- India’s Sikh Assassination Plot Comes to America
Location: United States
A foiled assassination plot orchestrated by an Indian government official targeted Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a New York-based lawyer and Sikh separatist leader, just six months after the killing of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, an event that strained India-Canada relations. This conspiracy was part of India's broader efforts against Sikh separatism. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) played a key role, intervening with an undercover agent to expose the plan initiated by a senior Indian official in the Central Reserve Police Force. Nikhil Gupta, a 52-year-old Indian national, faced charges of murder for hire and conspiracy, with the potential for a 20-year sentence. He unknowingly involved a DEA agent in the plot, which included detailed information on Pannun and a $100,000 contract for the assassination. US Attorney General Damian Williams emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “We will not tolerate efforts to assassinate U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.” This plot, part of a series targeting Sikh separatists in the US and Canada, highlights the intricate dynamics of international relations and domestic security, especially against the backdrop of US-India relations amidst growing tensions with China. Gupta's arrest in the Czech Republic and his impending extradition further complicate this international conspiracy.
- Paris Knife Attacker Said That “He Could No Longer Bear to See Muslims Dying”
In a tragic incident near the Eiffel Tower, Armand R, a 26-year-old French man of Iranian descent, fatally stabbed a German tourist and injured two others with a hammer in Paris's 15th district. The German victim, a nurse born in the Philippines, was attacked along with a 60-year-old French man and a 66-year-old British man, both sustaining non-life-threatening injuries. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin emphasized the gravity of the attack, stating that more lives could have been lost without prompt police intervention. Armand R, previously known to intelligence services and with a history of acute mental illness, was arrested for assassination and attempted assassination related to a terrorist enterprise. He had converted to Islam at 18, was arrested in 2016 for violent actions, and had planned to join ISIS in Syria. Released in 2020, he was under surveillance for suspected extremism and undergoing psychiatric treatment. The attack, which Armand R claimed was motivated by his inability to "bear to see Muslims dying," was condemned by French President Emmanuel Macron as a terror attack, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed shock and a firm stand against hatred and terror.
- New Low: The Woman Jailed for Merely Condemning a Blasphemy Lynching
Rhoda Ya’u Jatau, a Christian mother of five and healthcare administrator in Bauchi, Nigeria, faces legal repercussions for sharing a WhatsApp message condemning the lynching of Deborah Yakubu, a Christian student killed over alleged blasphemy. Arrested in May 2022, Jatau is accused of inciting disturbance, contempt for religious creed, and cyberstalking. Her case, reflecting Nigeria's harsh blasphemy laws, has sparked public outrage and highlighted the deep-rooted religious extremism in the country. Ndi Kato, a Nigerian politician and women's rights advocate, expressed shock at the extent of extremism, stating, “This really shows how far extremism has permeated deeply into our institutions.” Her case is not isolated, as other high-profile blasphemy cases, like those of atheist Mubarak Bala and Sufi artist Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, have also garnered international attention. Amnesty International has criticized Nigeria's use of blasphemy accusations to violate human rights and urged the government to uphold the freedom of religion and expression.
- Hanukkah Public Displays Removed Amidst “Rising Tensions”
Location: United States
In response to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, several cities in the United States and Canada have canceled Hanukkah celebrations and removed Jewish symbols from public displays, sparking controversy. In Williamsburg, Virginia, the 2nd Sundays Art and Music Festival's founder, Shirley Vermillion, canceled a menorah lighting, citing the inappropriateness of the display during the Israel-Hamas conflict. This decision was met with criticism from the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula, which stated, “We should be very clear: it is antisemitic to hold Jews collectively responsible for Israel's policies and actions and to require a political litmus test for Jews' participation in community events that have nothing to do with Israel. Those standards would never be applied to another community." In Westbrook, Maine, a Star of David was replaced with a dreidel in a holiday light display after complaints from Arab American residents about its association with the Israeli flag. Mayor Michael Foley justified the change as a legal requirement under the U.S. Constitution's Establishment Clause. Similarly, a Canadian town did not display a menorah outside its city hall for the first time in 20 years, citing a 2015 Supreme Court ruling. Francis Weil of the Moncton Jewish Community highlighted the decision's unfairness and its impact on the Jewish community. The UK's Havering Council also initially decided against lighting the menorah in this year’s Hanukkah celebrations but reversed the decision after discussions with Jewish community leaders.
- A Very Satanic Christmas, Complete with Christian Butt-Hurt
Location: United States
The Satanic Temple (TST) has sparked controversy this Christmas season with their unique holiday displays, including a Satanic-themed Christmas tree in a Wisconsin museum and a Baphomet figure in the Iowa State Capitol. The tree, part of the National Railroad Museum's annual festival in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin, features blood-red lighting, pentagrams, and a "Hail Santa" ornament, playing on the phrase "Hail Satan." This display, along with a Gender Diversity-themed tree, drew criticism from Wisconsin Republican Representative Mike Gallagher, who expressed deep offense to Christians, comparing it to "waving a Hamas flag inside of a synagogue." Gallagher also accused the museum of propagating "woke ideology" and "offensive upside down cultural propaganda." Despite the criticism, the museum's CEO, Jacqueline Frank, defended their decision, emphasizing the museum's secular nature and commitment to diversity. Similarly, in Iowa, the Satanic Temple's Baphomet display at the State Capitol was met with disapproval from Pastor Joel Tenney, who vowed to hold responsible parties accountable. The Iowa Department of Administrative Services stated that TST followed all guidelines for the display. The Satanic Temple, known for satirizing religion and advocating for issues like abortion rights and opposing corporal punishment, does not worship Satan but uses the figure as a symbol of rebellion against religious oppression.