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Killings escalate in Nigeria

The suicide bombing of a church in Nigeria on Sunday caps a week of killings that has left over 200 people dead, reports the BBC.

In the first incident six worshippers were killed as they were entering a church in Potiskum in the north-east area where until recently Boko Haram have been strong.

Local sources report escalating violence with as many as 32 churches being burned and "many Christians" being killed.
 
The attacks brought condemnation from Nigeria's new president, Muhammadu Buhari, who described the violence as "heinous atrocity".
 
Shortly after the Potiskum bomb attack, there were twin attacks in Nigeria’s central city of Jos, where at least 44 people were killed, and 47 injured. A restaurant and mosque were targeted: the mosque, it’s believed, because a cleric who’d spoken against Boko Haram was there at the time. Boko Haram is not strong in Jos, but it has attacked the city before.

Tension is high in Jos, with fresh local reports saying at least two churches have been burned, allegedly in retaliation for the mosque bomb. Another attack on a church was foiled by police.

Iran releases Christian prisoner

A Christian imprisoned in Iran for 40 months has been released, according to MEC

Homayoun Shekohi was arrested on 8 February 2012 in Shiraz as part of a raid on a house church. He and three others were sentenced to three years, eight months in prison for participating in house-church meetings, evangelism, contact with foreign Christian ministries, propaganda against the Islamic regime and disrupting national security say Mohabat News.

Homayoun was released on bail on 10th November 2014, but in January this year his bail conditions were cancelled and he was recalled to serve the remainder of his sentence, which was due to be completed in October 2015. The three other prisoners were released in December 2014 and January 2015.

In April Homayoun's family were unable to visit him or make contact as he had been transferred to what MEC refer to as a "notorious punishment ward" in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, possibly on account of his evangelistic activity in prison.

Homayoun was transferred back to the general prison ward on 1st June and released on Sunday 28th June.

Iceland makes blasphemy legal

Iceland's parliament has abolished its blasphemy laws, despite opposition from some of the country's churches, reports the BBC.

A bill was put forward in response to the attack against the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, by Iceland's minority Pirate Party, which campaigns for internet and data freedom. The Pirate movement was formed in Sweden in 2006 and has since spread to 60 countries, but has achieved its greatest success in Iceland where it gained three MPs at the 2013 elections.

The Catholic Church wrote in comments submitted after the bill was proposed: "Should freedom of expression go so far as to mean that the identity of a person of faith can be freely insulted, then personal freedom - as individuals or groups - is undermined."

Most Icleanders (80 per cent) are members of the Lutheran State Church. A minority (five per cent) follow Asatru, the traditional Norse religion.

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