Germany’s lockdown measures and Covid-19 restrictions provoked a protest march by around 38,000 people. Hundreds of demonstrators breached a security barrier and raced up the steps outside Berlin's parliament building. They were dispersed by police with pepper spray. Some of them held the flag of former imperial Germany, which is used by the Reichsbürger far-right group. President Steinmeier said the use of Reich flags and right-wing provocations was 'an unbearable attack on the heart of our democracy’. He said people had the right to express their anger about the restrictions and to question them publicly, including demonstrations, but his sympathy ends when protesters allow themselves to be used by enemies of democracy and political agitators. Police arrested about 300 people. Pray that Nazi imperial war flags that recall the darkest period in Germany history will be prevented from ever flying again.
In 1727 the Moravian community in Herrnhut, Germany started a 24/7 unbroken prayer watch, which continued for over 100 years. Moravian influence on John Wesley helped start the Wesleyan revival. Their vision of sending missionaries (they sent hundreds) helped spark the 19th-century Protestant mission movement which took the gospel to most of the world. 26 years of the annual ‘30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World’ publications ‘coincided’ with 26 years of unprecedented numbers of Muslims encountering Jesus. Today, movements of Christians praying together to pray are bigger, wider and deeper than at any time in history. 24/7 Prayer (www.24-7prayer.com) and Ihop (International House of Prayer) draw thousands of people into a worldwide, unbroken stream of prayer and worship. But more prayer is needed in this season of global pandemic, recession, fear, poverty and wars.
The PLO’s chief negotiator and executive secretary expressed concern that the UAE’s peace agreement with Israel will lead to other Arab states reaching similar ‘normalisation’ agreements. The PA sees such agreements as disregarding their demand that Palestinian ‘self-determination and independence’ must precede any formation of Arab friendly relations with Israel. The PLO said, ‘It is ‘a public birth for the Arab Zionists’, and admiration or support for Israel is forbidden. There are Arab groups that say, ‘Palestine is not my cause’. Groups say, ‘The Palestinians are ungrateful and we are employing them. We’ve helped them, but Israel is a beautiful, successful state.’
An Ethiopian Christian leader called for an international inquiry into over 500 Christians killed since the end of June - including pregnant women, children and whole families. The coordinated slaughter was by the Muslim Oromo ethnic group who are members of Qeerroo (meaning bachelors), a male youth movement. In door-to-door attacks, they arrived in cars and, armed with guns, machetes, swords and spears, sought out and slaughtered Christians. Children were forced to witness their parents being brutally murdered with machetes. Some militants held lists of Christians and were helped by local authorities, often run by Muslims, to find individuals, particularly those actively involved in supporting the Church. Oromo ethnic Christians were also targeted. One was beheaded for refusing to deny his faith by tearing off the thread around his neck (worn as a sign of his baptism).
While an increasing number of rape and sexual assault victims are speaking out in Iran, the legal code often prevents justice and puts some victims at risk of punishment. The #MeToo movement has finally emerged among Iranians, sending shockwaves across Persian language social media. Over the past week many women and men have come forward to talk about their experiences of rape and sexual assault by dozens of high-profile figures in the country. Although the official media remain indifferent to the stories, they have stirred public uproar to the point that the police in Tehran arrested a well-known bookshop owner accused of rape by several women. No one can doubt the bravery and courage of individuals who break the taboos and talk about their personal experiences of sexual harassment in a country where patriarchal values are reproduced and reinforced by the state.
Lebanon faces a humanitarian emergency following the 4 August blast in Beirut port, and the psychological effects will not end once the dust settles, said Dr Ahmed Hankir, a psychiatrist. Some of the initial reactions to traumatic events include sadness, agitation, dissociation, and survivor’s guilt. While most ongoing reactions are normal responses to the incident, residents are being told that seeking help from a mental health professional is advised should they persist for more than a month after the blast. Help should also be immediately sought if someone is having severe reactions, such as suicidal ideas. Mental health services are expensive in Lebanon, but several organisations are providing services for individuals affected by the blast either at a reduced price or free. Pray for God’s strength and wisdom to pour through NGOs raising awareness around mental health, for those manning suicide prevention helplines and walk-in clinics.
Maria, an Egyptian widow, was in tears when telling a local ministry leader that she had lost her job as a housecleaner due to coronavirus lockdown. She supports seven family members, including a daughter with two infants who is separated from her drug-addicted husband and a married son with two children who has lost his job and home due to coronavirus. She sold her kitchen appliances to meet their basic needs. Many widowed women in Egypt have lost their jobs to the pandemic and have no other sources of income, as the government has also suspended disbursement of pensions due to the crowds gathering at offices. Most widows are without a fixed monthly income or a fixed pension. Some have coronavirus, and some have lost a family member to it. Christian Aid has created WhatsApp groups for women and children and supports them spiritually by making prayer times and sharing sermons and songs.
A poll shows a continued decline in active-duty service members’ views of President Donald Trump and a slight but significant preference for former vice president Joe Biden in the upcoming November election. The results, collected before the political conventions earlier this month, appear to undercut claims from the president that his support among military members is strong thanks to big defence budget increases in recent years and promised moves to draw down troops from overseas conflict zones. But active-duty troops and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) have seen a steady drop in troops’ opinion of the commander-in-chief since his election four years ago. The dipping popularity among troops - considered by Republican Party leaders to be part of the base of Trump’s support - could prove problematic for him, as there is significant disagreement among active-duty respondents about several recent controversial presidential policy statements.