Just consider what would have been the international reaction if a Christian-majority country would have shown on TV ads aimed at non-Christians telling them what they should or shouldn’t do during religious celebrations. I guess even Ban Ki-Moon would have protested:
“While the station retracted the advertisements within 48 hours of first screening them and issued a public apology, this episode is telling of the dominant interpretation among members of the Malay bourgeoisie there about the value of Ramadan,” writes Bahrawi. “Ending each advertisement is a condescendingly moralizing message that puts the onus of betterment on the culturally ‘other’ when the focus should be an improvement of the self.
“In one, non-Muslims are explicitly told: “Do not be loud or obnoxious.”
“In another, it was: “Do not be greedy and eat in public.”
“More than spell out the exclusive nature of Islam, the advertisements are revelatory of the inability of Malaysia’s ultra-Malay elites to overcome ethnic tensions with the minority Chinese,” writes Bahrawi. “Ramadan or not, the advertisements suggest that their rose-tinted view of Malaysia is one colored by race-tinted glasses.”
Something that is not mentioned as often as it should:
Eleanor Roosevelt with UDHR written in Spanish. Image via Wikipedia
As noted in a 2008 report by a Christian human-rights organization, “Apostates from Islam to another religion suffer a host of serious abuses from their families, communities and nations.” These renegade Muslims may well face the death penalty in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Sudan, and other forms of oppression in many other Muslim societies.
The reason for this systemic violation of religious freedom is, unfortunately, religious. Most classical schools of sharia law consider apostasy from Islam a crime punishable by death. A hadith attributed to the Prophet Muhammad is quite clear on this: “If somebody [among Muslims] discards his religion, kill him.” The implication is that Islam is a religion with free entry but no free exit. Continue reading →
Islamabad intends to reconstitute the department that protects religious minorities. Abolished recently in a federal framework of constitutional reform in Pakistan, the ministry was headed by Shahbaz Bhatti – assassinated in March by an extremist group – it will be called “Ministry of National Harmony“, and will be entrusted to the Catholic politician Akram Gill, with a federal portfolio and rank. Encountering a group of young people, the lawmaker has asked the new generations for “greater efforts” in building a peaceful world.
In recent days, the Pakistani government approved the creation of three different ministries: National Harmony, Human Resources and Development, Professional and Technical training. The decision seems to be linked to the protests of ministers, left without portfolios following the recent reform to promote decentralization. In particular, the Ministry of Harmony will benefit from six departments and will have the task of promoting peace, tolerance and greater solidarity within society, with particular attention to interfaith dialogue.
Well, at least this time they have been convicted:
Three Muslims convicted of killing Christian Rasheed Masih, in Pakistan’s Punjab Province for refusing to convert to Islam last year have been given life sentences, according to attorneys for the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) in Pakistan.
The Sessions Court in Mian Channu on July 7 convicted Ghulam Rasool, Amjad Iqbal and Kashir Saleem of torturing and killing Rasheed Masih on March 9, 2010, and sentenced them to life in prison, which in Pakistan is 25 years. The court also ordered each convict to pay 100,000 rupees (US$1,153) to Masih’s family. A fourth suspect, Muhammad Asif, was acquitted.
Here we go again [the reason Christians use “Allah” to call God is simple: there is no other word to call God in Malaysian language]:
Image via Wikipedia
Muslim leaders in Malaysia are insisting that Christians must stop using the word “Allah” in reference to the Christian God.
The use of “Allah” as a translation of “God” in the Malay Bible “must be abandoned because it erroneously represents the two religions as equal,” said Mohd Sani Badron, a leading Islamic scholar.
Malaysia’s Catholic newspaper has won a decision in the nation’s supreme court, allowing the use of “Allah” in its pages to refer to God. But the paper is still unable to use that word, because government officials have appealed the decision. Christians explain that “Allah” has been used routinely as a word referring to the Supreme Being—not necessarily the Islamic deity. The renewed dispute comes during the same week when Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak met with Pope Benedict XVI and made a commitment to establish diplomatic ties with the Vatican. The Malaysian leader said that his visit to the Vatican shows that although the country is officially Islamic, “we are an inclusive government.” Speaking of the nation’s Christian minority, he said: “We accept them. We can engage with them. We can have dialogue with them because we want to uphold peace in this world.”
A Pakistani girl who was allegedly kidnapped and forced to marry a Muslim man has told a high court that she will stay with him, said reports in the Vatican Insider and on Fides.
In tears, Farah Hatim appeared before the judge of the High Court of Punjab, Bahawalpur section. When the judge asked her the question “which family do you choose”, the girl, after an interminable silence, replied: “Both.” The Court argued that “this is impossible”, the question was repeated. At that point, Farah chose her new Muslim family. Continue reading →
While Senegalese President funds Marseille’s mosque, churches are attacked in his country.
The World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA-RLC) is calling on the government of Senegal, West Africa to investigate attacks on churches that occurred during recent protests over constitutional amendments.
Protests erupted on June 23 after President Abdoulaye Wade’s government proposed a bill which would change the current requirement of a 50 per cent vote to become president to 25 per cent so Wade could remain in power.
The same day, at least six churches were attacked by mobs. WEA Executive Director, Godfrey Yogarajah, said it is clear the attacks had nothing to do with the protests and were clearly planned and organized to take advantage of the situation.
Saint Eijah's monastery, Mosu, Iraq. The oldest monastery in Iraq. Image via Wikipedia
Anti-Christian violence in Iraq left 92 dead and 47 wounded in 2010, making the year the worst to date for the Christian minority, according to the human-rights group Hammurabi.
Hammurabi reports that all of Iraq’s Christian churches have been badly hurt by violence and by the emigration of families leaving the country to find security elsewhere. More than 800 Christians have been killed in the years since the start of the US-lead military intervention.
Nevertheless the group found that the Christians remaining in Iraq who a strong sense of commitment. On July 4 the Chaldean Catholic Partiarch Emmanuel III paid a courtesy call on Ali al Sistani, Iraqi’s leading Shi’ite cleric, to demonstrate ‘the unity of Iraq and of Iraqis, Muslims and Christians.”
Even when the Copts did not end up behind bars, they did not receive justice. State explained that the Mubarak government sponsored “informal reconciliation sessions” which “generally prevented the criminal prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against Copts, precluded their recourse to the judicial system for restitution, and contributed to a climate of impunity that encouraged further assaults.”
No surprise, failing to exact a penalty for murder and mayhem has led to more murder and mayhem — or what the Hudson Institute‘s Nina Shea called “pogroms and acts of terror.” The failure to punish the perpetrators, complained the Commission, “continued to foster a climate of impunity, making further violence likely.” Even more emphatic was Dina Guiguis of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who told a recent congressional hearing that “the Egyptian regime is fully responsible for creating the fertile ground on which pernicious and egregious sectarian violence has become routine.”
Unfortunately, those who hoped the Egyptian revolution would better protect Christians and other religious minorities have been disappointed. To the contrary, violent attacks on Copts have been increasing.
As of last month 24 Christians had been killed, more than 200 had been injured, and three churches had been destroyed. Muslim mobs have beset Coptic churches, businesses, and homes. Well-armed thugs also attacked Christians who were protesting against the forgoing attacks.
No surprise, then, that few perpetrators have been arrested, let alone imprisoned. Noted Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute: “as under Mubarak, the authorities’ refusal to punish attacks on Christians has led to more attacks.” The army even assaulted two Coptic monasteries, supposedly to enforce discriminatory zoning laws (which prohibited walls erected for protection from attacks).
Shabhaz Bhatti was murdered by Islamic fanatics, and the Pakistani government is now pursuing the killers, according to the brother of the slain Catholic leader.
“The investigations into the murder of my brother Shabhaz are finally on the right track,” said Paul Bhatti, who is now a special adviser to the prime minister for religious-minority affairs. He said that the prime suspects are now in Dubai, and Pakistan’s justice minister has issued an international warrant for their arrest.
The killing was the work of an Al Qaida branch, led by a Pakistani Taliban leader, Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistani investigative commission has found.
A Muslim group tried to seize control of a hospital run by a Presbyterian missionary group in Pakistan, bringing charges that the hospital had been sold. The effort was foiled only after local police arrested hospital administrators at the prompting of the Muslim instigators.
The Christian Hospital of Taxila, outside Islamabad, was targeted by a team of Muslim financiers, who claimed to have purchased the property. After local officials began enforcing the claim, a stream of protest by Christian leaders—led by Bishp Rufin Anthony of Islamabad, prompted officials to investigate the claims, and find that the hospital had not been sold.
A video released in recent weeks, and made available to WORLD this week by two separate Afghan sources, shows four Afghan militants beheading a man believed to be a Christian in Herat Province.The militants, who claim to be Taliban, captured the victim, a man in his 40s named Abdul Latif (according to Obaid Christ, who provided translation of the video), earlier this year from his village outside Enjeel, a town south of Herat.
In the two-minute video, the men, wearing explosive belts (or suicide vests) and kaffiya head scarves to cover their faces, recite verses from the Quran while forcing Latif to the ground and pinning him with their feet. “You who are joined with pagans . . . your sentence [is] to be beheaded,” read one of the militants in Farsi from what looked like a paper decree. “Whoever changes his religion should be executed.” The passages refer to Sura 8:12 (“I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks . . .”) and the hadiths, or sayings of Mohammed.
As Latif fought his captors from the ground, one of the militants thrust a medium-sized blade into the side of his neck. With blood flowing onto the ground the militants shouted “Allahu Akhbar” or “God is great” over and over until Latif was fully beheaded and his head was placed on top of his chest.
Pakistani police have arrested a man suspected of being involved in the March 2 assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic cabinet minister slain for his opposition to the nation’s blasphemy law.
A Church official reacted by calling upon authorities to launch a more serious investigation. “We ask the government to launch serious investigations and to urgently predispose all possible means,” said Father Yousaf Emmanuel, director of the bishops’ commission on justice and peace. “We hope and pray that the culprits are caught as soon as possible, so the family and the Christian community can have justice.”
Let’s see if they actually find the culprits and condemn them or it happens as in Gojra killings.
Herret ruled out the idea of decreasing German’s investments in Egypt if the Brotherhood come to power, stressing that the new political parties should implement a group of economic policies to boost investment and enhance the Egyptian economy’s competitiveness.
The German official played down the concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood winning the elections.
“Islam is a moderate religion, which encourages dialogue with the other and denounces violence and extremism,” he explained.
The decapitated body of a Christian man has been discovered in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, a few days after he was kidnapped. Ashur Yacob Issa, 29, was abducted late Friday night or early Saturday morning (13 or 14 May) and his mutilated body was discovered last Monday morning (16 May).
His family had been asked for a ransom but was not able to pay the sum of more than £61,500 the kidnappers demanded.
Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, the charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk condemned the killing, and went on to pay tribute to the strength and faith of his community despite the continuing threat of violence.
Archbishop Sako said: “In all these years, I have never heard of a single Christian converting to Islam, despite the many threats.”
Pakistan’s fundamentalists are rejoicing following the acquittal verdict. The country’s Christian minority is “under shock” because, this time as well, the massacre of innocent victims done in the name of the infamous blasphemy law will go unpunished. The justice system also shows its powerlessness vis-à-vis extremists who can carry out heinous crimes with total impunity, whilst the government remains silent. Meanwhile, a Muslim religious leader publicly says that Christians “deserve” to be murdered.
A Pakistani anti-terrorism court acquitted 70 people who, in various roles, were involved in the Gojra massacre of August 2009 (see Fareed Khan, “Eight Christians burned alive in Punjab,” in AsiaNews, 2 August 2009). The anti-Christian violence broke out following blasphemy allegations. During a wedding, a group of Christians supposedly burnt pages of the Qur‘an, a pretext used to strike at the religious minority.
Gulfam (which means “like a flower”) is 9 years old (her surname is not revealed out of respect and decency to the family) and is enrolled in the third grade. She lives in village number 226 in the district of Tehsil Samundari. On 10 December she returned from school and her sister-in-law, wanting to make chapatti (bread used in Pakistan) sent her, along with her cousin of seven years, to collect wood in a nearby sugarcane field. After a short time the child came home and revealed that Gulfam had been taken and dragged by a man into that field. When relatives arrived on the ground they caught the man who abused the child red-handed, who immediately fled. Gulfam’s mother took the girl, half-naked, home. Then the parents went to the police and reported the rape. The man was arrested. But the family is terrified because the village is mainly Muslim. The relatives of the rapist have already tried to intimidate and threaten the family of Gulfam to withdraw the charges. The girl said the man had offered her money and at her refusal, he took her by force, taping over her mouth and raping her. He also told her “not to worry because he had done the same service to other young Christian girls.”