Newsdesk - 5 October 2017

Malaysia, Philippines, Syria

 

MALAYSIA – Sultan intervenes to force U-turn on “Muslim only” launderette

A launderette in the state of Johor which banned non-Muslims has been ordered to end discrimination, after coming under criticism from the Sultan. Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar – the hereditary monarch of Johor state, which still retains a level of autonomy – slammed the launderette owner’s ban on non-Muslims, stating,“I cannot accept this nonsense. This is Johor … it belongs to all races and faiths. This is a progressive, modern and moderate state. This is not a Taliban state and as the Head of Islam in Johor, I find this action to be totally unacceptable as this is extremist in nature.”

Although the launderette in Johor has now been opened to customers of all faiths, journalists last week found a self-service launderette in the north-western Malaysian state of Perlis, which carried a sign stating it was “dedicated for Muslim use only” and that the shop practised the “Islamic laundry concept.” Authorities in Perlis are now investigating.

From The Star here

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PHILIPPINES – Christians forced to build improvised bombs for Islamist militants

Hostages who have escaped the clutches of jihadists in Marawi have described being made to build bombs for militants. More than 200 hostages, many of whom are Christians, have been held by militants and forced to construct improvised explosive devices, as well as scavenge for food and weapons. Some have even been press-ganged into fighting for Islamist rebels. At the time of writing, government forces are expecting to shortly retake Marawi, after four months of fighting. One escaped hostage recalled how the jihadists – excited by their “success” in Marawi – openly discussed possible other targets, including the Philippines’ capital, Manila.

Marawi city was attacked by Islamist militants in May
Marawi city was attacked by Islamist militants in May
CC BY-SA 4.0 by Mark Jhomel

The Philippines have a Christian majority, but the southern region has a significant Muslim population and Islamist groups (fighting for independence and to establish sharia law) have been engaged in a decades-long conflict with the government. 

From Reuters here

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SYRIA – Aleppo Christians still need help to survive

Barnabas Aid received the following update from a project partner in Aleppo, Syria, on 24 September: 

“This is how I can describe the current situation in Syria in this month of September 2017, six years and a half after the start of the events that caused the death of more than 35,000 people, destroyed a large part of the country, displaced the third of the population, exiled more than 3 million people and wiped out the dreams and future of the young people and many generations of Syrians.

Parts of Aleppo have been devastated by rebel shelling and rockets; ruiduilding will be a complex and lengthy task
Parts of Aleppo have been devastated by rebel shelling and rockets; rebuilding will be a complex and lengthy task

“In Aleppo, the situation, has improved considerably on all levels since the end of 2016, the date of the evacuation of the last terrorists to Idlib and the liberation of the city … the vast majority of the neighbourhoods are safe and the Alepins come and go, and live without the fear of a mortar shell or of a bullet from a sniper … running water is, again, provided to us, at least 2 days a week and the power between 12 to 15 hours a day. 

“However, the picture is not as rosy as that. This situation of ‘neither war nor peace’ does not encourage the hundreds of thousands of Alepins, who are refugees or displaced, to return … why to rebuild if there is no peace or economic recovery? The cost of living and unemployment are still very high, as well as poverty. The majority of the families of Aleppo still need help to survive.” 

From Barnabas Aid Project Partners

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NIGERIA – Cameroon has deported over 100,000 refugees fleeing Boko Haram

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that, since 2015, Cameroon has forcefully deported over 100,000 Nigerian refugees who had escaped into the country fleeing Boko Haram Islamist violence.

One of the deportees said of the Cameroonian soldiers: “They humiliated us like animals and beat us like we were slaves.” HRW adds that the Cameroonian army often accuse the refugees of being Boko Haram militants in disguise, and the women of being “Boko Haram wives.” According to the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), Cameroon’s actions violate the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The commission has called on the government to honour its obligations. Cameroon repeatedly rejects these accusations and claims that the Nigerians willingly returned to their home country.

Nigeria and Cameroon, together with Niger and Chad, are part of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against the Boko Haram insurgency.

North-eastern Nigeria, although mainly Muslim, has a sizeable Christian minority. Boko Haram’s primary target for attack is the Christian communities; their secondary target is what they consider to be non-cooperative Muslim areas. Displaced Christians in the Nigerian government-run camps often face discrimination and harassment.

From BBC here

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