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Top 5 international stories of the week

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July 15, 2016

Every Friday, we bring to you the top five international stories of the week, with a particular emphasis on religious liberty, justice issues, and geopolitical issues that impact liberty and justice.

1. Terror attack in Nice, France kills 84. A large truck drove nearly a mile through a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day, a major French holiday. Two children have been killedMohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old French citizen born in Tunisia. Bouhlel had a minor police record and was not on the French authorities’ watch list of radicalized young men. This is the third major attack in France in 19 months.

2. Russia’s Putin signs law cracking down on religious minorities. Soon, talking about your faith outside a church with a person who is not a member of your religion will be illegal in Russia. Russia’s new anti-religious freedom bill will give the state unprecedented power to discriminate against religious minorities, driving religious minorities back underground and stoking the flames of extremism in Russia.

3. Conflicts are brewing in the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula over territorial claims and missile defense. This week, an international arbitration panel in The Hague ruled against China’s territorial claims over a number of islands in the South China Sea that are also claimed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. Although the islands are largely uninhabited, claim to the islands brings fishing rights, trade routes, and undersea mineral rights. Beijing has refused the honor the arbitration panel’s ruling, instead asserting its right to establish an air defense zone over its claimed territory. For more on this, the BBC and New York Times have helpful explainers.

In other air defense news in the region, North Korea has threatened a “physical response” to the US’s plans to deploy a THAAD missile-defense system in South Korea. North Korea’s aggression is growingly worrying, as even China seems unable to rein in Pyongyang’s military development.

4. Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London, named the UK’s new foreign secretary. Johnson, who is not known for his diplomatic demeanor, will play a key role in leading the UK into a new post-EU reality. Many questions remain about the future of UK foreign policy and the extent of Johnson’s influence. Johnson has publicly advocated that the UK should work with Russia and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to defeat ISIS. In 2006, Johnson wrote that Iran should be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.

5. In Pakistan, a Christian family flees their village after an accusation of blasphemy. World Watch Monitor: “A Pakistani Christian and his family have fled their home in the religiously conservative city of Gujrat, after he was accused of committing blasphemy by sending an offensive message via mobile-phone text. . . . One of James’s brothers, Faryad, told World Watch Monitor that police then ‘forcibly took away and beat’ two of Nadeem’s sisters-in-law, including one who has an 18-month-old son, in order to pressure them to provide information of James’s whereabouts. However, the police told local newspapers that the two women were being kept in ‘protective custody’ and would be released if any organisation took responsibility for their safety.”

Have suggestions for a top 5 article this week or think there’s an issue we should be covering? Email me at [email protected].

Travis Wussow

Travis Wussow serves as the Vice President for Public Policy and General Counsel. Travis led the ERLC’s first international office located in the Middle East prior to joining the Washington DC office. He received a B.B.A. in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from The … Read More