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Coptic Martyr

The Coptic Martyr of Cairo

The latest international thriller from best-selling author Martin Roth

Four Americans in Egypt on an archaeological dig. In the blistering summer heat they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they unearth a body. It is an old priest who has been murdered.

The gruesome discovery sets in train a sequence of events that leads to a deadly Islamist attack on the ancient church where the Americans are working.

The leader of the expedition, Professor Rafa Harel, must decide whether to withdraw his fractious team or continue on a mission to unveil a controversial series of wall paintings, knowing that these images have the power to spark even greater violence.

Meanwhile, watching over all of them is a dreamy young Egyptian Christian named Amir. His only quest in life is to become a martyr...

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Just War, or Just Do It

Former UN Chief Weapons Inspector, Australia’s Richard Butler, cuts to the chase in his assessment of the Blix report, in an Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio interview with Mark Colvin. An excerpt:

MARK COLVN: …What are the most worrying aspects of the Blix report? For instance, I'm looking here at a section about VX gas. Are you particularly concerned that Iraq may not have destroyed its VX gas and its VX gas project?

RICHARD BUTLER: Oh absolutely. Let me tell you, one of the main reasons that Iraq threw me and my team out four years ago, was my insistence to them that they had to come clean on VX.

VX is the most potent of the nerve agents; Iraq began their history with us in the past by saying that it had never made any of the stuff. We were able to prove that was not true. Then they moved from denial to minimisation, and said well we only made 200 litres of the stuff.

We were then able to prove they'd made four thousand litres, four tonnes of VX, and they said oh well, we lied.

One of my last demands upon them, in 1998, was to come clean about the whole extent of the production of VX. They got extremely angry about that, and refused to.

So it's completely unsurprising to me that Hans Blix is saying we still need to know the truth about VX.

Meanwhile, Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian flays all the silly church leaders who no longer know right from wrong.

For all its ecumenical consensus, the churches' Iraq stance has a peculiarly godless, and therefore hollow, ring to it. Their "no need for war" world assumes all people are basically good people. In that world, there is no need for God to set down moral standards. This frees the priests from the arduous task of making moral judgments. Instead they play feel-good politics whose main aim is not to offend.

When asked on ABC Radio last year whether Saddam Hussein was a dangerous man, Anglican Primate Peter Carnley said: "Everybody says he is, and there have been reports that he has been involved in . . . the elimination of people, including members of his own family. So, on the basis of that kind of report, you would have to say he is a morally suspect person."

The Iraqi dictator has invaded two neighbours, launched missiles against two others, tortured and butchered his own people, violated UN resolutions for years, paid off Palestinian suicide bombers and, for Carnley, he is merely "morally suspect".

I wrote last year of how Peter Carnley had blamed the Australian government’s stance on Iraq for the Bali bombing, then later denied having said that.

Finally, with the bells of war tolling ever more loudly, religion commentator Joseph Loconte notes in the New York Times:

Many of today's war critics hail Jesus as "the Prince of Peace," while forgetting that the Bible also calls him "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," the one "who judges and wages war."

January 29th, 2003


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