Catching Our Eye

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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


  • Growing signs of ISIS activity in Jerusalem

    A new Islamist threat to Christians has emerged in Jerusalem, according to Middle East Concern.

    On 25 June leaflets were distributed in East Jerusalem by a group calling itself Islamic State in Palestine. The leaflets bore the black flag of ISIS and carried a message warning Christians to leave Jerusalem before the end of Ramadan on 18 July or risk being killed.

    This is not the first sign of activity claiming to be linked to ISIL among Palestinians. In May a consignment of 120 rings bearing the Islamic State insignia, sent from Turkey and destined for Ramallah, was discovered at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. It was confiscated by Israeli intelligence officials, who noted that the consignment indicated a degree of affiliation to Islamic State within Palestinian communities.

    Other disturbing incidents in recent months have included attacks by Muslim youths on the homes of Christians, and anti-Christian graffiti on the Ethiopian Patriarchate in Old Jerusalem as well as the removal of its cross.

  • Chibok girls 'forced to kill' for Boko Haram

    Some of the kidnapped Chibok girls have been forced to join Boko Haram and carry out killings, the BBC has been told.

    Witnesses who escaped from the same camps that were holding some of the Chibok girls said they have been brainwashed and are being used to terrorise other captives and even carry out killings themselves. 

    Seventeen-year-old Miriam (not her real name), who fled one of the camps after six months, said the girls were kept in separate houses to the other captives. Sixty-year-old Anna said she had seen Chibok girls with guns, and, like Miriam, seen them commit murder.

    In April 2014 shortly after the girls were taken, WWM reviewed detailed research compiled from the testimonies of hundreds of women that attempts to explain why Boko Haram strategically targets Christian women and children. This research went back to 1999 and shows that, while the Chibok incident was the one which hit global headlines, it was far from unique. This research has since been submitted by the New York-based Global Justice Center to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague as part of the submission to examine whether Boko Haram’s abduction of Christian children may constitute genocide, as the “forcible transfer of children.”

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