Catching Our Eye
76 Christians reconverted to Hinduism in India
Seventy-six Christians from 21 poor tribal families have been forcibly reconverted to Hinduism in the Indian state of Odisha, local sources told World Watch Monitor.
Attacks on Indian Christians were reported on an almost daily basis in 2015. These included the arrest of hundreds who were charged with attempting to forcibly convert Hindus.
Y. Raghavulu, national general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (Hindu World Council), claimed in January that 800,000 Hindus were being converted to other faiths every year in India.
Meanwhile Praveen Togadia, VHP’s international working president, said that the organisation had reconverted more than 500,000 Christians and 250,000 Muslims in the past decade with its Ghar Wapsi, or homecoming, initiative.
John Dayal, a Christian activist, said “Hindu fundamentalists want to criminalise Christian presence and social work as a conversion conspiracy by Western powers”. But, he added, no such measure is taken against Hindus attempting to reconvert Christians.
The United Christian Forum has commissioned a 24-hour National Helpline, 1-800-208-4545, so that Christians can report incidents.
Myanmar's new Speaker represents ethnic minorities
An ethnic Karen Christian has been selected as Speaker, a senior job in Myanmar's Upper House that is seen as a reconciliation effort towards the country's ethnic minorities, says UCA News.
Mahn Win Khaing Than was appointed by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party, which swept to power in Myanmar's first openly contested election for 25 years.
Baptist Khaing Than, one of at least 40 Christians in the new parliament, is a lawyer and politician.
His grandfather was assassinated along with Suu Kyi's own father, who in 1947 negotiated the country’s independence alongside other ethnic leaders. Civil war and ethnic rebellion followed independence, continued by some groups to this day. Among them are ethnic groups who are majority Christian: including the Kachin and the Karen.
Christians are hopeful that under Suu Kyi's leadership the new government will address the pressing issues of Myanmar's more than 100 ethnic groups.
"I am very proud of [Khaing Than] and I see that choosing an ethnic minority as Speaker advances the national reconciliation effort by Suu Kyi," Catholic parliamentarian Mahn Johnny said on 2 Feb.
Iranians await appeal verdict
Four Iranian Christians are awaiting the verdict of an appeal against their one-year jail sentences for spreading Christianity in Iran.
Amin Khaki, Hossein Barounzadeh, Mohammad Bahrami and Rahman Bahmani were sentenced in October 2015. Their appeal was heard on 1 Feb. and the judge is expected to give a ruling soon, reports Middle East Concern.
The four Christians, who are from the self-styled “Church of Iran” network, were first arrested in March 2014 along with four others, during a picnic in the western city of Shush, near the border with Iraq.
After an interrogation, five of them, including Bahrami, were released, but Bahrami was later re-arrested.