INDIA – Hindus force their way into Sunday church service and tell believers “we will not allow this foreign religion in our country and if you continue … we will kill you”
On Sunday 19 March, a Hindu mob forced their way through the main gate of a church in Bihar, threatening to kill Christians who they said were conducting “conversion activity”. The congregation locked themselves inside the church and called police, who then sided with the Hindu mob and took down the names and addresses of all the Christians. Members of the church recorded the incident, in which some of the mob told the believers “we will not allow this foreign religion in our country and if you continue doing this, we will kill you.” The police then ransacked the pastor’s home without a search warrant; the pastor said, “They devastated my house completely, not even leaving a flower vase unturned”.
Accusations that Christians are attempting to convert Hindus are frequently used as a pretext for violence. Indian Christians have been the targets of a hate crime every other day on average so far in 2017.
From Global Christian News here
IRAQ – Christians may never be able to return to Mosul because of “a new generation bred by ISIS”
Iraqi Christians who hope to return to their home towns as Islamic State is pushed back now face a new threat. “We can [theoretically] go back but it is a question of safety. We are dealing with a new generation bred by ISIS - they have a radical anti-Christian viewpoint and so it would be really hard to go back,” explains an Iraqi pastor working with displaced Christians in Erbil. He adds that, even before Mosul fell, “Christians were really worried about being targeted”.
Barnabas Aid has repeatedly highlighted that displaced Iraqi Christians feel unable to return home because of the hostility they have faced from the Muslim majority, whilst Turkey’s President Erdogan has proposed that only Sunni Muslims should be allowed to go back to a liberated Mosul.
From the Daily Express here
PAKISTAN – PM orders removal of “blasphemous” content from social media, while claiming “Pakistan was not made so one religion can dominate over others” in speech the same day
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered last week that “blasphemous” content should be removed or blocked on social media, stating that “All relevant institutions must unite to hunt those who spread such material and to award them strict punishment under the law.” He made the comment the same day he claimed that “Pakistan was not made so one religion can dominate over the others” in a speech hailed as an example of religious tolerance by international media.
Pakistan’s Christian minority are disproportionately targeted under the country’s “blasphemy” laws, which can carry a mandatory death penalty for some types of blasphemy; no one has been executed to date, although a number of Christians, including Aasia Bibi, are currently on death row.
From Dawn News here
RUSSIA – Government tries to ban all activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremist”: are evangelical Christians next?
The Russian Justice Ministry submitted a case to the country’s supreme court on 15 March, which attempts to ban all Jehovah’s Witness activity in the whole of Russia, claiming that the religious organisation is “extremist”. This latest action follows an eight-month crackdown on religious freedom under so-called anti-terror laws introduced in July 2016. At the time of writing, the court’s decision is pending.
The attempt by the Russian government to have an entire religion declared “extremist” is deeply concerning, as the majority of those charged under the new laws have been evangelical Christians.
From Forum 18 here
NIGERIA – Governor of Nigerian “sharia” state keeps pledge to rebuild churches destroyed by Boko Haram, but hundreds remain in ruins
The governor of Borno state in north-east Nigeria – one of twelve states in the country which have implemented elements of sharia law – has come good on his word to rebuild churches destroyed in attacks by Boko Haram. In September 2016, Governor Kashim Shettima stated that the regional government would “rebuild churches and other structures destroyed [by Boko Haram] in Lassa and other communities”, going on to add, “We are saddened by the large-scale destruction in Lassa which is a predominantly Christian community.” At the time of writing, eleven churches in the mainly Christian southern part of Borno state have been rebuilt. However, hundreds of churches have been destroyed by Boko Haram in the state and the governor has been criticised for mainly focusing efforts on aiding Muslim communities.
Boko Haram has waged a nine-year war in north-east Nigeria, which has spread to neighbouring countries. The group has specifically targeted Christians. Although Muslims deemed insufficiently devout have also been attacked, in August 2016 Boko Haram announced their intention to focus their efforts solely on “killing all those who we find from the citizens of the cross”.
From Global Christian News here