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U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Press Release: “The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today urged the U.S. government to emphasize the plight of religious minorities and the protection of religious freedom for all Syrians during the upcoming Geneva II peace conference, scheduled to begin on January 22nd. USCIRF increasingly has become concerned about the sectarian nature of the Syrian conflict which poses a growing danger to the religious freedoms of all Syrians, and how the potential spillover jeopardizes religious freedom regionally.”
Associated Press: “The new document would ban political parties based on religion, give women equal rights and protect the status of minority Christians. It also gives the military special powers to name its own candidate as defense minister for the next eight years and bring civilians before military tribunals.”
Eugene Volokh: “The American legal system generally does a good job of dealing with arguments for consideration of foreign and religious law (including Islamic law). Sometimes it does take into account foreign law and parties’ felt religious obligations, and sometimes it doesn’t — but indeed our legal system sometimes should take such things into account, and sometimes shouldn’t. There’s no need for broad new bans on such consideration, whether as to foreign law, religious law, or Islamic law in particular.”
Associated Press: “Lawyers for a young Afghan man say he has been granted asylum in Britain because he is an atheist who could face death in his homeland.”
Global Post: “A young Muslim man in Mauritania is facing a possible death sentence after being convicted of apostasy and jailed for having written an article criticising the prophet Mohammed, a judicial source said Monday.”
Malaysian Insider: “The leave application for the ‘Allah’ case to be heard by the Federal Court does not warrant a full bench, said Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria. Speaking to reporters after the launch of Legal Year 2014 at the Palace of Justice today, Ariffin said that the leave application will be heard by a five-member bench.”
Charisma: “Church leaders in Libya remain hopeful that Christians in the mostly Muslim country will be allowed to practice their faith, even as the country appears to be moving towards Shariah law.”
CNSNews: The top ten countries for persecuting Christians over the last year were: North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.
Yahoo News: Almost one in 10 babies and toddlers in England and Wales are Muslim, according to new analysis of census figures published Friday, illustrating the growth of the minority community.
NY Sun: Our secular leaders, whatever their own religious views, should cease to appease these forces of the anti-Christ; should unsheathe the great moral sword in their scabbards, and have some thought for the more than 1.5 billion practicing Christians whose votes they seek, while pretending that any acknowledgment of Christianity is an affront to all other faiths and a forced march on seven-league boots back into the Dark Ages.
Wall Street Journal: A police investigation of a Roman Catholic priest in Malaysia over accusations of sedition has become the latest round in a worsening struggle between the country’s minority Christians and majority Muslims over how to refer to God.
AP: Tunisia’s Islamist prime minister announced his resignation Thursday in favor of a caretaker government that will supervise new elections later this year and complete the North African country’s long delayed transition to democracy.
AP: Erdogan insists the corruption charges are a conspiracy orchestrated by followers of an Islamic movement who he says have infiltrated the police and judiciary. He has vowed to fight back; the government has already removed hundreds of police officers from key posts.
Morningstar News: Survivors of Monday’s (Jan. 6) slaughter of 33 Christians in a village in Nigeria’s Plateau state said Special Task Force (STF) soldiers stationed to protect them turned their weapons on those fleeing the attack.
Hot Air: Open Doors, a non-denominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide, said on Wednesday it had documented 2,123 “martyr” killings, compared with 1,201 in 2012. There were 1,213 such deaths in Syria alone last year, it said.
CNSNews: A conservative civil rights group is welcoming the release of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from an Iranian prison, after he and dozens of other Christians were interrogated and arrested by the Islamic Republic on Christmas Day.
AP: A French court has convicted a woman for insulting police who ticketed her for wearing a face-covering Muslim veil, banned by French law.
Forum 18: After raids on a Baptist church and a Christian centre in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana in October 2012, a court in December 2013 fined two Protestants the equivalent of nearly four weeks’ state-calculated average wage each for having “extremist” materials.
Morningstar News: Muslim extremists had once prior widowed Faith Kore Usman, a 29-year-old mother of five children, before Fulani herdsmen killed her second husband on New Year’s Eve.
AP: Millions of Egyptian Christians thronged churches across this mainly Muslim nation for Christmas Mass, held Monday amid unusually tight security but with congregations filled with hope ahead of a key vote on a new constitution that enshrines equality and criminalizes discrimination.
Malaysia Mail Online: A Muslim group declared war today against Catholic priest Rev. Father Lawrence Andrew, in the latest religious stand-off over use of the word “Allah”.
AP: In Iran, free condoms and government-backed vasectomies are out, replaced by sermons praising larger families and discussions of even offering gold coins to the families of newborns.
Religion Clause Blog: Tunisia’s National Assembly began voting Friday, article-by-article, on the country’s proposed new constitution. (AFP 1/3). On Saturday, by a vote of 146-3 it adopted Article I which reads: “Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign state. Islam is its religion, Arabic is its language, and it is a republic. It is not possible to amend this article.”
AP: During the debate over the weekend, Habib Ellouze, a hardline lawmaker from the Islamist Ennahda party called left-wing deputy Mongi Rahoui an “enemy of Islam.”
NY Times: They try to coax him, reminding him that Hindu and Muslim families lived together in his village for generations before September, when a two-day spasm of religious violence engulfed the area, sending about 50,000 people fleeing from their homes.
CNSNews: One of the few Iranian churches still serving Christians who are not from minority ethnic groups – and are therefore more likely to be converts from Islam –reportedly has told these Farsi-speaking believers that they are no longer welcome.
Free Malaysia Today: Jais officials confiscated about 300 copies of the Al-Kitab (Malay Bibles) and 20 copies of Bup Kudus (Iban Bibles) catering mainly for Christians from Sabah and Sarawak.
AP: Riot police clashed with supporters of Egypt’s former Islamist president across the country on Friday, leaving two dead as the Muslim Brotherhood renewed calls to protest ahead of a key referendum later this month.
The Guardian: Outgoing head of Organisation of Islamic Co-operation also says west should do more to combat anti-Muslim prejudice
WorldNetDaily: Atrocities by Syrian jihadist rebels have reached sensational new levels, according to a revered nun working with persecuted Christians and an explosive new video report. Sister Hatune Dogan told WND in a Skype interview that members of the Syrian opposition are draining the blood of Christians they behead and selling vials to Islamic radicals for $100,000 a piece.
OnIslam.net: A decision by different schools in India’s southern tropical state of Kerala to ban Muslim students from getting a permission to attend Friday prayer has triggered a row, after hundreds of parents opposed the discriminatory decision.
Religion Clause Blog: During the past two weeks, the EEOC announced the settlement of three religious discrimination lawsuits. Each involves damages for the individual victim(s) as well as changes in the company’s anti-discrimination policies and/or its training for managers and employees . . .
Christian Today: Barnabas Fund has given thanks in its prayer update for a new draft of the Egyptian constitution that grants additional rights to Christians and marks a significant move away from the fundamental Islamic laws that have dominated in the past.
Michael Gerson at Washington Post: In some parts of the world, Herod’s massacre of the innocents is a living tradition. On Christmas Day in Iraq, 37 people were killed in bomb attacks in Christian districts of Baghdad. Radical Islamists mark — and stain — the season with brutality and intolerance.
Religion Clause Blog: In Multan, Pakistan on Saturday, a trial court judge sentenced two men to death on blasphemy charges.
AP: Egypt’s interim government has ordered the assets of more than 500 Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist leaders seized – including those of the country’s ousted president – as part of an ever-tightening crackdown on the group, senior judicial and security officials said Tuesday.
Morningstar News: Compliance with an order that only the death sentence can be given to those convicted of insulting Islam’s prophet will further endanger Christians and increase the powers of the Islamic court that issued it, critics said.
Robert George and Katrina Lanto Swett of USCIRF: During Christmas week, Christians joyously celebrated Christ’s birth in a manger. But across parts of the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity, followers of Jesus face a rising tide of repression, intimidation, and violence.
Christian Post: A Moroccan appeals court on Thursday (Dec. 26) heard arguments for a Christian convert from Islam hastily sentenced to prison for alleged “proselytizing,” sources said.
Irish Independent: ISLAM will become Ireland’s second religion within the next 30 years because of dramatic population growth and immigration.
Houston Chronicle: Two suicide bombings in as many days have killed 31 people and raised concerns that Islamic militants have begun a terrorist campaign in Russia that could stretch into the Sochi Olympics in February. Russian and international Olympic officials insisted the site of the games, protected by layers of security, is completely safe.
Malaysian Digest: The Church can take the Selangor Islamic authorities to court for prohibiting Christians from referring to God as “Allah” in their religious practices as such a ban is unconstitutional, lawyers have said.
Maldives Parliament Sends Penal Code Back To Committee Over Concerns About Consistency With Sharia Law
Religion Clause Blog: In the Maldives yesterday, Parliament rejected a draft of a new Penal Code that has been under review by Parliamentary committees for seven years. Minivan News reports that the proposed law– the first draft of which was prepared by University of Pennsylvania law professor Paul Robinson– was sent back to committee for more revisions. Many of the opponents of the current draft say that it does not adequately reflect Sharia law.
AP: The opposition All Progressives Congress swept every seat in peaceful local government elections in Nigeria’s northeast state of Yobe, officials said, defying Islamic extremists opposed to democracy and the ruling party’s insistence it was too insecure to campaign.
AP: Witnesses say suspected Islamic militants killed 12 civilians in weekend attacks on two Christian villages in Muslim-dominated northeast Nigeria. One attack targeted a wedding party.
Morningstar News: Two days before Christmas, the Rev. Titus, a pastor in Cimahi, West Java who goes by a single name, was initially too upset to discuss the events that led to the closure of his church. The usually jovial and open pastor of Isa Almasih Church (Gereja Isa Almasih, or GIA) on Kalasan Street said he had become suspicious of all people, including the reporter who came from Jakarta to meet him.
AP: Egypt’s Interior Ministry says security forces have arrested journalists working for the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera network over alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading Islamist group that was last week branded as a “terrorist” organization.
World Bulletin: The Leader of Dutch ultranationalist party for Freedom (PVV) Geert Wilders, who altered the Sauda Arabian flag in a slir campaign against Islam and subsequently offered to distribute it as a free sticker was condemned by the Dutch government and opposition parties.
Fox News: As Christians from across the globe flock to the Holy Land in time for Christmas prayers and ceremonies, some in the community in Nazareth are seeking to reaffirm the historical importance of their town by erecting a statue of Jesus that would tower more than 100 feet above the city.
WorldNetDaily: An auxiliary Greek Orthodox bishop of Antioch based in Damascus, Syria, has issued a call to arms to Christians worldwide to fight the Islamicmilitants who have killed and kidnapped Christians and destroyed their holy places in Syria.
Forum 18: Tural Kuliyev, a Muslim, was fined the equivalent of a year’s salary for a
War on Christmas? It’s more like ‘War on Christians’ in many parts of the world | Juan Williams at Fox News
Juan Williams at Fox News: But even as we debate religion in American life we cannot forget a bigger threat — the violent, global “War on Christians.” Here are some of the worst examples of Christian persecution around the world . . .
The Telegraph: I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East. It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that they are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants
CNSNews: What a difference a year makes. Amid growing awareness of the plight of religious minorities in “Arab spring” countries and other parts of the Islamic world, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday passed legislation creating a special envoy post to focus on the issue.
BBC: Christians in parts of the Middle East are being deliberately targeted by Islamist militants in a campaign of persecution, Prince Charles has said.
Religion Clause Blog: RAPSI reported yesterday that in Russia, the Krasnodar Territorial Court has reversed the controversial ruling by the Novorossiisk District Court that had banned an abridged Russian translation of the Qur’an by Azerbaijani philosopher Elmir Kuliyev.
Morningstar News: Reports of Christians attacked in central and northern Nigeria draw more attention, but in more southerly Benue state Islamic extremists killed at least 205 Christians in the last six months alone, sources said.
AP: For decades, the religious Jews who bucked a rabbinic ban and visited a contested holy site in Jerusalem where the ancient Jewish temple once stood were seen by many as a fanatic fringe.
John Hudson at Foreign Policy: As the moderate faction of the Syrian rebellion implodes under the strain of vicious infighting and diminished resources, the United States is increasingly looking to hardline Islamists in its efforts to gain leverage in Syria’s civil war. The development has alarmed U.S. observers concerned that the radical Salafists do not share U.S. values and has dismayed supporters of the Free Syrian Army who believe the moderates were set up to fail.
World Net Daily: Specifically, a new criminal complaint has been filed with Egypt’s attorney general, Hisham Barakat, alleging then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton collaborated with Naglaa Mahmoud, the wife of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, in seeking to incite domestic insurrections to topple Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian general who has been commander in chief of the Egyptian armed forces, as well as minister of defense, since Aug. 12, 2012.
Raymon Ibrahim at Human Events: A video recently appeared of an Islamic Sunni cleric in Syria inciting Muslim schoolboys, most of whom appear to be between the ages of five-twelve, to hate and kill Christians and others. According to a report in Arabic (scroll down for video) . . .
Christian leaders say Nigerian government trying to Islamicize schools, principal attacked | Morningstar News
Morningstar News: Educational reforms in Nigeria’s Osun state have created religious tensions in schools, resulting in Islamist youths beating a Christian principal unconscious last month, Christian leaders said.
AP: The leader of an Islamic uprising in northeastern Nigeria boasts in a new video of a daring attack on military bases in a provincial capital and threatens to attack the United States.
AP: African peacekeepers fired into the air Thursday in Central African Republic’s chaotic capital, trying to disperse a huge mob bent on hunting down and killing Muslims taking refuge in a church compound.
Morningstar News: A Christian has been jailed in Khartoum, Sudan for declining to leave the country after authorities revoked his Sudanese citizenship, sources said.
CNN: The commander of the Muslim militia in a Central African Republic town that has seen two days of violent clashes shows us a horrifying graphic video that he keeps on his phone. A man Colonel Saleh Zabadi claims is Muslim is being burned to death by the Christian anti-Balaka militia.
Religion Clause Blog: An unofficial English translation of Egypt’s new draft Constitution is now available from Eman Nabih’s blog. (Note the translation begins about 10 paragraphs down in the linked blog post.) The translation does not include a long Preamble that appears in the Arabic version.
Observer-Reporter: A new wave of Europeans is heading to Syria, their ranks soaring in the past six months as tales of easy living and glorious martyrdom draw them to the rebellion against Bashar Assad.
Morningstar News: Egyptian authorities this week arrested a Christian who is arguably the nation’s most well-known convert from Islam and are investigating him for several activities, including allegedly inciting “sectarian strife.”
Houston Chronicle (AP): Muslim rebels known as Seleka have run rampant in Central African Republic after toppling the president in March, fighting against Christian militias who back the ousted leader, Francois Bozize. The capital remains awash in weapons and recent attempts at disarmament have yielded little success. Thursday’s bloodshed came as Christian militias raided Muslim neighborhoods.
Christian Today: France has warned that the Central African Republic is “on the verge of genocide” as the Christian majority continues to be terrorised by rampaging Islamist fighters.