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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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South Sudan President Invites Prophet TB Joshua For Prayers

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Nigerian Prophet TB Joshua to hold prayers at J1 tomorrow.

Popular televangelist Prophet TB Joshua is expected to visit South Sudan tomorrow, the presidency said.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Monday, Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny confirmed that the self-proclaimed prophet would hold prayers at the presidential palace and preparations are on top gear.

“Yes, he is coming tomorrow to hold prayers for peace. He is coming to pray for the leaders at J1,” Ateny said.

Temitope Balogun Joshua also known as T. B. Joshua is a Nigerian pastor, televangelist, and philanthropist. He founded The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, and owns the Christian television network Emmanuel TV.

TB Joshua gained prominence in South Sudan for his alleged prophecy of a failed coup attempt against President Salva Kiir before the conflict erupted in 2013.

Kiir then sent a high-level delegation headed by Vice President Wani Igga to Nigeria to deliver an invitation to the prophet offering him an advisory role in the government.

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Renewed Boko Haram attacks displaced 140,000 persons in 2019 – UN

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At least 140,000 persons have been displaced by the resurgence of Boko Haram activity this year in Borno State, the United Nations Undersecretary-General, Mark Lowcock, has said.

Mr Lowcock, who coordinates UN’s Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, visited Nigeria this week on an official visit that took him to Maiduguri, the base of Boko Haram insurgency, from where he carried out an assessment of the situation in the North-east.

He spoke via a statement issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA).

Commendations, concerns

Mr Lowcock recognised the efforts Nigerian authorities and other bodies have made “between 2016 and 2018?, to regain control of areas previously ravaged by the insurgents,” that assisted more than two million displaced people to return home.

“But renewed violence, most of it perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents, has sparked an upsurge in forced displacement in Borno, with more than 140,000 people forced to move this year alone,” he said.

“Many farmers have missed multiple planting seasons and more than three million people are food insecure.”

He said he had “over the past year” have “watched with growing concern the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Borno.”

Mr Lowcock said a ten-year conflict and violence committed by Boko Haram and other non-state armed groups had destroyed communities in Borno.

“In my visits to Borno on September 2017 and October 2018, I met many of the ordinary people who have been the victims of this crisis,” he recalled.

“More than seven million people currently need humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.”

The UN official acknowledged that though “military and security measures against the insurgents are a crucial and valid part of the response led by the Nigerian authorities, such action needs to be proportionate and avert amplifying to the hardship of civilians, huge numbers of whom have suffered terribly as a result of the actions of the terrorists and insurgents.”

He added that military action alone “will not solve this problem.”

“It is therefore extremely important that the Nigerian Government, including through institutions like the North-east Development Commission, is also implementing wider measures to address the root causes of the crisis, relieve humanitarian suffering, and promote stabilization, recovery, and development.

“I strongly support these measures.”

He said he had during a visit this week been able to review the situation with senior officials in the Nigerian Government, as well as the military and other authorities in Borno and NGOs.

“With everyone I have met, I have agreed that NGOs – through their rich networks and capacity to reach people, and their expertise and experience in operating at the community level – have a very important role to play.”

‘Full compliance’

Mr Lowcock said all the humanitarian organisations working in Nigeria with funding from the international community must “operate in full compliance with international standards, including counter-terrorism related conditions, national laws, and humanitarian principles.”

He added that maintaining such standards was not only perfunctory but practical prerequisite for funding from the major donors.

“And it is important to recognise that all the international NGOs working in the North-east are authorised to do so through the government registration process and local approvals from the relevant authorities,” he added.

The Nigerian government has continuously claimed that the Boko Haram insurgents have been ‘degraded’ or ‘technically defeated’ but they still carry out sporadic attacks on military formations and civilian targets.

The military has also denied claims that the insurgents have increased deadly attacks that have claimed the lives of hundreds this year alone.

The current Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Olusegun Adeniyi, blamed the inability of troops to end Boko Haram on lack of “army aviation.”

Mr. Adeniyi, a Major General, bragged of making Boko Haram “a history” if provided with fighter helicopters.

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Crime

US Court finds President’s brother guilty of drug charges

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A New York (in the United States) court found the brother of the President of Honduras guilty of drug trafficking Friday, in a blow to the leader of the Central American country.

Juan Antonio Hernandez, known as Tony Hernandez, was convicted by a jury on all four counts, a spokesperson in the Manhattan prosecutor’s office told AFP.

Hernandez, a former Honduran congressman, was arrested at a Miami airport in November 2018 on charges of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, weapons offenses and making false statements.

He is the brother of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who tweeted Friday that his brother had been convicted with “testimony from confessed murderers.”

Sentencing is due on January 17. Hernandez, 41, faces from five years to life in prison.

The US government argued that Hernandez was a large-scale drug trafficker who worked from 2004 to 2016 with others in Colombia, Honduras and Mexico to import cocaine into the US by plane, boat and submarine.

The prosecution also said Hernandez, who served as a member of the Honduran Congress from 2014 to 2018, was involved in at least two murders of rival drug traffickers in 2011 and 2013.

Some of the cocaine he was transporting was labeled with his initials “TH,” prosecutors argued.

The trial also featured compromising allegations against the president himself.

The prosecution claimed that several candidates from Honduras’ ruling National Party accepted campaign funding from Tony Hernandez, including former president Porfirio Lobo and the current president, who was elected first in 2013 and again in contested elections in 2017.

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