MPs are returning to Westminster with very full inboxes. Coronavirus challenges will be at the forefront of ministers' minds. Jeremy Hunt warned, ‘The situation coming into winter is potentially very perilous’. Pray for the Government to succeed in encouraging a return to something approaching normal while keeping the virus under control. The UK and EU must reach a Brexit agreement by 31 December 2020. But at the end of every round of negotiations, the messages are ‘little progress’ and ‘considerable gaps remain’. Pray for God’s resolution to come to the surface. The furlough programme is winding down, but opposition parties want the scheme to be extended. While furlough was one of the largest schemes, others are also due to come to an end soon, with disagreement between the parties over their ongoing value. Pray for parliament to agree on wise provisions for the 9.6 million who were furloughed.
On 3 September Nicola Sturgeon said there were 101 new positive cases, 53 in the Greater Glasgow area. Also the R number is probably now above one, and could be as high as 1.4. Health officials have found evidence of coronavirus spreading in Glasgow schools, but it is not affecting very young children. Most affected are families and young adults, generally mixed households by gender and mixed age groups. Meanwhile Home Farm care home on Skye had 10 residents die from Covid-19 and it will now be taken into NHS ownership. A reporter asked for more detail on the targeted restrictions brought in for the Glasgow area. The first minister said the outbreak is still ongoing and the Test and Protect work continues. The government will try to give people a fuller picture as it develops; the outbreak is more desperate than they have seen, which requires targeted measures.
Montenegro’s election campaign was dominated by divisions over the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church. There have been months of protests since a law was adopted in December allowing the state to seize religious assets when their historical ownership cannot be proved. Consequently the Church urged people to vote against the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). The DPS secured 35% of votes in a tight and bitterly-contested parliamentary election, its worst result since the country won independence from Serbia. Official results show the pro-Serbian opposition alliance on 32.5%, meaning that it could feasibly form a government if it can reach consensus with Montenegro's other two opposition parties. That would see the DPS lose control of power in the Balkan nation for the first time in 30 years. The leader of the pro-Serbian coalition, Zdravko Krivokapic, told supporters, ‘The regime has fallen’. The majority of Montenegrins are members of the Church, while President Djukanovic and his party are accused of having links to organised crime and running the country as an autocracy.
Germany’s lockdown measures and Covid-19 restrictions provoked a protest march by around 38,000 people. Hundreds of demonstrators breached a security barrier and raced up the steps outside Berlin's parliament building. They were dispersed by police with pepper spray. Some of them held the flag of former imperial Germany, which is used by the Reichsbürger far-right group. President Steinmeier said the use of Reich flags and right-wing provocations was 'an unbearable attack on the heart of our democracy’. He said people had the right to express their anger about the restrictions and to question them publicly, including demonstrations, but his sympathy ends when protesters allow themselves to be used by enemies of democracy and political agitators. Police arrested about 300 people. Pray that Nazi imperial war flags that recall the darkest period in Germany history will be prevented from ever flying again.
In 1727 the Moravian community in Herrnhut, Germany started a 24/7 unbroken prayer watch, which continued for over 100 years. Moravian influence on John Wesley helped start the Wesleyan revival. Their vision of sending missionaries (they sent hundreds) helped spark the 19th-century Protestant mission movement which took the gospel to most of the world. 26 years of the annual ‘30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World’ publications ‘coincided’ with 26 years of unprecedented numbers of Muslims encountering Jesus. Today, movements of Christians praying together to pray are bigger, wider and deeper than at any time in history. 24/7 Prayer (www.24-7prayer.com) and Ihop (International House of Prayer) draw thousands of people into a worldwide, unbroken stream of prayer and worship. But more prayer is needed in this season of global pandemic, recession, fear, poverty and wars.
The PLO’s chief negotiator and executive secretary expressed concern that the UAE’s peace agreement with Israel will lead to other Arab states reaching similar ‘normalisation’ agreements. The PA sees such agreements as disregarding their demand that Palestinian ‘self-determination and independence’ must precede any formation of Arab friendly relations with Israel. The PLO said, ‘It is ‘a public birth for the Arab Zionists’, and admiration or support for Israel is forbidden. There are Arab groups that say, ‘Palestine is not my cause’. Groups say, ‘The Palestinians are ungrateful and we are employing them. We’ve helped them, but Israel is a beautiful, successful state.’
An Ethiopian Christian leader called for an international inquiry into over 500 Christians killed since the end of June - including pregnant women, children and whole families. The coordinated slaughter was by the Muslim Oromo ethnic group who are members of Qeerroo (meaning bachelors), a male youth movement. In door-to-door attacks, they arrived in cars and, armed with guns, machetes, swords and spears, sought out and slaughtered Christians. Children were forced to witness their parents being brutally murdered with machetes. Some militants held lists of Christians and were helped by local authorities, often run by Muslims, to find individuals, particularly those actively involved in supporting the Church. Oromo ethnic Christians were also targeted. One was beheaded for refusing to deny his faith by tearing off the thread around his neck (worn as a sign of his baptism).
While an increasing number of rape and sexual assault victims are speaking out in Iran, the legal code often prevents justice and puts some victims at risk of punishment. The #MeToo movement has finally emerged among Iranians, sending shockwaves across Persian language social media. Over the past week many women and men have come forward to talk about their experiences of rape and sexual assault by dozens of high-profile figures in the country. Although the official media remain indifferent to the stories, they have stirred public uproar to the point that the police in Tehran arrested a well-known bookshop owner accused of rape by several women. No one can doubt the bravery and courage of individuals who break the taboos and talk about their personal experiences of sexual harassment in a country where patriarchal values are reproduced and reinforced by the state.