Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Christians in Prison, Beaten in Saudi Arabia
- Malaysia Officials Back Down on Bible Issue
- Japan Missionaries Relocate, Vow to Return
- Egypt Referendum Passes with Vote Rigging Suspicions
Christians in Prison, Beaten in Saudi Arabia
An international human rights agency has learned that two Indian Christians working in Saudi Arabia have been arrested in Batha, Riyadh, and sentenced to 45 days in prison. ASSIST News Service reports that, on March 11, Vasantha Sekhar and Nese Yohan were arrested and beaten. They were accused of proselytizing. Fellow Christians believe the two were arrested to keep them from practicing their faith in private. While in prison awaiting trial, their apartment was ransacked. They face uncertainty regarding their future. An employer has returned the passport of one of the Christians, making it clear that his job is no longer available, and he will be expelled. The other Christian awaits information regarding his legal status and job. “These two Christians have faced false charges and false evidence. The Saudi government continues to engage in an array of severe violations of human rights as part of its repression of freedom of religion,” said Logan Maurer, International Christian Concern advocacy director.
Malaysia Officials Back Down on Bible Issue
The Malaysian government has reportedly backed off a plan to print serial numbers on Bibles released in the Malay tongue, according to UCANews.com. Sudhagaran Standley, a Church worker based in Penang, had initiated a mass simultaneous lodging of police reports to protest against the government’s planned requirement. The requirement flouted a court decision that found the Bibles, which use the word "Allah" for God, legal despite Muslim outcry. “The government has agreed to change their position in the issue and release all the bibles without the serial number. We have decided to cancel the plan to make the police reports against the government,” said Standley. He said the bibles will be released with the words “For Christianity” stamped clearly in font type Arial/size 16 in bold, but no other words or serial numbers will be stamped on the Bibles.
Japan Missionaries Relocate, Vow to Return
Baptist Press reports that Christian missionaries near the destabilized nuclear plant in Japan have left for southern Japan. These questions haunt Mark and Wendy Hoshizaki spent their final hours March 19 handing out the last of their food to the homeless in a Tokyo park. Mark Hoshizaki says the aftereffects of the earthquake and tsunami have greatly affected the people they work with -- food shortages for the general public means there's even less for the homeless. "It's horrible. We are leaving," Wendy said. "They are even worse off because the homeless are always forgotten. We had so little bread to give today, yet, they were so thankful. One man said, 'We don't have anything. We are so thankful for the little bit we received today.'"
Egypt Referendum Passes with Vote Rigging Suspicions
ASSIST News Service reports that more 18 million Egyptians cast their ballots on March 19 in a constitutional referendum that will have a profound impact on the country's political future. Egypt's Election Commission reported that 77 percent of voters were in favor of the referendum, which would speed up the election schedule to September. “This result came as a shock to those who wanted the amendments defeated,” said Coptic activist Wagih Yacoub. AINA said he added, “The youth movement, figures such as Presidential candidates Amr Moussa, the outgoing Arab League chief and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, liberals and Copts opposed the referendum, while the army, the NDP [Mubarak's National Democratic Party] and the Islamic movements supported it."