Death penalty for holding Bible?

Just possessing a Bible still can be cause for a death penalty in North Korea, so it’s no surprise that the hermit kingdom remains No. 1 on this year’s World Watch List of the world’s most notorious persecutors of Christians, a project assembled by Open Doors USA.

Persecution of believers also increased sharply across Africa, eight out of 10 worst offenders are ruled by Muslim theocracy and Egypt, under the Muslim Brotherhood, actually saw its ranking lowered, but not because of any improvement there. It was because of worsening conditions elsewhere, the report said.

In North Korea, a possible lesser penalty for someone having a Bible would be for the offender, and three generations of his or her family, to be sent to prison camps, where at estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people are held.

Open Doors’ Senior Communications Specialist Paul Estabrook says the reclusive communist dictatorship earned the ranking based on the group’s five criteria for evaluating a country.

“North Korea doesn’t allow Christians any freedom in any of the five spheres used in the process,” Estabrook said.

“We use five spheres, the private, family, community, congregational, and public. … North Korea doesn’t allow Christians any freedom,” Estabrook said.

In addition, the dictatorship maintains a gulag, he noted.

“North Korea is known to have somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 Christians in forced labor camps. And they’re there for doing nothing except trying to worship the Lord,” Estabrook said.

That aligns with what WND reported in July, that under newly installed leader Kim Jong-un, the enigmatic nation of North Korea still has about 70,000 people in work camps.

Sources confirmed North Korea has eased or lifted a number of restrictions for citizens since Kim Jong-un succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il. Bans have been lifted on Western foods such as pizza and french fries, and restrictions on the number of cell phones have been loosened, for example, according to Ryan Morgan, an analyst with International Christian Concern Asia.

However, whatever secular benefits may have trickled down to residents of the isolated nation, there is no evidence of any improvement in the condition of the persecuted church there, he said.

“We have not heard any reports of improvement for Christians in the country and have no reason to believe anything has changed,” Morgan said. “The regime still has up to 70,000 Christians locked away in virtual concentration camps.”

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Another Olympics Scandal: Boxing Judge Expelled After Fighter Awarded Shock Win in Bout Some Question Was Fixed

A boxing referee from Turkmenistan was expelled from the London Olympics on Thursday for his handling of a bout in which the result was overturned on appeal.

Boxing’s governing federation, known as AIBA, released a statement saying referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov “is on his way back home.”

The federation also suspended German referee Frank Scharmach five days for his decision to disqualify an Iranian heavyweight, and expelled technical official Aghajan Abiyev of Azerbaijan.

“I deeply regret that we had to take these decisions,” AIBA President Wu Ching-Kuo said. “However, our main concern has been and will always be the protection of the integrity and fair play of our competitions. I will take all possible steps to reinforce this.”

Both sanctioned referees made unusual decisions during Wednesday night’s card.

In a bantamweight bout, Magomed Abdulhamidov of Azerbaijan fell to the canvas six times in the third round against Satoshi Shimizu of Japan, yet still won a 22-17 decision.

Meretnyyazov allowed the fight to continue after each tumble, and he enraged the Japanese team by fixing the headgear worn by Abdulhamidov, who had to be helped from the ring after winning.

In fact, the CNBC announcers were so disgusted regarding the bout and its decision that they questioned the integrity of the sport.

Read and see more here.

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