Religious Liberty Alert | Week ending Friday 12 September 2008

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The ongoing plight of Iranians living in defiance of Islamic principles who live abroad face persecution if their request for asylum is denied and they are forced to return to Iran, as in this case in Buffalo of an inter-religious married couple.

Buffalo shopkeepers, facing deportation to Iran, plead for asylum
Buffalo News | 6 September 2008



Violence and extreme persecution of Christians in India is continuing following unrest in Orissa. The Hindu reports on 'a Christian prayer hall in Bada village' which 'was attacked and torched by a mob of about 300 people on Sunday morning'. (Includes a picture of the destroyed the church.)

Church targeted in Davangere
The Hindu | 8 September 2008:



The Jakarta Post reports, 'Since regional-autonomy was first enacted in 1998, many local administrations have enacted sharia-inspired bylaws, which experts, rights activists and moderate Muslim scholars have warned threaten national unity.' Examples of regional sharia laws include: a Koran literacy requirement for students and brides; an Islamic dress-code enforcement on Muslim women; and a curfew for women. 'The Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and the
National Law Commission are planning to establish a body to review unconstitutional ordinances, including sharia-inspired bylaws, enacted by local administrations ... and recommend that those proven unconstitutional be revoked.'

DPD announces plan to establish body to review sharia bylaws
The Jakarta Post | 9 September 2008



Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports, 'The Iranian Parliament voted on Tuesday in favour of a bill stipulating the death penalty for apostasy. The bill was approved by 196 votes for, seven against, and two abstentions. ... The progress of this bill through the Iranian Parliament is a cause of grave concern for increasing numbers of Iranians who have left Islam for another religion, and a significant backwards step for human rights in Iran.'

Iran - Parliament votes in favour of punishing apostasy with death
Christian Solidarity Worldwide | 11 September 2008


Compass Direct News reports Two Iranian Christians have been in prison since 15 May 2008 and charged with 'apostasy' (leaving Islam). The families have been unable to get the men out of prison on bail. Mahmood Matin Azad's and Arash Basirat's lawyers have suggested that international pressure be exerted on Iranian authorities to clear the men of any wrongdoing.

Compass Direct News | 10 September 2008



Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein expounds in the New York Daily news on the continuing persecution of Christians living in the Middle East either under sharia law or not. 'Many Christians in Islamic lands have become subject to such terror that they are fleeing the homelands their ancestors have known almost since the time of Jesus.'

NOTE: Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein says, 'The only place in the Mideast where Christian communities continue to grow is in the Jewish State of Israel," but we know this is not quite correct. Christian communities are growing in the ME despite persecution. It is true however that in Israel Christians have a high degree of religious liberty and security, while in the Islamic states of the ME religious liberty and security are all but non-existent which is why their continued
survival is so precarious.

War on Christians in the Middle East must be stopped
New York Daily News | 8 September 2008



Sister Zakai Jamal of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary explains to UCA News how 'Christian women are doubly marginalised in Pakistan, because they are women and because they belong to a religious minority'. Christian women face violence and discrimination. Harassed and ill-treated as they work in factories and as domestic helps. 'Quite often young girls go missing or are kidnapped, raped or killed' in Youhanabad, a Christian colony in the outskirts of Lahore. Even nuns are subjected to Islamic rejection of their vow of chastity: 'According to Islamic tradition, it is unacceptable because it is against the plan of God for human beings.' In the North West Frontier Province bombing of girls' schools and threats have affected attendance of teachers and students.

To Be A Woman, To Be A Christian And To Be Prophetic Are Interlinked
UCA News | 4 September 2008


'Minorities Concern of Pakistan' voice concern for the Christians in a southern Punjabi village in Pakistan who have again been receiving anonymous letters threatening them if they do not convert to Islam. The threats occur after an alleged attack on a few Christian families where the Christians were told to leave the area. The Christians in Shantigar are frightened of militant reprisal following a 1997 attack when their village was burnt and destroyed whilst policemen were present; no convictions have followed this incident.

Letter campaign demands Christians to convert
Spero News | 9 September 2008


Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports on the outcome of Lahore High Court's Multan Beach which has 'awarded custody' of Saba Mashito to her alleged kidnapper. Saba and her sister were kidnapped by three Muslim men in June 2008, forcibly converted to Islam and 'Saba was compelled to marry one of the men'. Her sister Anila has been returned to her parents. 'The court's decision comes as religious minorities appeal to Pakistan's new President Asif Ali Zardari to protect human rights and religious freedom.'

Pakistan - Alleged kidnapper granted custody of Christian girl Christian
Solidarity Worldwide | 10 September 2008



'As Orthodox Christians have been systematically persecuted in Turkey and there are now less than 2,500 of them left in the country,' writes Congressmen Tom Lantos's letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey in an International Herald Tribune report. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, the leader of the Greek Orthodox community in Istanbul, has had 'Almost all of its property ... seized by successive Turkish governments, its schools have been closed and its prelates are taunted by extremists who demonstrate almost daily outside the Patriarchate, calling for its ouster from Turkey' and he 'is often jeered and threatened when he ventures outside his walled enclave. He is periodically burned in effigy by Turkish chauvinists and Muslim fanatics. Government bureaucrats take pleasure in harassing him, summoning him to their offices to question and berate him about irrelevant issues, blocking his efforts to make repairs in the few buildings still under his control, and issuing veiled threats about what he says and does when he travels abroad.'

Orthodox Christianity under threat
International Herald Tribune | 8 September 2008



Asia news reports on the status of a Vietnamese Christian who was forcibly repatriated from a Cambodian UNHCR refugee camp to Vietnam, was detained on return until paying a fine for his release, placed under house arrest, was made to 'donate' a farm animal to police and 'was forced to sign a statement in which he formally renounced Christianity and pledged to stop attending the Degar church'.

Vietnamese Christian escapes to Cambodia, repatriated to death threats
Asia News | 5 September 2008


World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) has selected this digest of significant articles as a resource for the informed concern, prayers, support and advocacy of the Christian Church on behalf of its sisters and brothers who are suffering for their faith in Christ.

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PLEASE NOTE: All URL links were active at the time this email was issued but may have since been removed by the respective owners. Whilst the RLC considers the items included are credible, the RLC has not necessarily verified them. Therefore anybody quoting an item should be satisfied about its accuracy as well as attribute its original source to fulfil copyright law.