Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Afghan Christians Face Severe Consequences If Repatriated
- 800 Killed in Nigeria Vote Unrest: Rights Group
- Pakistani Christians Wary of Replacement for Minorities Minister
- Religious Liberties Amendment Headed to Missouri Ballot
Afghan Christians Face Severe Consequences If Repatriated
Seven Afghan Christians and their families who fled their homeland to India and requested refugee status from the United Nations have had their petitions denied. They now face deportation back to Afghanistan, where they risk arrest and possible execution for apostasy. “Among the applicants was Aman, a husband and father of four, who has since received a letter authorizing his deportation from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs,” said a spokesperson for International Christian Concern. “Aman and his wife converted to Christianity from Islam eleven years ago" and he studied at a Bible college in Pakistan before returning to his home country to work with an aid organization. He fled after an Afghan TV network broadcast footage of Afghan Christians being baptized in May 2010. "[I]t is impossible to live as an Afghan Christian in Afghanistan if your Christian identity is revealed to the public and to the Afghan Islamic Republic.
800 Killed in Nigeria Vote Unrest: Rights Group
At least 800 people died in sectarian and ethnic clashes following last month's election in Nigeria. According to Human Rights Watch, most of the victims were killed in three days of rioting in the 12 northern states, which is mostly Muslim. The AFP reports that Nigerian authorities have refused to give a toll for the violence, which started as results came in showing Jonathan was running ahead of opposition politician Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north. "The presidential election divided the country along ethnic and religious lines," Human Rights Watch said. "Muslim rioters targeted and killed Christians and members of ethnic groups from southern Nigeria ... burning their churches, shops and homes... In predominantly Christian communities in Kaduna State, mobs of Christians retaliated by killing Muslims and burning their mosques and properties."
Pakistani Christians Wary of Replacement for Minorities Minister
Christians have repeatedly called on Pakistan to appoint a new minorities minister to replace slain Christian Shahbaz Bhatti, but say the Pakistan's decision is problematic. ASSIST News Service reports that Riaaz Hussain Pirzada, a Muslim, has been appointed the Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs (FMMA). The FMMA's job is to represent religious minorities and their interests to the federal government, and Christians say Pirzada represents another blow to the rights of religious minorities. "This seat should be given to a Christian in the light of the sacrifice of Shahbaz Bhatti. We don't want to see Shahbaz's struggle against blasphemy laws be reversed. The failure to appoint a Christian to the post is another form of discrimination against Christians,” said the General Secretary of the All Pakistan Minority Alliance, Javed Michael, in an interview with International Christian Concern.
Religious Liberties Amendment Headed to Missouri Ballot
Missouri residents will get to vote on a religious liberties amendment next year, after the Senate passed the legislation, 34-0. WORLD News Service reports that the measure would amend the state Constitution to clarify the rights of Missourians to pray and acknowledge God in public and private settings. It also would protect public school students’ right to pray and acknowledge God in school, as well as express their religious beliefs in written and oral assignments. Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council, said: “This legislation establishes the clear outlines of our citizens’ religious liberties (and) would help overcome legal intimidation tactics” from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union. In March, the House passed the bill for the fourth straight year, with a vote of 126-30.