Russian Protest Leader Alexei Navalny Gets 15 Days in Jail

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who organized a wave of nationwide protests against government corruption that rattled authorities, was jailed for 15 days on Monday by a Moscow court for resisting police orders.

Navalny was arrested Sunday as he walked to a protest in Moscow and spent the night in jail before appearing in court.

Tens of thousands of anti-corruption protesters took to the streets across Russia on Sunday in the biggest show of defiance since 2011-2012 anti-government protests. (Read more from “Russian Protest Leader Alexei Navalny Gets 15 Days in Jail” HERE)

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Pope Francis’ Double Standard on Nationalism and Populism

A few months back I addressed a conspiracy theory: It said that Donald Trump’s chief of strategy Steve Bannon was colluding with doctrinal conservative Cardinal Leo Burke to thwart Pope Francis. There was no substance behind it.

But the fault lines that theory pointed to are real. Catholics in Europe and America are just as divided as their countrymen of other creeds. We are torn between competing theories of how to govern our nations.

Whom should we include? How much power must we grant globalist institutions such as the UN and the EU?

Pope Francis Tells Europe to Abandon Nationalism

Pope Francis has just drawn a line in the sand. In his recent address to European and EU leaders, the pope took a clear swipe at leaders such as Donald Trump, and European patriotic politicians. He warned Europe’s leaders that “[f]orms of populism are … the fruit of an egotism that hems people in and prevents them from overcoming and ‘looking beyond’ their own narrow vision.”

He even seemed to endorse the rule of technocratic elites like the EU’s unelected commissioners. The pope said:

Politics needs this kind of leadership, which avoids appealing to emotions to gain consent, but instead, in a spirit of solidarity and subsidiarity, devises policies that can make the Union as a whole develop harmoniously.

Should We Prefer Strangers’ Children to Our Own?

Is it “egotism” to want your country’s elected government to protect its national interests? To look out first for its citizens? Is it egotism to put your own children’s interests before those of strangers in foreign countries?

That’s not what St. Thomas Aquinas taught. He wrote that we owe our first duty to our own children, and then to our neighbors.

Do Would-Be Immigrants Have Equal Claims to Citizens?

The pope called for Europe’s states to make “equal room for the native and the immigrant.” Are their claims really “equal”? If so, then hopeful Syrian immigrants have an equal claim on the government of Poland or France as veterans who fought in those country’s wars.

And that’s how governments in many European countries are acting already. Why else would Sweden forbid its police to give physical descriptions of wanted fugitives? (The point was to avoid inflaming “Islamophobia.”) Why would Germany prosecute citizens who criticize its immigration policies?

Does Pope Francis really think that nations should not protect their own citizens first? That people can’t defend their interests through political action?

If he said that, he’d be saying that the fierce love of family and fidelity to a nation is part of the stain of Original Sin. To be true Christians we must renounce it. We must learn to see strangers as equally important to us as our children. Every human being is an interchangeable unit.

Christianity Isn’t Ayn Rand’s Suicidal “Altruism.”

That’s not Christianity, of course. It’s the ugly parody that appears in Ayn Rand’s novels. She scornfully calls it “altruism.” For Rand, the Gospel demands that we prefer other people’s interests to our own. We should care more about foreign children than our own, in the name of a perfect “unselfishness.”

C.S. Lewis eloquently dismantled this idea in The Screwtape Letters. The Gospel in fact demands that we trim back and restrain the self-interest we were made with. But we can’t abolish it and shouldn’t try. We must learn the love for others in the school of family and community. That starts by loving our kin.

Pope Francis’ Multiculturalist Double Standard

I’m happy to say that Pope Francis does not teach such crackpot altruism as a universal theory. He doesn’t even condemn populism or nationalism per se. He sent a fulsome message of support to the recent Regional Gathering of Popular Movements. Its “Message from Modesto included a long list of claims that appeal to ethnic and economic self-interest.

In 2015, the pope actually addressed a meeting of such movements. That was during the trip when he accepted the “Communist crucifix” from the populist leader of Bolivia.

No, Pope Francis approves of nationalism, populism, and politics that promote one’s economic self-interest. There’s just one catch: Such movements are forbidden to European peoples. Also to members of the middle class. We are not allowed to advance our own interests, ever.

You’ll find no instance of Pope Francis warning Mexicans or Argentines against excesses of nationalism. He hasn’t called for Asian or Latin American countries to open their (fiercely guarded) borders. He doesn’t denounce the populists of Venezuela when they use the state to forcibly redistribute the wealth. (Venezuelan leftist populism is so disastrous that Catholics there can’t even get enough flour to make hosts for Holy Communion. No word from Pope Francis about that yet.)

Winking at Islamists and Socialists

No, it’s only when Europeans, or middle-class Americans, wish to look out for their own interests that Pope Francis feels the need to chastise. He seems to have internalized the ethical double standard of multiculturalism. One set of rules applies to the “privileged,” and another to the “underprivileged.” Only the upper classes are held to the higher standard.

But we’re supposed to wink at groupthink, rage, and the will to power when others indulge it. We’ll coddle it among Muslim immigrants, Bolivian Indians, or members of Black Lives Matter.

Of course, Pope Francis’ position is not an official teaching of the Catholic church. It’s not even a theological theory. It’s just a political bias. Good Catholics are perfectly free to point out that it is, to say the least, a double standard. (For more from the author of “Pope Francis’ Double Standard on Nationalism and Populism” please click HERE)

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Orphanage Fire in Guatemala Reflects Dire Situation in Central America

Two weeks ago, at least 40 girls died in a fire at an orphanage in San Jose Pinula, Guatemala.

The facility was fitted to host 500 children, though there were an estimated 700 girls staying there at the time of the blaze. The fire is confirmed to have been started when several girls set fire to a mattress with a match in protest of the conditions at the facility.

The previous day, accusations of mistreatment and sexual abuse of the minors at the facility culminated in a riot. During that riot, 60 or so girls escaped from the facility, but were brought back by riot police and were locked in their classroom for hours.

This tragedy comes after allegations of widespread abuse at the orphanage. There are reports that girls had been beaten, raped, and subjected to other atrocities. Three teachers had even been convicted of rape.

This situation was not unknown, as the Guatemalan government has criticized the operations at the orphanage for the past three years. But the abuse continued up until the fire, and the Guatemalan government did not address the matter sufficiently.

A significant factor that has led to thousands of children being abandoned and neglected is violence from the gang war. Drug trafficking and violent criminal gangs run rampant in these countries, wreaking havoc on society.

Transnational criminal organizations make billions in profits from the trafficking of illicit goods, weapons, and people in and around the region. Their activities have contributed to the Northern Triangle countries of Central America having some of the highest murder rates in the world.

These gangs also wreak havoc in the United States, as shown in a recent case in which two Houston-based MS-13 gang members killed a girl in a satanic ritual.

Another factor enabling this deterioration of conditions is the weak governance in the region. In 2015, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, alongside his vice president, were ousted after they were accused and later imprisoned for their role in a massive fraud racket.

While initially popular, the current president, Jimmy Morales, has fallen out of favor. Many are calling for his resignation, due to his brother and son being charged with corruption.

With this political instability, it is no surprise that the Guatemalan government has a hard time clamping down on criminal activity and securing its people. Instead, corruption remains high, murder is rampant, and gang wars are creating more orphans.

In order to resolve these problems in the long term, there will need to be a concerted effort in not only fighting these transnational organized crime gangs, but ensuring that the conditions that allow them to thrive are also dealt with.

It is in the United States’ strategic interests to help solve these problems. With an alleviation of the regional security crisis caused by drug crime, the problems of illegal immigration and gang violence facing the United States will likely subside. (For more from the author of “Orphanage Fire in Guatemala Reflects Dire Situation in Central America” please click HERE)

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US Leads Boycott of UN Talks on Nuclear Weapons Ban

The United States, Britain and France are among almost 40 countries boycotting talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty at the United Nations, according to Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the world body.

With none of the participants – more than 100 countries – at Monday’s talks belonging to the group of states that possess nuclear weapons, the talks were doomed to failure.

According to Haley, the countries skipping the discussions “would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons, but in this day and time we can’t honestly say we can protect our people by allowing bad actors to have them and those of us that are good trying to keep peace and safety not to have them.”

Speaking as the debate at the UN headquarters in New York got under way, Haley also mentioned North Korea, which has recently has carried out missile tests that violate UN resolutions.

“We have to be realistic. Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?” Haley said. “North Korea would be the one cheering and all of us and the people we represent would be the ones at risk.” (Read more from “US Leads Boycott of UN Talks on Nuclear Weapons Ban” HERE)

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Why This Pastor Refuses to Leave War-Torn Syria, and Even Considers His Work a Privilege

Pastor Edward Awabdeh has been leading souls to Christ in Syria for over a decade, even through the worst of his country’s catastrophic civil war.

“It’s so painful to see the degree of evil that’s taken place in my country,” Awabdeh says, lamenting what has become of Syria. But his faith has not only grown in response, it has helped him make sense of the disaster.

Awabdeh oversees Alliance Church and around 20 other congregations in Syria, according to a story at the U.K. Express last year, where his congregation has endured not only the horrors of the country’s civil war, but the encroaching presence of ISIS in the region.

When your mission field is a literal warzone and your congregants under constant threat of becoming casualties, carrying out the great commission is a daunting task.

In an interview with Conservative Review, Pastor Awabdeh recalls one week in particular that was exceptionally trying for his flock. During the week leading up to Easter a few years ago, one of the church girls – who was supposed to sing for Palm Sunday – lost both of her feet in a mortar attack on her school, one of the women of the church was killed in a missile attack on an apartment complex, and a son of one of the church’s pastoral team was killed amidst the conflict.

“I felt a very heavy burden … that it was too much to handle,” Awabdeh said, explaining that he also had to go through with the regular Easter services all the while supporting the grieving families affected by loss.

“It was very challenging,” he said. “But when you see people experiencing the help of the Lord and seeing that the Holy Spirit is really filling their hearts with peace, it was really a great encouragement to us. It really empowers us.”

Speaking before the interview at an event on Capitol Hill, Awabdeh told a similar story of a woman in the congregation whose son was killed by Al-Nusra forces, where militants went door to door slaughtering Christian men en masse, in a genocidal attack. He said the mother – whose son willfully and proudly accepted his martyrdom – still doesn’t know where her child is buried.

Another man he knew, Awabdeh says, was killed by Islamists simply because he had a Christian name.

But, for Christians, the Syrian civil war and its impact are just part of a larger pattern of persecution, conflict, and genocide that is steadily driving Christianity out of the region in which it was born. In his speaking engagement on Capitol Hill, hosted by the International Christian Concern, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the House International Religious Freedom Caucus, Awabdeh remarked sadly on Christianity’s desperate and beleaguered situation in the region.

“It seems that each year goes by, more Christians leave the country,” he said. “Century after century, Christians became less and less.”

Times are indeed dark in the pastor’s homeland. But seeing people come to Christ through such indescribable suffering and desolation is what makes the nightmare in his country make sense to him.

“I see that the Lord has allowed this disaster in my country, but that he is using this disaster to bring eternal salvation, eternal fruits [to people],” Awabdeh tells CR. “That helps me — that He has a great project that He is working on … that it is something eternal and that He is using church to be an instrument in this project. This is the most, one singular encouragement of my life.”

Having served as a pastor in Damascus since 2004, Awabdeh said that the decision to stay when war broke out was a natural one for him and his congregation, even as millions of others began to flee the carnage.

“It was not a challenging decision at all, because I am pastoring a church and I am just helping people,” he says, adding that he only thinks about it when he is asked. “So, when things got worse we felt it was just the normal thing to do — the right thing to do.”

“When things got really bad,” Pastor Awabdeh said, “we felt like it was a privilege to be there. We felt that the hand of the Lord was doing something in this country. How blessed are we that we are there to be part of what the Lord is doing in this country? So we thank God for this privilege.”

“It really taught us in a hard way how to be focused on what’s eternal. And I think this lesson was spread in a clear language to everybody among us,” he said, saying that the challenges he and his congregation have endured have taught them to rely on their faith and God completely. “We need Him every minute, every day of our lives.”

He says that when things get especially tough, one portion of scripture that he goes to for support is the second half of Romans 8, which St. Paul wrote to persecuted Christians, laying out the promises and the power of God.

“I feel that’s very comforting, the wonderful promise of Jesus,” Awabdeh says. “I always feel like the sovereignty of God and the love of God are the two wings that carry me through the storm.” (For more from the author of “Why This Pastor Refuses to Leave War-Torn Syria, and Even Considers His Work a Privilege” please click HERE)

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Russia Rocked by Nationwide Protests

Russia’s opposition, often written off by critics as a small and irrelevant coterie of privileged urbanites, put on an impressive nationwide show of strength Sunday with scores of protest rallies spanning the vast country. Hundreds were arrested, including Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic.

It was the biggest show of defiance since the 2011-2012 wave of demonstrations that rattled the Kremlin and led to harsh new laws aimed at suppressing dissent. Almost all of Sunday’s rallies were unsanctioned, but thousands braved the prospect of arrests to gather in cities from the Far East port of Vladivostok to the “window on the West” of St. Petersburg.

An organization that monitors Russian political repression, OVD-Info, said it counted more than 800 people arrested in the Moscow demonstrations alone. That number could not be confirmed and state news agency Tass cited Moscow police as saying there were about 500 arrests. (Read more from “Russia Rocked by Nationwide Protests” HERE)

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Refugee Rights Protest at Broadmeadows, Melbourne

UK Churches Seeing a Surge in Muslim Refugee Conversions

Churches in Europe are experiencing a steep growth in membership — but not from native Europeans. New converts from Islam are reviving Christian churches in the area, Fox News reports.

Matthew Kaemingk, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle, said that Europeans think they have what they need. “Europeans are wealthy, comfortable, healthy and powerful,” he said. “In short, they don’t think they need God.”

In contrast, Muslim refugees are “quite the opposite.” They are spiritual and struggling in a variety of ways. As a result, said Kaemink, Muslim immigrants are “much more open to the message of Christianity.”

Church Growing from Muslim Converts

Muslim converts have helped Trinity church in the Berlin suburbs grow from 150 to 700 members in two years, said Pastor Gottfried Martens. One Austrian Catholic church estimated that refugees accounted for 70 percent of its 300 baptisms in 2016. The bishop of Bradford, Tony Howarth, said that 25 percent of all confirmations he conducted last year were Muslim converts.

Churches are growing in large part because they offer help and support to those most in need. And the needs are more than physical. The average Muslim experiences “a deep sense of displacement,” Kaemingk explained. “Their sense of homelessness is not only geographical, it is spiritual. Churches who offer these Muslims real and meaningful hospitality are seeing some surprising results.”

Former Refugee Remembers

Mohammad Eghtedarian recalled the harrowing days traveling from Iran to the UK, broke and scared. Christians gave him much-needed support along the way. Eghtedarian then spent four months waiting to be granted asylum. “Every day was challenging and beautiful,” he said. “Challenging because I didn’t know if they would deport me; beautiful because I was in the Lord’s hands. I promised the Lord: If you release me, I will serve you.” He’s now a curate at Liverpool Cathedral. Eghtedarian’s own refugee experience allows him to minister to current refugees in a way that perhaps others could not.

Questioning Faith Led One Refugee to Christ

One refugee named Johannes began questioning his Muslim faith while attending an Iranian university. “I found that the history of Islam was completely different from what we were taught at school.” Johannes fled to Austria after he and others were ambushed leaving a Bible class.

“A religion that began with violence cannot lead people to freedom and love,” he said. “Jesus Christ said ‘those who use the sword will die by the sword.’ This really changed my mind.”

Johannes is still waiting to hear whether he’s been granted asylum.

Converting for Asylum?

Faith leaders are well aware that some immigrants may have ulterior motives for converting. The Catholic Church in Austria has published guidelines to help priests confront the problem. It warns that admitting persons for baptism who are found to be ‘not credible’ harms the church’s credibility.

“There has to be a noticeable interest in the faith that extends beyond merely the wish to obtain a piece of paper,” said Friederike Dostal, coordinator of preparation courses in Vienna’s archdiocese. Currently, applicants for conversion must be informally assessed by the Church for a year.

Eghtedarian admitted some people pretend to convert to Christianity to help their asylum applications. “I do understand there are a lot of mixed motives. There are many people abusing the system. … but is it the person’s fault or the system’s fault? And who are they deceiving? The Home Office, me as a pastor, or God?”

He compared the deception to parents attending a church so their children can get into good Christian schools, or cheating on taxes. Eghtedarian’s response remains the same. “We still try our best to serve people. Jesus Christ knew Judas was going to betray him but he still washed his feet. Thank God it is not my job to judge them.” (For more from the author of “UK Churches Seeing a Surge in Muslim Refugee Conversions” please click HERE)

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London Terror Suspect Identified for Parliament Square Jihad, ISIS Claims Responsibility

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s terrorist attack in London, according to the jihadi outfit’s propaganda outlet, Amaq News Agency.

“The perpetrator of the attacks yesterday in front of the British Parliament in London is an Islamic State soldier and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition,” Amaq revealed.

On Wednesday, four people were killed and dozens more injured when the Islamic terrorist drove his vehicle along a pedestrian walkway over the Westminster Bridge in London. After ramming several people, the terrorist got out of his car and proceeded to go on a stabbing spree, before he was finally neutralized by police. The terrorist utilized a vehicular jihadi tactic popularized by Palestinian terrorists, a tactic which has since spread to groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

An American citizen, 54-year-old Kurt Cochran from Utah, was among those killed in the attack, along with a police officer and a female schoolteacher. Cochran was in London celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife Melissa, who was also injured in the melee.

British authorities have named British-born Khalid Masood as the man responsible for the attack.

“Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack. However, he was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences,” said a statement from London Metropolitan Police.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the killer had previously been investigated for ties to extremist activity.

“Our working assumption is that the attacker was inspired by Islamist ideology,” May said at the British Parliament. “We know the threat from Islamist terrorism is very real. But while the public should remain utterly vigilant, they should not and will not be cowed by this threat.”

“An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal … we are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism,” May added. “Democracy and the values it entails will always prevail.”

Meanwhile, police have spent much of Thursday conducting raids throughout the country. They are reportedly investigating areas where Masood has previously lived. (For more from the author of “London Terror Suspect Identified for Parliament Square Jihad, ISIS Claims Responsibility” please click HERE)

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London Attack Shows Challenge of Stopping Terrorism in Age of ISIS

At least four people were killed, including a police officer and the suspected assailant, and 40 others wounded in a terrorist attack Wednesday in London.

British Prime Minister Theresa May described the suspected attacker, whose name she did not release, as a British-born man “inspired by Islamist ideology” whom the country’s domestic intelligence agency had investigated for connections to extremism.

The man drove a large vehicle into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, which leads to the United Kingdom’s Parliament, authorities said.

After the vehicle crashed, the man got out and approached Parliament, where he fatally stabbed a police officer as he tried to enter the building. Police then fatally shot the attacker, authorities said.

The Islamic State, the terrorist group also known as ISIS, on Thursday claimed responsibility for the attack.

Heritage Foundation terrorism expert Robin Simcox told The Daily Signal that “anyone who has looked at this [security] issue will tell you that even with the best intelligence, this was going to happen at some point.”

Some of those wounded or injured were teenage schoolchildren from France, The New York Times and other media reported.

Police said they were treating the attack as terrorism. Parliament chambers and offices were placed on lockdown for more than two hours. Both the House of Commons and House of Lords will sit Thursday at their normal times.

The attack, which unfolded around 2:40 p.m. local time, came on the anniversary of suicide bombings in Brussels—claimed by ISIS—that killed 32 people, along with three bombers.

“This is the day we have planned for but we hoped would never happen,” Mark Rowley, the acting deputy commissioner with London’s Metropolitan Police Service, said at a news conference. “Sadly, it’s now a reality.”

President Donald Trump spoke with May to express his condolences over the attack.

Before Wednesday, Britain had not suffered a major terrorist attack since the rise of ISIS, unlike the U.S., France, Belgium, and Germany. But the United Kingdom long has been an attractive target for terrorists.

British intelligence services, considered some of the best in the world, have foiled planned attacks before they happened.

Long before the most recent threats, Britain maintained a comprehensive, preventive approach to counterterrorism, beginning its efforts shortly after the 2005 bombings by Islamist terrorists of London’s public transport network. That attack is commonly known as 7/7 for the month and day it occurred.

“The U.K had escaped the attacks of France and Germany—not because the U.K. is not a target but because it has a world-class intelligence service and collection capacity and the agencies work very well together,” Simcox said.

“Britain has an extremely well-integrated intelligence system,” Simcox continued. “But anyone who has looked at this issue will tell you that even with the best intelligence, this was going to happen at some point. The U.K. is a very high-value target for ISIS. It has had a host of plots thwarted in recent years, and eventually one would get through.”

In 2015, authorities made 35 percent more terrorism-related arrests in the United Kingdom than in 2010. About 800 individuals from Britain have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight in the conflicts there. Among them was Mohammed Emwazi, a British Arab known as Jihadi John who notoriously beheaded multiple Americans and Britons before he was killed in a U.S. airstrike in November 2015.

Counterterrorism experts say the mode of the Wednesday’s attack—car-ramming and stabbing—are ISIS’ staples and relatively easy to carry out and difficult to stop.

“It’s impossible to stop in a free society because these are very simple attacks,” said Rashad Ali, a U.K.-based resident senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, in an interview with The Daily Signal. “Anyone can drive a car into anything and anyone can find a large knife. It would be completely in line with the kind of attacks we have seen over recent years.”

Indeed, in a December 2016 terrorist attack in Berlin, Germany, an attacker—who pledged allegiance to ISIS—drove a truck into a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others.

In Nice, France, last July, that same tactic was used when a Tunisian resident of France drove a cargo truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, resulting in the deaths of 86 people and injuring 434.

ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack as well.

“We don’t know for sure if [the London attack] is ISIS,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, in an interview with The Daily Signal. “But looking at the ISIS sphere, a lot of the reasons why this stuff works is the attacks that are a little more low grade are harder to protect against than grandiose plots that occurred in the decade following 9/11.”

Gartenstein-Ross and other experts say these types of attacks are becoming more difficult to stop because domestic extremists are able to use encrypted technology to communicate with terrorist groups overseas.

The New York Times recently reported that as ISIS has lost territory in Iraq and Syria, its members are increasingly conceiving and guiding domestic attacks through virtual communications.

“ISIS has operatives where their role is to basically do online what physical recruiters used to do,” Gartenstein-Ross said. “They identify domestic operatives, move them forward to the point where they are ready to carry out attacks, help them prepare propaganda in advance, and even help them do technical things if necessary.”

Experts say these methods make the jobs of already overburdened law enforcement agencies that much harder.

“Law enforcement is the least of the problems,” Gartenstein-Ross said. “They are doing everything they can to stop these plots.”

Ali seconded this view.

“You can’t take away from this [London attack] that counterterrorism measures aren’t working,” Ali said. “That isn’t true. They are working because the large-scale attacks are being thwarted. Now isn’t the time for recriminations of groups and knee-jerk reactions. We need to heal before we decide how to respond to this.” (For more from the author of “London Attack Shows Challenge of Stopping Terrorism in Age of ISIS” please click HERE)

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Cuba: Christian Leader Receives 3-Year Prison Sentence for Anti-Castro Comments

Eduardo Cardet, the head of Cuba’s anti-communist Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), has been sentenced to serve three years in prison following his violent arrest in front of his two young children after the death of Fidel Castro in November.

Some witnesses say Cardet had been heard criticizing the government for forcing Cubans to sign overwrought goodbye notes in government-issued “condolence books.” The Cuban government imposed a nine-day “mourning period” following the elder Castro’s death in late November 2016, imprisoning those who dared defy it.

On Tuesday, Cuban courts convicted Cardet of assault against an officer of the state, a crime his family who witnessed his arrest, say he did not commit. “The sentence is based on manipulated data, without taking into consideration the testimony of defense witnesses,” Cardet’s wife, Yaimaris Vecino, said in a statement published by the MCL. “As we imagined, this has been another attempt to detain him as long as possible.” His family, she says, will appeal the sentence.

Vecino witnessed her husband’s arrest. Cuban police apprehended and beat him, she says, while she held her children away from the scene. Police hauled Cardet away and have since denied him bail on three occasions.

Amnesty International has declared Cardet a prisoner of conscience. “Doctor Cardet is confined to an Holguín prison just for having criticized Fidel Castro,” a statement released Wednesday by the NGO read. Cardet is a medical doctor by trade. “Dr. Cardet is a prisoner of conscience who should be freed immediately.” Amnesty declared Cardet a prisoner of conscience in February. (Read more from “Cuba: Christian Leader Receives 3-Year Prison Sentence for Anti-Castro Comments” HERE)

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