Pulse

Dapchi crisis: CNN is only U.S. network to follow up on missing Leah Sharibu

Dapchi crisis: CNN is only U.S. network to follow up on missing Leah Sharibu

Typically, the international media often tires of a crisis after a few months and departs the scene, leaving the rest of us to scan more local outlets to find out what happened to the victims.

But the story of more than 100 Nigerian school girls kidnapped in February by a terrorist group is different. Not only were nearly all these girls returned a few months later, there was one left behind. This was one Christian girl who refused to convert to Islam in exchange for her freedom. Not surprisingly, her plight has caught the attention of many.

Including the U.S. president. According to Vanguard Media, a Nigerian outlet, we learn that Leah’s captivity was discussed in talks between Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and President Donald Trump when the former was in Washington this month.

Meanwhile, CNN was the lone U.S. network to send a reporter to Nigeria to find out who is this 15-year-old girl who defied a terrorist army. She may pay for her bravery with her life. Their story begins thus:

Dapchi, Nigeria (CNN) - Under normal circumstances, Leah Sharibu would have shared a special birthday meal with her family under the bamboo covering protecting them from the Sahara desert dust swirling around them at their home in northeast Nigeria.

At some point during the celebration, they would have bowed their heads in prayer, asking God to bless Leah on her birthday and to make her dreams come true.

But this birthday, her 15th, was different and her family spent the day crying and fervently praying. They don't know where she is. 

Leah was one of the 110 schoolgirls kidnapped by members of the terrorist group Boko Haram in February from their school in Dapchi, in northeast Nigeria.

All the other kidnapped schoolgirls from Dapchi have been freed -- except Leah who her friends say refused to renounce her Christian faith to Boko Haram.

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Why a wounded Orlando survivor begged God to 'take the soul out of my body'

Why a wounded Orlando survivor begged God to 'take the soul out of my body'

Powerful.

So, so powerful.

That's the only way to characterize Orlando survivor Patience Carter's description of the hell that she endured at the Pulse nightclub early Sunday.

In a front-page story today, the Los Angeles Times puts readers in the middle of the heartbreaking scene.

The lede from the Times:

ORLANDO, Fla. — As Patience Carter and two friends cowered inside the handicapped bathroom stall, injured and pinned by a crush of bleeding bodies, the gunman who opened fire in the Pulse nightclub kept talking.
“He said, ‘Are there any black people in here?’ I was too afraid to answer,” said Carter, who is African American.
Carter continued: “There was an African American man in the stall with us... he said, ‘Yes, there are about six or seven of us.’ The gunman responded back to him saying that, ‘You know, I don’t have a problem with black people, this is about my country. You guys suffered enough.’”
Carter, a slight 20-year-old NYU student from Philadelphia, had just arrived in Orlando, Fla., for her first night of vacation.
On Tuesday she and others who sought refuge in the side-by-side men’s and women’s restrooms during Sunday’s attack recounted how the gunman barked orders, claimed to have accomplices and laughed during the attack, which took 49 lives.
They also described how those trapped in the restrooms played dead, reached out to police by phone and tried to arrange their escape.

The Associated Press, CBS News and the local Orlando Sentinel are among other news organizations sharing Carter's story.

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After Orlando shooting, Chick-fil-A opens on Sunday to help — did the news media ignore?

After Orlando shooting, Chick-fil-A opens on Sunday to help — did the news media ignore?

My friend David Duncan texted me and asked:

So is this story true all over Facebook that Chick-fil-A gave free sandwiches and tea to people in the blood donor line but the media didn't cover it? Sounds like a GetReligion story.

If you're not sure what he's talking about, you must not be one of the 400,000-plus people (as of the moment I'm typing this) who have liked or shared this Facebook post by Florida attorney and radio show host Kevin Hayslett.

Hayslett's post from Monday afternoon says, in part:

Chick Fil A has made national news for it’s owners’ stance on gay marriage. Anytime they do something even remotely non-PC, their supposed slip up goes viral. Hash tags pop up all over the place.

So why is that what they have done in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting hasn’t received a single mention on the mainstream new outlets?

It’s probably because people like New York City Mayor, Bill DeBlasio might have to eat crow instead of chicken. DeBlasio has said that Chick Fil A spreads a message of hate.

What exactly did Chick-fil-A — whose owners have made news in recent years for their support of traditional marriage and values — do?

This is what: They prepared fried chicken sandwiches on Sunday:

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What offensive thing did Texas politician say after Orlando, and WHEN did he say it?

What offensive thing did Texas politician say after Orlando, and WHEN did he say it?

Sadly for my 16-year-old daughter, she inherited her father's level of patience.

When she asks a question, she wants an answer — and she wants it now.

That led to an interesting text exchange between the two of us recently when she saw a Twitter post from me while I did not immediately respond to her.

"Ever heard of scheduled tweets?" I eventually replied. "I was driving."

Scheduled tweets are indeed a thing, but somebody might want to inform the social media universe — including the news media.

While on an island and away from news of Sunday's mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick caused a Twitterstorm with a tweet scheduled days earlier.

Here's how The Associated Press reported the news:

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has deleted a tweet quoting the New Testament that he posted after the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting.
Hours after the early Sunday morning shooting at a gay nightclub that left at least 50 people dead, Patrick sent a tweet from his personal account: "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."

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Omar Mateen's 911 call answered big question; reporters seeking more info around the world

Omar Mateen's 911 call answered big question; reporters seeking more info around the world

While there remain some mysteries linked to the hellish massacre at the Pulse gay bar in Orlando, one thing was clear -- the man who kept pulling the trigger wanted to make sure that it was impossible for journalists around the world to avoid putting religion in the lede.

In the past, journalists have often had to wrestle with vague allusions to the names or nationalities of the terrorists involved in this kind of incident, while cautiously searching for on-the-record information that might point to motivation.

With his mobile call to Orlando's 911 center, Omar Mateen settled that issue, claiming that he was acting out of loyalty to the Islamic State.

But you knew that already and that's my point. It's hard to find a lede this morning that doesn't include a direct reference to that call.

So it's no secret why Mateen did what he did, at least according to whatever logic was functioning in his head at the time he marched into that nightclub. In this terrorism case, reporters could move straight into the second layer of mysteries about the man and the details of his life and faith. While President Barack Obama kept his language vague, other political leaders were quite blunt. The New York Post noted:

Mateen “made a pledge of allegiance to ISIS,” California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN.
Schiff said the timing and target of the attack can’t be a coincidence.
“The fact that this shooting took place during Ramadan and that ISIS leadership in Raqqa has been urging attacks during this time, that the target was an LGBT nightclub during (LGBT) Pride (month) and, if accurate, that according to local law enforcement the shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS, indicates an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism,” Schiff said.

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Shooting back: Christian militia in Iraq gets mainstream media attention

Shooting back: Christian militia in Iraq gets mainstream media attention

Maybe the terrorists of ISIS forgot, but their victims can get guns, too. One such militia, the Babylonian Brigades, is made of Christians who have joined Muslim defenders in Iraq. And as NBC News reports, "they're out for revenge."

Sounds like NBC's crew has zeroed in on a hot story that could well get hotter:

The 1,000-strong Babylonian Brigades is the only Christian militia under the Shiite-dominated umbrella group of volunteer fighters known as the Popular Mobilization Forces — and they're out for revenge.
ISIS "displaced us from our houses, they took our money, killed our young men and women and they took our properties," the group's commander, Rayan Al-Kildani, told NBC News. "Therefore, Christians decided to fight the terrorists of ISIS."
"By the will of God we will avenge what happened to our community," he added.

Many news organizations last year woke up to persecution of Christians;  "Iraq's Other Horror Story," Chris Matthews of MSNBC called it. But NBC News not only jumped on the counterattack, but talked to the fighters.

NBC reports that the Babylonian Brigades formed in June 2014 after the fall of Mosul, a city that once had 30,000 Christian residents.  The militiamen tell the reporter of thefts, rapes, enslavement and summary executions of their loved ones.

It cites the CIA World Factbook that only about 260,000 are left in Iraq as of 2010, although it doesn't say how many once lived there. Some sources count as many as 800,000 to a million before the U.S.' two military actions against the government of Saddam Hussein, starting in 1991.

ISIS' persecution of religious minorities -- Yazidis and Sufi and Shiite Muslims as well as Christians -- has gotten a rising tide of coverage, in mainstream media as well as the religious press. But most of the stories take one of two themes: suffering masses fleeing violence, only to face sickness and hunger; or thousands falling victim to shootings, burnings or beheadings by ISIS.

There's also an occasional subplot of mainstream media: friends of various religions banding together against a common foe. Newsweek did it in March with its feature on the Christian flight from Maaloula, Syria. " In this town, we are not defined by religion," a Sunni man told the newsmagazine. "We all know each other. Everyone is a Christian, and everyone is Muslim."

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New persecution in Sudan: Religion News Service report leads mainstream media

New persecution in Sudan: Religion News Service report leads mainstream media

"Courage is contagious," Billy Graham has said. "When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened."

Whether from courage or just old-school nose for news, the Religion News Service deserves thanks and applause for its Wednesday story on a new round of persecution in Sudan.

Remember Meriam Yayha Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman who was jailed and threatened with death last year? Well, something like that is happening again: The government there has jailed two pastors, charging them with spying and, according to RNS, with "assault on religious belief."

In a way, it's even worse this time around. Ibrahim was accused of "apostasy," deserting the Islamic faith. Her counter-argument was that her mother raised her as a Christian and she never converted to the faith of her father. She won her case and was released in a month, then emigrated to the United States.

In the current case, neither the Rev. Michael Yat nor the Rev. Peter Yein Reith is accused of leaving Islam. At bottom, their arrests stem from the creation of South Sudan in 2011 after a long, brutal civil war. Both ministers are members of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church.

As RNS tells it:

Yat was arrested last year after visiting the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church’s Bahri congregation in Khartoum, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a charity that works on behalf of persecuted Christians.
The congregation had resisted the takeover of the church by a Muslim businessman, who had demolished part of the worship center.
In December, police beat and arrested 38 Christians for worshipping in the church.
With Yat’s arrest, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church sent Reith with a letter to the authorities to demand his release. He was arrested on Jan. 11.

RNS adds that since the creation of South Sudan, the northern nation "has forced out all foreign missionaries, raided churches and arrested and interrogated Christians on grounds that they belonged to South Sudan." So Yat's and Reith's case is an apparent blend of governmental paranoia and Sudan's militant form of Islam.

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