- MOROCCO – Coalition requests freedom of worship
- SRI LANKA – Increase in attacks on religious minorities
- THAILAND – Christian asylum seeker dies in Detention Centre
- ALGERIA – Concern over Christian imprisoned for blasphemy
- INDIA – Is taking Christian children on a summer camp now a crime in India?
MOROCCO – Coalition requests freedom of worship
The newly formed National Coalition of Moroccan Christians has submitted a list of requests to the National Human Rights Council. “Those included freedom of worship and the official recognition of churches in the country,” said coalition spokesman Mustafa Susi. Other rights requested were the right to have their own cemeteries, to use Christian names for their children and to be able decide if they want their children to take Islamic religion classes in school. “We only want the constitution to be modified in a way that explicitly grants all Moroccans the freedom to choose their faith,” said coalition member Zuheir al-Dukhali in this first formal communication between Christian converts from Islam and the Moroccan government.
SRI LANKA – Increase in attacks on religious minorities
The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka has documented over 20 incidents of violence and intimidation against Christian places of worship across the country since the beginning of the year. The increase in the intensity of incidents and the active involvement of local government officials has been a growing cause for concern. In addition to attacks, intimidation, and protests, legal restrictions imposed on Christian places of worship have also continued unabated. The NCEASL has strongly condemned the recent attacks and has called on the government to ensure the protection of minorities and their places of worship and uphold the freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka.
Source: National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka
THAILAND – Christian asylum seeker dies in Detention Centre
A day after being denied refugee status in Thailand by the UNHCR, Pakistani Christian Ijaz Tariq died in Bangkok’s Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) from a heart attack. The president of the Pakistan Christian Congress (based in Karachi, Pakistan), Dr Nazir S. Bhatti, claims Ijaz was denied refugee status due to Sunni Muslim Pakistani translators hired by UNHCR who wrongly interpret Pakistani Christian asylum-seekers during interviews. Barnabas Fund has previously highlighted this type of activity happening in various countries across the globe.
"[The] death of a Pakistani Christian Asylum seeker in IDC Bangkok without any medical assistance is a violation of human rights for which the UNHCR Bangkok office and the Thailand government are equally responsible," said Bhatti, who has also called on the Thai authorities to grant Pakistani asylum-seekers bail and protect their human rights.
Source: UCA News
ALGERIA – Concern over Christian imprisoned for blasphemy
Serving a three-year jail term handed down in September 2016 for “offending the prophet” and “denigrating the precepts of Islam”, 49-year-old Slimane Bouhafs’ family are deeply concerned that he could be vulnerable to yet more abuse from fellow prisoners during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The Algerian Christian, a convert from Islam, suffers from ill health and there were already concerns for his physical and psychological well-being following assaults from fellow prisoners in Constantine Prison. Slimane was subsequently moved from there to Jijel Prison on 8 May.
Slimane’s family had requested that he should be moved to Oued Ghir Prison in Bajaia, so this latest move was a surprise to them. So far, their request for a presidential pardon for Slimane has not met with a response.
Source: Middle East Concern
INDIA – Is taking Christian children on a summer camp now a crime in India?
In two separate incidents in Madhya Pradesh state on the night of 21-22 May, at least ten Christian church workers and at least 70 Christian children (aged between 6 and 15) in their care were detained by police as they travelled to a Vacation Bible School summer camp.
On the evening of Sunday 21 May, a mob of about 400 Hindu extremists demanded that the Christian church workers, held by railway police at Ratlam station, be booked on charges relating to kidnapping and forceful conversion. Although the children and their parents were all Christians, the authorities claimed that the parents had not submitted the necessary paperwork when they converted to Christianity and therefore their children were still officially Hindu – hence the accusation of forceful conversion of the children being taken to the Christian camp. The approximately 59 children were later released to their parents.
In the early hours of Monday 22 May, police held a further at least eleven Christian children and two Christian church workers caring for them in Chhoti Gwaltoli, in Indore. The church workers were charged on suspicion of kidnapping the children and trying to convert them to Christianity by force, allurement or fraudulent means.
Posts on social media have accused the police of harassing the children, their parents and the wider minority Christian community.