Love Thy Neighbour: March 2003 Archives

March 27, 2003

Witchcraft allegation leads to riot

Indonesia: A police officer is among nine people injured in a tribal battle in Papua. The fighting involved around 300 people armed with spears, arrows and rocks.

The riot in Mimika district erupted recently after tribesmen in Banti village descended on the neighbouring Kimbeli village and attacked its people, accusing them of killing a Banti resident by witchcraft.

Nine injured in Papuan tribal violence - Radio Australia, 27th March 2003.

March 26, 2003

A cross exchange

Kenya: A Christian worshipper has been killed in a fight during a prayer meeting in a church. Joseph Okech, 26, was hit in the nape with a wooden plank yanked off a huge cross standing on the church compound.

Trouble started when a group invaded the church during the sermon, and tried to eject a priest whose leadership they were opposed to.
Witnesses said Mr Okech was felled by a blow to the nape by a member of the invading group who had suffered a beating from his opponents earlier.
The attacker just rose from where he had fallen, broke off the horizontal part of the big cross in the compound and started beating everyone in sight. He reached Okech and hit him on the back of the head with the wooden plank, said a witness who declined to be named.

Fighting in Church Leaves Man Dead - The Nation (via, 17th March 2003.

Anti-semitism in France

A group of young French Jews has been attacked by several dozen assailants with metal bars at an anti-war demonstration in Paris last Saturday. The demonstration attracted 90, 000 people (police figure) and was otherwise peaceful. The mayor has condemned the attack.

In the name of Parisians, I want to condemn, as strongly as possible, these unacceptable acts, Mayor Bertrand Delanoe said in a statement. In Paris, everyone must be respected in dignity, no matter what their culture, identity or spiritual faith.

According the the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the attacks were more serious than reported in the press:

In separate incidents, two Jewish youths were hospitalized Saturday afternoon after being stabbed in Paris by individuals who had taken part in an anti-war demonstration. One young man was stabbed and lightly wounded after a group of men noticed his yarmulke. The attackers are believed to have been immigrants from North Africa. After stabbing the young man, they tried to break in to the Hashomer Hatzair [a Jewish youth group] building, but members of the youth group managed to block the entrance. Fifteen minutes later, a 24-year-old youth group advisor exited the building to address a television crew that had arrived to interview him. After exiting the building, he was seriously wounded when passers-by attacked him with metal rods and chains.

There has been a worrying number of anti-semitic attacks in France over the last two years and Jews are becoming afraid of wearing anything which indicates their Jewishness. Tensions in the Middle East have made the situation worse, especially when people have difficulty telling the difference between Jews and the current government of Israel - something to which the Simon Wiesenthal Center contributes with statements like this:

Of course we expect French police to do more to protect its Jewish students, but the ultimate responsibility for this horrific environment lays with the French media who turn a blind eye to Moslem extremists, while fanning the flames of intolerance against Israel and her supporters.

Paris Mayor Condemns Attack on Jews - The Guardian, 24th March 2003; WIESENTHAL CENTER: IN WAKE OF LATEST PEACE RALLY ATTACKS, FRENCH AUTHORITIES AND MEDIA MUST ACT TO END 'OPEN SEASON ON JEWS' - Simon Wiesenthal Center, 24th March 2003.

March 12, 2003

Dizzy omi

United States of America: Arlon Lindner, a Minnesota State Representative who earlier claimed that gays were not persecuted during the Nazi holocaust now insists that gays were the persecutors. And in trying to justify his claims he's upset African-American and Jewish members of the House as well:

During debate on a bill sponsored by Linder that would strip gays and lesbians of state human rights protections the Republican told legislators: What I'm trying to prevent is the Holocaust of our children [from AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases]. If you want to sit around and wait until America becomes another African continent, you do that, but I'm going to do something.

The debate had its moments:

And when Rep. Lynda Boudreau noted that the Nazis exterminated Jews after outlawing possession of firearms, Rep. Phyllis Kahn replied: The first thing the Nazis passed was repeal of legalized abortion.

Linder's beliefs are taken from The Pink Swastika, published by an extreme right Christian fundamentalist ministry in Wisconsin. Holocaust Denier Now Claims Gays Responsible For WWII -, 12th March 2003. See also: The Annotated Pink Swastika from Citizens Allied for Civic Action.

Phelps fails to protest.

United Kingdom: Fred Phelps failed to picket the opening of The Laramie Project in London last night, even though he'd written to the UK gay press promising to do so. The play is about the murder of gay teenager Matthew Shephard, an action Phelps, and his Westboro Baptist Church, heartily approve of. As their counter-protest was not needed, a group from the National Union of Students handed out leaflets undisturbed.

Homophobic demonstrators stay away from play's first news, 12th March 2003.

Cynical evangelists encourage Satanic panic

Lebanon: Rumours about Satanic cults kidnapping children, removing their hearts and drinking their blood have terrified children so much that they are asking to carry mace to protect themselves, and Christian evangelists have been quick to exploit the situation.

Tele-Lumiere, a private Christian television station, aired a report on devil worship last Sunday, and included a live testimony from an alleged former devil worshipper, who described in detail the orgies and bloody rituals she and her devil worshipping mates would partake in.
The young woman, whose face was blurred, recounted that cult members would strip young girls of their virginity and if an unwanted pregnancy resulted, the unborn baby would be offered as a sacrifice before the mother was due to deliver.

No mention was made of the fact the early Christians were accused of exactly the same thing by the Romans. Apaprently you can recognise a devil-worshipper because they dress in black, look "grungy," have several body piercings, tattoos and long untrimmed hair and beards.

The rumours all focus on one shopping and entertainment centre, and the owners have now filed a complaint with the police.

The most popular rumor involving mysterious devil worshippers, talks of one or more teenagers being found dead in the Dunes Center restrooms with their hearts extracted.
Other rumors involving Dunes also include stories of nails being placed on theater seats, entertainment equipment being destroyed and a girl being raped.
We have closed-circuit cameras everywhere in the center, said Rayess. They are in the elevators, in the movie the aters, everywhere, and we monitor everything.
Rayess also said that the center employs two or three security guards per floor and that they keep a watchful eye on everything.
If these rumors were true, don't you think that the police would have come and sealed off the center and investigated? asked Rayess in frustration.

Non-conventional young people are already suffering harassment as a result. A number of youths have been arrested in connection with the alleged cult but were released. Judicial sources noted that having tattoos was not a crime, but others called for laws banning Satanism. Devil worshipping rumors rife among children - The Daily Star (Lebanon), 12th March 2003.

A drastic approach to curbing rumours

Tanzania: Mateo Qaresi, Mbeya Regional Commissioner has banned traditional healers from the area in an attempt to stop a spate of witchcraft-related killings. Any healer remaining in the area after the ban comes into effect will be arrested.

Qaresi said the government was waging war against killers of women and rumour mongers who spread reports that body parts of women were needed in witchcraft rituals.

He said the government would make sure that the spate of killings of women in the region would end in two months time from now.

He described as untrue claims that 60 women were needed to be sacrificed for the new Southern African Development Community international airport to be constructed in Songwe area.

Mbeya RC bans traditional doctors from neighbouring regions, countriesThe Guardian (Tanzania), 12th March 2003. See also An African Ripper?Pagan Prattle, 24th February 2003 and African witch-beliefsPagan Prattle, 1st November 2002.

'Satanists' released

Morocco: Eleven of the 14 heavy metal fans recently jailed have been released on bail pending appeals. They were conviceted of distributing material which undermines good morals and making people listen, with bad intent, to songs which contravene good morals or incite debauchery. During the trial, the prosecution linked the music fans to an organised Satanic cult, but the defense argued that heavy metal subculture has been misunderstood. Public opinion has been on the fans' side, with many fearing a conservative Muslim crusade against youth culture. Moroccan Court Grants Bail for Heavy Metal Fans - Reuters, 12th March 2003.

What are the odds these folk are fundies?

South Africa: Managing to confuse at least three different religious traditions in one go, a counsellor has claimed:

Hennie Brits, a counsellor, said the area was known as the witches' Mecca. Hundreds of school children are drawn into Satanism and become involved in crime, drugs and prostitution in this manner. The youngest witch that I know of is 12 years old.

Another self-styled "expert", Korbus Jonker, claimed The number of Satanists in South Africa is estimated at about 62 000 and 80% are younger than 18. Up to 14 people are killed in Satanist sacrifices every year and told news sources that initiation involved blood sacrifces and rape. The evidence of this was some brightly-coloured graffiti with the odd goat's head and pentagram.

Even though the news items didn't specifically mention Paganism, the Pagen Federation were put on the defensive, emphasising that Neopagan practice bears no resemblemce to those described and that the only Satanist group they knew of in the area was not open to under 18s.

As far as reports of sex orgies are concerned, added [South African Pagan Federation president the Rev Norman] Geldenhuys,I've been in the game for 28 years, and I'm not averse to being a little naughty, but I haven't found one (orgy) yet.

Teen Satanist cell found - News24, 7th March 2003; Satanism: Pagans spell it out - News24, 12th March 2003.

March 3, 2003

Sometimes it's better to see a religious officiant.

Osaka, Japan: A Chinese student accused of killing his wife has allegedly admitted he did it to remove her evil spirits.

I thought I would removed the evil spirits that had entered her body, police quoted the student as saying. When I held down her throat with my elbow, she stopped moving.

Chinese student kills wife to 'remove evil spirits' - Mainichi Daily News, 3rd March 2003.

Saying nothing about religion

Lucknow, India: A devotee of Shiva has cut his tongue with a razor and offered it to the deity. No one knows why he did is, as the Times of India observed: Since he was unable to speak, it could not be ascertained what prompted him to take this step. Shiva devotee slashes his tongue - Times of India 3rd March 2003.

March 2, 2003

Greek authorites shocked by stunningly original depiction of Jesus

Greek police have charged an author, translator and publisher with criminal blasphemy over a comic which shockingly depicts Jesus as a hippy.

Commenting on the decision by the Greek authorities, [author Gerhard] Haderer said: Now we have really gone back to the Middle Ages. It didn't even get that far in Catholic Austria.
Haderer stressed: My book is not an attack on religion or on believers. It is meant for believers to take a more light-hearted look at their faith and through humour become closer to God.

He is considering taking the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. Greek police seize hippy Jesus book - Ananova, 28th February 2003.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Love Thy Neighbour category from March 2003.

Love Thy Neighbour: February 2003 is the previous archive.

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