MALAYSIA – Fears for safety of abducted church pastor; Malaysian Christians call for prayer
Christians in Malaysia are calling on believers around the world to pray, after a church pastor was kidnapped in broad daylight. Pastor Raymond Koh was taken from his car in a residential area by five masked men on the morning of 13 February, in what appeared to be a carefully planned operation. There has been no ransom demand and no reported progress in the criminal investigation despite CCTV footage of the kidnap being made available to police.
Described to Barnabas Aid as “a compassionate and very bold man of God”, Pastor Raymond works amongst the marginalised urban poor in Petaling Jaya, near Kuala Lumpur.
From Barnabas Aid partners
EGYPT – Mass exodus of Christian families from Al Arish following wave of killings
One hundred and forty three Christian families have now fled their homes in the northern Sinai town of Al Arish following the murders of six Christians since late January, which culminated last week in the killings of a father and son by suspected Islamic militants. The mass exodus of nearly 90% of the Christian families from Al Arish – effectively amounting to religious cleansing by acts of terror – comes less than a week after Islamic State released a new propaganda video threatening to eliminate Egypt’s “apostate” Christians. President al-Sisi has announced that the Egyptian government will help resettle the families who have fled, which include those of the Christian school teacher shot on 16 February and the father and son murdered last week.
From Wataninet here
DENMARK – Court to charge Danish man for burning Quran under 19th century religion law
State prosecutors in Denmark have announced that a man who put a film of himself burning a copy of the Quran on social media will be charged under the so-called “blasphemy clause” in Danish law, which dates back to 1866. The last attempted conviction was in 1971, when two radio producers were charged for airing a song mocking Christianity, although both were later acquitted. Under Section 140 of the Danish criminal code, a person who publicly “mocks or scorns the religions doctrines or acts of worship of any lawfully existing religions community” can be sentenced to up to four months imprisonment, although this is only the fourth time anyone has been prosecuted.
This is the first time Denmark’s blasphemy clause has been used to defend Islam and the decision of authorities to press charges is symptomatic of the spill over of Islamic blasphemy laws into the West.
From The Independent here
SUDAN – Authorities pardon Czech aid worker given life sentence; Sudanese pastor and student left to rot in prison for highlighting plight of Christians
The Sudanese government has pardoned Petr Jacek, a Czech aid worker and filmmaker recently given a life sentence for “espionage” after he documented the plight of Sudanese Christians. However, the two Sudanese believers each sentenced to twelve years for assisting him – church pastor Hassan Abduraheem and graduate student Abdulmonem Abdumawla – remain in jail. Both were sentenced to ten years for “abetting espionage” and a further two years for “inciting strife between communities and spreading rumours undermining the authority of the state”.
Since the secession of mainly-Christian South Sudan in 2011, the Sudanese government has stepped up efforts to Islamise the country, waging a violent counter-insurgency campaign in historically Christian regions in the south.
From Middle East Concern here
UN – Independent report highlights UN’s failure to protect Christians
An independent report has highlighted the continued failure of the UN to protect Christian religious freedom, or align with other international organisations to declare that Islamic State’s actions against Christians and other minorities constitute genocide. The report also outlines how UN support for the criminalisation of the criticism of certain religious beliefs, specifically in relation to Islam, has been used as a justification for oppressive blasphemy laws.
It concludes: “People around the world have the UN in part to thank for growing encroachments on their freedom to practice their faith, such as religious converts who want to live openly in their new faith but are unable to worship freely due to blasphemy laws. For the religious minorities whose lives are literally at stake – those who face death at the hands of ISIS every day – the UN’s failure to act is particularly palpable.”
From ADF International here