Persecution and Freedom News

Islamic fundamentalists attack Hindus in Bangladesh

An alleged blasphemous image posted to Facebook sparked ‘shameful mayhem

A group of Islamic radicals went on the rampage destroying temples and houses in eight Hindu villages in Bangladesh enraged by an alleged blasphemous image posted to Facebook.

They vandalized and looted 23 temples and 100 houses in an attack that went on for nearly two hours on Oct. 30. They also beat and injured more than 100 Hindu villagers in Nasirnagar sub-district, local Hindu leaders and police said.

The violence flared after Rasraj Das, a local Hindu, published on Facebook Oct. 28 a photo of the Kaaba, which Muslims consider to be the home of Allah on Earth, juxtaposed with an image of the Hindu god Shiva.

That night, radical Muslims protested and demanded action against Das, said Abdul Quader, officer-in-charge at Nasirnagar police station. Read more at ucanews.com

UK religious freedom leaders speak out for Asia Bibi, persecuted Pakistani Christians

“We’re all praying and hoping that she will get justice and be released. The case against her is very weak and fragile,” he said. “The supreme court in Pakistan is very free from pressures, and the chief justice is liberal and for human rights.”

Left: Asia Bibi, seen in this Nov. 20, 2010, file photo (CNS); right: Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan, speaks Oct. 11 at St. Columba's Church in Chester, England. (CNS photo/Simon Caldwell)
Left: Asia Bibi, seen in this Nov. 20, 2010, file photo (CNS); right: Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan, speaks Oct. 11 at St. Columba’s Church in Chester, England. (CNS photo/Simon Caldwell)

The archbishop of Pakistan’s largest Catholic diocese was embarking on a nationwide tour of England to draw attention to the persecution of Christians, just as news broke of yet another delay in the blasphemy appeal case of Asia Bibi which was due to be heard on Thursday 13th October.

Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw OFM, of the Archdiocese of Lahore, had been giving a series of keynote lectures around England throughout the third week of October, at the invitation of the anti-Christian persecution charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), when news about Asia, the imprisoned Catholic mother of five, hit headlines around the world. Read more at Catholic World Report…

 

Priests visit anti-Christian riot-hit Indian villages

Visit aims to help them experience the strength of villagers’ faith

ndian priests during a tour of riot-hit Kandhamal villages in eastern Indian Odisha state. (Photo supplied)
Indian priests during a tour of riot-hit Kandhamal villages in eastern Indian Odisha state. (Photo supplied)

Priests  from several parts of India have visited villagers in Odisha state to learn how they coped with anti-Christian violence.

Coming from seven dioceses in northeastern India, 32 of them visited villages in eastern Kandhamal district where violence in 2007-2008 resulted in the murder of about 100 Christians who refused to abandon their faith. The regional Odisha bishops’ council organized the visit, the first in a series. This group of priests are involved in the spiritual and academic formation of seminarians.

“The Catholics of Kandhamal may not pass a catechism examination or win a prize at a catechism quiz but they came out with flying colors in the ultimate test of their faith,” said Bishop John Thomas Kattrukudiyil of Itanagar, who led the group. “Faith is more important than knowledge,” he said, read more at ucanews.com… 

Beijing tightens control of religion in Xinjiang

Parents or guardians should not ‘organize, lure or force minors into attending religious activities’

Friday Prayers, Urumuqi, Xinjiang.
Friday Prayers, Urumuqi, Xinjiang.

The Chinese government have tightened the screws on religious freedom in Xinjiang autonomous region with new regulations allowing for parents and guardians to be reported if they “force” children into religious activities.

The new regulations in the Muslim-majority state were passed by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regional People’s Congress on Sept. 29 and will come into effect Nov. 1.

Parents or guardians should not “organize, lure or force minors into attending religious activities,” according to the full text of the juvenile delinquency regulations published by state-run Xinjiang Daily on Oct. 12.

The regulations stated that parents should not teach children “hardline” beliefs, or force them to wear specific clothing or other symbols. Any organization or individual has the right to stop these kinds of behaviors and inform the police, they further stated.

The rules also ban all religious activities in schools, read more…

‘On the Edge’: Gallery of photos from the launch

Christian leaders pledge to support Indian government

Home minister assures them that religious persecution will not be allowed at any cost

Source: Orthodox Christian Network
Source: Orthodox Christian Network

Indian Christian leaders have extended their support to the Hindu nationalist federal government to help in the country’s development.

Some 1,000 Christians leaders told the Indian federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh Oct. 14 in New Delhi that the community did not indulge in any kind of “forced or fraudulent” religious conversions, that Hindu extremist groups cite as reason for anti-Christian violence, read more

 

Cardinal Bo endorses UCAN religious freedom report

‘On the Edge’ shows how the Catholic Church is deeply concerned about the erosion of this fundamental right.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo said "It is timely, well researched, narrating the poignant stories of survivors of religious intolerance,"
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo said “It is timely, well researched, narrating the poignant stories of survivors of religious intolerance,”

The On the Edge book published by UCA News holds a mirror to religious based hatred and is a fitting warning to not compromise on freedom of conscience, said Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon.

“This document to me is the ‘magna carta’ of religious freedom in Asia,” said Cardinal Bo during the On the Edge book launch in Yangon Oct. 14. This book will shed great light on the need for religious freedom, he said.

On the Edge is the first of a series of annual reports about the state of religious persecution among religions in the region by governments and by each other. It is edited by Father Michael Kelly, S.J., UCAN Executive Director.

On the Edge articulates the agony of Asia — the mother of great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Judaism and the freedom to believe and follow one’s own conscience in determining faith is an inherent right but violated by crooks and governments in theocratic societies as well as democracies,” he said.

The first report focuses on Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

“It is timely, well researched, narrating the poignant stories of survivors of religious intolerance,” the Yangon archbishop said.

In documenting the poverty stricken Christian settlements of Pakistan, the narratives of anti-Christian riots in India, the plight of Chinese underground Christians, the sad and moving stories of Rohingyas in Myanmar, the emergence of religious intolerance in Bangladesh, the role of extremist monks in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the poison of hatred in tolerant Indonesia, “the documentation tells a story of tears, brokenness and resilience of the persecuted religious minorities,” he said.

“Dark clouds of hatred are gathering in Asia. Merchants of death have rolled down narratives of hatred. This book’s great contribution is to hold a mirror to that hatred,” he said.

“Genocides occur where religious freedom is restricted. Genocides occur where this is substituted by procrastination. This is not the time to compromise our conscience,” the cardinal said.

“So the book On the Edge is a fitting warning.”

Religious freedom is the right to hold any belief and the book addresses some of these issues such as the right to worship, observance, practice, expression and teaching, he said.

“Hence, On the Edge is an armor for peace and justice. I wish all Christians will read this book, to understand how the Catholic Church is deeply concerned about the erosion of this fundamental right,” Cardinal Bo said.

You can see more of the book and order a copy here.

 

 

Pakistani clerics demand Asia Bibi’s execution

Threats made as Pakistan’s top court prepares to address final appeal against her death sentence

asia-bibi

A group of influential Pakistani clerics issued a statement Oct. 11, calling for the execution of Christian woman Asia Bibi who was sentenced to death for blasphemy.

The statement by Sunni Ittehad Council, an umbrella group of Sunni clerics, came just days before Pakistan’s top court in Lahore was scheduled on Oct. 13 to take up Bibi’s final appeal against the death sentence. However, on Oct. 13 one of the three judges hearing Bibi’s appeal withdrew from the bench, leading to the case’s adjournment until Oct. 18.

The latest demand for Bibi’s execution was backed by 150 clerics in the council, read more…

Christians condemn threats to heir of lynched couple

Shama Masih and her husband Shahzad Masih were lynched to death and their bodies burned in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan, a village in Kasur district of Pakistan's Punjab province on Nov. 4, 2014.
Shama Masih and her husband Shahzad Masih were lynched to death and their bodies burned in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan, a village in Kasur district of Pakistan’s Punjab province on Nov. 4, 2014.

Relatives warned not to follow up on the case in which Christians were lynched by a Muslim mob

Christian rights activists in Pakistan are concerned over threats made against the legal heir of a Christian couple lynched by a Muslim mob on accusations of blasphemy in 2014.

Shama Masih and her husband Shahzad Masih were lynched to death and their bodies burned in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan, a village in Kasur district of Pakistan’s Punjab province on Nov. 4, 2014.

Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission sent a fact finding mission after the killings, which found the blasphemy’s allegation was fabricated.

Dozens of people were rounded up by the police and put on trial.

Iqbal Masih, elder brother of Shahzad Masih, is fighting a legal battle on behalf of the slain couple.

He was reportedly harassed in order to intimidate him from pursuing the case against the perpetrators read more… 

Tibetan singers released after four years in jail

Their songs praised the exiled Dalai Lama and Tibetan self-immolation protests

Tibetan Musicians. Rikaze, Tibet. Source: Steve Hicks via Flickr CC BY 2.0
Tibetan Musicians. Rikaze, Tibet. Source: Steve Hicks via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Two Tibetan singers have been released from jail in southwestern China after they completed a four-year sentence given to them for a music CD they produced that included politically sensitive songs, reports RFA.

Pema Trinley, 27, and Chakdor, 35, were freed from a Sichuan province prison on Oct. 3 and returned to their homes in Ngaba county’s Meruma township, read more…