- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

VATICAN

Muslim denounces convert’s baptism

VATICAN CITY — A Muslim scholar who participated in recent Vatican talks to improve Catholic-Muslim relations criticized as a “provocative” act Pope Benedict XVI’s Easter baptism of Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born TV and newspaper commentator who has denounced Islam as violent.

Aref Ali Nayed, director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan, criticized what he called “the Vatican’s deliberate and provocative act of baptizing Mr. Allam on such a special occasion and in such a spectacular way.”

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano denied that the baptism had been played up, saying it was kept secret until just before the ceremony. It described the baptism as a papal “gesture” to stress “in a gentle and clear way, religious freedom.”

DENMARK

Two indicted on terror charges

COPENHAGEN — Denmark’s public prosecutor yesterday charged two people believed to be linked to al Qaeda with attempted terrorism for manufacturing explosives and planning bombings in Denmark or abroad.

The pair, whose names and nationalities were not disclosed and who were arrested in September, were indicted for “manufacturing one or several bombs to be used in a terrorist attack in an undisclosed location in Denmark or abroad.”

The public prosecutor also indicted a third man in attempted terrorism after he called for Danish nationals abroad to be kidnapped to pressure Danish authorities to release the two now charged with attempted terrorism.

SOUTH KOREA

Rights agency plans North Korea probe

SEOUL — South Korea’s official human rights watchdog said yesterday it will investigate purported human rights abuses in North Korea for the first time by interviewing hundreds of defectors living in the South.

The state-run National Human Rights Commission will begin meeting defectors next month to learn how North Korea limits its 23 million citizens’s basic human rights, spokesman Lee Myung-jae said.

International human rights advocacy groups have accused communist North Korea of having one of the worst human rights records in the world.

JAPAN

Recycling urged to cut garbage

TOKYO — Japan will urge citizens to carry their own chopsticks instead of using disposable ones and go shopping with their own bags instead of using plastic ones, in a bid to more than halve the garbage it produces.

The Cabinet approved plans yesterday to promote recycling, said Tsuyoshi Kawakami, an official in charge of recycling at the Environment Ministry.

Japan aims to reduce the total amount of garbage produced by industries and individuals to 40 percent of the amount produced in fiscal 2000 by fiscal 2015.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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