, although analysts dispute the extent of those links.

The Russian language forum hosting Inspire was originally founded by the wing of the Islamist Caucasus Emirate active in the North Caucasus regions of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, according to Gordon Hahn, a senior researcher at U.S. Monterey Institute for International Studies.

Russia's top anti-terrorist agency (NAK) said last month that it had killed al Qaeda's top emissary to the North Caucasus insurgency, Khaled Yusef Mukhammed al Emirat, who it accused of channeling foreign and al Qaeda funds for the militants.

(Editing by Jon Hemming)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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