Spain: the Govt wants to forbid religious images in taxis

This verges on obsession… if in the end is true (something that is possible and probable):

Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Rubens)

Image via Wikipedia

It is not uncommon to see in taxis religious images, especially of the Virgin Mary, among the self-employed taxi sector. This tradition continues especially in Andalusia, where the image of a local virgin, as well as of St. Christopher, patron saint of drivers, have become iconic symbols for these workers. Industry representatives have complained that, with the Religious Freedom Act, will be forced to remove religious symbols from their cars. The Government contends that, under the principle of secularism, possession of symbols or clothing that express a religious affiliation in public services be prohibited.
This law prohibits carrying “overt” symbols (ie visible and taken with the intent to be seen) of belonging to a religion. “Instead of banning things that do not harm anyone, the Govt should worry about those who search through Spanish dumpsters for food“,complains Alvaro Sevilla, a taxi driver that has no problem in displaying an image of the Virgen del Rocío over the glove compartment of his vehicle. Like him, his colleagues do not understand a measure that would end a practice of many taxi drivers, so they require “greater flexibility in this regard
“There is no secular symbol that comfors me more than a picture of the Virgen del Carmen”, says Alberto Ibáñez, a businessperson from Cordoba. He remembers excited a serious accident at the entrance of Lucena and in which he was miraculously saved by that image. At least he feels that and hasn’t found any standard secular value that makes he think otherwise. Another partner of the province of Montilla  (Cordoba) recalled that on one occasion, a temporary worker from the Maghreb complained about the presence of a small crucifix with the wheel and for that reason, refused to travel on board in the “blasphemous” vehicle.

More here.

Pakistan: 9-year-old Catholic girl raped by a Muslim

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.”

Background: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Christmas in Bethlehem: the cross banished from souvenirs

For fear of Islamic fundamentalism, textile workshops in Hebron and Jerusalem, produce and sell T-shirts and other items depicting the Church of the Nativity without the cross. Discrimination and economic crisis are forcing Christians to flee from the Palestinian territories and Israel. The risk is to see a future without Christians in the Holy Land.

In an interview with Samir Qumsieh, director of the Catholic television station Al-Mahed Nativity TV in Bethlehem, (…) he said: “I want to launch a campaign to urge people not to buy these products – he says – because the removal of the cross is an intimidation against Christians, it is like saying that Jesus was never crucified” .

Read here.

Background: 1, 2.

Afghanistan: Red Cross abandons long-time employee Sayed Musa, accused of apostasy

Saed Musa is that ex-Muslim, convert to Christianity, who has been working for Red Cross for 15 years.

Said Musa

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Red Cross in Afghanistan (ICRC) has not intervened on behalf of a long-term employee who was arrested and imprisoned because he is Christian. This, despite that the Red Cross mandate includes “visiting prisoners” and “helping victims of conflict and internal violence, whoever they are.”

Read here. Tx to here.

Background: 1, 2, 3.

More information and photo: here.

Pakistan: “If they don’t hang Asia Bibi, we will kill her”

A score of men who have completed their work in the field or in the construction business are going to listen to their imam. Although they acknowledge that Bibi and his family were quiet people who never had problems, that doens’t change their minds: the penal code says that anyone who blasphemes against the prophet should be hanged. At Wali Ittan, that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zadari, has yielded to international pressure (the pope included) and has said it would forgive Bibi, is of little value. “If she is not hanged as the law states, we will kill her,” it’s heard in the group of men. One of them, wearing the traditional salwar kameez, steps forward and says proudly: “I’m ready to kill her.” Abdul Shakoor, 26, is followed by several of his neighbors who share his idea. “I would too,” says Zuqar Nain, 20, with a smile.

The imam of the village, Mohammad Salam, has little time to answer questions before giving his sermon at the austere mosque. It was this long-bearded, 31-year-old man, the one who accused Bibi of blasphemy to the police, in June 2009. He tells us that a group of 25 laborers were on lunch break and that Muslim women would not drink the same glass as used Asia Bibi, the only Christian. She became angry and the argument became so heated that the woman blasphemed Muhammad, said the imam.

What was wrong? “I could never repeat it,” the imam replied angrily. He ensures that it doesn’t matter Asia Bibi is a woman. “She must be punished.” Salam, who learned of the quarrel by a young woman who witnessed it ensures that he conducted his own investigations.Five days after, he denounced her at the police station where, according to Christian sources, Bibi was pressured to convert to Islam. Her alleged offense, they argue, was to say that Jesus Christ is as sacred as the prophet.

El País.

(Translated by T&P).

Background:

  1. Pakistan: Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.
  2. Pakistan: your signature to save Asia Bibi.
  3. Asia Bibi: Pope appeals for “full freedom“.
  4. Pakistan: Asia Bibi NOT pardoned, protests are announced in case she is.
  5. Pakistan: Both Minister of Minorities and Punjab Governor threatened by Islamists over Asia Bibi’s release.
  6. Pakistan: Taliban-linked cleric offers $5,800 reward for anyone who kills Asia Bibi.
  7. Pakistan: Taliban-linked cleric offers $5,800 reward for anyone who kills Asia Bibi (II).
  8. Pakistan: court orders government not to change blasphemy law.

Iraq: Church leaders plead for Govt protection in Mosul

This is not the first time they ask for the protection:

Church leaders in Iraq have issued a statement demanding government action to end a campaign of violence against Christians in Mosul. A joint message from Catholic and Orthodox prelates calls attention to "a premeditated plan to place pressure on Christian Churches, to achieve a certain agenda." Decrying the failure of government officials to take effective action despite five execution-style murders within a week, the Church leaders said that the lack of security creates "the impression that we are unwanted in this city, which is our homeland."

It won’t be the last, I’m afraid.

Christian Persecution and Prayer Alert, Feb 11th

Christians forced from their homes in Laos

A group of 48 Christians were forced from their homes in Katin village, Saravan province, Laos in January by approximately 100 officials and villagers. The believers, who had gathered for Sunday worship, were expelled from their church at gunpoint and brought to an open field. Officials then confiscated personal belongings from 11 Christians’ homes. Six of the homes were later destroyed. A pig, worth the equivalent of six weeks’ salary, was also seized from one of the believers. When the Christians refused to renounce their faith, they were forced to walk six kilometres outside the village and were left at the side of the road. Officials have posted police at the entrance to the village to prevent the Christians from returning home or retrieving their valuables. At last report, the believers were sleeping on the ground in the woods with barely any food or survival supplies.

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