Displaying items by tag: interfaith
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), 122 Eritrean Christians were detained in May 2017, in a series of roundups of members of unregistered denominations in various locations around the country. The detentions mark a new phase in a crackdown that has been ongoing since May 2002, when the Eritrean government effectively outlawed all religious practices except the Catholic, Lutheran or Orthodox Christian denominations or Sunni Islam. Forty-five Christians, including entire families, elderly men and a disabled woman, were taken in Adi Quala and transported to a detention camp, leaving 23 children without their parents. 77 others were taken from other places; 45 of them, mostly women, were at a party celebrating a wedding. Further arrests are anticipated as the local authorities and the Orthodox Church continue their enquiries. Christians have begun a period of prayer and fasting for peace and safety.
A 34-year-old Christian, Ijaz, who had fled Pakistan for fear of persecution, received news on 26 May that his application for refugee status had been refused. The next day he died at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok. Some months earlier he complained of chest pains and was hospitalised, but doctors could not diagnose his problem. At the IDC, he was put in the punishment room because he could not pay his hospital bill. Eventually his local church in Bangkok paid the bill, with help from Barnabas Fund. The IDC doctor refused to allow his pastor to bring him medicine. Around 4,000 Pakistani Christians have fled persecution and made their way to Thailand, only to find that they are treated as criminals there. Immigration police carry out arbitrary mass arrests, even raiding worship services, searching for people without valid visas. Detainees are held in such harsh and horrifically overcrowded conditions that some have chosen to go back to Pakistan and face persecution. One source said that this desperate decision is often made because they are not receiving treatment for life-threatening medical conditions. ‘It is a 21st century concentration camp, without the gas chambers’, he said.
Rev Gavin Ashenden, one of 33 chaplains to the Queen, had become involved in a controversy because he openly criticised the reading of the Qu’ran in an Epiphany church service in which Muslims took part. During the service, which celebrated the wise men’s visit to Bethlehem and their acknowledgment of Jesus being God in human form, passages from the Qu’ran were read in Arabic stating that Jesus was not the Son of God. Rev Ashenden said he needed to resign from his post to avoid any misunderstanding that his statements were said on behalf of the Queen. He added, ‘I think it a higher and more compelling duty to speak out on behalf of the faith than to retain a public honour which precludes me doing so at this time.’
Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow, has announced that the country will no longer officially be called an Islamic republic, reversing the decision made by his predecessor in 2015. There had been encouraging signs that Barrow, a Muslim who was a successful property developer before running for office, would begin a new era of positive relations with the country’s Christian minority. But this courageous announcement appears to signal a significant step away from the Islamist agenda promoted by Gambia’s previous president.