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Religion Today Summaries - April 13, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - April 13, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Students Spend Easter Behind Bars
  • Bail Denied for Pakistani Woman Accused of Blasphemy
  • Female Students Disappear after Muslim Assault in Nigeria
  • Religious Freedom Lacking Throughout Middle East

Students Spend Easter Behind Bars

This Easter, hundreds of incarcerated men and women will learn that real freedom is possible even behind bars. As part of an Easter weekend celebration, inmates at London Correctional Institution and Ohio Reformatory for Women will hear a message of hope and forgiveness. Ten students from around the country, volunteering with Prison Fellowship, will be a part of the Easter-weekend prison visits. "As with all of Prison Fellowship's work in prison, we hope our Easter weekend activities will offer incarcerated men and women a chance for real freedom through a personal relationship with Christ," said Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley. "In addition, we are excited to share our passion for prison ministry with students from across the country. I sincerely hope that this will be a life-changing weekend for students and inmates alike." As part of the Easter weekend outreach, Prison Fellowship Chairman Chuck Colson and President Earley will conduct visits with various areas within the prisons. Students will also participate in a closed-door roundtable session with inmates. Finally, Prison Fellowship will host an outdoor yard event at each prison that will include inspirational speakers, music, and special messages from Colson and Earley.

Bail Denied for Pakistani Woman Accused of Blasphemy

ASSIST News Service tells the story of a Christian woman who was charged with desecration of picture of Khana Kabah, the Muslim holy place in Saudi Arabia, on March 3. She will continue to languish in a special solitary cell as her bail was denied by the court on April 7. The family members of Naseem have fled from their native home and gone in hiding due to fear of attacks by hard-line Muslim groups. According to the Pakistan Christian Post (PCP), the jail administration denied a Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) team a visit to the accused. Her husband, Gulzar Masih, said, “On March 3, 2006 many Muslim residents of the area gathered in the market near our house to protest against publication of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. They were raising slogans against the US president George W. Bush, abusing him and Christianity too... one of the protesters was making a sign of cross on the heap of garbage... Naseem rushed there and quarreled with them. She voiced her concern about the desecration of cross besides protesting against the abuses the Muslim protesters were allegedly hurling at President Bush and Christianity. They were large in number; they clutched Naseem and tortured her severely. They stripped her clothes publicly.”

Female Students Disappear after Muslim Assault in Nigeria

Two female Christian students remain missing after seven Muslims, also young student women, attacked them on March 18 at Ahmadu Bello University in Kaduna state. Compass Direct reports the two students were about to bathe at the women’s residence when the Muslim women emerged from a mosque and attacked, beating them until they were unconscious. The women, identified only as Joy and Priscilla, were treated at the university health clinic but were not seen before the university closed for a break shortly thereafter; nor have they been seen since it reopened on March 28. Their disappearance has raised religious tensions on campus. James Kagbu, the university’s Joint Chapel Council secretary, said “Muslim students under the auspices of the Muslim Students’ Society have been terrorizing Christians in the university without provocation.”

Religious Freedom Lacking Throughout Middle East

The case of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan who came close to losing his life for converting to Christianity, brings to light the region’s lack of religious freedom, Family News in Focus reports. Paul Marshall with the Center for Religious Freedom says the fate of thousands of other Christian converts in Islamic countries hangs in the balance, due to “laws mandating the death for apostates in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Mauritania, the Comoros Islands.” Many Islamic countries take the position that Islamic law, which forbids conversion, trumps any other law or treaty. Jared Leland with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty would like to see those countries recognize what are inherent human rights. “The freedom of thought, conscience in religion, the freedom to have or adopt any faith of one’s choosing are fundamental, but also inalienable rights; they are not to be given and taken at the will of the government.”