While we are focused on everything from home-schooling to ventilators, worrying things are happening in the world.

Authoritarian leaders are using this crisis to bring in antidemocratic measures and increase surveillance.* This applies in particular to China and Russia—but not just there.

In Russia, the quarantine is supported by a network of 170,000 cameras. The coronavirus is giving President Putin a convenient pretext for bringing in facial recognition technology. A tracking system will soon be introduced allowing the authorities to know the location of every person. Just to shield them from the coronavirus?

China was already the country with the strictest surveillance in the world. (The former head of MI5 described it on Radio 4 this week as a “surveillance state”.) Its watch over its citizens by means of mobile phone technology is almost total. It watches Christian believers constantly.

In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has closed the courts. A sensible precaution? Perhaps. But also extremely helpful as he is facing a corruption trial.

Even within the EU, President Orban of Hungary has used this emergency to give himself unlimited powers. He no longer needs Parliament, but governs by direct decree. How likely is it that he will give up these powers again?

Even in the United States, The Dept. of Justice is trying to suspend the law of habeas corpus. That is the right that of every person to have their arrest reviewed by a judge. “If this goes through, you could be arrested, put in prison, and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency is over,” a defence lawyer recently said. So let’s

  • thank God for our democratic system even though it is far from perfect
  • pray that it may never be undermined
  • pray for those countries which suffer under authoritarian leaders
  • pray for the United States which should be a bastion for liberty
  • pray for democracy and civil liberty in danger around the world

(Information from German Podcast) *

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