By Melissa Wuske
Christian Prisoner Writes Letter to Iranian Government
Amin Afshar Naderi, a Christian who converted from Islam, penned a letter to Iranian authorities months after he was arrested for blasphemy and days after he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Christian worship is illegal in Iran. He and several others were arrested at a private party.
In the letter, he voices the questions that many believers in crisis feel: “What have I done against you and our country that made you hate me this much?” He also details the abuse he has suffered so far since his arrest, including being mocked and placed in solitary confinement. Yet he also shares his faith: “I have learned from the Bible to love my enemies and to pray for those who hate me.”
After his sentencing, Afshar also began a hunger strike to protest Iran’s laws against Christianity.
Online Harassment Is Prevalent
Forty percent of adults in the United States have experienced some form of harassment online, according to a survey by Pew Research. The offenses range from name calling to physical threats and stalking. For example, more than half (53 percent) of women ages 18 to 29 say that someone has sent them explicit content they did not ask for.
One respondent summed up the problem this way: “Cyberbullies who are anonymous are relentless. They find a weakness and hammer it over and over.”
Others shared examples of how online harassment affected their life offline. “Someone said I lied about my degree. I was a poser,” said one respondent. “My husband of two months questioned me. Even my mother, who did not actually get to attend my graduation, questioned me. This person weaved a pretty convincing story.”
Often offenses escalate from smaller disagreements: “A friend was the target of an organized campaign to label her a pedophile,” said one respondent, “because they didn’t agree with her politics.”
More than half (55 percent) of those who’ve experienced severe online harassment, such as sexual harassment or stalking, feel that law enforcement doesn’t take it seriously enough.
A Celebrity Wedding—Benefitting People in Need
Soccer star Lionel Messi recently married Antonella Roccuzzo. The couple decided to use their wedding to help those in need. Instead of gifts they asked their wedding guests to make donations to Techo, a nonprofit that helps people living in poverty in Latin American and the Caribbean. “They gave us the freedom to decide where to spend the money because they know our programs and that it will be used to give continuity to those projects,” said Florencia Drucker, Techo communications director. Messi and Roccuzzo also donated all the unused food from the reception to a local food bank, Rosario Food Bank, including several shipping palates full of food and drinks.
A Warm Way to See the Northern Lights
The 5 Million Star Hotel outside Reykjavik, Iceland, allows guests to see the northern lights without even getting out the bed. The hotel’s accommodations are clear, tent-like bubbles in the forest so that people can stargaze without being stuck out in the cold. The concept came from a conversation Robert Robertsson, the hotel’s founder, had with travelers whom he’d helped plan a northern lights tour: “The customers asked me on the phone, with a somewhat freezing voice, ‘Robert, this is so crazy. I’m freezing to death here. Don’t you know of some hotel around here where I can just lay in my warm bed and have a glass roof so I can watch the northern lights’?”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).