Catching Our Eye

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  • Village rumour results in 'attack on Copts'

    Published: May 26, 2016

    At least two Copts were injured and seven homes burned when angry villagers ran amok after a rumoured affair between a married Christian man and a Muslim woman in Minya, 250km south of Cairo.

    According to local Christian sources, scores of Muslims ransacked and torched several properties belonging to the Copts of al-Karam, Abu-Qurqas, on the evening of 20 May.

    An elderly woman, said to be the mother of the alleged Christian lover, was stripped of her clothing and paraded near her home.

    Law enforcers arrived hours late, despite being informed three days earlier of threats against Ashraf Attiya, 31, and his family by the Muslim woman’s estranged husband.

    Egyptian newspaper Youm7 quoted the Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Minya as saying that "no fair-minded person can tolerate such conduct," and urging authorities not to "stand idle" but to bring wrongdoers to justice.

    Police have arrested five suspects, but the situation remains tense.

  • Coptic monk kidnapped in Darfur released

    Published: May 26, 2016

    An Egyptian-born monk has been released, 40 days after he was abducted in Sudan’s embattled Darfur region, reports Fides.

    Rev. Ghabrial al-Antony, a Coptic Orthodox monk working in Nyala, South Darfur, was kidnapped on 14 April by an armed group, not far from the refugee camp in Atash.

    According to Coptic Church sources, the monk was released without ransom. Early reports spoke of demands for a ransom of five-million Sudanese pounds ($822,000).

  • Amid crackdown, Egypt arrests Copt activist

    Published: May 20, 2016

    Egyptian security forces raided the home of a prominent minority rights activist early on Thursday (19 May), and are now refusing to disclose his place of detention, reports Amnesty International.

    Mina Thabet, Director of the Minority and Religious Groups Department of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, and family members were reportedly ill-treated during the early morning raid by Egypt’s National Security Agency on his Cairo home.

    "Thabet has tirelessly worked to defend the rights of minority groups, including Coptic Christians whom the government has suppressed for decades," said an Amnesty International official.

    The Christian advocate’s arrest comes against the backdrop of numerous other arrests, involving activists, protesters, and people on the streets. The arrests have intensified after vocal protests in April against what is seen as Egypt’s surrender of two islands of its Sinai Peninsula to Saudi Arabia - in what Cairo said was part of a border delineation agreement.

    Some 51 people were given two-year prison sentences for protesting illegally.

    On 1 May, two journalists were also arrested while inside their journalists’ union building. The union said "storming" its premises was a grave violation of its long-cherished rights.

    Thabet faces several charges, including charges of "terrorism" and incitement to violence, local reports said.

  • Vietnam Christian woman's 'intolerable' harassment

    Published: May 18, 2016

    The harassment of a Vietnamese Christian human rights activist, whose husband, pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence, has become "intolerable" reports CSW.

    Tran Thi Hong was recently questioned by the authorities about interviews with the foreign press, her "unauthorized, unapproved and illegal" Lutheran faith and her role in Vietnamese Women for Human Rights. Her son has been arrested twice in the last month.

    Hong says she was severely beaten by security agents trying to extract information about her March meeting with a US delegation led by David Saperstein, ambassador at-large on International Religious Freedom, during his recent visit to Vietnam and Thailand.

    "So far my whole body hurts and it has still been too painful to work. I am still taking medicine," Hong said, as reported by UCAN.

    Twenty-nine international religious and human rights groups have called on the Vietnamese government to conduct an extensive probe into the alleged torture of Hong.

    The Exec. Secretary of the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights told World Watch Monitor that Vietnam’s new “Law on Belief and Religion,” scheduled to come into effect this year, will add another layer of governmental repression and control to an already pressurised Church. “This law is not a law on religion; it’s just a law on how to manage the control of religion,” he said.

  • EU alliance with 'unsavoury' African leaders

    Published: May 18, 2016

    European politicians, under pressure to reduce the exodus of African refugees, have now begun providing equipment and training to the security forces of Sudan, whose President is wanted for war crimes, says Der Spiegel.

    The magazine says it has seen leaked documents from talks that took place on 23 March between the ambassadors of 28 EU member states. The diplomats discussed a classified plan to work with African dictators to stop the refugee flows to Europe.

    The plan includes supplying equipment to register refugees inside Sudan, in addition to training their border police, although a General with Sudan's Interior Ministry told der Spiegel that technology would not just be used to register refugees, but also all Sudanese.

    An important refugee route runs through Sudan, with migrants from Eritrea, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic all seeking to make their way via Khartoum to Libya, where they catch boats to Europe. 

    Former BBC Africa Editor, Martin Plaut, reporting on November's EU-African summit in Malta, said the summit's action plan showed intention to work with African leaders "no matter how unsavoury some of them might be".

    Sudan ranks 8th in the 2016 Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

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