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Police in India probe Mother Teresa charity for ‘forced conversion’

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Indian police are probing a charity started by Mother Teresa, officials said Tuesday, in the latest example of growing pressure on Christians under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

Authorities in the western state of Gujarat told AFP they were investigating whether the Missionaries of Charity forced girls in its shelter home there to wear a cross and read the Bible.

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Modi’s home state is one of several in Hindu-majority India where vaguely worded rules against “forceful conversion” have been put in place, or more strictly enforced, in recent years.

District social officer Mayank Trivedi told AFP that his complaint to the police was based on a report by child welfare authorities and other district officials.

According to the complaint, 13 Bibles were found in the library of the institute and girls staying there were forced to read the religious text.

The Missionaries of Charity, founded in 1950 by the late Mother Teresa – a Roman Catholic nun who lived and worked in Kolkata for most of her life and won the Nobel Peace Prize – denied the allegations.

Activists say that religious minorities in India have faced increased levels of discrimination and violence since Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014.

In 2020, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom listed India as a “country of particular concern” for the first time since 2004.

Modi’s government rejects having a radical “Hindutva” (Hindu hegemony) agenda and insists that people of all religions have equal rights.

Activists say there have been more than 300 anti-Christian incidents this year alone.

Last week, a Hindu mob of 200 to 300 people barged into a Christian school in Madhya Pradesh while students were taking their exams and pelted stones at the building, the school’s principal said.

“We moved the children from the auditorium to another wing of the school. We kept them on the first floor and gave them extra time to finish the exam. But the students couldn’t write, they were crying and shivering,” Brother Anthony Tynumkal, principal of St Joseph School, told AFP.

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US considering moving troops from Western Europe to Eastern Europe: NATO diplomat

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The United States is considering transferring some troops stationed in Western Europe to Eastern Europe in the coming weeks, a NATO diplomat told Reuters, amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

“This has to do with American troops that are already in Europe,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirming a New York Times report that said US President Joe Biden was considering sending US troops to the Baltics and Eastern European allies.

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NATO said on Monday it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, in what Russia denounced as an escalation of tensions over Ukraine.

The diplomat said the potential troop movements would be gradual and that any filling of NATO gaps on its eastern flank could take place in the coming weeks.

Read more: From Kyiv, top US diplomat warns Russia against Ukraine aggression

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Several wounded in shooting in German city; gunman dead

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A lone gunman wounded several people at a lecture theater in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg on Monday, police said.

Police said in a brief statement that the perpetrator was dead, but didn’t give details of how that happened. They had earlier asked people on Twitter to avoid the Neuenheimer Feld area of Heidelberg, where the city’s university campus is located.

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Police didn’t specify how many people were wounded, or how seriously, and there was no information on their identities or that of the suspected shooter. The university’s press office declined to give any details on the shooting and referred all inquiries to police.

German news agency dpa cited unidentified security sources as saying that the gunman killed himself.

Police said the weapon used in the shooting was a long-barreled firearm.

Heidelberg is located south of Frankfurt and has about 160,000 inhabitants. Its university is one of Germany’s best-known.

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Aramco CEO says oil demand nearing pre-pandemic levels: Report

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Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Al Nasser said that the demand for oil is nearing pre-pandemic levels, Asharq Business reported in a tweet on Monday.

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