Atheist Afghan granted religious asylum in UK

An Afghan citizen has been granted asylum in the UK for religious reasons - because he is an atheist. He was brought up a Muslim, but during his time in the UK became an atheist, his legal team said. They said he would face persecution and possibly a death sentence if he was returned to Afghanistan. This is believed to be the first time a person has been granted asylum in the UK on the basis of their atheism. (BBC)

Egyptians vote in constitutional referendum

Egyptians began voting on Tuesday in a constitutional referendum, the first ballot since the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Mursi and an event likely to spawn a presidential bid by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The constitution will replace one signed into law by Mursi a little more than a year ago after it was approved in a referendum. The new text strips out disputed Islamist language while strengthening state institutions that defied Mursi: the military, the police and the judiciary. (Reuters)

Russia bans US journalist

An American journalist has been banned from Russia after he reported on mass protests against Ukraine's scrapping of an EU pact. The US Embassy in Moscow has been informed of the move against David Satter and has lodged a formal diplomatic protest. The move, coming on the eve of the Sochi Winter Olympics next month, was likely to further strain already tense ties between Washington and Moscow. It was one of the first cases of a US journalist barred from Russia since the Cold War. (Telegraph)

Pope Francis denounces 'horror' of abortion

Pope Francis has issued his strongest condemnation yet of abortion, calling it a "horrific" symptom of a "throwaway culture" that placed too little value on human life. Since his election in March, the pope has not spoken out against abortion as sternly as his predecessors. (BBC)

UK's annual cancer diagnosis numbers rise by 50,000 in a decade

The number of people being diagnosed with cancer each year in Britain has increased by 50,000 over the past decade, according to figures published by Cancer Research UK on Tuesday. Cancer numbers have gone up primarily because people are living longer although alcohol and obesity are also playing a part in the rise in the numbers. (Guardian)