Religious Liberty Alert | Week ending Friday 18 July 2008
GeneralJuly 18, 2008
* EGYPT: Bloomberg reports on the escalation of Muslim-Christian conflict in Egypt including forced conversions, stabbings, bombings and restrictions on building churches, as well as attacks on Christian businesses and a monastery.
* INDIA: Religious Intelligence reports, 'The Justice Basudev Panigrahi Enquiry Commission yesterday began hearing victims of the violence that began on December 24, 2007 and lasted for a week in Orissa's Kandhamal district. At least four Christians were killed and 730 houses and 95 churches burned in the attacks that were allegedly incited by Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, who is close to a Hindu nationalist group, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council).'
* INDIA: Khaleej Times Online reports, 'The controversial Gujarat Freedom of Religion Act to check religious conversions achieved by force, lure, or deceit has come into force in the state ... What has surprised many is the fact that though the Act was passed by the legislative assembly last year amid protests and came into force from April 1, the rules have been notified and publicised only now.'
* INDONESIA (Papua Province): The World Council of Churches (WCC) will visit Indonesia from 17 to 24 July 2008, according to the UK-based organisation Ekklesia. Some members of the delegation will visit West Papua. 'Over the past years the WCC has also repeatedly expressed its concern over human rights violations against the indigenous people of Papua.'
* ITALY: Following on from last week's media alert and concern over the Italian government's proposition to fingerprint all Roma's (gypsies) residing in Italy, the Italian parliament has approved a decision to extend fingerprinting for a national identity card to all Italian citizens and foreigners living in Italy. The racial profiling previously suggested was strongly criticised internationally and by the European Union.
* NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand media report that 'Swastikas and obscenities greeted a Myanmar (formerly Burma) family last Wednesday when they went out to use their car'. The Christian family left Burma to escape persecution. Mayor David Ogden plans to organise a meeting call for more tolerance in the community.
* PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Radio New Zealand reports, 'The Governor of Papua New Guinea's Sandaun province says local people living along the border with Indonesia are in fear for their lives due to incursions by Indonesian military.' The people living along the border with Indonesia are a combination of local people and refugees from Papua. In response to a letter from Indonesian military officials the PNG Defence Force commander said, '"We must understand that Indonesia has an army that is hundred times bigger than ours and sometimes commanders have difficulties in controlling their younger soldiers," he said. "Indonesia is going through a political reform and they have problems in Aceh, West Papua and previously in Timor Leste." '
* SAUDI ARABIA: A new report from the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute finds, '. . . that the Saudi textbooks are filled with the austere supremacism of the Wahhabi sect of Islam, despite promises from the Kingdom in 2006 to alter them. For example, a textbook for 10th graders on Islamic jurisprudence not only says it is permissible in Islam to murder a homosexual, but recommends the methods for doing so: burning alive, stoning, or throwing one off a high building ... Jews, Christians, and non-Wahhabi Sunni Muslims are described in many of the textbooks as enemies of the true faith and infidels.'
* ZIMBABWE: Reuters reports, 'Zimbabwe's Christian community on Tuesday rejected President Robert Mugabe's re-election last month as marred by violence and intimidation and said it would support a government of national unity. In a statement obtained by Reuters, the heads of all the churches in the predominantly Christian country said the contest between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was marred by the worst violence since independence in 1980.'
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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