THURSDAY    January 13, 2000   vol. 11, no. 9   SECTION THREE

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  • Religious leaders fear worst in China
  • Nigeria could be next trouble spot with strict Muslim laws
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  • WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant continued


    CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY PROPOSES GREATER CONTROL OF RELIGIONS

    Response to Failure to Repress Catholics and Tibetan Buddhists

        BEIJING, JAN 11 (ZENIT) - Following the rebellion of many Catholics, who refused to attend the ordination of bishops of the Catholic Patriotic Association, and the escape of the young Karmapa Lama from Tibet, the Chinese Communist Party has called for greater control of religions in order to "guarantee political stability."

        "It is necessary that all who have responsibilities, especially directors, attentively study the Marxist concept of religion and, based on the law, reinforce the administration of religious affairs," Chinese Minister Zhu Rongji said today, during a meeting held in Beijing with directors of all local religious offices.

        The control of religions this year will be "even harsher," the State's Muslim adviser, Ismail Amat, said, who mentioned "hostile Western and local forces that use religion to infiltrate the country."

        Zhu Bangzao, spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed that China will not allow any country to interfere in its internal affairs in the name of religion. The spokesman did not refer directly to the Vatican, but the Beijing government's position is well-known, that the Pope's spiritual authority over the Church constitutes a threat to Communist control.

        On January 6, the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, controlled by the regime, consecrated 5 bishops without John Paul II's approval. According to the international agency "Fides," an additional 9 priests rejected episcopal ordination as a sign of respect for the Pope, even though they knew perfectly well that their opposition would trigger anger in the communist authorities.

        In recent days, news arrived that the third highest Tibetan Buddhist religious authority, the seventh Karmapa Lama, has fled to India, crossing the Himalayas on foot, accompanied by two lamas. The 15-year-old boy, was the only important personage in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy recognized both by Beijing as well as the Dalai Lama. The Chinese government had placed its bets on the youth in order to guarantee the support of the Tibetan people, given that the Panchen Lama imposed by Beijing against the Dalai Lama's will is not accepted by Tibetan monks, who prefer the Panchen Lama named by the Dalai Lama. ZE000011108

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    NIGERIA'S CHRISTIANS FEAR IMPOSITION OF ISLAMIC LAW

    Radical Separation of Sexes and Draconian Justice May Follow

        ABUJA, NIGERIA, JAN 12 (ZENIT).- The northern Nigerian state of Zamfara will introduce strict following of the Sharia, or Islamic law, on January 27. Citizens of this poverty-stricken region will face the sometimes severe prescriptions of this code, such as amputations for theft and public flogging for drinking alcohol.

        The initiative is strongly supported by Muslims, but has alarmed the Christian minority. Peter Hain, British Foreign Minister, told the "Daily Telegraph" that "North-south tensions could be exacerbated by the introduction of Sharia," since the north is primarily Muslim and the south Christian.

        It is expected that other northern states will follow Zamfara's lead in applying the Sharia. Ahmed Sani, Governor of Zamfara, assured that the measure would "reduce crime and restore morality to our corrupt society."

        Authorities have assured that the law would only apply to Muslims and "consenting Christians," but the minority Christian communities fear that inter-tribal relations will be poisoned by the measure.

        The law will affect all citizens to some degree in any case. Women will be banned from playing soccer, men and women will have to use separate buses, and motorcycle taxis will face prosecution for carrying female passengers. ZE99011121


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    January 13, 2000     volume 11, no. 9
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