New developments in three stories we have been following:
According to usually reliable sources, a Ugandan court has ruled that Rolling Stone magazine (no relation to the US rock music publication of the same name) must cease "outing" gays and lesbians. Jim Burroway at the invaluable Box Turtle Bulletin writes:
According to a press release from the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the court ruled that the issue is not about homosexuality but “it is about the fundamental rights and freedoms” of private individuals. The court found that “the call to hang gays in dozens tends to tremendously threaten their right to human dignity” and that the tabloid’s act “threaten the rights of the applicants to privacy of the person and their home.”
In other potentially good news, Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times speculates that the aftermath of the upcoming secession vote on January 9 in Sudan may be more peaceful than previously supposed:
Just last week, Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, publicly pledged to help his “southern brothers” and said he would be “the first to recognize the south.”
“The ball is in your court,” he said at a rally.
Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, is also confident the vote will be peaceful. “I don’t feel any inclination to hostilities between the two parties,” he said, according to Sudan’s news agency.
The stakes are so high that neither side, the Islamist northern government or the former rebels who lead southern Sudan, seems to want to be sucked into a war again, or at least to start one. Over the past year, there has been such a steady drumbeat of Armageddon predictions that most potential problems have already been prepared for and Western diplomats have spent countless hours counseling both sides. The stage is now set for the vote to be historic and highly emotional, but not catastrophic.
There is less reason to be sanguine about continuing attacks by Muslim extremists against Christians at prayer. Protests against the bombing in Alexandria, Egypt, have reached as far as Los Angeles. Writing for Religion Dispatches, Bruce E. Lawrence tries to get to the bottom of the sectarian strife.