CHINA – Communist Party officials to be punished if they do not give up faith; all members “must be firm Marxist atheists”
The Central Committee of China’s Communist party has stated that all party members – around 89 million Chinese citizens – should not hold religious beliefs and that any officials who do will be “persuaded” to give them up or face punishment.
Writing in the party’s magazine, the Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs said, “Party members should not have religious beliefs, which is a red line for all members ... Party members should be firm Marxist atheists, obey party rules and stick to the party’s faith ... they are not allowed to seek value and belief in religion". He added that any officials who have religious faith “should be persuaded to give it up”, while those who resist would be “punished by the party organisation.”
Although official estimates, based on the congregations of state-recognised churches, put the number of the Christians in China at around 22 million, there may be as many as 100 million believers in the world’s most populous country. Most high-level jobs require membership of the Communist Party.
From Deccan Chronicle here
IRAQ – “We couldn’t go back, even if we wanted to,” say Mosul Christians
“We couldn’t go back even if we wanted to … there’s no security. People were brainwashed over the past three years … Even the children have become Daesh [Islamic State], they’ve been taught to slit throats,” explains one displaced Christian from Mosul.
Iraq’s Christians, many displaced within their own country, remain deeply sceptical of claims that the defeat of Islamic State in Mosul will mean they can return to their homes and practise their faith. The Iraqi government have admitted that Islamist ideology remains a barrier to Christians returning home and that there is a need to “instil the concept of coexistence.”
A 29-year-old Muslim engineer from eastern Mosul told journalists, “If I was a Christian, I wouldn’t go back to Mosul until its residents prove to me that they’re ready to accept me.” When his parents returned to the city they found their home occupied by the victorious Iraqi security forces; “neighbours told us to take the house of a Christian who used to live four doors down,” he said.
From Times of Israel here
TAJIKISTAN – Pastor jailed for three years after “subversive” hymnbooks seized
A church pastor from the northern city of Khujand has been jailed for three years for allegedly "inciting national, racial, local or religious hatred or dissension.” Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov, a 42-year-old father of three, was arrested in April and was held in jail until his trial. Full details of his case have not been released, but it is understood that police charged Pastor Kholmatov after confiscating church hymn books. Police claimed that the songs in the hymnbooks, which include “God’s army is marching” and “Our fight is not against flesh and blood,”were “extremist and call on people to overthrow the government.”
From Forum 18 here
TURKEY – New school curriculum to teach jihad and reinforce “Turkish” identity as Islamic
The Turkish government has launched a new school curriculum which will officially teach jihad as part of religious education, apparently to reinforce Turkish national identity as synonymous with Islam. Students will be taught that the “greater jihad” – usually interpreted as a personal struggle against sin – means “to serve society’s needs.” (The term “lesser jihad” is often used to mean military jihad – war against non-Muslims with the aim of spreading Islam.) The lessons will begin for some age groups in the 2017/18 school year and will be rolled out to all students from next year.
Teachers have criticised the new curriculum – which includes sweeping changes to science lessons and the addition of last year’s apparent attempted coup into history classes – as a move which will put an end to “generations who ask questions.” As part of the changes, all schools will also now be required to have a Muslim prayer room.
The alterations to the Turkish school curriculum appear designed to reinforce ideas of Turkish Islamic nationalism, by indoctrinating students that adherence to Islam equates to adherence to the state. “The real meaning of jihad is loving your nation,” stated the government’s Education Minister.
From Hurriyet Daily News and Reuters