Displaying items by tag: Islam
Pakistan’s religious affairs minister has announced that there will be no change to the country’s ‘blasphemy’ laws. Previous attempts to amend the harsh legislation have been blocked, and those proposing changes have faced threats and intimidation. Although the majority charged under the laws are Muslims, Christians and other minorities are disproportionately targeted, and blasphemy accusations are often made to settle personal grudges. Those convicted can face the death penalty for 'defiling the name' of Muhammad: however, to date no one has been executed, although several Christians are among those on death row. On 1 February Adnan Prince, a Christian from Lahore, was granted bail after three years behind bars; despite several charges being dropped, he remains accused of insulting Muhammad.
Miqdaad Versi, of the Muslim Council of Britain, spends his time reading every story in the media concerning Muslims and Islam - looking for inaccuracies. If he finds one, he will put in a complaint or a request for a correction with the news organisation, the press regulator Ipso, or both. Mr Versi has been doing this thoroughly since November, and before that on a more casual basis. He has so far complained more than fifty times, and the results are visible. He was personally behind eight corrections in December and another four so far this month. ‘Nobody else was doing this’, he says. ‘There have been so many inaccurate articles about Muslims overall, and they create this idea within many Muslim communities that the media is out to get them. Nobody is challenging these newspapers and saying, “That's not true”.' Some free speech campaigners are concerned that this kind of work is trying to ‘ring-fence Islam from criticism’. Mr Versi, however, insists his work is about ensuring the facts are right - not silencing critics. He says there are many examples where Muslims can be rightly criticised, and he is not complaining about those. ‘All I'm asking for is responsible reporting.’
A report by the Iranian Christian news agency Mohabat News showed that persecution worsened in 2016, with a steep rise in organised, government-sponsored anti-Christian campaigns on radio and television, combined with a vicious crackdown on Farsi-speaking fellowships. Dozens of house churches have been investigated, meetings interrupted and members arrested, interrogated and imprisoned. Records show that 92 Christian converts from Islam are currently awaiting trial, although the real number is likely to be far higher. The report also mentioned a number of well-known Iranian Christians being deliberately defamed, portraying them as morally and financially corrupt. Publication of Bibles and Christian literature in the country is banned, whilst there is subsidising of the publication of works which give a false and negative image of Christianity. Lift up in prayer all Christians held in prison. Pray that the authorities in Iran will not see Christians, including converts from Islam, as a threat but rather as a valuable part of Iranian society, and that government efforts to discredit and suppress Christianity will prove futile.