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Monk removed as head of Chinese temple amid sex assault investigation

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The former head of China’s government-run Buddhist association has been removed as abbot of a Beijing temple following a sexual assault investigation, officials said.

Xuecheng, a Communist Party member and abbot of Beijing’s Longquan Monastery, is one of the most prominent figures to face accusations in China’s growing #MeToo movement.

He is under criminal investigation after a report by fellow monks accused him of sexual and financial improprieties, including coercing several nuns to have sex with him.



Investigators had also uncovered evidence that his monastery had broken national financial rules.

A prominent personality in Chinese Buddhist life with a social media following of millions, Xuecheng’s presence on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service has been silent since August 1, when he posted a statement rejecting the sexual assault claims.

The Buddhist Association of China said in a statement the decision to remove him as abbot was made in a meeting last Friday after consulting a report by the country’s top religious authority.

“We have removed Xuecheng as the abbot of Beijing Longquan Monastery,” it said.

He had stepped down as head of the Buddhist association earlier this month.

The 95-page report, which circulated online late last month, contained allegations from two monks that Xuecheng had sent explicit text messages to at least six women.

The monks accused Xuecheng of threatening or cajoling the women to have sex with him, claiming it was a part of their Buddhist studies.

In their report, the two monks, who are no longer members of the monastery, said four women gave in to Xuecheng’s demands.

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Both men were also asked to leave Longquan monastery after news of the report broke.

Located on the outskirts of Beijing, the monastery has made headlines for combining Buddhism with modern technology, launching last year a two-foot high robot monk that dispenses mantras and karmic advice.

The #MeToo movement ignited in China earlier this year with more women starting to open up about sexual assaults, especially on university campuses.

Unlike in the West, where #MeToo has forced resignations and sparked widespread public debate, authorities in China have sought to control the discussion, sometimes allowing and at other times censoring social media commentary.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Inflation rate falls to 1.7%

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 The office for National statistics says the consumer price index is 1.7%-down from 2.1% – in August

Head of inflation at ONS Mike Hardie said: “The inflation rate has fallen noticeably into August, to its lowest since late 2016. This was mainly driven by a decrease in computer game prices, plus clothing prices rising by less than year after the end of the summer sales.

“Annual growth in house prices slowed to its lowest rate since September 2012, with four of the nine English regions now seeing prices falling over the year”.

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Crime

Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe

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Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.

The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).

The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.

According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.

It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.

“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.

“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”

The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.

Source: BBC

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