Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Asia Bibi 'Could Be Killed at Any Time' in Pakistan
- Christians Increasingly Marginalized in Europe, Report Finds
- Iraq's Christians Pray for Peaceful Christmas
Asia Bibi 'Could Be Killed at Any Time' in Pakistan
This week, the High Court in Lahore is expected to an appeal date in the case of Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman in Pakistan sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, according to ASSIST News Service. However, the most extremist Islamic parties and organizations have launched a campaign in favor of Pakistan's blasphemy legislation, announcing street actions and strikes over the coming weeks. President Asif Ali Zardari has stated that he wants to modify the controversial law. Despite worldwide condemnation of the law's use, religious parties insist they are united in support of it. Christians believe their opposition to reforming the law could bode ill for Bibi. The Rev. Samson Dilawar, a parish priest who was wounded by gunmen in 1997 and saw his Catholic church burned to the ground in 2005, said he has received death threats for allegedly helping Bibi. "She can be killed anytime. So anything can happen," he said.
Christians Increasingly Marginalized in Europe, Report Finds
While so-called equality legislation is on the rise in Europe, Christians are increasing dealing with "side-effect discrimination," according to a new report. According to Christian Today, the report is released every five years by the Vienna-based Observatory of Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe. The group's findings allege that discriminatory laws were preventing the equal exercise of freedom in the areas of speech, conscience and religion. "Hate speech legislation has a tendency to indirectly discriminate against Christians, criminalizing core elements of Christian teaching," the report said. The report cites specific incidents of discrimination, including the 18-year suspension of a judge in Spain in 2008 for conscientiously objecting to the adoption of a girl by her mother's lesbian partner, and the UK Supreme Court's refusal to grant an appeal to a Christian registrar who was disciplined because she refused to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples.
Iraq's Christians Pray for Peaceful Christmas
Christians in Iraq have canceled most of their Christmas traditions in hopes of avoiding the wrath of extremists. Now, Mission News Network reports, they are praying these actions keep the deadly attacks away. Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller describes the situation facing Christians at Christmas as "one of extreme vulnerability and fear. One of our coworkers said, ‘Christmas is coming, but peace does not exist in Iraq. Pray for us so that we can have a peaceful Christmas.'" At least more 70 Iraqi Christians have been targeted and killed since the deadly attack on a Baghdad church on Oct. 31 that killed 58. Moeller says, "It's not genocide, it's ‘religiouscide;' that is, a systematic extermination of a certain religious group, and that would be Christians in Iraq."