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Newsdesk - 8 June 2017

8 June 2017


PHILIPPINES – Islamic State releases video of church desecration in Marawi city

Islamic State’s news agency has released a video showing Islamic militants destroying a church in Marawi city on the island of Mindanao. The video shows Islamists destroying Christian symbols, vandalising the inside of the church and then setting the building on fire. The deliberate targeting of churches for destruction is disturbingly similar to that witnessed in Iraq and Syria.

Islamic militants launched an assault on the city of Marawi on 23 May. At the time of writing, government forces are still fighting to regain control of the city, where Christians have been kidnapped and, according to unconfirmed reports, murdered for refusing to convert to Islam.

From Long War Journal here



IRAQ – Christians who have fled Islamic State genocide treated as “second-class citizens” in Kurdistan

Iraqi Christians are still experiencing discrimination in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq (Kurdistan), despite having sought refuge there from Islamic State. A special report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has found that although the Kurdistan Regional Government’s policy is “outwardly favorable to religious freedom in the region … Many religious groups … remain second-class citizens compared with Sunni [Muslim] Kurds.”

The independent findings cast doubt on the widespread view that Christians are safe from persecution in Kurdistan. The report confirmed that “Christian lands have been appropriated by Kurds in Dohuk and Erbil governorates, and the Nineveh plains.” In several cases, Christians have asserted that the appropriations took place with the support of local officials, citing a “lack of action by the authorities and a lack of recourse in the courts”.

Recently passed Iraqi government legislation on identity cards, which is enforced in Kurdistan, includes provisions which discriminate against non-Muslims. “… only non-Muslims can convert to Islam; Muslims, by contrast, cannot change their religious affiliation.” According to church leaders in Kurdistan, “Muslims wanting to convert to Christianity have faced difficulties from police and security services.”

From USCRIF report here



KYRGYZSTAN – Government proposes to further tighten draconian 2009 Religion Law

The government of Kyrgyzstan is proposing amendments to the already restrictive 2009 Religion Law which would ban the sharing of beliefs in public, censor all religious literature and make it even harder for church congregations to register.

The proposed amendments include the full state censorship of all religious literature imported or distributed in the country, which would then only be permitted to be used by existing registered religious organisations. The current ban on “illegal missionary activity” would be expanded to “illegitimate proselytism”, and registration of a religious community – including churches – would require 500 adult citizens to supply their details. At the moment, 200 adults are required for registration, but even this means many churches are too small to apply for registration even under the current law.

From Forum 18 here



BANGLADESH – Twelve-year-old Christian girl kidnapped by Muslim man; family fear the possibility of her forced marriage

A twelve-year-old Christian girl from Boruakona, eastern Bangladesh, was kidnapped by a 35-year-old Muslim man on 26 May. At the time of writing, the girl’s whereabouts are unknown, although the family have expressed concern that she may have been forced into marriage. The girl’s grandfather said that, as well as reporting the kidnap to police, the family also approached local Islamic leaders who "had assured us that we could bring our child back in 24 hours. But nothing. Police have also failed. They say they are searching … As Christians and religious minorities, we are persecuted by the Muslim majority. We can no longer live in this country.”

From Asia News here