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Donald Trump calls Pope Francis ‘disgraceful’ for questioning his faith

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Thursday in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Thursday in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

Donald Trump has hit back at Pope Francis after the pontiff suggested the Republican presidential frontrunner was “not a Christian”.

At a press conference during a trip to Mexico, the pope said of Trump: “A person who thinks only about building walls … and not of building bridges, is not Christian.”

Trump responded swiftly at a campaign event in South Carolina, telling a packed room at a golf course resort: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”

The Republican frontrunner continued: “No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man’s religion or faith.

“[The Mexican government is] using the pope as pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves especially when so many lives are involved and illegal immigration is rampant and bad for the United States.”

Earlier, Trump had said: “If and when the Vatican is attacked by Isis, which as everyone knows is Isis’s ultimate trophy, the pope can have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened. Isis would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians.”

Trump said he did not take the pope’s remarks personally, however. “The pope said negative things about me because the Mexican government convinced him Trump is not a good guy,” he said.

He added: “The Mexican government has made many disparaging to me about the pope because they want to continuing ripping us off.”

He also dismissed any potential backlash from his remarks, saying: “Now it’s probably going to be all over the world. Who the hell cares? I don’t care.”

After the event, attendees approached by the Guardian at the Trump rally all took the side of the Republican frontrunner. “I thought the pope was a better person than that,” said Deborah Schwartz, a self described “Trump groupie” from Round O, South Carolina.

Others simply doubted the pontiff would have insulted Trump. Elizabeth Wallschlager, a Panamanian immigration and a Catholic, said: “I don’t think the pope said that.”

An ardent Trump supporter from Kiawah Island, she added: “I think that it’s a misunderstanding. The pope would never say that he doesn’t like anybody. The pope likes everybody.”

Even undecided Republicans such as Dan Brisker of Seabrook Island had concerns about the pope’s statement. “I think the pope needs to get out of the political arena and stick to the religious,” he said, adding: “I don’t think [Trump] disparaged the Pope”. But he allowed that “sometimes maybe Donald could use some better words”.

The Republican frontrunner, whose campaign shot to prominence with his focus on illegal immigration and pledge to “build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” is currently heavily favored in Saturday’s Republican primary in South Carolina.

Trump has long sought to prove his religious bona fides to social conservative voters. The Republican frontrunner has often stated on the stump that the bible is his favorite book, with his own bestseller The Art of the Deal coming second.

“As much as I love The Art of the Deal, it’s not even close. We take the bible all the way,” Trump said in August.

The real estate mogul, who has repeatedly pledged, if elected, that “we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas again”, has had experienced a number of awkward moments as he has tried to demonstrate his religious faith. In a speech at Liberty University in January, Trump’s attempt at a biblical reference fell flat when he introduced a passage from 2 Corinthians as “Two Corinthians” rather than “Second Corinthians”. Further, the real estate mogul tried to put money on a communion plate while attending church in Iowa in January.

In 2013, soon after Pope Francis I was first elected to the Papacy, Trump praised the pontiff, tweeting: “The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!”

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Former President of El Salvador, Elias Antonio Saca sentenced to two years in prison

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Elias Antonio Saca, the former President of El Salvador has been sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted for bribery. 

The former President of the Central American country was serving a 10-year prison sentence for corruption before being handed two more years after being found guilty of offering $10,000 to a court employee to obtain information about a case against him. 

Reuters reported that the businessman who governed El Salvador from 2004 to 2009, pleaded guilty in both cases as he sought to reduce his prison term. Following his conviction, a judge will decide whether Saca will serve an extra two years or if the additional time will be considered as part of his existing ten-year sentence.

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Nigerians More Likely To Vote Trump —Report

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The United States might seem divided over President Donald Trump’s
policies, but overseas, the American president is loved.

According to the data from the Pew Research Centre, Nigerians’
confidence in Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs was
at 59 percent in 2018, higher than some points during the Obama
administration.

Also, Nigerians are in top five of those actively following Trump on
Twitter, a social media platform constantly used by the president,
Monti Datta, associate professor of political science from the
University of Richmond, claimed.

“Some of Trump’s foreign policies in Nigeria might explain his
relative popularity. In February 2017, President Trump approved the
sale of jet fighters to the Nigerian government, reversing a policy
from the Obama administration.

“This aided the Nigerian government in its campaign against Boko
Haram,” Datta said.

The professor also listed South Korea and Israel as countries where
Trump’s policies seem to be enjoying the most public support.

“And data from Gallup’s Korean headquarters illustrate that
favorability toward Trump among South Koreans has more than doubled,
from a paltry 9 percent in 2017 to a high of 32 percent in 2018,” he
said about South Korea.

“As in the case of Nigeria and South Korea, Trump’s popularity in
Israel seems to be a reversal of his predecessor.

“Frosty personal relations plagued Obama and Netanyahu, beginning with
Obama’s first major foreign policy address to the Arab world in Cairo
in 2009. This culminated in Netanyahu’s visit to Congress in 2015 when
he urged Congress to oppose the Iran nuclear agreement.”

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UK government begins investigation into the death of a Nigerian, Oscar Okwurime at a detention centre next to Heathrow airport

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The British government has launched an investigation into the death of a Nigerian Oscar Okwurime at a detention centre next to Heathrow airport.  

Okwurime died at Harmondsworth on Thursday, September 12 and the cause of death is not yet known. The Guardian quoted the Home Office as saying that the police, the coroner and the prisons and probation ombudsman were investigating.  

Harmondsworth, together with its neighbour Colnbrook, is the biggest detention centre in Europe.  Friends on Okwurime’s wing said he had received a ticket for a charter flight to Nigeria due to take off next Tuesday. “He was terrified when he received the ticket and was so stressed about it,” said one detainee.

Others said tensions were running high at the centre and there was enormous distress about Okwurime’s death and apprehension about the impending charter flight. Detainees said they were particularly fearful about the possibility of being restrained on the flight. The Guardian has revealed that hundreds of people have been forcibly removed from the UK in restraints in 2018-19.    

Detainees staged a protest about the death at 10am on Friday and passed photos of the demonstration to the Guardian. On a bedsheet used as a banner, detainees wrote “RIP Oscar Okwurime”.  “Oscar was a really nice guy,” said one detainee. Another, who also has a ticket for Tuesday’s charter flight, said: “Everyone is scared about being restrained by the guards.”  

A third detainee, 24, who also has a ticket for Tuesday’s flight, said the Home Office had attempted to remove him on a flight last Friday. “Since that happened to me I’ve been having nightmares and panic attacks, particularly when I hear keys jangling,” he said.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “any death in detention is a tragic event and our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of Mr Okwurime. The welfare of all those in our care is of the utmost importance. All deaths in immigration detention are subject to investigation by the police, the coroner and the independent prisons and probation ombudsman.”

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