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Newsdesk - 21 September 2017

20 September 2017


PAKISTAN – Christian man sentenced to death for WhatsApp “blasphemy”

More than a year after being arrested, Nadeem James has been sentenced to death for “blasphemy” after a Muslim friend accused him of ridiculing Muhammad via WhatsApp in July 2016. Police registered the case against Nadeem, a tailor by profession, after a Muslim mob gathered outside his house and threatened to attack his family. Nadeem was sentenced by a court in the town of Gujrat, northern Pakistan, on 14 September 2017 after being found guilty under Section 295-C and 298-A of the Pakistani Penal Code – part of the country’s infamous “blasphemy” laws. His trial was held inside the prison because of death threats. His lawyer has indicated that he will appeal the sentence in the High Court.

Muslim judges in lower courts in Pakistan typically give greater weight to the word of Muslim accusers, with the result that “blasphemy” cases, like that of Aasia Bibi, end up in the High Court, where the process of hearings and appeals can take years. Although the death sentence for “blasphemy” remains on the statute books in Pakistan and a number of Christians and others are on death row, no one has yet been executed under the law.

From Al Jazeera here



NIGERIA – Released Chibok girls finally reunited with families, but 113 still held by Boko Haram

A truck promotes the growing “#BringBackOurGirls” campaign
A truck promotes the growing “#BringBackOurGirls” campaign

Nigerian authorities have finally allowed more than 100 “Chibok girls” kidnapped and subsequently released by Boko Haram to be reunited with their families. Boko Haram released 82 girls, 75 of whom are Christians, in exchange for captured Boko Haram terrorists in May. However, the girls were kept in Abuja to undergo psychological therapy, along with 21 others who were released in 2016. According to a government spokesperson, they are now “fully rehabilitated” after their years of captivity (during which many of the girls were forced to convert to Islam and marry Islamist militants) and have been given scholarships so they can go back to school. The girls were among 276 kidnapped in 2014 from a school in Chibok where they were sitting their end of year exams – around 113 girls are still being held by Boko Haram.

From BBC here



IRAQ – Eight churches in Baghdad close as Christians flee violence

Eight churches in Baghdad have been permanently closed following years of declining attendances, as congregation members have fled due to more than a decade of anti-Christian violence.

While Western governments rejoice that Mosul has been “liberated” from Islamic State, Baghdad’s forgotten Christians live with daily insecurity and the threat of violence. Christians have been deliberately targeted in kidnappings and some Christian shopkeepers are forced to pay “protection money” to militias. Explaining the decline in the Christian population of Baghdad, one believer said, “Christians [have] realized that Baghdad is no longer a suitable place for them and that one group or another is always sending them a message to stay away.”

From al Arabiya here



AFRICA – UN report acknowledges “religious ideas” as terrorists’ primary motivator

A UN survey focused on key Islamic terror groups operating in Africa has concluded that “religious ideas” are the primary motivation of recruitment. The two-year study noted that, while low literacy and poverty were factors in encouraging individuals to join violent extremist groups, “ideological appeal is nonetheless compelling.”

A Church leader from Nigeria – where Christians have been the targets of Islamist violence at the hands of Boko Haram since 2009 – told Global Christian News, “What this means for Christians and the Church is that we do not fall into the ‘politically correct’ narrative that distorts and blames society and poverty for radical ideologies that give rise to terrorists.”

From Global Christian News here