Pakistan: Last Appeal for Christian Mom Sentenced to Death

Christian Persecution Info

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A Christian mother sentenced to death in Pakistan for allegedly committing blasphemy will be given one last appeal by Pakistan’s court system to avoid execution.

According to International Christian Concern, Asia Bibi has been on death row since her conviction and death sentence were announced by the Session’s Court in Pujab back in 2010. Although her appeal hearing was delayed and rescheduled seven times, Justice Anwar-ul-Haq eventually confirmed Bibi’s death sentence.

But now, Pakistan’s Supreme Court will decide whether to grant, or reject Bibi’s appeal. If granted, the court will set a future date for Bibi’s appeal before deciding whether to uphold, or overturn her sentence. But if her death sentence is upheld, Bibi’s only chance of avoiding execution would be by a presidential pardon.

“The case against Asia Bibi is one of the best examples of how Christians and other religious minorities are abused in Pakistan by fundamentalists wielding Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws,” said William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia. “The blasphemy laws were originally written to protect against religious intolerance in Pakistan, but the law has warped into a tool used by extremists and others to settle personal scores or spread religious hatred against Pakistan’s vulnerable religious minorities. Sadly, the vast majority of blasphemy accusations brought against Christians and others are false….”

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Iran: Two Christians Recalled to Jail

Christian Persecution Info

By Joseph DeCaro

(Worthy News) – Two Iranian Christians have been sent to serve the prison sentences they received in 2013.

According to Barnabas Aid, Bijan Farokhpour Haghighi and Eskandar Rezaie have been recalled from bail to serve prison sentences of three years and one year, respectively. Originally sentenced in July 2013, they had appealed their verdicts until their sentences were upheld last March.

The pair had been part of a prayer group meeting in a private house in Shiraz that was raided by Iranian security forces back in 2012. The Christians attending the meeting were variously charged with evangelizing, disturbing the public order and acting against Iran’s national security.

As many Farsi-speaking churches in Tehran have been shut down by the Iranian authorities, Christians now meet in their own homes to worship, pray and study the Bible.

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Nigeria: Church Saved from Bomb

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By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Mass murder in Plateau State was narrowly averted July 12 after a security guard spotted a bomb at a church’s entrance and threw it away just before it exploded.

According to Barnabas Aid, police later discovered another device planted in the church’s bathroom before it could explode.

Although no terrorist group had claimed responsibility for the failed bombing, Boko Haram has attacked more churches and killed more Christians during the last two years than any other terrorist group in the world.

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India: Churches Attacked

Christian Persecution Info

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – In the early hours of June 28, suspected Hindu nationalists destroyed the cross of a church in India’s Bhiwani district, Haryana state, according to Barnabas Aid.

“This act deeply hurts our religious feelings,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Churches. “The cross is the symbol of the Christian faith … This is not an isolated act by vandals — it is rather intentionally provocative and anti-Christian.”

When a member of the church confronted the attackers, they threatened his life, but then fled when the police arrived.

On that same Sunday, a mob of around 30 Hindus attacked a church in Adoni, Kurnool, in Andhra Pradesh state. After they pelted the building with stones, police arrived in time to protect the pastor and his wife from any further attacks.

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Egypt: Christians Accused of Contempt for Islam

Christian Persecution Info

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Three Christians in Egypt have been accused of showing contempt for Islam after evangelizing Muslims last weekend in the port city of Alexandria.

According to Morning Star News, the Christians were arrested for handing out bags of dried dates along with copies of the Sermon on the Mount and the name of an Arabic-language website about the Christian faith.

But the materials offended one Muslim who forcibly took one of the Christians to a police station where he supposedly said that if police didn’t punish him, he would seek his own justice.

All three Christians were released on bond pending further investigation by the attorney general’s office to either pursue, or drop the case.

Egypt’s 2014 Constitution guarantees both religious freedom and freedom of expression, but it is often trumped by Article 98F. Although not a blasphemy statute, 98F prohibits acts that show contempt for “any of the heavenly religions or the sects belonging thereto.”

Article 98F is punishable by imprisonment for not less than six months and not exceeding five years, or a fine of not less than 500 Egyptian pounds, but not exceeding 1,000 pounds.

Blasphemy cases against religious minorities have increased in Egypt after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn into office in 2014.

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Mexico’s Persecution of Protestant Christians

Christian Persecution Info

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – United States officials have questioned Mexico’s government regarding reports of widespread discrimination and displacement of Protestant Christian communities in Chiapas and other Mexican states.

According to International Christian Concern, human rights groups have already raised American’s awareness about the plight of religious minorities in rural areas of Mexico. Last month, ICC initiated a petition calling for an end to violence against and displacement of religious minorities in Mexico.

ICC estimates that more than 70 open cases of religious persecution against minority Christian communities currently exist in Chiapas, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero states. The 70 cases — which deal with the denial of access to public schools and cemeteries, the destruction of property and even physical assault — have been ongoing for decades.

“It is time that the Mexican government provides justice and protection for victims of religious persecution while dealing with local and state officials that are part of the problem,” said ICC President Jeff King. “A free society cannot flourish when religious persecution exists and this issue has gone on for far too long while the world has looked the other way.

“Every citizen of Mexico has a right to practice their faith without the fear of being driven from their homes simply because of what they believe.”

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No Visas for Christians Facing Muslim Persecution

Christian Persecution Info

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Despite persecution from Islamic terrorists, Christians in Iraq will not receive any support from the United States government, according to Creeping Sharia.

Though they have been threatened by Muslims in refugee camps run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Christians will not be supported because of their religious affiliation, according to the U.S. State Department, which has flatly refused to resettle Christian refugees in the United States.

While admitting more than 4,000 Somalis to the United States during the first half of 2015, the State Department “would not support a special category to bring Assyrian Christians into the United States,” according to Faith McDonnell of the Philos Project.

McDonnell said the U.S. government has asserted that religious affiliation does not ensure asylum for persecuted Christians.

“The State Department, the wider administration, some in Congress and much of the media and other liberal elites insist that Christians cannot be given preferential treatment….”

No “preferential treatment,” despite the fact that Christianity is currently experiencing some of the worst persecution in its history, according to Archbishop Bashar Warda.

“Christianity in Iraq is going through one of its worst and hardest stages of its long history,” said Warda. “Throughout all these long centuries, we have experienced many hardships and persecutions, offering caravans of martyrs. Yet 2014 brought the worst acts of genocide against us in our history.”

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Egypt: Coptic Christians flee Sinai

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By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Coptic Christians continue to flee the Sinai after Islamists accused them of helping to oust Egypt’s president back in 2013.

According to Barnabas Aid, Christians have been targeted in the Sinai ever since the Muslim Brotherhood claimed that the leader of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, participated in Mohammed Morsi’s removal from office.

In what has been described as the worst violence against the Coptic church since the 14th century, many Christian institutions, homes and businesses were razed following the military coup that unseated President Morsi and then proceeded to forcefully disband numerous sit-in protests by his supporters.

In the two years since former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi removed Morsi from office, President al-Sisi has sentenced hundreds of Islamists — including Morsi — to death. Nonetheless, Morsi’s supporters continue to harass the Coptic community.

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China: Communist Cross Demolition Spreads

Christian Persecution Info

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – The demolition of church crosses by Chinese Communists has spread from Wenzhou to Zhejiang province after five Catholic churches had their crosses forcibly removed last week.

According to UCA News, church crosses in Songmun, Xinhe, Muyu, Dasi of Taizhou and Hangzhou dioceses were demolished in early July. Authorities said the crosses were removed in order to “sinicize” the churches.

Under China’s policy of sinicization, all churches must adapt by using symbols that reflect Chinese culture under the current Communist regime. Apparently crosses that don’t reflect the country’s current Communist culture are being forcibly removed; at least 1,000 churches had their crosses taken down so far, although the number could be much higher.

According to a Catholic source who witnessed the removal of the cross at Xiaoshan church, Chinese authorities gave the church’s priests the following ultimatum: either allow the church cross to be removed, or the entire church building would be demolished.

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Sudan Court Fines Christian Woman

Christian Persecution Info

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A Sudanese court fined a Christian woman last week for wearing what it ruled was an “indecent dress.”

According to the Sudan Tribune, the female defendant was convicted of indecent and immoral acts under Article 152 of Sudan’s penal code and ordered to pay a fine, or face one month of imprisonment.

The defendant was one of a dozen Christian women detained by Sudanese police for wearing “immoral” attire as they left the El Izba Baptist Church in Khartoum.

However, Felmon Hassan, the pastor of El Izba, testified that Christianity doesn’t impose dress codes on men, or women. He also said that the defendant’s attire was acceptable to his congregation, but that acceptance can depend on the congregation’s denomination.

Further, Sudan’s constitution supposedly exempts Christians from any dress code under Shari’a.

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