Here are some recent news stories that I have been following lately.
Chechen Leader Urges Crusade against "Quacks"
The head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, has called for a public campaign against "charlatans" and faith healers exploiting belief in magic and superstition to swindle credulous people desperate for miracle cures. "[Charlatans] convince people that they can cure illnesses, while having no any knowledge or skills. Unfortunately, people who seek relief take the bait," he said in a meeting with religious leaders and political figures.
In warning about the health dangers posed by unscrupulous faith healers, Kadyrov also warned that they discredited Islam, a major concern in the predominantly Islamic country. Some of the charlatans offer services claiming to be able to cure diseases such as cerebral palsy by claiming to be sheikhs or other religious healers that use prayer or magic and often discourage clients from going to regular doctors. This could leading to delays in getting treatment with often fatal results. Many of these "false healers" also claim to be psychics who can foresee the future and change the fate of clients in return for money. Despite their religious claims however, Chechen goverment news sources report that some of them are unable to quote a single Koran passage.
At the meeting, Kadyrov warned that "turning to wizards and false healers won't bring them any relief and is banned by Islam." Belief in folk remedies is still strong in Chechyna following the recent civil war in that country and the deaths of thousands of Chechnyans.
Ironically, Kadyrov has been a supporter of Islamic mysticism in his country since becoming President in 2005. That includes his support for the Center for Islamic Medicine in Grozny where healers exorcise djinns by reading verses from the Koran. Over 130,000 people have been treated there since its opening in 2008.For more information.."
"Defenders of Christ" Slavery Ring Broken Up In Mexico
A bizarre sex slavery ring operated by a cult located near the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo has been broken up following a raid by Federal police in January. According to police and immigration sources, the cult is known as "Defensore de Cristo" or "Defenders of Christ" which recruited women who were then forced into sexual slavery and prostitution. A statement made by a victim advocacy group which has dealt with cult survivors alleges that recruited women were forced to have sex with a Spanish man who claimed to be the reincarnation of Christ. Cult followers were then made to do forced labour as well as prostitution and to pay "tithes" to support the cult financially.
The raid on the cult's house occured following a formal complaint a year ago by the National Institute of Migration. Police found cult members, including children, living in filthy conditions and fourteen non-Mexicans who are now facing charges. Of the mostly female Mexicans found in the house, police are still trying to identify them and determine whether they took part in the abuse.
According to the Defenders of Christ website, the leader of the movement is Ignacio Gonzalez de Arriba who arrived in Mexico from Spain three years ago. Along with offering courses in "bio-programming" to train people in "re-programming" their brain to eliminate pain and suffering, he and Venuzuelan Losanger Segovia ran the cult's daily operations. It is not immediately known if Arriba and Segovia were among the ones arrested.
The Defenders of Christ apparently operated in the area controlled by the Zetas drug cartel with no apparent problems. They also repeatedly failed to register as a religious group despite Mexican law. Though all members of the cult in Mexico are believed to be in custody, authorities report that other branches may till be operating in Peru and Venezuela.
Disbled Girl Found Lock in Wooden Cage
Responding to a complaint, New Mexico police called to a trailer home in Las Cruce found an eight-year old girl with developmental disabilities locked in a homemade wooden cage. She had been left unattended while her foster family were attending a movie at a nearby elementary school.
According to police, 33-year old Cindy Patriarchas and 37-year old Edmond Gonzales had taken their three children to the movie while leaving the girl alone in the locked cage. Though police had been expecting to see a family pet in the cage, they were startled to see a child instead. The girl suffers from microcephaly which has left her with an unusually small head and the mental capacity of a two-year old. There were no signs of physical abuse but she was already too large for the cage which was only 2.5 feet wide and 48 inches tall.
Patriarchas is not the child's biological mother but has been trying to get permission to adopt. She and her partner are currently charged with neglect and are both being held under a $25,000 bond. The girl is now in the custody of New Mexico's child protection agency.