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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.

Malaysia: Use of 'Allah' will get day in court

Malaysia's High Court on July 2 set a date to prepare the groundwork to hear arguments by Jill Ireland that she has the right to use the word "Allah" in reference to God.

On June 23, the Court of Appeal ordered the government to return to Ireland a collection of Christian recordings that contain the word Allah. The CDs were seized from her in 2008.

Ireland, 34, a Christian clerk from the state of Sarawak, also is seeking a declaration that the Malaysian constitution gives her the right to use the word, which the government has said may be used only by Malay Muslims. In its June 23 ruling, the Appeal Court referred that matter to be heard again at the High Court.

The July 2 hearing fixed Aug. 12 for case management – a judicial procedure to ensure all parties are set to go to trial.

-- Matt K George


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