Western Asia Feature | Middle-Eastern Christians

The Twilight of Christianity in the Region of Its Birth

The Middle East has seen its culturally diverse population fractured by ever-increasing fault lines over the last century, from colonialism and nationalism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Sunni-Shia sectarianism to fundamentalist Sunni extremism.  As a dwindling religious minority, Christians in the Middle East have seen the threat to their existence multiply exponentially after nearly two millennia of peaceful coexistence with other religious communities in their homeland.  The New York Times Magazine explores Christianity’s decline and contemporary existential threats in a region where extremism has subjected the community to exile, forced conversion, and execution.

Read the full feature at the New York Times Magazine.

(Image Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times)

Malaysia News | Political Dissidents

Travel ban on Malaysian rights activists and political opposition imposed as investigations into PM’s alleged financial impropriety continue
  • An opposition MP and electoral reform advocate found themselves on expanding restricted-travel lists following calls for an impartial investigation into alleged embezzelement by the premier.
  • Malaysian PM Najib Hazak has been accused of directing millions of dollars from the state investment fund into his personal bank accounts.
  • Threats of public protest followed the travel restrictions as affiliates of the investment fund have seen their accounts frozen and their former chief gone missing.

“They are nervous, they are paranoid. … They are intimidating those whistleblowers. That is what is happening now.”

Read the full story at Channel NewsAsia.

(Image Credit: AFP, via Channel NewsAsia)

U.S. News | LGBT

Texas Supreme Court rules Houston must repeal LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance or submit to popular referendum
  • The court overruled a state district judge who ruled that opponents of the ordinance’s passage failed to submit enough valid signatures to the city for a repeal referendum.
  • Houston’s mayor and city attorney overrode the city secretary’s sign-off on the petition, declaring many signatures invalid due to improper paperwork.
  • The city is expected to choose to submit the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity as locally protected classes to ballot, which observers expect to draw national attention and money to Houston’s local elections in November.

“You’re going to have money pouring in from all across the country on this issue because it’s extremely important. … We’re going to be looking at mayoral candidates, city council candidates that stand with us on this important issue. The eyes of the country are going to be looking at Houston.”

Read the full story at the Houston Chronicle.

(Image Credit: Cody Duty/Houston Chronicle)

U.S. News | Black Trans Women

Trans woman of color in killed in Florida, tenth in 2015’s increase in violence against trans individuals
  • India Clarke was found murdered in Tampa by blunt force trauma to the upper body.
  • India is the ninth trans woman of color and tenth trans person killed so far in 2015, which is consistent with a trend of year-over-year increases in violence rates experienced by the trans community.
  • Local police and media have persistently misgendered Clarke in reports and stated gender identity is not considered a factor in her death, instead focusing on Clarke’s history of sex work and drug activity.

“India Clarke’s death is a tragedy that is made worse by egregious misgendering by local police and media.”

Read the full story at BuzzFeed.

U.S. Feature | Garifuna Immigrants

From Honduras to the Bronx: The Garifuna of New York

Spanish photographer Elena Hermosa has trained her camera lens on the lives and culture of Garifuna immigrants in New York City. A genetic mix of African and indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, the Garifuna community has been pushed from Honduras by ongoing violence, with many having settled in the South Bronx of New York. From the precarity of the undocumented to endangered cultural traditions, the New York Times explores the subject and implication of Hermosa’s work.

View the full feature at the New York Times.

(Image Credit: Elena Hermosa, via the New York Times)